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?

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Sunshine Blogger Award: Sweet stealing and spelling

I was invited by the very lovely Anna Brown to participate in the Sunshine Blogger Award. It’s a nice little tag post where someone asks you 10 questions, which you then answer and nominate 3 more bloggers to answer your own 10 questions. It’s a nice way of shouting out to other bloggers you like and learning more about them.

1. If you could visit any point in history for just an hour where, when and why?

Okay this is overly sentimental, perhaps, but give me a break – I’m still in grief mode. I would go back to Florida in Summer 2003, when I was living with my grandparents. I would sit my grandma down and ask her all of the questions I never got to ask, and tell her the things I never got to tell her.

2. What film does everyone else love that you think is totally overrated?

Does it have to be a film? Because the thing that really fits this question for me is Breaking Bad. Everyone thinks it’s so great, right? I tried really hard to watch it, but it just sets my teeth on edge. I had nightmares about the episode with the bathtub. If you’ve watched it you’ll know what I mean.

But I do like that joke that went round, about how if Breaking Bad took place in the UK, the whole story would never have happened because the NHS would sort him out for free and he wouldn’t need to sell drugs.

3. If you were a cocktail what would your ingredients be and what would you be called?

This is a really hard question! I’m no mixologist! Can I be a drink that already exists? I would be a bourbon sour, because it’s classy and complicated but not up itself. Also, it’s American but slowly becoming more accepted in the UK.

4. What five items are always in your handbag?

Besides the obvious wallet, keys, etc., I assume? Too many pens, an emergency sanitary pad, headphones, lipstick and business cards (two types – one for blogging and one for my day job).

5. If you had to lose one sense, which one would you choose?

Hearing because I think you probably lose the least amount of quality of life. You can still drive, see where you’re going, look in the mirror (I’m vain like that), unlike if you were blind. I love to eat so I don’t think life would be worth living without a sense of taste, and your sense of smell is linked to taste. And life without touch would be very lonely. I’m already losing my hearing anyway, I think, from listening to too much loud music as a teenager.

6. Have you ever broken the law? Details required unless a court case is pending.

When I was about 12, I stole some sweets from a store because I really wanted them and didn’t have any money. I felt so guilty that I went back the next day and left the money on the counter before running away. I’m such a rebel, right?

7. How do you de-stress?

I could probably make an argument for running or even blogging, but let’s face it: it’s wine.

8. If you could only eat one meal and drink one drink for all eternity without negative repercussion what would they be?

Does that mean I could only ever eat that thing, or just that I could eat as much of that thing as I want? Anyway, I reckon it would be a spicy chicken tikka masala with some vegetable sides, pilau rice and naan bread, with a Strongbow cider. If it’s a full meal, I would require poppadoms with chutney beforehand and cupcakes for afters. Really moist and spongey cupcakes with lots of icing on top – American ones, not stodgy British ones.

9. If you could choose a week away with your partner/children to ANYWHERE IN THE WHOLE WORLD or a week away solo to the place of your dreams, which would you choose? (and where’s the place of your dreams?)

There are so many places I’d like to go, but my big dream is to go to India, with a mixture of sightseeing and relaxing on a beach in Goa. A week might not be enough. I would either go with my partner and not my kids, or maybe take them when they’re much older than they are now.

10. Tell me three things that make YOU wonderful.

I’m honest, loyal to my friends, and good at spelling.

I’d like to invite 3 blogger friends of mine to participate next:

And here are your questions:

  1. What fictional place would you most like to visit?
  2. What’s the farthest you have ever been from home?
  3. If you could have one day where there would be no consequences for doing socially unacceptable things (not necessarily illegal – just rude), what would you do?
  4. Who would play you in the movie of your life?
  5. What is one song that would HAVE to be on your life movie’s soundtrack?
  6. What is the number one thing on your “bucket list”?
  7. What is your favourite conspiracy theory, that you really hope is actually true?
  8. Would you rather travel to the past or the future, and why?
  9. What is your favourite word? Mine is defenestrate.
  10. Name 3 things you are grateful for today.

#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
<div align="center"><a href="https://themumreviews.co.uk/" rel="nofollow" title="The Mum Reviews"><img src="http://i1262.photobucket.com/albums/ii606/Petite_Pudding/EatSleepBlogRT%207_zpsz6pkpd9o.png" alt="The Mum Reviews" style="border: none; height: auto; width: 200px;" /></a></div>

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.

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.

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Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday