4 things I learned from 1 year of blogging

Sometime around the end of July, the one-year anniversary of me starting this blog quietly passed. This blog was originally inspired by a holiday that I wanted to write about. A year later, it was ignored because of another holiday, which I should probably write about at some point.

I often see other bloggers writing something about their blogging anniversary (blogiversary??), and I’m not usually one to avoid a good bandwagon tbh. However, I think the sort of things I want to say might be a little bit different.

Until last week, I hadn’t blogged in about a month. I was unsure whether I was done with blogging, or I just needed a break. All I knew was that I really just needed to chill out and watch Netflix in the evening, and to never ignore my kids at the weekend so I could (just quickly) join a linky. I also had some other stuff going on in my life that distracted me from blogging, which I’m not sharing publicly yet … but watch this space (however I can tell you now that it’s nothing to do with having more babies – that’s what people always think when you say you have a secret).

So I had my break and I enjoyed it, but then last week I had a really stressful day. So to stop me mulling over the stressful thing, I went ahead and wrote a little blog post. It brought home to me the real reasons I blog – reasons that I hope I’ll remember as I continue to blog – reasons that might even keep me blogging for a long time yet.

I don’t need to be the best

When I first started blogging, I knew absolutely nothing about the world of blogging. I was just going to write down some stuff on the internet that I thought a few other people might find interesting. Then, I got sucked into the world of stats and leaderboards and follower numbers and branding collaborations. I got a little ambitious and competitive. I got a little obsessed.

What many people who don’t blog don’t know is that nobody gets to be a famous blogger, or a blogger who makes their living from blogging, without having a killer combination of hard work, talent and luck.

I do not need to compete with the famous bloggers, the well-paid bloggers, or even the ones who I personally think are just awesome and wish I could be more like. I don’t have to publish consistently or have beautiful social media feeds unless that’s what want. I can just blog because it relaxes me and because it helps me think things through. My blog is about me, and if anyone else is interested or thinks it’s good, then that’s a bonus.

I don’t need to get paid

Making a living from blogging or getting occasional paid blogging opportunities or product reviews are totally awesome. I’ve dabbled in this a little bit. I may or may not continue doing so. It’s kind of cool, but usually the time and effort I put into a review or sponsored post is not worth the money or “free” thing I got.

Occasionally, there have been a few experiences I’ve had because of blogging that money actually couldn’t buy. I’m grateful for these. But if they never happened again, I would still be happy about my little blog.

Blogging is about people

The best, best thing about blogging is people, in a couple different ways.

First of all, any blogger worth his or her corner of the internet engages with other blogs. We don’t all have endless time to read and comment on other blogs, but really a good blogger ought to have a few other blogs they read. Blogging isn’t just a broadcast … it’s a community. And if you read other blogs, you will be learning new things, and often these things are about people, and you will learn interesting things about people who are different to you. This expands your horizons.

Second, blogging really does help you make new friends. I have made at least one proper, meet-up in person friend through blogging, and have several other acquaintances who I really like. There are lots of bad things on the internet, but blogging has an amazing knack for helping you meet like-minded people.

Blogging is healthy

Ok, so there is the risk that you get obsessed with social media and you never look away from a screen again. But the act of actually blogging – writing something about your life that you have thought about – mitigates against that.

Blogging encourages introspection, but it also requires you to think about how to write about your introspection in a way that engages others. For me, blogging has helped me avoid negative thoughts about myself and instead think about how I can be my best self. This process is what I like to share on my blog.

So what next?

A lot of people talk about their future goals for their blog on these sort of posts, and sometimes those include getting to a certain follower milestone or something measurable like that. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’ve been to some mindfulness talks and I now prefer to set intentions. So here are mine:

  • To stay true to myself in all ways, including with my blog.
  • If I don’t feel like blogging, I’m not gonna blog. So you know what’s happening when I don’t post for a while.
  • But temporary breaks don’t mean I need to shut down the whole thing.
  • Carry on nurturing the community I’ve become a part of by joining in on social media and reading other blogs when I can.
  • Carry on balancing introspection with things that might be useful to others – this is, after all, a public place.

