An Insight Into The World Of Blogging

I’ve been blogging for nearly four years now which is a bit long in the tooth for a blogger. I’ve learned a lot about blogging in those four years. I’ve learned through other bloggers, my own research, and my own mistakes.

Success in Blogging

Although my blog has never been hugely successful, I could never make a full time salary from it as some of my blog buddies do, I still love it. It has given me loads of exciting and fun opportunities over those four years that I’m very grateful for and will always remember. My blog is something which is only mine, I’m proud of it, and it gives me a reason to write. 

I’m not the right person to give advice on ‘how to make money from blogging’ but I can give a little insight into how blogging kind of works. 

My blog is what you might call a ‘mummy blog’. We’ve got a bad rap recently in popular culture but there is a reason our posts get shared over and over and it’s because mum’s are fed up of being told to be perfect while feeling utterly isolated. Without going too far into that, just to say there are many genres in blogging. Cookery blogs, fashion blogs, gardening blogs, family lifestyle blogs. Anything you want to read about there is probably someone blogging about it somewhere. Oh, and posts and articles you share on Facebook were often originally created by a blogger. 

Curated Content

Every piece of content a blogger creates is curated intentionally. We know it’s public, and could end up anywhere. We know what people like to read, we know what works and what doesn’t. Bloggers create and share content intentionally, whether that’s a blog post, a meme, or an Instagram post.

Measuring Blogs

We have stats. Metrics we can assess and use to pitch to brands if we want to. We can see all sorts of info about who is accessing our websites and content on social. Age range, location etc. Most of us use google analytics which means your info is anonymous. We have a thing called DA which is domain authority and is the most common number we talk about in success/popularity of a blog. Every blogger you know basically has a mini qualification in marketing that they have learned as they’ve gone along.

Bloggers have tools we can use. These usually have a free version but then cost money, like an app I suppose. Schedulers, Instagram followers/unfollowers apps, photo editor apps, heading image apps. We use these alongside maintaining our websites and if on wordpress,  using app like things called widgets within the site to help make our sites secure and our posts as google friendly as they can be.

Blogger Groups

We have groups. Local blogger facebook groups, whats app messaging groups, instagram inbox groups. Same as all your personal groups but we share info. If a company or brand is regularly late paying for work, you can guarantee their name is doing the rounds. Someone being a bully on twitter? Yes we are all talking about it. Someone slinging their marketing budget around? Yes someone has popped in to let us lower bloggers know (haha)! We can tell who has bought followers, we can tell who is being sensationalist for the sake of it. We know who is full of shit and who is blogging with integrity. It’s not all roses, you have bitchy people as anywhere, but there are pockets of bloggers who sort of know one another. Which is a part of blogging I really like. 

It’s All About The Numbers. Or Is It?

Whether a personal business or blogging for fun when a blog post is written it’s with the intent that it will be read. Follower numbers are easy to get caught up in but I’d say the majority of us thrive on those genuine connections we make through our blogs. While there are certain little tips and tricks you can employ to raise follower numbers it is hard to do. The best way is always to make decent content. 

Making Money

People who come in and appear out of nowhere thinking blogging is an easy way to make money often disappear as quickly. This is for two reasons. Number one because that’s a flaky reason to blog and it will not sustain a blog. The second reason is because to make a blog successful enough to earn a regular income you need to learn many different skills. The landscape is always changing as well. Every time an algorithm changes on one of the social sites, we have to learn something new. I saw loads of bloggers quit when the new GDPR guidelines came in. 

Blogging and the Law

There are advertising guidelines we are lawfully obligated to abide by. That’s whether or not we make cash from our blogs. The GDPR guidelines as mentioned above meant we all suddenly had to become barristers-in-training in order to correctly update our websites and avoid hefty fines. Then we have people stealing our pictures, art and words and using them as their own or even completely falsifying magazine articles without our permission. (That happens more than you would think). 

Blog Love

So, there is a lot that goes into maintaining a blog, but I love it. I appreciate all 3 of you who regularly check in with me to see what I’m ranting about lately.

I hope that has given a little insight into the world of blogging and the commitment it takes. We all blog for different reasons but I think all of us would say it is a labour of love. 

Chatty Update – January 2019

Hello and welcome to 2019! I was sitting there today thinking how absurdly futuristic the time we are living in is. I was at a soft play and overheard a grandad telling his charge that no, he couldn’t go on the slide with him. I looked up to assess the voice’s age and wondered how it would feel to be older. As I looked (nosed) I thought how I would like to ask him about his experiences of the war and it occurred to me that this old man would have barely been born at the 2nd world war’s end. I remembered reading somewhere that soon the 2nd world war would no longer be in living memory.

2019 – almost 20 years after the millennium! That’s somebody’s lifetime! Rumours were rife that all the computers would shut down and the world would end as all the electronic dates wouldn’t be able to fathom the 01/01/00 date. Such a privileged generation we had to mock threaten ourselves with the idea of evil tech. It’s laughable now of course.

I checked out from the outside world on the day the schools broke up for the Christmas holidays. I switched my phone off and put it in a drawer for a few days to hone my attention span and spend some time with my family. It was all too easy for me to defect to hermit status. Should I say defect or revert? I’m not sure. Either way, the result of it was that I read a lot.

