This weekend I was invited to speak at a blogging conference in London.
It was a fantastic weekend and I got to see my best friends, learn some new blogging tips and cycle around London on a Boris bike.
I also got to talk about how I built my blog and how it became successful, a term that I struggled to be comfortable with as I am not completely sure I have reached that word.
But this is what I said….
How I found my success….
This is a blog which focuses on my family, our life, and whatever is going on in our world at that time. Which means that it has covered topics including the loss of my libido and the time my then baby wrenched her mouth off my breast during my older children’s swimming lesson which led to the old chap sitting next to me almost having a cardiac arrest as a milk spurting nipple nearly took his eye out.
The blog has also spoken about and campaigned for better understanding of Hip Dysplasia in babies, epilepsy, and Type 1 diabetes in children. All things we have experienced in the last couple of years and have muddled through with the blog often being my outlet and saving grace.
I can always rely on my kids to provide material, particulary of a medical nature.
So, my story
I started blogging almost four years ago.
A friend of mine wrote a parenting blog, Its a mummy’s life, and I loved reading it on Facebook. At home with a newborn and twins starting school, it was sometimes the highlight of my day, that and when the postman came as he was smoking hot.
My memory has always been pretty shocking – I am that mother who forgets to turn up at the end of school and I turned up to my own holiday a day late last year.
So I figured starting a blog of my own would help preserve those wonderful memories that are created on the path of motherhood.
So consequently I can now never forget about the time my son spat out croissant covered bogey at the unsuspecting tourist on the tube, nor can I ever eliminate the memory of when a Zumba teacher forced me to wear bells on my arse as I tried to dance the rumba. And if it wasn’t embarrassing enough to proclaim to a room of bloggers upon receiving an award (quite drunkenly I should add) that I was wearing spanx with a wee wee hole in them, I also have it written down, on the blog, secured in the web forever….
Blogging is awesome for never letting you forget…
Which is wonderful for over sharers like myself.
When I started blogging I wanted to be part of this immense community that I felt like I was hovering on the outskirts of. I wanted to be successful, I wanted to be perceived as a writer, and a good one at that.
So I worked at it.
For 12 months, I read, commented, interacted in lots of different ways in blogland. I joined in linkys, found some blogs that I fell in love with, and as a real unexpected bonus I made some incredibly close friends.
Over time I climbed from the thousands in Tots100 into the 100’s and then finally into the top 20, I was fortunate enough to be nominated in the Mad Blog Awards and honoured enough to win in 2011 and 2012.
I was on occasion flattered when people at events found me and told me they liked my blog.
But was I successful?
It depends on how you characterise success and what you want from your blog.
I wanted to be able to call myself a writer, and nowadays I do. Admittedly sometimes I cough quickly afterwards or cover my face with hands to shade my embarrassment. I must confess I only do the latter when on the phone. If you start covering your face with your hands when speaking to people about your profession they tend to steer clear and not give you any work.
Sadly I am no expert on how to be successful, and I am incredibly embarrassed and privileged to be sitting on a panel talking about that topic. I can only share my story and hope you draw some use from it….
In 2011 the blog was a memory maker, a place to put all my parenting mistakes, my little secrets and then share them with the world.
Now in 2014 it is a very different little corner of the internet.
I gave up my proper work in 2012 choosing to work only 8 hours a week in what had been my full time career, and my blog has since formed part of my income. What was a fun hobby has become more of a full time job.
This will be deemed as successful by some, but the moment my blog became more commercial, meant it stopped being as much fun in some areas.
Now I am conscious of having the right amount of original content to balance any brand work. I like to think of myself as being like Hello – so great articles with paid for really good brand adverts in the middle. Realistically I know I am more Women’s Own – but a girl can dream.
I speak at events about blogging and have done since 2012 and I don’t think my mantra has changed. It is my profound belief that if you define success as more readers, more page views, and then you need to write good content, be it branded or not.
An understanding of SEO, how to create a good looking blog, and use widgets and all the jazz helps, but I am living proof that you do not need to be technical to have a degree of success at blogging. You just need to know people that are, thanks again to Annie for my smashing looking blog.
I set out in 2011 to create an online diary, I then realised I loved to write funny and wanted to do it more. Success for me has always been achieved when I make someone laugh or cry. I love to generate those emotions and very rarely do I deviate from one of those two aims when creating a post.
Success for me has come in two forms, the first, I have found something I love to do, I love blogging almost as much as I used to love sex before I got married and had kids and it all became a bit of a chore. Plus I am lucky enough to get paid for it sometimes (blogging not sex), and I have used the blog as a way of showcasing my writing to get commissioned for other work (again blogging not sex – no one would commission me for sex, I am far too lazy).
Secondly, and most importantly, in 2011 I would have never dared to even whisper that I was a writer. Whilst longing to be read I couldn’t dream of using that term. Nowadays I recognise what I do is writing – or to be precise –typing – but typist doesn’t sound half as fab as writer when spoken aloud in company, so I stick with writer. My tax return last year said author on it and I seriously considered framing it.
Success for me on this journey of sharing my family’s life with the internet has come in the form of confidence to achieve a dream. As a little girl I wrote stories in my head, bored my family to tears with tales of my own creation, and now age 36, I get to write stories most days and can call myself a writer.
I hope this helps…..