What do you think? Has your blogging journey taken you to places you didn’t expect? Did you go down a road that you later decided wasn’t right for you? What’s good and what’s not so good about being a blogger?

#EatSleepBlogRT – 21 May

Welcome to Week 7 of #EatSleepBlogRT! We’ve have decided to try out hosting the linky on both of our sites so you can now find it on Petite Pudding or The Mum Reviews. If you are a regular reader of one of our blogs, who is also a blogger and hasn’t tried out joining our […]

Welcome to Week 9 of #EatSleepBlogRT! It was a really busy week, as you will see from my host post, but I really enjoyed reading all your posts as a way to unwind on Friday night. I’m a little late adding this post and Zoe’s post is missing this week due to her wifi being gone for her impending move. Life never stops being interesting!

The winner of Top Post is Lisa Pomerantzster, “Swimming upstream. The world can be a pretty mean place sometimes, but it’s nice to be reminded that it’s right to keep on standing up for ourselves.

The Mum Reviews
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Top Tweeter was Laura from Five Little Doves (@fivelittledove5). And incidentally I really loved her post this week about CBeebies Land. I’d been wondering if it was worth going and she makes a good case.

The Mum Reviews
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So, as always, please link your post, comment on the one before you and tweet at least 5 links with the #EatSleepBlogRT hashtag. We’re looking forward to reading your posts. Thanks for joining us.

Nicole and Zoe

The Mum Reviews
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So, as always, please link your post, comment on the one before you and tweet at least 5 links with the #EatSleepBlogRT hashtag. We’re looking forward to reading your posts. Thanks for joining us.

Nicole and Zoe

Linky Rules

  • You can link 1 post – all subjects welcome
  • Please put our lovely badge on so that we can show off its fabulous design!
  • Comment on and tweet the post before yours.
  • Retweet at least 5 posts on twitter using the #EatSleepBlogRT hashtag (including the hosts’ posts)
  • Hosts will retweet when you link up (if you tag us in your tweet) and when we comment.
  • We will pick one post each week as our featured post
  • A Host will comment on and tweet all posts linked up.

#EatSleepBlogRT – 14 May

Welcome to Week 7 of #EatSleepBlogRT! We’ve have decided to try out hosting the linky on both of our sites so you can now find it on Petite Pudding or The Mum Reviews. If you are a regular reader of one of our blogs, who is also a blogger and hasn’t tried out joining our […]

Welcome to Week 8 of #EatSleepBlogRT! Thanks for everyone who joined us last week. It was a great group and very hard to choose a top post among so many great ones!

The winner of Top Post was Miss P Meets World, “ “What’s in our baby keepsake box?”. This made me all emotional and nostalgic about the little things I have that remind me of when my babies were very small. They really do grow up too fast. Are you good at letting go of sentimental things to avoid clutter? I definitely am not!

The Mum Reviews
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I’m awarding Top Tweeter to The Frenchie Mummy (@FrenchieMummy) this week. She made a really great effort in tweeting out lots of posts.

The Mum Reviews
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So, as always, please link your post, comment on the one before you and tweet at least 5 links with the #EatSleepBlogRT hashtag. We’re looking forward to reading your posts. Thanks for joining us.

Nicole and Zoe

The Mum Reviews
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Linky Rules

  • You can link 1 post – all subjects welcome
  • Please put our lovely badge on so that we can show off its fabulous design!
  • Comment on and tweet the post before yours.
  • Retweet at least 5 posts on twitter using the #EatSleepBlogRT hashtag (including the hosts’ posts)
  • Hosts will retweet when you link up (if you tag us in your tweet) and when we comment.
  • We will pick one post each week as our featured post
  • A Host will comment on and tweet all posts linked up.

