Friday 29 June 2012

Moving your blog to the next level....

Last Friday I was at BritMums Live and by this time of night I was well and truly merry!  Well that is the polite way of putting it, I was the worse for wear but luckily I am a fun and giggly drunk and I tend to still know exactly what I am up to but I lose my inhibitions.  If only I could master being that relaxed in everyday life……. maybe...... one day!
Earlier in the evening I had not been so relaxed if I am honest, I think my tweet of about 4.30pm to @Nickie72, @HerMelness, @NorthernMum1 and @RedTedArt was ‘that I was crapping myself’.  Logically I should have been fine about speaking as part of the blogger studio (Crossing the chasm – moving your blog to the next level). My paid job is as a trainer and I regularly stand up and present and facilitate training courses for between 8 – 50 people.  I write those courses and have lots of fun but speaking at BritMums Live felt like a different kettle of fish.
Nickie was our facilitator for this session or ‘Master’ as we fondly came to know her. She advised me I had to do a 5 minute introduction on myself and talk about how my blog is at the next level. All 5 speakers would do this and then we would field questions from the floor. I have to say it was a tad hard to follow Melinda as she had prepared a checklist of 10 super sensible points to consider and basically she stole the show, but that is OK as she is pretty darn amazing.
So after being nagged it's time for me to share with you what I had planned to say and I have no idea now what I actually did say.  I have had some very good comments though and even a few people tell me they were inspired or touched by what I said and that is perfect.
So who am I?
I started out by making the point that I am just an average woman and I have never had a desire to be a writer or be famous.  The reasons I blog are for personal therapy, to demonstrate that Christians can be normal too and we don’t all wear socks and sandals and because I love it. My blog was born in 2008 out of a desire to record my life with my kids, but that was far too ambitious with 7 month old twins and a 4 year old so it sat on the bloggy shelf for a year and festered.  Then in 2009 I returned to it with a renewed hunger and posted most every day.
Slow starter that I am, I kept my blog private for all of 2009 and then in early 2010 started to find the parenting blogging community and joined in….. very slowly! I just dipped my toe and then ran away from the big bad sea of bloggers for most of 2010 but it was like a drug I could not keep away from and I kept coming back for more. By the end of 2010 I was pretty well known and was ranking in the top 50 in the Tots100 and I started to find my feet and feel good about what I was doing.
January 2011 was when I started to feel like I had stopped being a newbie.  I took a regular feature from my blog ‘Grace in small things’ and made it assessable to people of all faiths or none by turning it into Reasons to be Cheerful, I still run that linky 77 weeks later. A few weeks later I held the first new bloggers fortnight and established a name for myself as someone who would reach out to new bloggers and take the time to help them and read their blogs.
You can call me marmite!
I may have been a slow starter but today I am happy with my loyal readers.  I call myself a marmite blogger, as people either seem to love or hate me and that is OK, as it is better to be that way than just bland. The most important thing I say to any blogger is to be you.  Your own unique voice is so important and it is what makes your blog readable. In blogging never imitate. Remember you don’t have to do what everyone else does to be a success.  It is good to be bold and to do something different. Find your path and your voice.
For me I realise that -
I can’t be funny like Jane is,
Nor provoke debate and have strong opinions like Nickie does
Nor create an empire like the mighty Maggy
And I don’t have an ounce of the natural talented that Melinda has but that is OK and I don’t have to.  I am me and that’s unique and many people like that. Blogging should be fun and that is individual.

Prior to this event one blogger commented to me that she would say hello if she could get through my throng of admirers and this really did make me laugh out loud, as I am just me.  A normal and average mum.
What makes someone an established blogger?
I finished by saying that for me being an established blogger is about your state of mind. Act successful and believe you have something good to offer and people will buy into it.  It sure worked for me!

All the time you believe you are new or inexperienced you will believe it and everyone else around you will believe it. Change your mindset and take a risk, step out from your norm and become known.
I read a post the other day which said that our session was vague to say the least as none of us knew what we meant by the next level and firstly let me say that I love the fact a newer blogger said what she honestly thought of the conference and made some good suggestions for next time. But let me also say we all knew what we meant by the next level but just because what we believe is different to you does not make us wrong.  Like most things in blogging there is no one right answer.  All five of us before the conference spoke about what the next level was for us and each one of us had a different idea, be it outstanding content, strong readerships, stats, state of mind, being published or whatever.
The session was billed as ‘a chance to sit down with your favourite bloggers and to pick their brains’ and yes I think BritMums were perhaps a bit ambitious when they thought that the 150 odd bloggers that attended our session might have the time to pick our brains. 45 minutes goes very quickly indeed, perhaps five bloggers is too many for a panel? Something for BritMums to ponder for next time.
To conclude -
Wouldn’t life be simple if there were published advancement points, just like there is at my work, when I reach X amount of service time or X level of competence I move up the pay scale? Blogging, like much of life is not like that, some shakers rock up and take the world by storm in 3 months and others like me take 3 years but that makes blogging rich and varied and we should treasure the diversity in our community.
It is great to move to the next level of blogging, the one where you feel good about what you are doing and you are comfortable in your own skin.  That is real success in my book.
Image Credit:  Shamelessly stolen from Her Melness Speaks
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