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

Blog Toast Tuesday: 16 August 2016

I was rather excited and flattered the other day when another blog featured me! I thought it was such a lovely idea that I am going to copy her (because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery). I’m going to make up my own hashtag for it (why not, right?), and anyone who wants to copy me is perfectly welcome to.

So from now on, every Tuesday I’ll be featuring 3 blogs that I’ve enjoyed over the past week. I’m calling it #blogtoast. Because I’m toasting your efforts, get it? And I like wine.

cars&cooking – From the kitchen to the racetrack and back again

This is the lovely blog that featured me and gave me the idea. The blog does what it says on the tin – shares a great variety of recipes and some very good writing about motor racing. It’s not the typical “mum blog”, but she is a mum, and I think it’s great that she just focuses on what she loves. The recipes she shares are all the sorts of things I (with my limited cooking skills) would like to try, and they sound child-friendly too. First on my list is the Chicken with lemon and caper butter. I had a good chuckle about getting rid of my aggression by pounding the chicken flat.

Siena Says – Lifestyle, Family, Writing and Chocolate

I discovered this one just today whilst participating in this week’s Big Pink Link. Siena says she tried to make her blog like a magazine she would like to read, and she’s certainly made it like a magazine would like to read. She’s got a beautiful layout and a nice spread of topics, with her main menu headings being lifestyle, parenting and opinion. Her conversational writing style makes you want to be her mate and she throws in humour and brutal honesty in equal measure. One of my favourite bits of her linked post, ‘7 Things Primary School Mums Should Know‘ was the point that ‘all school administration staff are trained at the “Had an accident/Life Insurance/PPI Claim School of Texting”‘. That’s already been happening to me with my son’s preschool!

notaneffingfairytale – Because life is no fairytale. Let’s laugh at it together

This was also on the Big Pink Link but I had seen it before. I knew it would be just my sort of thing as soon as I saw her Twitter avatar featuring a drunken Snow White. To me that said ‘escapism’ and ‘drinking’, which are two of my favourite things. Her writing is absolutely hysterical because she is not afraid to ‘go there’. Her linked post was ‘The (embarrassingly) long list of men I would leave my husband for‘ in which it’s not all about looks but she comes up with a rather interesting way to silence David Beckham. I also deeply enjoyed (and related to) ‘Toilets I Have Fallen Down Around The World and Other Travel Injuries‘. It’s not a blog you should read if you’re easily shocked or prim and proper, but if that’s the case you probably shouldn’t be reading my blog either.

What are some of your favourite blogs that you’ve discovered this week? Drop me a comment or stick it up on Twitter, mentioning @themumreviews and #blogtoast, and I’ll RT.

Mummascribbles

The best & worst of being a new blogger

Thoughts on staying motivated

It’s been just over a week since I started this blog, and it’s starting to get real.

I am a bit of a faddy sort of person, or maybe even a bit of a “quitter”. I get excited about things and pursue them avidly for a while, and then if they get hard or boring I quickly move on. When I started this blog, I promised myself I would stick with it for a change. I even paid for a domain name so that the financial outlay might guilt me into sticking with it.

But today I’m starting to realise how difficult this blogging malarkey can be. So to keep myself on target, I decided to write a little list of the best and worst things about blogging so far.

The best

Catharsis

After going through the process of writing a post, I just feel better. I’ve taken all this stuff bouncing around inside my head and put it somewhere else. Almost every night, my toddler wakes me at 4am for a drink and a cuddle, and then I find it difficult to get back to sleep because I start thinking about stuff. Now that I’m blogging, I’ve emptied my head before bed, and I sleep better.

Achievement 

There is a lot to be said for that feeling when you publish a post that you’re happy with. And even more to be said for that feeling when you find that someone actually reads it, or comments positively on it, or even shares it. That feeling could become a little bit addictive.

Connection and community

Before I started I had no idea what a big deal blogging was. I didn’t know it was a thing with groups and awards and a million articles for advice and strategy. There are so many other bloggers out there who are so interesting and supportive, and I’ve really enjoyed connecting with some of these people and starting to join the community.

The worst

Losing confidence

What if my writing is actually rubbish? What if nobody reads my blog? What if someone actually tells me that it’s rubbish? I’ve had a lot of self-doubt, and when things don’t go quite the way I expect, it gets worse. So I’m trying to remember that, although it would be lovely if people read my blog, that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it for me – for enjoyment, for self-improvement, for the sake of doing something challenging. It’s not perfect but it’s mine.

Offending someone

I work in publishing so I’m used to assessing whether content is going to be controversial or offend a particular group of readers. But blogging is a bit more personal. What if I offend someone close to me with something I write? I would never write something intentionally hurtful, and I do try to be considerate, but sometimes people see things from a different perspective from me. This is a tough one. I hope that anyone who thinks I write something offensive will go ahead and call me out. Opening the lines of communication means that we have a chance to resolve misunderstandings. And if I mess up I will try to make amends.

Content!

I obviously can’t write a blog if I have nothing to write about. I’m still coasting on the wave of my blog being new, so I have lots of ideas for content. But I worry about running out of ideas and how I’m going to cope with that. I also worry about whether the content I do have is actually worth having. But I’m trying to remind myself that this blog is always going to be a work in progress. It’s not a finished product but an evolving thing that will grow and change and take me on a journey.

The verdict

I took my son to see “Finding Dory” this week and keep hearing her little song in my head: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!” It seems to me that blogging is about perseverance. So whenever I lose my confidence or get a little bit scared, I’m going to “just keep blogging”.

What are the best and worst bits of blogging for you? How do you motivate yourself to keep on blogging?

I like to review stuff

On a recent holiday to the Isle of Wight, I was sat somewhere being bored. I can’t remember exactly what I was doing at the time, but it was probably while waiting for my children to do something. They like to take their time.

And then I started thinking about the holiday itself, and what I liked and disliked about it. I realised I had a lot of opinions and advice based on those opinions. And then I remembered that before I went on holiday I spent quite a lot of time trying to see what opinions other people had about things I was going to do on holiday.

And then I had an epiphany: I actually really, really like to review stuff. I spent some time as the editor of the arts & entertainment section of my university’s newspaper, so I’m not entirely new to reviewing stuff. But since then, my reviews have been confined to chats with my husband and friends, or the occasional TripAdvisor or Facebook review.

So I thought I’d have a go at telling the world my opinions about interesting things I’ve done. A lot of the things I review will be useful for people with young families. But I will also review the grownup things I (very occasionally) do.

I never thought I would be the sort of person to write a blog. But hopefully someone will find it useful. And if not, at least I will have a record of lots of things I’ve done and what I thought about them.

Watch this space for my first two review posts, which will be about our Isle of Wight holiday (which was mostly not boring – when I wasn’t waiting for my children to do stuff).