The beginning of October marked two years since I started Edinburgh with kids. Although I had a slight hiatus in the first year, I’m proud that I’ve not quit and continue to really enjoy writing. Blogging feels so narcissistic at times – I sometimes feel really arrogant to suppose that people really would want to read my views on the world. But at the same time, I feel tremendously thankful that people do and that I have that motivation to keep writing. With that in mind, I thought I’d share 10 things I’ve learnt in the last two years…
1. To value every reader who takes time to visit.
Whilst page views aren’t the be-all-and-end-all, I’m not sure I would still be writing if it was just my Mum reading. Not that I don’t value my Mum reading – she’s absolutely my favourite – but it would be disheartening I feel. Do you know that slogan ‘Every time someone buys something from an independent retailer, the owner does a little happy dance’? That’s how I feel when people read my blog, even more so when they take the time to respond to what I’ve written! I love to get feedback and comments – it really makes my day.
2. To be always be myself.
A couple of times I’ve been asked to promote things that just make me cringe. Like things that totally go against my ethos, like dieting cheats or gambling. More recently I was contacted by a company who I know has awful environmental credentials. Although I was really tempted by money (who wouldn’t be) ultimately, I just couldn’t bring myself to write about something that wasn’t me! No matter what, I think it’s important to stay true to myself. And any company looking to reduce plastic and promote reusable materials – count me in!
3. To have lots of self-confidence.
When I first started blogging, I kind of had the mentality of ‘if you build it, they will come.’ I would so love that to be true! The truth is, I can write something and if I haven’t got the SEO right or if Facebook doesn’t show it to people, then people won’t read. If I don’t get better at self-promotion and at shouting about the blog from the rooftops – then I may as well be writing a secret journal. You lose nothing by asking. Asking people to read, asking people to work with you, asking people for their opinion. This does require self-confidence and self-belief, and whilst this isn’t my natural place to be, it’s somewhere that I’m learning to be!
4. To enjoy life and not take things too seriously.
Sometimes, I realise that blogging can take over. Particularly when it comes to a ‘parenting blog’, you’re meant to be writing about time with your kids – whilst all the time you’re actually not spending time with your kids – you’re writing! I have to be honest and admit that sometimes, I’ve been stuck on my computer rather than taking the chance to play or just chill with them. I’m happy that I realised that and resolved to be mindful of that.
Honestly, the kids don’t need me hovering at all times. As I’m writing, Thomas is asleep and Katie is playing with her Sylvanians. She does not need me interfering in her game and Thomas does not need me to watch him sleep. But I did enjoy cuddling with Thomas whilst he fell asleep, I only put him down as Mike had dinner ready. I’ve also spent a lot of time with Katie this afternoon watching her cycling and putting on a ballet show. Life is all about balance. Being obsessed with any aspect of it is worrying in my mind!
5. To know blogging is more than just writing.
I touched on this before, but it really was a shock to realise that aside from my writing I needed to develop LOTS of other skills. I needed to find out about ‘search engine optimisation’, ‘domain authority’, multiple social media channels and learn to engage with all kinds of people. I know that I’m still really not good at selling myself. I always, without fail, downplay my achievements. Whilst blogging gives me a great opportunity to work on my writing, I also need to be a photographer, I also need to be a proof reader (so bad at this!), I also need to be a social media manager – and a PR ninja.
6. To acknowledge IT TAKES A LOT OF WORK.
7. To not compare myself to others.
I totally believe that competition is a good thing. It can motivate you to succeed and gives you a clear idea of what’s possible. But equally, you never really know the full picture. I could be comparing myself to someone who can afford to pay for loads of adverts. I could be comparing myself to someone who works at blogging as a full-time job. There are very few people who would actually be a fair comparison.
Equally, by comparing myself to people I’m far more likely to think that I ought to be doing a, b, or c, purely because the other person is. I think this is only going to result in unoriginal ideas and boring copycat-esque posts. Better to dance to your only tune entirely!
8. To be patient.
Some people seem to have overnight success and just appear out of nowhere. But as I said before, you don’t actually know where they came from. Maybe, they’ve got years of experience in the publishing industry. Maybe they’ve got great contacts. I know that I have none of those things! Success doesn’t come easily – if it did then every one would be doing it! In my experience, blogging is a marathon not a sprint. Last year 10 thousand people read my blog, this year I’ve welcomed 30 thousand thus far. Those readers didn’t appear on day one (except my lovely Mum!) and I hope they continue to read – but I know that I need to continue to work hard (and enjoy what I’m doing!).
9. To stay on task.
When I was writing my dissertation, my Mum sat me in front of the computer and brought me snacks at various intervals. I couldn’t procrastinate as there was absolutely no excuse. It can be really difficult to focus with blogging. I totally get distracted by beautiful Instagram images, I can far too easily start watching random stuff on youTube and I love a good Facebook meme. But this really does not help me publish anything! Sometimes, I need to be my own cheer squad and keep focused on the task at hand!
10. To adapt to whatever life brings.
Ultimately, I know that my blog won’t last forever. I named it ‘Edinburgh with kids’ – one day, my kids will be grown up! One day, I might even move. If I’m still writing when that day comes – I’ll just have to adapt. Whilst I could change now, that wouldn’t be true to where I’m at! I know that loads of bloggers have moved to vlogging, whilst that’s absolutely not for me, I have to work how to adapt to do other things too.
One day, my life might not involve writing, it may also involve MORE writing at some point. Who knows, but ultimately, I hope that I’m always open to new experiences and going on a adventure. I only hope that you, the person still reading, who may or may not be my mother, comes too!