Hello, welcome and thanks for joining us. Over the next two weeks I'll have some great posts for you, all packed with real-life experience and advice from a group of new bloggers who have generously come forward to share their experiences with you in the hope that it will help you grow and enjoy your blogging journey.
NBF nearly did not happen this year, I have been experiencing a bit of blogging overload in recent months. With blogger journeys to Ethiopia in October and Belarus in December I felt I was heading for the scrapheap and then when I saw a whole new blog was being dedicated to posts for new bloggers I lost my mojo and thought why bother?
I had already engaged a couple of fairly new bloggers to write a post for me and I went back to them to break the news and both were sad that I might not host. One of them nearly had me in tears though, she talked about how last year she had been a brand new blogger and had been a part of NBF as a recipient and got so much out of it. She mentioned that I had started the chat about NBT in advance on the BritMums newbie forum and that she was still in contact now with those bloggers she started to chat to last January as part of NBT. She told me the warmth and personality of my blog was what made NBT fortnight and that a new blog would not have that same community.
Reading just the few lines she wrote made me know in an instant that this would go ahead. Decision made - I'd take a break for January to recharge my batteries and then dive right back in and enjoy NBF 2013. So here I am and I'l kick this two weeks off with a post from me -
I almost lost me.....
Blogging, in my experience is like white water rafting, like travelling alone down these scary rapids that are twisting and turning so fast that you have no idea what to do or how to steer. How do I make sure I stay on the right path and don't plunge over the waterfall into the abyss, never to be seen again? Good question Mich.
I'm not the type to seek thrills - bungee jumping and such holds no appeal to me, I prefer the safer and more predictable things in life and I think if I had realised how turbulent and all-consuming blogging could be I might never have taken that plunge.
I've been writing my blog for about five years now and there are times when I love it and adore the community and others when I could just run for the hills and hide, never to write a post again. In January I have been enjoying some down time and not blogging much, I find I have to take some rest every few months for fear of burning out or losing my grasp on reality.
After near five years I have learnt who I am and how I want to come across on my blog. It is important for me to be authentic and to stay true to my Christian beliefs. Yes the worldly part of me escapes at times and wants to move up the blogging charts, win an award (or two) and go to the best events but then the grounded Mich kicks in and reminds me that really I don't actually want all the things that come associated with being a popular and well-ranked blogger and that the green-eyed monster is very ugly indeed.
I do realise that I have come very close to 'losing me' in my blogging journey, it is so easy to get caught up in things and to go with what feels like the flow for so many people. Some bloggers are more vocal and dynamic than others and you find a clan start to emulate them and to desire all the things they desire. Writing styles start to mesh into one, there seems to only be a few key blogging voices and everyone is tackling the same subjects or that is how it feels when you are in the middle of it. If you don't tweet ten times a day, do a Google + update and check in on 14 forums then you are failing as a blogger. What a crock!
Nowadays I feel like a bit of a Granny when I watch the newer bloggers arrive on the scene, they have their own great style and way of blogging and then they find the community and with that comes some great things - friendship, support and opportunities Then also the not so great - as so many start to do what I did and question themselves and their blogs and their own uniqueness starts to fade. Time and time again I hear - I need to go self-hosted, I must get my own vanity URL, my blog needs a make-over, should I be on Pinterest and Google +, I need to start a linky? and on and on it goes. I want to shout at them and tell them to stop and cherish who they are, if they are not careful they will lose their soul on this journey to be the most flashy and well-read blogger. I am sure very few of us start out on our blogging journey to be stars of the parenting blogging world and really, why would we ever dream that is desirable?
Blog because it makes you happy, blog because you find support, blog as therapy and even blog to get reviews if that is what floats your boat but be honest with yourself and keep focused on why you started out because it is so easy to get lost.
Now you might want to get lost, I don't know. You may find that it is beneficial for you, it certainly has been for me. For years the strapline on my blog has been 'Join me on my imperfect Christian journey' and that is exactly how I see this life, as a journey. This is where I am being moulded and learning to be the best person I can be. Blogging and even getting lost along the way has helped me with that, I see that now.
As long as you can keep perspective and balance, blogging can be the most rewarding of activities. You will learn who your real friends are and to not bother with the ones who sap your energy and make you feel sad.
If I was to give every new blogger one piece of advice it would be to stay true to you and what you want for your blog. Do not get swept along with the crowd, stand out! Question yourself each time you go to make a change - am I doing this for me? Does this make me happy? Is this detrimental to anyone else? Is this a balanced thing to be doing? You'll know the right answers, you just have to have the courage to be individual and to stick by what you think.
You'll be a much better blogger for it. Good luck, Mich x
Come back tomorrow for a great post from Rachel (also known as Far from home mama), who blogs at Three years and then home. She will be talking about keeping a good blog/ life balance - so important!