#EatSleepBlogRT – 7 May

Welcome to Week 7 of #EatSleepBlogRT! We’ve have decided to try out hosting the linky on both of our sites so you can now find it on Petite Pudding or The Mum Reviews. If you are a regular reader of one of our blogs, who is also a blogger and hasn’t tried out joining our linky, please join in! It’s a great way to get to know some other bloggers and get inspired with new ideas. If you’ve never joined a linky before and aren’t sure how it works, feel free to DM @themumreviews on Twitter with any questions you have.

The winner of Top Post among last week’s links was What My Fridge Says, “My boobs are not small, they are low fat.”. She writes about an unimaginably difficult time in her life and how it changed her perspective. She is, as ever, inspirational and reminds us how transformational gratitude and self-love can be even in the darkest of times.

The Mum Reviews
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We are back to our old ways with Heather from Shank You Very Much (@HeatherKeet) winning the Top Tweeter badge yet again. However, @myrealfairy was hot on her heels so the game is afoot this week.

The Mum Reviews
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So, as always, please link your post, comment on the one before you and tweet at least 5 links with the #EatSleepBlogRT hashtag. We’re looking forward to reading your posts. Thanks for joining us.

Nicole and Zoe

The Mum Reviews
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Linky Rules

  • You can link 1 post – all subjects welcome
  • Please put our lovely badge on so that we can show off its fabulous design!
  • Comment on and tweet the post before yours.
  • Retweet at least 5 posts on twitter using the #EatSleepBlogRT hashtag (including the hosts’ posts)
  • Hosts will retweet when you link up (if you tag us in your tweet) and when we comment.
  • We will pick one post each week as our featured post
  • A Host will comment on and tweet all posts linked up.

#EatSleepBlogRT – 29 April 2017

Hello and welcome to Week 6 of the rebooted #EatSleepBlogRT. I’m sorry we’ve been missing for 3 whole weeks! Between Easter holidays and me just being utterly overwhelmed with life lately, it just wasn’t possible.

On top of that, we are having some technical difficulties and for that reason the linky is over here on The Mum Reviews instead of on Petite Pudding this week. But we do plan on being reliable now! I hope you will keep on joining us.

My favourite post from last time was by Daydreams of a Mum, “It’s ok to feel crap, even more ok to make yourself feel better”. She makes a very good point about taking time out to look after yourself mentally as well as physically, and also about how people are probably not judging you as much as you think.

The Mum Reviews
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And…drum roll + shocked face: we had a new top tweeter! Nicola from Mummy to Dex (@mummytodex) did the impossible and stole Heather’s tweeting crown. She actually tweeted some links more than once. Thanks so much to Nicola for all the sharing. I’m sure Heather is feeling more competitive than ever now so – bring it on. 😉

The Mum Reviews
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So, you know the drill: link your post, comment on the one before you and tweet 5 links. It is a bit of work, but I’m loving the little bloggy community we’re building here. Thanks for joining us.

Nicole and Zoe

Linky Rules

  • You can link 1 post – all subjects welcome
  • Please put our lovely badge on so that we can show off its fabulous design!
  • Comment on the post before yours.
  • Retweet at least 5 posts on twitter using the #EatSleepBlogRT hashtag (including the hosts posts)
  • Hosts will retweet when you link up (if you tag us in your tweet) and when we comment.
  • We will pick one post each week as our featured post
  • A Host will comment on all posts linked up.
The Mum Reviews
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Blogging and not keeping my powder dry

I took a creative writing class recently. The teacher was wonderful, and I was lucky enough to lure her out for a couple of pints with me one evening. I obviously could not resist boring her with a mention of my blog at some point. My blog is entirely different from the sort of writing we were learning in her class.

She was teaching us to be more observant and to look at the world as a series of images. Instead of snapping the images with a smartphone and sticking them on Instagram, we practised turning those images into words. It was a different way of thinking about writing for me.

