I started my blog with the intention of writing about health before realising I didn’t actually know very much about it; certainly not enough to write with any authority.
However everyone is an expert in something. For me that was parenting a 13 year old, looking after Basset Hounds, being a working mum, starting out in triathlon, being part of a blended family and all that comes in between.
Being able to write with authenticity is a key component of being a blogger, so the lesson for me was stick to what you know and leave the rest to the experts.
Be prepared for the unexpected
Lots of quirky things have happened as a result of my blog but one of the most amazing things was getting an award for my late Mother.
In July, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS I wrote a blog about my Mother’s work as a midwife and nurse, it’s here. The blog was seen by the organisers of the Kate Granger Award and myself and my Dad were invited to Manchester to accept a posthumous award for compassionate care. It was amazing, I even appeared in the local paper. It was one of the highlights of my year and so fabulous for my lovely Mum to be celebrated in such a way.
You can spend hours on the most finely tuned blog, do the research, get great photos and present it beautifully, but if you don’t market yourself no one will read it.
This for me is a tricky part of blogging as it feels really awkward to be flogging your wares to the world but it is worth it.
One of my most successful blogs was about scouting. I approach UK Scouting who have more than 64,000 followers and asked, if they liked the blog, would they give me a retweet. They did and three months later I was still getting comments and likes from parents and scouts who had read it. That blog is here.
Think about the subject matter and post it on Facebook groups, tag people in and ask others to share. For me the people who read a blog about our rescue dog might not be interested in open water swimming. It’s important I get it in front of the right audience.
I blogged for a good three months before I told my wider family what I was doing. I was painfully shy about it but there was really no need.
In March, 2018 I wrote a blog about Mother’s Day and the difficulties I found having lost my Mum 19 years earlier, its here. For the first time I shared it on my personal Facebook page and the outpouring of positive comments from my friends and family was astonishing. Now lots of friends and family read my blogs and I’ve had nothing but positivity from them.
Know your strengths
I love writing, I trained as a newspaper reporter and I’ve written all my life. I am however a rubbish designer and can’t put together a website to save my life. I got someone to do the design work for me, rather fortuitously my brother runs a successful website design business and was happy to be paid in beer. The company is www.deepblue-digital.co.uk and I would highly recommend them although sadly beer payments are only for siblings.
Network, network and network
Again another scary aspect of the blogging world, but so worth it. I’ve turned up to lots of blogger events feeling terrified and wanting to dart out of the nearest exit. The one thing you find out though is that most people feel the same.
It’s great to chat through some of the difficulties of blogging with like-minded people, find out how they started, what they doing and pick up tips. I joined We Blog North which was a great way to meet fellow bloggers. I now look out for the bloggers I’ve met and give them as much support as possible and they do the same.
It takes consistent hard work – there really aren’t any short cuts
Content is king is one of the phrases I read a lot when I was starting up and it really is true. Writing good content, that means something to readers and posting consistently is really the only way to increase your audience.
Blog writing takes time and hard work so don’t just promote them the one time. Think about things you can link them to and re-share. I’m currently in the process of re-sharing blogs I wrote last year about starting out in triathlon as it links in with a current campaign by British Triathlon to get more people involved in the sport. It helps to get a few bites of the cherry.
Don’t be afraid to take a step back
I had some mental health issues in May and June last year and I took myself off all my social media outlets and stopped blogging. It was the best thing I could have done and helped me recover quicker. Don’t be afraid to have a break, you will definitely come back stronger with more energy and ideas.
And lastly … enjoy it!
I really enjoy writing and this blog has given me a great outlet to waffle on about things I love. If I get to a point where it’s no longer fun I will simply stop. For now though I’m really excited to see where it will go and what 2019 will bring.