Friday, 24 October 2014

What are we blogging for?

It's a question that I've asked myself many times and one I know that other bloggers often wrestle with.

Of course, we have an answer - usually the same answer - ready and waiting for when someone inevitably asks us the question.

Because we want to document the life of our family, the growth of our children, and have a record of happy memories to look back on, when our children are grown and we scratch our heads and wonder where the time has gone.

It's an answer I have given, in one form or another, many times and it's one I've heard even more often. It's a given amongst the mummy blogging community - we're doing it to save our memories.

And it's a damn good reason, don't get me wrong - I feel very passionately about being a mummy blogger and defended everything it stands for to great response - but there's a bit more to it really, isn't there?

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Blogging is a means of expression, whether you're a natural writer-type or just someone who wants a space on the internet to call their own. It gives you a way to get all your thoughts and feelings out of your head and your heart and onto the screen. The process can be really cathartic, particularly if you're having a tough time and need a bit of support.

And we all do, don't we, from time to time? Whether it's a case of being able to say 'don't worry, me too' or just a chance to vent, being part of the blogging community means you can always find support, wherever you are and whenever you need it. You can always count on another mum to be a) honest and b) up in the wee small hours of the morning!

It's a way of sharing how we feel, what we're doing and the interests we enjoy when often there's no other way to do it. I began my blog as a way of keeping my friends and family up to date on my pregnancy, as I don't really live near any of them and keeping in touch on a regular basis can be hard. But over time, and with a lot of effort, my blog has become somewhere I can share all sorts of things with all sorts of people - many of whom I don't know in 'real life' so to speak.

Real life. It's a funny concept, that you have a 'real' life and an 'online' life. I guess it's true - you can choose who you want to be online. That's the joy, and the worry for some, of being part of the social community. When I went to BritMums and Tots100 Blog Camp, I talked to quite a few people about this and how nice it was to 'really meet them'.

But, if you really think about it, our blogs are one of the places where we are at our most 'real'. For those that share the highs and lows of parenthood, blogging is a way of sharing experiences, good and bad, warts and all, in the hopes of helping other people just like us. From challenging stages with our children to sharing our passion or interest or enjoyment of a place or product or person, our blogs allow us to explore everything that we are and to connect with people in a way that, for many, is just not possible in 'real life'.

It can be silly or serious - anything goes.

And the more you share and the more you connect, the more doors blogging can open. New opportunities come around and it's exciting to see where your humble little blog can go. The blog's the limit!

And it is all very exciting and encouraging and affirming. Because people are listening to you, talking to you, laughing and crying with you. People you would never have had the chance to meet but whom now you can turn to when you want to swap make up tips or practical parenting advice.

With all this great opportunity comes great responsibility, to steal a superhero phrase. (Aren't we all superheroes, us parents, to someone after all?)

The more you do as a blogger, the more you can and want to do. There's just not enough hours in the day and sometimes it can seem like it's all too much, and that's often when we'll ask ourselves the question - what are we blogging for?

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I've found that attending events such as BritMums or Blog Camp are an experience that's both inspiring and frightening in equal measure. It can make you feel really proud of what you've accomplished. Big pat on the back for everyone, well done, you're making a valuable contribution to the community, both parents and online, that brands are sitting up and taking real attention of.

Hurray!

But at the same time, you start to question what you're doing as there will always be another blogger - or in real life, another mum - that seems to be doing better. It's very hard not to compare your blog, and yourself, to others. The more you read, the more you want to write. There's so much support and inspiration out there and as much as we all consider our blogs as a way of recording our family's milestones and memories (something that's written in my Twitter profile), we're not just doing it for ourselves.

We're doing it for other people, like us, who are looking for ideas and advice and information and a distraction. I know how much I have gained from blogs during my time as a mummy so far - much more than any other resource at my disposal - and in some way, I want to try and do the same for other people.

Whether I've helped save you time on finding a Santa to visit this Christmas, helped you with my weaning tips, made you think when I've written about a certain Atomic Kitten who just happens to have had lots of children by different dads, or brought a smile to your face with my monthly letters to Ethan, I'm just trying to make a contribution that someone, somewhere will enjoy. Because if I enjoy writing it, hopefully someone else will enjoy reading it.

I guess the point of this post is to celebrate all that it means to be a blogger and to gain a bit of perspective. I often get asked how do I find time to blog and really, if it's something you enjoy, no matter what it is, you find time for it. I do it to keep a record of Ethan as he grows up. I do it to share the different things I'm interested in and the things I have done or tried. And I do it to feel a part of something.

I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunities I have had because I own this little blog - and I've worked hard to make the most of these - and we should all feel proud of what we do. The trouble is, it's all too easy to worry or to want more. Being part of the Tots100 network, for instance, is great but at the same time, it amplifies competitive natures and can make you feel validated in the best case scenario or lost at the other end of the extreme. None of us really understand how the chart ranking is worked out - it's all too complex for me to fathom - but I bet no matter how relaxed you may claim to be about it, you still check your ranking position each month.

Of course you do. It's fun to find out how your blog is doing and there's not a blogger who can honestly say that, on reflection, they only write their blog for themselves and they don't really mind what other people think. If that was the case, you wouldn't publish and promote.

We live in a society where we constantly worry about what people think of us. And it's not just the media that creates this - the pressure is coming from within.

Raise your hand if you're a blogger and you've felt guilty or worried of panicked because you don't have your next few posts drafted and ready to go? How many feel like that right now?

It comes back to 'real life' again, getting in the way and making us get behind in our blogging. I spoke to other bloggers at Blog Camp about this feeling of pressure when it comes to keeping our blogs up to date, linking in with people and making time to connect and to grow what we have built. It seems I'm not alone. But, as much as I love reading other people's blogs and tweets and looking at people's photos every day, I really don't mind if you haven't done anything today. Or yesterday. Who set the rules about blogging? Isn't it supposed to be fun, something we do when we have something to say or share?

I try to publish a post every day but sometimes, real life gets in the way and I would worry about my blog. Like I would get behind, disappoint people or lose the race. But who would really notice, or mind? We all know that we all have real lives to lead and the pressure is probably all in our heads. Things such as the Tots100 rankings add to this feeling that we're in a competition and that we have to do more, share more, link more, sell more in order to be more.

I've taken some time and reflected on my blogging journey so far and I want to make a conscious effort to have more 'control' over what I do. I set the rules of how this blog looks and what it says and it's not the be all and end all whether I post each day or not. The more you put in, the more important it becomes, I get that, but I want to make sure that I'm enjoying the ride and not feeling some kind of pressure to be better.

Trouble is, we all want to be better. Better bloggers, better mums. When really, we're pretty damn great as we are.

That's what we're blogging for.
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3 comments

  1. Er...don't forget us blogging dads!

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    Replies
    1. Of course, you're in the same boat! Do you ever question why you do what you do? What do you enjoy most about blogging?

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  2. Thank you for this post, it was really interesting, and has inspired me to do a post of my own, talking about why I blog. I am also loving your stylish blog. Glad to have found you. You'll find my post here: http://ohwedo.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/blogging-for-reason-and-reason-is.html

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