Being an avid reader and even a sort of literary critic (having a PhD in English Literature qualifies me for that, right?), I thought I really ought to know about fiction writing. But I don’t. I know how to read something and write a killer essay about what it means. The creative writing class has opened my eyes to thinking more about description, image and metaphor in my writing.

And now I am seeing it everywhere. The very best journalists are doing it. The critics and columnists that I admire are doing it. And I wish I could do it.

During this pint with my teacher, she asked me: “Isn’t blogging not keeping your powder dry?”. I didn’t know what she meant at first. She explained that writers often prefer to keep all their little darlings a secret until they’re ready to unleash them on the world in flamboyant fashion. You keep your gunpowder dry so that it makes a big explosion once you finally light it.

I didn’t answer her at the time. The conversation flowed away from the question. But I’ve been thinking about it since. And sometimes I see other bloggers in our secret (not that secret) blogger Facebook groups saying how they’ve lost their blogging mojo, they forgot why they love it, it feels like it’s all hustle and no creativity.

And it reminds me that I started blogging because I didn’t have any bloody gunpowder. I didn’t write creatively at all and I feared writing. My confidence in my creative writing skills had become so undermined at some point in the past that I couldn’t stand to look at my own writing. It made me cringe.

When I started blogging I decided to face these fears and say to hell with my lack of confidence. My husband always tells me that the best way to feel confident is to fake it until you feel it. His example is when you try to pour a drink from one glass to another. If you doubt yourself, it will spill everywhere. Pour it all at once with panache, and everything will be fine.

And so with blogging I’m not wetting my gunpowder but stockpiling it. I’m learning to write in public. I’m practising my craft whilst leaving myself exposed to the possibility that someone will openly tell me I’m crap. And it’s actually exhilarating. And far more likely to lead me to the sort of writing that might actually cause a commotion.

Petite Pudding

A guide to growing Twitter followers for busy parenting bloggers

I have been blogging since the end of July 2016, and just over 6 months later I have over 3,300 followers. I find that I gain an average of 100 followers every week. There are plenty of bloggers out there who have more than me, but I’ve spoken to loads of bloggers who find Twitter difficult.

Most people will tell you that the key to Twitter is to actually chat to people rather than just dropping links to your blog posts. And they’re not wrong. However, I’ve still done pretty well for myself so far, and I am totally chat-impaired. I can’t think of anything to say on Twitter to just start a chat. I am not particularly witty and I fear commenting on current events.

I’ve read loads of posts about how to grow your Twitter, and there are lots of tips out there. In this post, I’ve tried to say something different from what I’ve seen all over town. These are my personalised tips for growing your Twitter without being witty or putting loads of time in. I hope you find them useful!

Get your basics right

Be sure you have nice pictures for your profile picture and cover photo. I personally think that it’s better to have a picture of yourself as your twitter profile pic because it makes you seem more personable. It’s also important to put a clear and personality-laden description on your profile. And of course, make sure you put the link to your blog on there.

It’s also a great idea to pin a post that you’d like people to notice. When I follow a new blogger, I often click on their profile and retweet their pinned tweet.

Get sharing from your blog right

First of all, make sure you are using Twitter cards. Twitter cards are when Twitter automatically adds the featured image of your blog post and its title in a nice big rectangle when you share the link. This is so important. I really don’t think anyone clicks on links that don’t use Twitter cards.

If you are on WordPress.com, Twitter cards should work automatically. If you are WordPress self-hosted, you will need to use a plugin such as Yoast. If you don’t use WordPress, I don’t know how you do it, but it’s worth figuring out.

Also, please make sure that your Twitter sharing button on your blog posts has your Twitter handle connected to it. This means that if anyone shares one of your posts using the sharing button, you will automatically be tagged on Twitter. If you don’t have this enabled, you won’t know if someone shared your post, and you’re missing a valuable chance for interaction. I often don’t even bother sharing posts if their Twitter handle isn’t connected.

