Exactly 365 days ago, I became the mother of a new baby - my blog. As with any new baby, it's been an emotional ride and we've been through various stages together: not having a clue what we're doing; teething problems; feelings of inadequacy and attempting to correct bad habits. But here we are 1 year in, 74,000 page views later, 185 posts under our belt and a grand total of 3000 comments! If you were one of those readers or commenters, please count yourself as appreciated :)
Blogging is something which I had never before considered as a legitimate 'hobby' - surely it's just someone tinkering around with a few ideas and hitting 'publish'? How wrong I was! This 'hobby' ticks all the right boxes for me:
- It satisfies my craving for a creative outlet (something which I believe is in all of us)
- I can get all of the words out I want, without fear of interruption (where else can you do that?!)
- It encourages instant feedback and communication with the outside world (perfect for social interaction junkies like me!)
I have also learnt an enormous amount this year, not only about blogging but also about myself. I therefore thought it would be a worthwhile exercise, on my 1 year anniversary, to put into words just exactly what I've learnt:
Blogging is addictive
Anyone who already blogs will know this to be true. If you don't blog and are thinking about it - beware! For the first few weeks it consumed my every waking thought, in fact sometimes even my non-waking ones! I have learnt (the hard way) to find a pattern to my blogging, one which fits into my everyday life and doesn't interfere too much with the rest of my world: I usually only blog 3 times a week and I write quick notes on my phone every time an idea comes into my head, that way they are recorded and not swimming around, consuming my thoughts.
There are some awesome blogs out there
Initially, I was a little awe-struck by some of the blogs I found: Dorky Mum expertly uses her blog to campaign for charities such as Save the Children (amongst others); the auspicious Team Honk were invited out to Ghana with Comic Relief to blog and highlight the achievements of the last ten years and Mich at Mummy from the Heart took a trip to Belarus with Operation Christmas Child to follow their journey and report back to the rest of us via her superb blog.
Then there are those who use their blog as an outlet for sharing the difficulties of life: Manic Mum who is bringing up her 4 children alone, after her husband's head injury (resulting in brain damage) at a rugby match; The Boy's Behaviour who shares her adoption story and most recently, Edspire who tragically lost her baby to SIDS earlier this year.
Of course there are also my favourite bloggers who I can relate to (Mum of Three World, Everyone Else is Normal, Hello Wall and many more!), others I read for the fun-factor (The 40 Year Old Domestic Goddess, Adventures of an Unfit Mother, Ramblings of a Formerly Rock n Roll Mum) and those with immense writing skills who I admire hugely (Not Different but Interesting, Older Mum in a Muddle, Mummy Plum and All at Sea).
Disclaimer: if I haven't included you, it doesn't mean I don't love your blog, it just means I have a terrible memory!
There's room for everyone
Off the back of the point above, I would also like to highlight that the blogging world is vast. Don't ever think that your blog isn't 'good enough' - I'm amazed that anyone even reads mine, but they do! If I had fallen prey to the inadequacy I felt during the first few months, I would have given up on something which has brought me so much pleasure and I hope, helps or at least amuses others.
Blogging is time consuming
This is an understatement of epic proportions! Blogging isn't just about writing content and publishing it (well, if you're naturally driven like me, it isn't), there is endless amounts of plugging on social media, sharing via blogging networks, reading and commenting on other blogs and trying to keep up to date with the latest techie stuff (told you I'm no good at it!). All of this takes research and countless hours of trial and error 'tweaking'....exhausting!
Blogging can be an opening to new opportunities
Since starting my blog I have been invited to guest post on other blogs, write an article for ivillage, have my words published in a book, been included in Tots 100's Best Blogs of 2012 and have appeared on Mumsnet Blogger's front page as 'blog of the day'. I have also been asked to publish sponsored posts and review some great products. As you can imagine this has all been very exciting but I have learnt that there is danger in saying 'yes' to everything. The initial aim of my blog was to practice my writing skills and use it as a platform for more writing opportunities - this I am beginning to see happen. I now understand that there is no need to gorge yourself silly on everything that is offered.
I still have so much to learn
I just think I'm getting somewhere and then someone throws in a curve ball such as Google+! I'm not the most technical being in the world but I'm trying.....and still learning.
Real life is important
It really is very easy to become so absorbed in blogging that everything else takes a back seat. I must admit that I have taken my eye off most things at some point or another, due to the blog - the housework being the worst hit! This hobby has the ability to suck you in so much that before you know it, the clock says 3pm and yet again, it's time to pick up the kids. I am a sociable being so although the virtual interaction is good, it's also important that I still meet up and have regular face to face conversations with my friends and family.
There is power in community
This is one of the things that surprised me the most during my first year of blogging. On a personal level, I have experienced support, free techie advice and oodles of encouragement. But for those who have really needed a community around them, people who have been through some terrible life traumas, they have experienced community at it's very best. To anyone who says that online friends aren't real ones, I've witnessed plenty of bloggers come alongside others in their hour of need in the most remarkable ways - truly inspiring.
Not everyone will understand
Only a small percentage of my readers are 'real-life' friends and family - something I never expected. I wrongly assumed, when first starting out, that only people who know and love me would read. In practice, it's more or less the opposite! I suppose this makes sense - people who aren't bloggers will not necessarily understand or support this new-found love. As with any hobby, if it's not your 'thing' then it will perhaps be an enigma to you (fishing springs to mind!). It's only right therefore, that I thank my long-suffering family, particularly the OH who has encouraged and supported me, despite not really 'getting it' - for him it's probably been a long year!
And so to the next year - what's in store? I am brimming with ideas to involve my children and perhaps even include 'It' a little bit more. Please stay tuned for more honest portrayals of family life with 3 children and 1 crazy dog....
But for now - thanks for reading! x
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