YouTube is currently right in the middle of a huge clean-up operation. Family channels showing kids are being closely scrutinised and a lot of them de-monetised as a result. Big channels with hundreds of thousands of subscribers haven’t even escaped the net. It seems YouTube are not discriminating at all (I feel like staff are anonymously reviewing videos without being allowed to see that channel’s stats but that’s a hunch of mine) and no channel big or small is escaping the net. The things is that the net is very, very, wide and videos are being banned for much less than you might think. A child crying or being shown to be in distress for example. Most of the creators I’ve seen are incredulous as to why their channel would have been affected. A few of them I knew right away that I had seen videos of theirs that were not quite right.

On my personal blog, I had to think long and hard about what my rules were going to be before starting it. I felt like I was very careful about what I post about my children. I don’t use their real names for instance; this is in hopes that anything I write about them may not be easily found in a search of their names. I don’t post photos of them in the bath, or publicly shame them about things. These are the rules I have tried to think about when sharing our lives with an audience of unknown people. The new guidelines for vids on YouTube has really got me thinking, at what point does it all become exploitative? Is it below a certain age, or as long as you are not making money from your content? For me, I’ve drawn the line at wanting views.

Social Media ViewsMy blog started out of a desire to be identified and feel a belonging. When I found the online blogging community I became completely engrossed in it. Here were a plethora of other women living similar lives to me, hundreds and hundreds of them in fact. The details differ, working mums, older kids, larger families etc. but essentially similar lives and life stages. Everyone posting, writing and commenting and supporting each other in sharing their stories; I jumped right in feet first. I still really love being a part of the blogging community. A few posts scrolled past my eyes about whether to share pics of your kids or not. I read them, well balanced pieces, didn’t feel too offended and moved on. Deep down though, I knew they had struck a chord.

 

Earlier this year I read a brilliantly brave post by another blogger about her experience of the sourer side of the mummy blogging world when she attended a very well-known blogging conference. As I had suspected anyway, it highlighted to me that there definitely is a dog-eat-dog side of things. We all want to be successful bloggers but this was another moment where I thought about how our blogs are our businesses and whether or not our children should really be included as part of that.

I didn’t feel as if I was specifically posting vids and pics of my children to gain views. They are on the videos and my Instagram but as the biggest part of my life that is inevitable. My blog is all about being a stay at home mum! I thought their images were a part of the bigger picture, a picture which fundamentally is about my life as a mum.

There are many blogger/vloggers I really admire who show lots of beautiful photos of their kids. One in particular captures the bond between her oldest girls so wonderfully and I’m not sure that would be possible if it weren’t for showing pictures of them. Another huge blogger shows pictures of her and her children that make us all feel like our bad days are normal. I can see why our kids are such a big part of this thing called blogging but my barrier ‘go no further’ sign smacked me in the face. It was the simple realisation of how obsessed I have become with viewer numbers.

I’ve never posted anything of them to get views, it’s always from a standpoint of a shared experience. For example, I joined in with the snow pictures this week posting a lovely video of Beg being excited, but then did I check my views? Absolutely! So then, I am hoping people watch or like off the back of my kids just doing their general normal lives and that is not my decision to make, it should be theirs. I do not own their image. I want to share my kids’ life and I want to feel a part of something but I want it to be their informed consent and not just mine. And I say informed consent because my 7 yr old loves being on YouTube, she used to film clips on her dad’s old phone pretending she had a YouTube channel for months before I set her up with her own channel. But she is still so little, and has no idea how public or how far those videos can get. I have been super strict with her channel carefully editing and not promoting at all but is it enough?

 

There is a new generation coming up who are obsessed with YouTube. They are watching creators on there more than TV or films. There are huge changes afoot in media production and design that when these kids are older it will be the norm to have your own channel.

For now though, I am choosing to change the way I do things and I am excited about it. For my channels and blog, it means some changes of content until the kids are older at least and decide for themselves. There will no doubt be a few weeks of almost posting pics of them that came out really good and squirming that I can’t share them. There will be less liking other similar accounts in the hope they like mine; and for me, a slap in the face about how futile the time has been spent ‘building a following’. There is a release of the need for outside recognition and endorsement and a freedom to enjoy writing my blog or edit family videos for my own gratification and nobody else’s. And giant massive long blog posts like this one, apparently!

It’s really not a case of this opinion being a more enlightened one. It is just that; an opinion. We are each made up of our experiences and my way of reframing my thinking on this may be linked to my life experiences. Your views will be linked to yours. Every life is different, every child is different, every set of circumstances is different and I respect that and this post is not meant to make you feel guilty or wrong. I’m writing this post because I read others like it and they struck a chord with me and I think that chord has been twanging away in the background since. Just a different perspective.