Finally, make sure your Twitter handle is easy to find on your blog. You’d be amazed how many blogs on which I’ve struggled to find it!

Don’t use robots or be a robot

Not everyone will agree with me, but I just can’t bring myself to automate my Twitter. Many people use tools that automatically tweet out their new blog posts, but I think that takes the joy out of it.

When I tweet a link to a new post, I don’t use the title of my blog post in the tweet. I write an interesting quote or fact from the post, or I ask my readers a related question. If I tweet the post more than once, I introduce it differently each time.

PLEASE never use automatic DMs. Don’t send any DM to people, automated or otherwise, simply thanking them for following, or asking them to follow your other social media accounts. I don’t know anyone who likes that.

Use hashtags well

When you’re ready to drop a blog post link, spend a few minutes searching relevant keywords to see if there are any relevant hashtags you could use. It’s good to use one or two on each post. Also, check what’s trending and use a trending tag if it’s relevant (and ONLY if it’s relevant).

Be supportive – engage

Even though I’m not good at initiating chats or saying clever things out of the blue, I do engage with other people on Twitter as much as possible. At least once a day I scroll through my feed and retweet or favourite a few things that I like. If I see something to which I have a response, I reply to the person and start a conversation about it.

When I follow someone new, I go through their feed and try to find something to retweet, just to be nice.

If someone shares one of my posts – or tags me in a post that is relevant to me – I always favourite and retweet it. And I reply and thank them for sharing.

Curate who you follow

When I started blogging, I followed a load of random parenting bloggers. This wasn’t too bad of a strategy to start with. Many of them followed me back and I was able to start building relationships with them. Not everyone will agree with me, but I have a general policy of following people back when they follow me, and it’s served me well.

I choose whether to follow someone back based on their profile description.

  • I always follow bloggers back (because it’s a chance to be mutually supportive).
  • I don’t waste time following random celebrities, news sites or anything that I don’t feel could potentially benefit my Twitter following or my blog.
  • I follow back brands I’m interested in (but not that random mattress company in Spain).
  • I sometimes even follow back those vaguely spammy people who claim to be SEO or content marketing experts on their profiles.
  • I never follow back content bots (the way to spot them is when all their tweets have every word starting in caps along with clickbait-style links).
  • I don’t follow back “normal” people who follow me because of a comp or who just tweet about their lunch or their dog.

The thing that makes me totally comfortable with following freely is Crowdfire. It tells me when someone unfollows me or if I’m following an inactive account. If someone unfollows me, I simply unfollow them back. If someone never tweets, I unfollow them too. It is purely through this strategy that I’ve managed to end up following fewer people than the amount following me.

Take advantage of linky retweets

If you are joining in with linkies (and if you’re trying to grow your blog, you probably should be), a lesser know fact is that they are great for your Twitter account. If you have no idea what a linky is or how to use one, please read Cuddle Fairy’s Linky Guide.

The main purpose of a linky is to get comments on your blog whilst discovering and supporting other blogs. However, most linky hosts will offer to retweet the link to your post if you tag them on Twitter once you’ve linked up. And most linky hosts have huge followings, so they will be sharing your post with a huge amount of potential followers.

For example, one of my favourite linkies is “Keep Calm and Carry on Linking Sunday” hosted by A Moment with Franca. Franca alone has over 10,000 followers, plus she usually has about 4 co-hosts who will also retweet you. So they will be spreading your link all over Twitter. I also join a linky called #EatSleepBlogRT hosted by Petite Pudding and Diary of an Imperfect Mum, in which the main goal is for people to retweet each other’s posts.

Twitter chats

I have only joined in one Twitter chat – #tribalchat (follow @tribalchattweet for more info) on Tuesdays at 8pm – but it has been so beneficial to me. Every time I do, I get noticed on Twitter, even occasionally by brands. I assume this is because you are being active and Twitter’s algorithm decides to show you to more people.  And even better than that, I’ve actually made some really good blogging friends through doing it!

