I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog recently. I’ve been trying to devote my spare time to practicing my hypnobirthing breathing and basically just trying to chill out. I’ll blog about that in full when I get round to part two of my birth plans (you can read part one, about why I want a homebirth, here), but I had to get back on here to soothe the nagging guilt about abandoning my blog.
I’ve mentioned previously that I gave blogging a go before, a few years back. I gave up on it because I found myself struggling with feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy under the shade of the big hitters, the slick pro-bloggers, the celebs of the blogosphere. It felt a bit pointless to continue something I’d only started as a way to keep my mind active during maternity leave, but which had grown arms and legs and schedules and social media pressure, and which was eating away at my confidence. This time I’m trying to keep the fun in it and to maintain some perspective, and so thought I’d take this lull to reflect on what I’ve learned since I started this little scrap of the WWW back in March.
1. I am a hobby blogger…and that’s ok
I came to blogging after having an online journal for over ten years. My experience was sharing rants, anecdotes and the occasional low-res drunken photo with a small group of similarly angsty teenagers. So I was a bit scared off when I saw that blogging had a professional sheen and competitive, stats-driven side that was all new to me.
I understand now that for many bloggers this isn’t just a creative outlet – it’s how they make their living. But at the time I panicked, and felt much the same way as I had when as a kid I was accidentally put in a swim class beyond my ability (a mix up, I happened to share a name with a more advanced swimmer) – out of my depth, scared stiff and nearly drowning.
Now I can appreciate that I was a bit like a middle aged cyclist on a council cycle path trying to compare myself to a young Olympian in a fancy velodrome – similar sport, but vastly different levels of talent, time and equipment! And you know what? I’d look shit in one of those lycra suits anyway, so I’m quite happy to trundle along, avoiding the potholes with the other amateurs.
2. There is more than one type of blogger
Hand in hand with the above is that this time around I’m more aware that there are many different types of bloggers. I’ve been heartened finding those who do what they do just…because. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading blogs by those who collaborate with big organisations and who are practically brands in their own right. But I’m balancing the pro-bloggers with the hobbyists this time around.
3. Even novice bloggers need a plan
Or maybe that’s just heavily pregnant scatterbrains like me! But its so easy for me to let days pass me by – I get in tired from work, collapse on the sofa after dinner and ooops…blogging time is over before I’ve even touched the keyboard. But I’m a stickler for a to-do list, and a plan will help me get new content up on a regular basis. I need to make blogging routine – nothing too regimented or busy, given that I will soon have a newborn to contend with, but enough to kick me up the arse when I’m tempted by another evening vegetating in front of a box set.
4. Write first, read later
This has two meanings. My first is when putting together a post – I need to stop editing as I write! It can take me forever to write a post if I’m constantly tweaking and re-reading (I know, right? This crap I put up is actually the polished version…you don’t want to see the mess it starts as). I need to train myself to get the words down first, and worry about prettying them up afterwards.
The second meaning is to get my own blog posts written before I lose myself in reading other blogs. I’m such a fan of other bloggers that I can be distracted from my own writing by a single intriguing tweet, fall down the rabbit hole and emerge bleary eyed with my bed calling, having read ten other blog posts but with only my own blank post editor to show for it.
5. But always read…and comment
I’m not the most savvy networker, and building relationships with other bloggers is something I’ve just not mastered. But reading and commenting on other blogs has helped me feel more like part of the community, and I like to think/hope that some of those bloggers will head over here too. I know how good I feel if someone comments on my blog, so I like to make sure I’m spreading some of that love and positivity myself. Hopefully in time that will lead to some friendships, and maybe even some readers.
6. Social media is a WTF
I don’t know if I will ever crack the beast that is social media. Twitter is like a bunch of people shouting into a void, I only realise a moment was Instagram-worthy once it’s passed me by, and I don’t even know what a Snapchat is. I’ve been putting pressure on myself to jump into the rapids of social media, but it’s like that swimming lesson all over again. So I think for now, I’ll just stick to working on my blog and joining in with linkies.
Speaking of which…
7. I love linkies
Whilst its clear that not everyone plays fair, linkies have been by far the best way for me to get my posts noticed. And also to feed my blog reading addiction, but that’s maybe not always a good thing (see #4). Some linkies are better than others for people reading and commenting, and I think those will be the ones I focus on to help get me established.
8. My blog is already evolving
I started this as a place to chart my health efforts, but already I’ve found that I can’t talk about health without talking about my pregnancy. And I’m actually enjoying bringing my role as a mother into my blog. I think it’s way too early to try to force myself into a niche…maybe I wont ever have one. And I’m not going to avoid certain topics just because they don’t fit.
9. I need to take more photos
And to use this as an opportunity to really get to grips with what my camera can do. There’s nothing worse than delaying a post because I don’t have an image to go with it, and using stock pictures makes me feel like I’m cheating a bit! I’m going to be realistic, I’m probably never going to have the beautiful sorts of images I drool over on other blogs and a flat lay sounds more like a crap shag than something I could carry off, but I’m going to have fun trying.
10. I’m excited about what the next few months will bring
Ok, so there will be a new baby in that time, which is the most exciting thing ever. But blog-wise, I’m just curious to see what I can make of this place. Hopefully I can get some more readers, and start to feel more comfortable and confident about what I’m doing here!