Author Spotlight: HollyMann



Holly Mann is one of our best contributors to the dessert and sewing categories here on Instructables. She's perfected the art of the cake pop and given the community lots of excellent clothing tutorials in her time here! She's also posted several instructables inspired by and starring her son - if you know an awesome kid that needs a fort kit or train table you should check them out. :D

When did you first discover Instructables and what inspired you to post your first instructable?

I first discovered Instructables a few years ago. I was trying to find a cool train table plan - because I wanted to build one for my son. My dad planned on visiting us and was going to help execute the plan and teach me some carpentry skills. So, I believe that's the first time I saw Instructables and I was instantly hooked. I liked the train table Instructables I saw on the site, but they weren't what I had in mind. So, I explained to my dad what I wanted to create and made some graphics to show him. Then, we bought the materials and made the train table. Since it was quite different from the ones already posted, I decided to post my plan as an Instructable. It was my first and most memorable one! It was featured and that was exciting and shortly thereafter, an author with a popular publishing company contacted me. He wanted to include the plan in his book, "PlyDesign: 73 Distinctive DIY Projects in Plywood." It was inspiring to know how much exposure you can get from the Instructables you post. It seems like the more I post on the site, the more I feel inspired and addicted to creating new and interesting things!

You dabble in both food and crafts - which is your favorite type of project to do?

Definitely crafts! I'd rather spend more time with DIY projects or crafts rather than with the food and desserts. I love cake decorating and I think it's a lot of fun. But, it's a lot more time consuming and messier than other craft projects! I love to sew more than anything! I'm better at seeing something and visually learning how to create it, rather than follow patterns, even though they can be useful at times.

These cake pops are so pretty they don't look real!

I went to your website, Honest Riches, and had a look around - when did you start working online and how did you start? Any suggestions for folks that would like to get into it?

I started working online when I was pregnant with my son - so about nine years ago. It was an amazing venture - or adventure! I really enjoyed it immensely. I was really struggling financially before I began getting into Internet Marketing and web design. It took a lot of work and long hours, but it really paid off. My son and I traveled all over and lived in Thailand for quite a while. There's a lot of freedom in working online. But, there's a lot of pressure also - if you really want to do it, then it's worth it. I wrote a book, "Honest Riches," which is a comprehensive Internet Marketing guide to help others do what I did. The only downside now, is that I have taken myself away from Internet Marketing almost entirely. Not to get too personal, but if it helps anyone reading this, it is worth mentioning. My son and I had carbon monoxide poisoning around the time I discovered We lived in the CO for seven months and it had a major impact on all areas of my life, health and functioning. I still deal with it now, a few years later. So, please be sure to have CO detectors in your home, on every floor, if possible. As a result, I stepped aside from the online marketing for the most part. But, my book is still a great resource and guide for those who need honest information and steps to follow. For me, I found a different passion to pursue - and Instructables has been my major source of inspiration through some really tough times. During my worst struggles, I have been most creative - and those are the times I won the two contests on Instructables. So, Instructables has really helped me change my focus onto something positive, fun and creative! I am now going to school full-time studying Art and Art Education - as well as taking care of my 8-year-old son.

I'm still impressed at how many awesome instructables you create - how long does it take you to complete an instructable?

It doesn't take me too long to create an Instructable. I try not to leave things unfinished - so I can easily create one in a day. Sometimes it takes time to download pictures and do any editing to them if it's needed. If the Instructable is very detailed, then it'll take more time to explain it clearly. My book which I mentioned in the last question, it had to be written as clearly as possible in a step-by-step format. Writing it gave me practice which probably helped me with writing my Instructables. It's important to be clear, detailed and specific. I also used to a journalist in the Army, so hopefully my writing is acceptable!

If you could give one piece of advice to all of the other authors on Instructables, what would it be?

Keep posting your cool projects - even if they seem weird! I saw one project which was so strange but so awesome - those are the ones people might be afraid to post. Post them anyway - they are the ones that are most fascinating. The project that comes to mind is  "Car-B-Que" by Mikeasaurus. The more you step out and create new things, the better! And, if you're new to the site, try your best to take a lot of photos with the best lighting possible. Photos can make such an impact on people - and really draw them in to learn more and see what you've created. If you don't have great lighting, try to take the pictures by the window with some natural light. Another lighting tip I've discovered - I bought the Verilux Happy Light from JoAnn Fabrics recently. It is supposed to help give you energy or improve your mood through the long dark winter. But, I discovered it is the best light to use when I take my Instructables photos. It creates the perfect lighting - and I didn't have to go out and buy a huge photography lighting setup.

Is there anyone who has been particularly influential towards your work?

Wow, that's a good question. I feel inspired by a lot of people on Personally, I think my son has been influential in a bunch of my Instructables and creations. They were made for him - and his likes and interests at the time. Those interests change so rapidly - it's hard to keep up! Besides my son, I have an old friend who I've known since I was in 5th grade. We lost contact for quite a while but reconnected and he's in New York and studied fashion design and is now a designer. When I posted one of my Instructables on Facebook, he saw it and realized how much I loved sewing. Even though we don't talk that often, he is an inspiration. And although I'm no fashion designer, he sent me this book recently called "Fashionary," and I highly recommend it for anyone who loves to create their own clothing styles. It has tons of useful information, tips and outlines so you can sketch your creations or designs.

Any awesome projects you're working on now?

Right now I am working on creating some natural, non-toxic cosmetic products. I am working on getting rid of my normal stuff and replacing those with all healthy and natural items. I never knew until recently how many toxic chemicals are in everything we use day-to-day - so expect to see a lot of instructables on natural products! I've also been sewing some cute stylish shirts as well as sweatshirts lately. I'll be creating Instructables for those in the near future.

Some of the newest works in progress