The way #tribalchat works is that there is a host each time and they ask “icebreaker” style questions that all the chatters answer. They’re usually very silly and even slightly rude. Then we are all meant to interact and chat away as much as possible. You can join in as much or as little as you choose. Just remember to put #tribalchat in everything you tweet so the others will see what you write.

It can be intimidating at first, and I know I didn’t feel I was witty enough with my answers. But alcohol and practice has made me a pretty decent #tribalchat-ter. A few practical tips:

  • Chat on your laptop. The chats go fast and it’s almost impossible to keep up on a phone.
  • Check the host’s feed for the questions.
  • Search on the #tribalchat hashtag to see what other chatters are saying. Remember to click the “latest” tab, otherwise you’ll only see the most popular things people say rather than all the things.
  • Keep refreshing your notifications too and respond to what people say to you.
  • Retweet anything you think particularly funny or interesting.
  • Use GIFs because they’re funny and take up more space.

If #tribalchat isn’t your cup of tea, you could try #ukpbloggers, #tbhchat or #babybantzchat, among many others. Fellow blogger Samantha from North East Family Fun also suggested to me that joining in with local non-blogger chats is a great way to bring in a new crop of readers.

Run competitions on your blog

I use Rafflecopter to occasionally run competitions on my blog, when I find a brand willing to cooperate. You can ask people who want to win your comp prize to follow you on Twitter and tweet about the comp. This has the potential to grow your following massively. Some compers will unfollow after the competition finishes, but many will stick around.

How parenting bloggers can grow Twitter followers by 100+ per week

Thank you to bloggers who responded to my crowdsourcing request for this post. I found I already had pretty set ideas for the post, but their contributions were appreciated:

 

What do you think of my Twitter strategies? What are your top Twitter tricks?

I didn’t know blogging could change the world

Last weekend I attended Mumsnet’s Blogfest 2016. It was my first blogging conference, and I was a massive noob as I’ve only been blogging for about 4 months. I attended thinking I was going to learn how to grow and promote my blog. But I left with something much more important – a renewed sense of purpose.

Before I began blogging, I didn’t really know what it was all about. I thought people just wrote diaries about their daily lives and didn’t mind if strangers read them. I started my blog to offer advice about how to plan successful days out and holidays with young children in tow. I was going to keep it impersonal and apolitical, but my plans changed very early on.

I soon learned about the amazing community of parenting bloggers. These were intelligent, talented people who were writing about things for which they cared deeply. Parenting is not a walk in the park, and they were honestly sharing their achievements and failures in a way that could make others feel not so alone.

They were writing about important issues such as coping with miscarriages. They were removing the stigma from PND and other mental health issues by sharing their stories and coping strategies. They were standing up for others – both those like themselves and those who were different. They were campaigning for equal rights for all.

The other bloggers changed my goals for my blog and I started writing about issues I cared about too.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that Blogfest was not just about beautiful photography and great SEO. It was about how blogging can make a difference.

We are living in a time when politics are making people feel uncertain about the future of the world. One of the drawbacks of social media is that it can filter out alternative voices, making it easier for people to only see what they want to. We’re living in a world where the truth belongs to whoever is powerful enough to propagate their version of it.

In such a world, bloggers have a surprising amount of power and responsibility. We are in a privileged position because we have the resources to publish our views and the skills to communicate them effectively.

That gives us the opportunity to campaign for what is right. We can speak up when others might fall silent. We can speak truth to power.

Blogfest was about so much more than monetizing your blog or increasing your pageviews. It was about a beautiful community of women and men who, unusually compared to so many other professions, support each other more often than they compete with each other. Who defend each other’s right to speak even when they disagree.

