I think the Blog Prompt over at Britmums is very timely. What would I advise when starting a new blog?
In the last few months, quite a few bloggers do seem to be studying their/our navels are bit and wondering why we blog, what values we should have in blogging, how we define success, what networks we should participate in and how we should communicate with other bloggers.
I started my blog when my late mum told me to keep a diary. She said I had always wanted to write and keeping a diary would give me a focus. I started “How to laugh in the face of it all” in early 2009 as a bit of New Year’s Resolution to start doing things that I enjoyed. The title came because I really did feel overwhelmed with juggling it all and wanted to lighten up a bit.
That all went a bit awry when my mum announced that she was terminally ill with cancer. The blog became therapeutic, a way for me to deal with strong emotions. Mum passed away 2 years ago and partly to mark her anniversary and a new phase in my life, I have started blogging here at Kate on Thin Ice. With all 3 children in school now, it is time for a little personal and professional revival. Starting this new blog is a commitment to myself to make things change.
I love my title inspired like most of my creativity by stuff I see on the telly. I like the idea of me gliding but reckon for the minute there might be the odd wobble or bump along the way. Hope you like the title too and who knows, there might be the odd sparkly outfit at some point.
I started my blog as a blogspot thing but would now always choose WordPress. Blogspot, in my experience, has a habit of playing up for no apparent reason. Not often, but often enough to be frustrating.
When I started blogging, all I did was write. If I could give a message to new bloggers, I would say not to worry if you don’t know all the bells and whistles bits of blogging. If your writing is good enough, people will read you.
That leads us to another point. Think what you want from your blogging. It is great when you see your numbers of followers/subscribers go up. Ask yourself do you want a few supportive readers who engage with you via comments, twitter and more. Or do you want to crow about just how many followers you have whilst never getting a sense of who they are or what they think and feel. For me, what matters most is when someone offers support or even more, when someone says I have helped them in some way. Blogging brought the revelation that mums/women/people who struggle a bit or even a lot are quite common. That means there is huge scope to develop communities of friends in cyberspace and perhaps even in the flesh.
The other thing I did not know about when I started blogging was the existence of blogger networks like Britmums. I found them by asking on Twitter whether anybody knew of any. I used networking to good effect in my career and it is great in the blogging world. Therer are other networks but Britmums remains a constant source of support, ideas and information. There are even blogger events and conferences that I knew nothing about. I bottled it this year but next year will be different.
Last year, I was nominated for a blogging award. I am not one of the top bloggers in the rankings and have no awards. Does that make me a bad blogger? Not a bit of it or if it does, I am a happily deluded blogger. Should I try and appeal more to the masses or the award-givers? After much thought, I don’t think that is a game I want to play. It has taken a long time for me to develop the confidence to be me in life so no offence intended but please either take me or leave me and the same with my blog. My blog is my friend, my sanctuary and a place where I can luxuriate in being myself. I think there is a danger of getting sucked into the award and statistic chasing game especially for those mums who are feeling a bit down on themselves or missing the cut and thrust of the workplace.
Eventually, like many bloggers, a public relations company offered me a sample to review. It was a talking hamster of all things. That seemed to open the floodgates to lots of other offers for product review. I enjoy receiving samples and reviewing products. It is a bit of fun and a different way of writing. However, it is easy to let your personal blogging suffer at the hands of product reviews. I have a balance I am happy with now but that took a bit of working out.
If I was to start my blog again, I would absolutely stick with my policy of being open and honest, warts and all. I warn family and friends that if they read it, they might not like what they read or hear about my feelings. I find that very liberating. I would network earlier not so much for the advice (although that is fabulous) but for the connection with other women and mums. I would join in blog hops as often as possible not for statistics but to get to know circles of blogger friends (waving furiously particularly at the Reasons to be Cheerful smilers and the Magpie Monday crew). I would also include photography which I did not do for many months because I did not know how to upload photographs.
Fundamentally, blogging is a journey. As in life, it takes unexpected twists and turns. Some of those are pleasant, some of them less so. So if blogs are not perfect from the start, it does not really matter at all. If nobody reads your blog but you enjoy writing it, that is fine too I think.
In conclusion, blogging did indeed enable me to laugh in the face of it all and has given me the confidence to stand up on thin ice and declare that I will get my groove back. Watch this space ..
Love from the Striking Mum x