The hibernation period over Christmas was lush. Visiting family I waddled from house to home like King Henry the 8th sampling wedding breakfast menu’s. Travelling no more than 10 minutes drive from the base of home. On one of the days after Boxing Day I ambled over to see if the library was open. I live within walking distance of a library. It’s one of the best things about my life. I was delighted to find it was open because (and I can’t remember why now) I really needed some books/info about the First World War. I also discovered the library’s online ebook service. It is brilliant! So I’ve read a lot, and I’ve also been watching a lot of T.V.

All those elements combined have led to some reflection and contemplation which I have enjoyed. The banishment of the phone meant a freedom to think in long-form rather than this quick, short, almost meaningless thought pattern that mimics the social media feed scroll. Reading about the war has made me contemplate how much life has changed since then and how different times were. I also read The Diary of Anne Frank. Now every time I use the toilet I find myself thinking ‘I’m so glad I can flush the chain without being fear of being detected.’

I watched 2 great films worth mentioning. Dunkirk, which is a war film. It is about the evacuation of 330,000 British and allied troops from the French beach in 1940. The pace of this film is exquisite. I would go so far as to say it is the best film for pace I have ever seen. The other film was Ready Player One. Directed by Steven Spielberg is possibly enough of an accolade. It is a great film set in the not too distant future – 2045 – where everyone has these VR headsets and they all play in a space called Oasis. I had heard some hype about this from people on twitter who had read the script. It seems the script has been around a while and the film has been greatly anticipated.

I think 2019 will see the big boom for VR. The book I read earlier in the year by Jaron Lanier and his TED talks, Zuckerburg’s very public massive investment in VR, and a book I am currently reading called Future Presence written by Peter Rubin all point toward the big take off for this tech this year. And it is going to change everything. If you haven’t already, then deffo watch Ready Player One. Especially if you like 80’s references.

I’ve also been watching loads of TV. Netflix – You, Bates Motel. BBC – Mrs Wilson, Les Mis, The Long Song. And actually I’m going to wrap this up now so I can go and watch another episode of something.

Overall it’s been a great end to the year. I’m feeling hugely grateful for all my mod cons and life in general, horrified at the lack of value placed upon the lives of our forefathers, and a great foreboding feeling about the future with VR. Oh and if I hear the word brexit one more time I’m moving to France. Oh wait…

My First Blog Conference – Blogtacular

I’m going to London this weekend. Ooh just writing that down made my belly do a mini flip with excitement! I will be in London ready to attend Blogtacular on Sat June 16th. On my own, with no kids, like proper on my own. Eeek! I’m excited and nervous  all at the same time.

Online Creators

I booked my ticket way back in January. I think it was even on New Years Eve I booked it, which would make total sense because I always get the London itch when I watch the New Years Eve fireworks. It’s such an exciting place and I feel like it’s within touching distance of me here in South Wales yet I can’t remember the last time I visited. One of my 2018 blog goals was to go to a conference. There are a couple to choose from but Blogtacular really caught my eye, marketed as a conference for ‘online creators’. That covers a lot of different creative people and I want to meet them! It’s not just for for bloggers but for anyone who creates content for an online space. There are indie business owners going,craft bloggers, fashion bloggers, sewing bloggers,and all kinds of people.

Blogtacular

Photographs © Will Ireland, Piers McDonald & Kat Molesworth for Blogtacular

Workshops

There are two keynote speakers and lots of workshops throughout the day. Some of the workshops I’m particularly interested in are about podcasting and how to write a good blog post. But there are workshops about SEO (search engine optimisation), photography and marketing. I think it will be really difficult to choose which workshops to do.

I’ve heard the food is amazing and the goody bags are great too. Overall though the general consensus is that the atmosphere is really friendly and there seems to be a lot of other people attending by themselves as well – not just me! There are fringe events to attend on the Friday before, a photo walk around London which I’m really looking forward to and then a meal arranged in the evening with some fellow attendees. I just hope I can find my way around O.K.

Going Solo

I’m generally alright going places on my own. My run-away thoughts are rarely quiet long enough for me to have time to feel out of place, and I usually find chatting to strangers quite easy to be honest. I find forced conversation hard, those situations where you feel required to say something *shiver*. This is a full day conference, and it really is a full-on day 8.30am – 6pm so I know there are going to be plenty of breaks and I can just imagine sitting there eating lunch by myself like a lone ranger feeling really anxious. I am a bit worried about that to be honest but I am stepping out of my comfort zone and let’s see if something great happens. Hoping I get to meet lots people and who love blogging as much as me.

Sleeping Alone – Bliss

I’m looking forward to spending a day with other bloggers and creators and hearing about their businesses and getting inspired. I’m looking forward to just being in London, and being on my own. Like proper on my own. I’m looking forward to cwtching up in a big hotel bed to myself and sleeping all night long but I do wonder if the reality of that will be a bit lonely rather then fun. We will soon see.

Blogtacular tickets are almost sold out but if you want to get one of the last 20 available tickets be quick and order through my link. It won’t cost you anything more but I will get something back for it. Blogtacular tickets

So wish me luck and come and say hello if you’re going too!

I might get to connect with some brands while I’m there too. Check out which brands I have been working with in this post.

I Do Not Own My Children

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

 

 

 

Why I Haven’t Been Writing

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