By: Courtney Rehman
What inspired the name of your blog? The name of my blog was actually created by my boyfriend. I had been pondering a list of names and had a general direction that I was going in. It had been weeks of thinking and trying to figure it out. Eventually I mentioned to him that I was looking for a name and showed him what I had been considering; then and there he came up with the name Sam Sam But Different which just stuck!
How long have you been blogging for? I have been blogging full-time for a year and a half now. I quit my full-time job in December 2016 to pursue blogging as my dedicated profession and it has not been an easy journey at all.
What difficulties did you come across when you first started blogging? I honestly thought that breaking into the blogging and writing industry was going to be far easier. I have magazine experience and believed that it would be as simple as sending my work out and posting blogs, it was also the reason I quit my job, thinking I would easily be able to make money from the jump. I was VERY VERY wrong. The journalism industry is very tight and difficult to get into. Freelancing is not as simple as it seems and as for getting loyal followers quickly- forget about it. This all takes time which is why I should have done it part time at first but you know what? I don’t regret leaving my job to pursue this path because for the first time in my life I am happy in my work. I do have other ways of getting income while I establish my blog which is helpful and allows me to pursue my passion
What do you think new bloggers need to know about blogging that most people don’t? Pretty much everything that I said above. Blogging is not as easy as writing your thoughts and immediately getting paid for it. You have to be in it for the long-haul because it takes time. I also reached out to many people I knew in the industry who flat out refused to help me. People can be selfish with their information and knowledge which I never understood. In terms of blogging, another very valuable decision I made was going very niche. I started out as a lifestyle blogger initially but I realized that there are many others to compete against, so it is in your better interest to find an unusual niche that you can become an expert in.
What would you say has been a highlight of your blogging career thus far? I can’t say it has been a single highlight but rather something that occurs quite regularly is whenever I get to meet the distillers and explore their distilleries. I have been fostering relationships with the gin makers who now know me by name and always support me and share my work. I’ve learnt so much, tasted much gin and it never ceases to amaze me, the different techniques and beliefs of the distillers. All of this has come through my own hard work and that for me always feels amazing knowing that it is all on my own merit. Oh wait, I have just remembered another one. A few months ago I drove all the way out to the Free State to visit De Vry Distillery where I met an owner, took photos and tasted gin. After I published my article about them, the owner actually called me up to personally thank me because he had been getting a lot more orders and queries because of my post. That was also very satisfying because it meant that my work was actually benefiting someone else.
Who are your favourite bloggers? I really love Anna-Belle Durrant of She Said. Her photos, her content and stories are always lovely and fun, plus she is a stunning person. Emma-Jane of Emma-Jane Nation, also really beautiful content and a really lovely person, one of the only people to actually respond to me when I reached out asking for some advice. They have both created big names for themselves and have many followers. I look up to them for inspiration
Which is the most read blog post on your blog and why do you think people like it? The most read blog post at the moment is one of my meet the maker segments. This one in particular was with a company that sells actual botanicals and botanical kits that anyone can purchase to make and add their own flavours with. I think it did well because I not only interviewed the owner but I also used one of their gin botanical kits (which was actually meant for proper distilling) and made a very bad and peppery tasting bathtub gin with it. I think the practicality of it was appealing.
What else do you do besides blogging? Besides blogging I do commercial modeling on the side, though that is never steady income. I also teach English online which is much better and steady. And finally I crafter products, the latest addition being G&Teabags which are hand filled teabags you put in your gin to bring up the botanical flavours of each specific gin.
Where do you see your blog in the next two years? In two years time, I see my blog having a much larger following. I want to be recognized as a ginfluencer and also bring more international attention to the incredible South African gin market. Did you know that we have over 120 craft gins that are really good quality yet South Africa is not viewed as a gin rich country? We were also one of the first to bring out colour changing gin over a year ago. Meanwhile the UK is only bringing them out now! I want to place South Africa on the gin map because we deserve it!
Do you look at your blog as a business, hobby or as a portfolio? I see my blog as both a business and portfolio, in that my aim is to make money from blogging, particularly about gin brands but my website also serves as a way to showcase my work (both writing and videos) which helps potential clients make a decision on whether or not to use me.