Here are a couple of my peers’ awesome blogs that don’t show images of their kids faces if you want to have a look:

Cardiff Mummy Says

Beyond the playground

 

 

 

I haven’t written a blog post for the longest time ever since I started blogging. It’s been about a month. It’s times like these I’m glad we don’t rely on my blog for an income, because I’ve just had nothing to say.

There have been many moments throughout the day where I’ve thought ‘ooh that would make a good blog post’ but I’ve not had time at that moment to write the idea down and sure enough by the evening I’ve completely forgotten what it was. I don’t want to just write stuff for the sake of writing stuff because I’m actually proud of my blog and all the posts I’ve written. I wish I was better at writing; I can see so many holes in my own writing but when it comes to splurging my ideas out onto a page for my own personal blog space, I love it and I’m proud of myself for stepping out in confidence to do it.

Sometimes I’ve noticed a bit of back biting evident in the blogging world, which isn’t pretty but is generally well hidden. This sometimes can stop an idea in it’s tracks in my mind. Then there is the multitude of repetitive posts based around the same topic because it’s national pancake month for instance and bloggers are hoping to get more views on the back of a hot topic or hashtag. Which I can totally understand if it’s your business it makes total sense and kudos if it’s promoting an important cause. Actually I think this is one of our main roles as bloggers as it often gets picked up and publicised by newspapers. However, I don’t want to sit and read 20 posts about the same thing and – I know what you’re thinking- I don’t have to. So basically what I’m saying is that there’s the issue of thinking up original blog posts. Things that are personal to me but that are going to be relevant to you too. Pieces that are not just adding to the masses of posts already written before.

Another reason is my change of heart. So often I think about going to sit down to write a post and I get this feeling like ‘Why Kate do you think what you have to say is important in the least!’ Not in a self deprecating manner but because nothing anybody has to say is really important at all. That seems strange written down and it really doesn’t make much sense because opinion piece or not I love reading blogs, so it goes too that some people will enjoy reading mine, I suppose!

I do sometimes wonder if people stop to read anything anymore that isn’t sensationalist. I think the average person’s attention span has dwindled significantly (I know mine certainly has) and fast information is what is wanted. It’s getting to the point where it’s a bit far-fetched to imagine anyone choosing to spend 5 minutes reading a blog post by some irrelevant mum of two who isn’t even famous. I can appreciate that. I for one would rather a video, at least then I don’t have to do anything the information just blares at my face and I can passively watch along.

Then there’s the post production on a blog post. Sitting down writing is never an issue for me. I never sit staring blank faced at the computer screen (unless it’s doing another bloody update) thankfully. No, I never seem to have any trouble in thinking up weird thoughts of all kinds and sharing them too! But the formatting and checking and Yoast and adding pictures and making a blog title picture all takes as long if not longer than writing a post, and sometimes it’s enough to put me off altogether.

Lastly it’s a matter of integrity. I’m spouting at you like you want to hear it! That’s easy, no chance of catching a wry smile or an uncomfortable shift of your position in response to what I am saying. Is that disingenuous? More egotistical I suppose? Surely it would be more beneficial if I at least had some kind of knowledge to share with the world, some sort of educated opinion on *something*.

Anyway if you were wondering where I have been blog-wise of late hopefully herein lays your answer. I wouldn’t expect anyone would have been wondering just as I would not notice if some other bloggers dropped off the face of the earth to be honest as us and our blogs are two-a-penny. No offense. There are certain ones I would notice to be fair. Unless of course you make it to super blogger status like Constance which is odd isn’t it how some blogs really explode like that. I love her stuff and I follow her but there are so many blogs out there that are so relatable and so well done too it does make me wonder what the trigger is for that kind of super celebrity within the blog world.

There are so many other things to be doing than blogging. It just never stops, the daily stuff. I try to remember how much I enjoy keeping up my blog because really it is my one and only passion outside of family life and it is important to me but I think something needs to shift. Maybe I just need to organise my time better. Who knows.

Do you ever lose zeal for a thing you once loved, or are there things you have let go of in the past that you wish you had kept up?

If you prefer YouTube nowadays you can catch me on there too click here to follow me on YouTube

Thinking of starting a blog, or written your first post and wondering how to get people to read it? I’ve joined up with 6 other current successful bloggers to help you. Here are 7 insider tips for writing and maintaining your lovely shiny new blog. Happy blogging! 🙂 

Use your Voice. 

Write as yourself – write in your own voice as you would talk in real life and let your personality show through. People talk about finding your niche, the truth is, YOU are your niche – your voice, your opinions – no one else is you and no one else thinks exactly like you. Use that to your advantage by showing readers the real you.

