You learn a lot when you become a blogger. One of the benefits of blogging for me is learning about things I did not know enough about. This includes special educational needs. It is so inspirational how parents share their stories so openly and do their utmost to support other families. Blogging about special educational needs matters and I am delighted to share my interview with Ann Hickman who writes Rainbows are too beautiful and was a finalist in the BAPS SEND Blog Awards 2017. Ann is also Britmums SEND Round-Up Editor and contributes posts to The Mighty Site and Huffington Post
Why did you start to blog?
It really was a spur of the moment decision. I was in the playground one day with my autistic son and for the first time ever he played with another child for a few minutes without my help. Sounds small, but for me, having a nearly non-verbal five year old, it seemed amazing. I wanted to tell someone about it. After I got home I googled ‘start a blog’ and wrote my first post that afternoon. I wrote several times a week about the little things and then it just sort of expanded.
As my sons and family grew I was being asked for advice by people and I thought I actually had a bunch of information and experience in my head that others might like to know so started sharing helpful information too as well as our stories.
How did you feel when you started blogging?
Excited. It was new and something I’d never done before. The blog never really ‘took off’, just slowly built up.
How do you feel about blogging today?
I enjoy it. I think about what I want to write about. I feel less pressure to write all the time which is nice. I also love that it brings me friendships and opportunities such as speaking and writing, that I value very much.
What is your proudest achievement related to blogging?
It’s the small things, like helping others when they feel alone or changing an opinion. Last year I responded to a journalist who wrote about a disabled child in a restaurant. My post changed her opinion of kids like mine and that’s something I’m proud to have done.
What is the most exciting event you have attended as a blogger?
Oooh. I’m the Britmums SEND Editor at the moment, so I like attending the Britmums events. But it’s probably going to the BAPS Awards. It’s a smaller blogging awards especially for special educational needs bloggers. As a group we don’t tend to get out much as out kids can need specialised help sometimes and it’s wonderful to meet up with these bloggers – that’s always the highlight for me at most events.
Do you monetize your blog and, if so, how?
Very little. I include helpful information, services and products in my posts which come with a payment or in exchange for goods. These are sometimes reviews and sometimes links. I turn down things that don’t fit in with our blog and our readers – making money is not what my blog is about.
What do you find most challenging about blogging?
I blog about some quite sensitive topics. Sometimes the real things I’d like to publish I don’t. I sometimes read them out to my other half to tell me if it’s ok or not.
What surprised you most about blogging?
I liked it! I’m still doing two and half years later and I didn’t think about that when I started.
How do you balance blogging and family life?
This can be a hard one. Being mindful helps and asking what do I want to do now?
What would lead to you giving up blogging?
If I didn’t like it anymore. I like positive reinforcement and if things start to go down hill, I tend to jump ship with everything except family and friends.
What is your top tip for a new or inexperienced blogger?
Enjoy it. Figure out what you like and what’s important to you and your blog and try to stick with it.
Huge thanks to Ann for sharing her blogging journey with us. Do you have a story about blogging that you would like to share with me?