So as I look forward to continuing my blog, I will try not to obsess over stats or which brands I’m working with. I will focus on whether the things I’m saying will make a difference. I’ll add my voice to the many who are challenging dominant narratives. I will not be silent when I see injustice. And if that helps just one person feel less alone, or makes just one person reevaluate their thinking, then that makes it all worthwhile.

I’m going to leave you with this YouTube video that they played during the campaigning session at Blogfest. It was a speech from Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign, about how one voice can effect change. The speech may be 8 years old, but I’m more fired up and ready to go than ever.

Petite Pudding
Tammymum
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Blog Toast Tuesday: 20 September 2016

Welcome back to #blogtoast Tuesday, my weekly feature where I offer a congratulatory toast to two blogs that I like. Virtual booze does not have the same effect as real booze, but perhaps my modest praise can take the edge off your day in much the same way.

The Unsung Mum: For the underestimated and unacknowledged rad mum

I’m realising that my very favourite blogs are funny and poignant ones that highlight the hard bits of parenting with a self-deprecating sense of humour, and try to make us all feel better about ourselves. The Unsung Mum is doing this right.

Her posts are written in the third person and feature hilarious illustrations that appear to have been drawn in Microsoft Paint or suchlike. They are usefully labelled in case you are in any doubt about (for example) which bits of a picture are shit and which bits are chocolate.

I particularly enjoyed “How to rid yourself of the mothers’ group Twatty McTroll Face“, about those women both online and IRL who make you feel bad because you use disposable nappies and don’t make your own hummus – and how we can defeat them.

Her most recent post, “The Unsung Mum and the PND disaster” describes the things that went through her head when she suffered with PND. I relate to a lot of it, but also appreciate her very wise statement that PND comes in many different shapes and sizes. The most important bit is how she says it was a friend that helped her the most, telling her “it’s okay not to be okay”. It’s a good reminder of what we should all tell our friends sometimes when we think they might need it.

Our Rach Blogs

In a Twitter conversation recently, Rach told me that people don’t like her (her exact words: “I’m like thrush”). Based on how interesting her blog is, I find this hard to believe. But then again, people don’t like me either. And I only sometimes like people.

There are lots of things I like about this blog, and as one of its features is Top 10 lists, I’m going to be all thematic & shit and list the reasons I like her blog. I’m only doing 5 though (I don’t have time/too lazy to do 10).

  1. She writes feminist stuff. Her recent post, “What do you mean you don’t want kids?” was brilliant. Nobody thinks being childless or choosing childlessness makes a man less of a person, so why are people always implying that about women?
  2. She questions everyday bullshit. I like this one where she wonders why we always say sorry to each other for stupid things like pressing the same lift button at the same time. I’m not British-born so I work harder than anyone to say sorry all the time (to prove my Britishness), but maybe I should stop that.
  3. She writes about mental health and PND awareness, a topic that is also close to my heart.
  4. She is a good writer. Every post unfolds just like you’re reading a really good column in a really good newspaper.
  5. She covers an eclectic range of topics. I’ve read a lot of advice in the blogging world that says you need to make sure you stick to a niche, but I’m sceptical about that. It’s my blog and I’m going to write what I want. I’m glad she does that too.

Please do join me in toasting the best blogs by tweeting your favourite this week with the hashtag: #blogtoast (and if you mention @themumreviews I will retweet you – it’s win/win!) – or let me know just what you think of me in the comments!

Behind the Blogging Scenes

I’m having a bit of a blog tag week. Earlier this week, I interviewed my husband for #TheDaddyTag challenge. Now I’m trying out ‘Behind the Blogging Scenes’. This one gives bloggers a chance to give their readers a glimpse at how they work behind the scenes.

Claire at The Pramshed did a great post answering the questions below, and she very kindly tagged me when I asked her to. I love answering questions about myself, lol. So here goes…

Where do you blog?

