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Confessions of a Bath Mummy Blogger (an article for Bath Mums Magazine).
Sarah Lowden Poole – a woman of many Hats (and shoes and bags). I am an ex teacher of philosophy, the wife of a Home Office Pathologist (for whom I write up the occasional report and man the office), Mother of 4, also currently President of the New Generation Bath WI. Author and Illustrator of Chronicles of Domestic Disaster. Oh and Blogger.
Who am I and what am I doing here?
I am a Big Mouth – I’ve always had lots of opinions and no real hang-ups about expressing them. I love words: funny ones, long ones, silly ones and sweary ones. I use them all the time – to teach, to entertain, even to comfort. Wherever words are needed I am happy to oblige. So when I made the time honoured move – out of the Big Smoke to our own precious slice of Rural Idyll I used lots of those lovely words to describe our voyage of discovery – East (London) meets West (country) – to those left behind. I became a provincial Lady of Letters mostly because the Telly didn’t work and I had not yet made any friends.
As the dust settled I found that I was looking after 4 small children with a now mostly absent husband who also expected me to run his new home office. Added to which was a house, that only by constant attention (and bits of sticky tape augmented with Weetabix) could be persuaded not to fall down so opportunities for making new acquaintances while I was lurching from one crisis to the next were limited.
A new life had produced a new perspective and having left the rat race and stopped attempting to juggle paid work with the unpaid kind I found that – come Wine O’Clock – the observations of the day were competing to be expressed. There were sentences forming in my head that needed to be released so with glass in hand in the quiet of the evening I approached the World Wide Web.
Investigating the Blogosphere I found a whole gaggle of funny, feisty mummies all ranting and raving about the Stuff of Life – Baby advice, Cookery, Kids Activities, Places to go, things to do, Reviews – commercial and otherwise – anything and everything was there. So it was that I came to spend many a happy evening snorting and chortling with recognition or indignation as the whim took me – but making the step from watcher to participator was quite a leap.
Having collected some material, decided on my USP (more scraped knees than dirty nappies), and chosen my Website (WordPress seemed the simplest and it came with a ‘How to’ section) I was away. Sort of! The really scary bit was not the publishing but the publicising.
You would have thought that to hit the publish button was the final stage but No! How to let everyone know that you are there? I had to learn the Art of Self Publicity. The real plunge came when I embraced Social Media hitting Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Pinterest: the Lot! This was a good start but still not enough – So now to connect with the Rulers of the Mumosphere – the Mumsnet, BritMums, Net Mums of the world! Would they embrace me or would I be left on the playground – reliving the isolation of not being able to Double Dutch?
It turns out that Playing with the Big Girls is much easier than skipping – Phew! All the Mummy sites run blog round ups like Not a Notting Hill Mummy and themed ‘linkies’ like Actually Mummy to promote their bloggers. They are welcoming and the best advice is to comment on other blogs – join the chat, find bloggers with similar interests and get stuck in.
To Blog or not to Blog – Since leaving the chalk face of the class room I had not had a captive audience to laugh at my jokes or anybody to tell me that I had done a good job for a really long time so it was just lovely to join in with the jolly banter on-line. I got entirely hooked on watching the number of my readers and subscribers increasing; I could sit for hours noting how many today, where they had come from, what they responded to and replying to their comments.
It was positively affirming every time someone ‘Liked’ a Post but the Best day came when I discovered –by dint of a sudden surge in my readership (I had been at the number Stats again) that I had been chosen as Mumsnet Blogger of the Week. It felt amazing: In a world of laundry, fish fingers, tantrums and criticism – it is especially nice to feel that someone, somewhere, appreciates you. And when they chose me a second time – Whoo Hoo! I had that warm, fuzzy, excited second-date feeling – ‘They like me, they really like me!’
In my first Blog – Chronicles of Domestic Disaster I blogged about Moving House, the Olympics, the BathWI, School Holidays, Dragging unwilling Husbands to Parties, The Unbelievably daft things that Small Boys do, Our Pets, Trips (numerous) to A&E, anything and everything that makes up my Mummy Existence. All the time learning that little bit more about what works and what doesn’t.
- Everyone loves a list
- Include some sort of picture to illustrate your text
- Keep it short and snappy – 300/500 words seems a good size.
- Be topical
- Over-sharing seems to be a common problem – It is worth asking “Do you really want to publish those pictures of your nearest and dearest? Will they ever forgive you? Would you want your mother/boss/children or husband to read this?”
- Bitch Much? What sounds funny when you say it can change dramatically when it is written down: a light-hearted tease can sound more like sarcastic sniping.
It has been a steep learning curve but a year on and I have 2 (and a half) blogs running and it has been a hugely positive experience. I have enjoyed some giggles, made some cyber friends and am even off to my first Bloggers Convention in London next month in the hope of turning my second Blog into a more commercial venture.
So in order not to look as if I have been sitting at a keyboard for weeks on end with only the biscuit barrel as company I must go and dig out some respectable clothes and (note to self) remember to brush off the biscuit crumbs. #BlogFest Here I Come.