Debbie from My Random Musings has loads of blogging tips and advice over on her blog and is also a fiction author.

Help your Reader. 

Create Useful or Helpful Content – Some really successful bloggers primarily use their blog as a journal, charting everyday life etc, and that works well for them. But personally, I would rather write, and read, posts that focus on either a specific topic, are opinion-led, thought-provoking or helpful to readers. For example, if you switch up the post “An update on my baby’s weaning.” to “Ten Steps For Easy Weaning” it becomes much more interesting and useful.  

Laura is a big mental health advocate and writes a lot about PND and anxiety among other things over on her blog The Butterfly Mother 

Don’t Get Caught Up

Remember why you started – It is so hard to not get obsessed with stats and followers to the point where it can completely take over. I went through a phase when I was constantly checking how many people were reading my blog or getting upset if I lost followers on social media. It took me a while to realise that this is not why I started blogging. I started because I wanted to document my girls life. I started because I wanted something for me. I started because I love to write. When it all gets too much (and it will at times)  you just need to remember.

Mum of 3 Natalie writes about her busy life as a mum at Meme and Harri

Get Organised and Plan

Get organised and consistent! Keep a notebook or some way to take notes, with you at all times as you never know when inspiration for a blog post might strike. Plan well in advance for things that will send you off track (such as school holidays) so you can stick to your posting schedule.

With the tagline ‘memories from the madhouse and more’ you know Natalie is great at planning to stay on top of things and produce great content regularly over at My Chaotically Eclectic Life

Keep your Reader in Mind

Know your audience and write with them in mind. When I am writing my blog I usually try to visualise the people I am writing for: you can see who your audience is from Google Analytics.  I often think of a few friends (who are the right age, gender, stage in life) who would be interested in what I am writing about and I try to write as if I was talking to them.  I find this helps my writing as I am directing what I am saying at real people, but to keep a little distance there I pretend that they have brought a friend or two along that I’ve not met before so I explain things fully.  If you want to branch out your audience a little start including a man in your imaginary audience (if most of your readers are women) or someone older or younger or with different interests.

You can find loads of new food inspiration over on Erica’s blog A Little Luxury For Me

Remain Accessible to all

You may have your target audience in mind, but many people, including those with disabilities, may stumble upon your website.

And this is a chance for you to be as inclusive as possible.

Alt text is the blank area for you to give your reader a visual representation of what is in your photo or image. Many bloggers unknowingly believe that it’s for keywords within your post. This is the most important tip I can give to anyone: describe your images, photos memes and pins so you’re blind and other disabled readers can be included and not confused.

Award nominated blog thinkingoutloud-sassystyle has been shortlisted for the Health Unlocked blogger award 2017, Sassy herself is blind and she writes to raise awareness of disability including mental health.

 

Thanks ladies for sharing your expertise and wisdom. My top tip is:

Don’t be Shy! 

Join lots of blogger groups on Facebook. This is where you will garner info about linkys and good places to share your content. Don’t just sit back and wait for people to read your posts, you might be waiting a long time! Promote wherever you can. Get over your shyness early on and appreciate your creativity. You write for people to read it so don’t be ashamed to promote it!

Go get ’em tiger! Blog, eat, sleep, repeat. Welcome to the community! What’s your top tip for newbie bloggers? Share below, you never know who you may be helping. If you found this post helpful, share it! Thanks very much. 🙂 

Bloggers trade on their stats. As callous as that sounds, the truth is, wider audience = more paid gigs. Every Facebook post, or picture on Instagram, or blog post, is published with our reader in mind. Every blogger out there will tell you they want to be successful and most can tell you round about figures of their followers off the top of their heads. So why then am I happy to be losing followers? Because I remembered why I started blogging in the first place.

Business or Pleasure

None of us started our blog with business in mind. Most bloggers began keeping an online diary, an outlet for life with little ones that allows us to let off some steam. Some of us had a life changing experience that we wanted to share with others who may be going through the same thing, and some of us may have been reading parent blogs for a while, admiring them from a distance and thought ‘I want to do that too’. Every reason for starting a blog is valid and unique. Somewhere along the way we might get sidelined by our blog’s influence on google (Domain Authority) and stats but that original reason remains close to our heart.

My reason for my blog was to share my birth story. As I sat in hospital searching online for anyone who had been through a similar experience to me I realised I could contribute. By sharing my birth story I hope one day maybe another mum sitting alone on a post natal ward with her newborn in NICU having been through the most difficult and scary experience of her life might stumble across my story and derive some form of comfort or solidarity from it. Sharing my birth story publicly was a way of dealing with what I had been through too.