Usually sat on my sofa with my laptop while my husband watches some sport on the television, after the kids are in bed. Actually, since I’ve started blogging, I watch very little TV anymore as I’d always rather be doing something blog related! I’m trying to get some posts queued up ahead of time so I have more time when Strictly Come Dancing is on.

Where do you find inspiration for your blog posts?

Everywhere I can! I started the blog because I like writing my opinions of days out and holidays, along with tips for other people who want to do the same thing. Usually, I think of ways I might have organised a day out differently in order to make it more fun, and try to share those tips with my readers. I also get inspiration from other blogs, and I like sharing stories about my own life. My blog has ended up being more personal than I thought it would be before I started!

How long does it take you to write your blog posts?

Anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours. If it’s just me writing about my feelings or my past, it usually spills out pretty quickly. But if I’m trying to write something more factual, like this post on maternity rights, it takes me a lot longer to do the research. It also takes me longer if there are a lot of photos to sort out.

Do you plan your blog posts? How?

I’m still experimenting with how to schedule my posts across the week. I’m finding I like to post around 4 times a week. On Tuesday, I always post in my #blogtoast series, where I highlight a few other blogs that I really like. On Friday, my blogging partner “The Mum Recipes” always posts an easy family recipe. For the other two posts, I like one to be useful like a review or advice about something, and the other to be personal. But, if I fancy doing something different one week, I will – I don’t want to get too weighed down by routine.

What kind of camera do you use? What editing programme?

I’m not much of a photographer. I use my mobile phone to take photos. For editing, if it’s just cropping, I use Preview on my Mac. If the colours are wonky/it needs brightening up a bit, I use the auto touch-up on Google Photos. If some serious work needs to be done or an image created from scratch, I use Photoshop. I’m not great at Photoshop but I’m learning new bits of it all the time. I also like using the Prisma app for filters.

Do you use a notebook to track your ideas?

Nope. I usually write down my ideas and save them on draft status on WordPress. I started using the WordPress app to do this when I’m out and about – but I got burned doing that the other day. I was in the pub and had some (obviously incredibly brilliant) post ideas after a couple of pints. I accidentally published just the ideas with no content, which immediately went out to all my subscribers. From now on, I’ll use a simple notes app to track my ideas so I don’t accidentally publish too soon!

How do you take your pictures?

I just shoot from the hip, to be honest. I know that I should have brilliant photos to get the best engagement, but they’re just not the most important thing to me. I’m a words person. And I feel like if I take too many photos, it ruins my enjoyment of whatever I’m doing. I want to look through my eyes instead of the lens.

What’s your favourite type of blog post to write?

Ones that have the perfect intersection of something I’m passionate about with something I think other people will find useful.

Who knows about your blog?

I haven’t kept it a secret. I’m not good at keeping my own secrets. I probably bore most of my friends talking about it. But I haven’t shouted about it to some members of my extended family whom I think will disapprove. One of my posts got chosen for blog of the day on Mumsnet this week. I haven’t told my dad that more than a thousand people have read that story now!

Are you an organised or messy blogger?

I’m usually a super organised person, but I do tend to just do whatever I want with blogging. Whatever topic strikes my fancy, different linkys every week, different social media outlets. I just bounce around. I’ve read some great stuff about how to blog more productively, but I don’t want it to feel too much like a job.

Biggest blogging pet peeve?

Well obviously a big part of blogging is sharing stuff on social media. I dislike people (usually companies) that follow you only to get a follow back, and then unfollow soon after. You should follow people only if you’re interested in what they’re saying! I usually follow people back unless they are obvious spammers or have no profile info so I don’t know who they are. I also don’t understand why so many porn ladies follow me! They’re all like “hey come see my naked pics on Snapchat”. Does my twitter profile make me look like I like porn?

Please let me know in the comments if you want me to tag you to tell your own blogging behind the scenes story – I’ll invite you on Twitter and retweet you if you mention me in your post.

Diary of an imperfect mum