Actually my reason goes further back than that as I had been sitting on the idea of starting a blog for a good two years prior my son’s birth. Essentially I just like writing, and a blog seemed the perfect place to indulge myself. Now I am a bone fide blogger I love everything about it, the writing, the community and finding little gems of other blogs of amazing writing to read.

In the Beginning

When my baby was 3 months old I took the plunge and signed up to WordPress. I decided I had googled ‘How to Start a Blog’ enough times and I had to virtually slap myself across the face and just do it. All was going well until I was faced with the name your blog page. Two hours later and a bit of a back and forth of ideas with my husband I typed in ‘The Hippy Christian Mum’. I wasn’t fully happy with the name but I was determined to be up and running by the next day.

The Hippy Christian Mum Header

Although I wasn’t entirely happy with the name it gave a good impression of what I would be writing about, what people could expect from my blog. Or so I thought. As I worked to grow my blog’s audience I started to feel like I wasn’t doing myself any favours with the name. From eating at McDonald’s (I can’t hide it) to being big on equal rights I discovered the things I write and post about probably don’t suit a lot of the people who might come across my blog.

It was when a person on my Facebook page put an angry face on a cute little video of a nursery in Sweden that purposefully doesn’t encourage gender roles that I knew I wasn’t presenting my blog in the way I would like. The connotations of the words ‘hippy’ and ‘Christian’ are so open to interpretation that it wasn’t a fair representation of my blog.

Choosing a Blog Name…Again

I’d wanted to change the name of my blog for a while but I didn’t know what to change it to. In the end I decided to use some form of my real name to cover a broad range of ideas and topics and to stay true to me. Can’t get any more ‘me’ than my real name! I felt a bit of a fraud under The Hippy part of The Hippy Christian Mum but my name is just me. Also, in the long run I think it gives my blog the space to morph and change as I do and that is a great feeling.

I lost likes on my Facebook page on the day I re-branded and at first I felt a bit rejected but then I was genuinely pleased. It meant my reasons for re-branding were good. People who felt my blog is not for them quietly left and there is so much room for those who feel connected to my posts. I still feel like a bit of a hippy, I’m still fully Christian but I feel like I’ve shed those assumptions my old blog name carried.

Stay true to yourself – McDonald’s eating and all –and you’ll attract the right crowd; in real life and online too. 🙂

 

I’m not much of a hippy. I’m an impostor. In fact I kind of feel a bit rude borrowing the name from the real hippies out there making a change for the good in the world while I still shop at places so cheap their production practises are probably questionable. I have sort of covered why I chose the name The Hippy Christian Mum in my blog post and my About Me page. It was to do with certain personal  parenting choices I have made like home birthing, longer breastfeeding and baby-wearing. But I’m a luke-warm hippy at best. No more or less a hippy than most people really.  I love the idea of not flushing chemicals out into the waste system but at the same time I really just want to clean my loo.

babywearing

 

So although I’ve never claimed to be an all out activist I do wonder if my blog name is right overall. I really do not want to mis-lead. I also do not entirely fit into the Christian blogger groups as my posts are never super spiritual. I never meant for them to be, and that’s OK with me.  This was always a mummy blog and that’s what I want it to be. I’m secure about my faith so I don’t mind being a bit off the beaten track with that.  I enjoy reading those posts too.

So either I don’t really fit anywhere or I’m a blogging genius and I’ve created my very own super niche. Which is more likely I wonder? Does the name just exclude me from both groups, just frittering on the outskirts of all of them?  I certainly do connect with and enjoy reading other hippy type blogs. And with the name The Hippy Christian Mum I could be more likely to be approached by companies who are thoughtful about their environmental impact. That would be right up my street because I think that’s really commendable. The idea of a complete re-brand seems daunting, and restarting at a DA of 0, but the general advice seems to be if you are thinking of doing it to do it earlier rather than later.

blogging

Maybe I’m experiencing some sort of blogger nerves as my blog approaches it’s 1st year anniversary (May 27th if you’re wondering). I am actually a lot more excited about that than I thought I would be. I cannot help but compare my blog to others that have been going about the same length of time. Usually I fall short but then I remember how much I love blogging and I suppose that can’t be measured in page views. (That’s not to say people with high numbers don’t do it because they love it too!)

I go from buzzing with ideas about really driving my blog to days where I feel silly for even thinking like that. I wonder if The Hippy Christian Mum really just sounds quite condescending. The original thought behind it was to juxtapose two terms-even though they actually go well together when you think about it.

Maybe if I’m happy just pootling along then there’s no need to change the name but if I look to the long term and hope to forward it then perhaps a change would be good?

The only thing is I just got some business cards made up.

What do you think? Have you ever changed the name of your blog before? Was it easy and are you glad you did it? Did you get 1st anniversary nerves? Or is that just me?! Would you change the name of your blog?

 

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday