Sunday 3 February 2013

Suzanne tells us there is Beauty in Community

Today we welcome Suzanne to the blog and in a short time she has become one of my favourite bloggers, writing some excellent posts which really resonate with me. Probably my favourite so far is one titled Weeding. I'll let her give you a little lowdown on herself -
My name is Suzanne and I blog at 3 Children and It .  As the title suggests, I have 3 children and 1 ‘It’ (the dog, not the husband!).  I started my blog approximately 9 months ago, mainly to satisfy my desire to write but also to document our family life and hopefully impart some of my parental “wisdom” gained over the past 12 years….judge for yourself whether I achieve that or not!
As any intelligent human being knows, it takes 9 months (give or take a few days!) for a baby to develop in the womb.  Interestingly, I have recently discovered that it takes approximately the same length of time to nurture and develop another kind of baby – 9 months ago I welcomed my blog into the world and what a 9 months it’s been!  I’ve had sleepless nights, teething troubles and regularly questioned my significance before this baby was born.  But as with any new baby, I wouldn’t change it for the world!
Since finally plucking up the courage to embark on the world of blogging (I think I had written at least 100 mental posts before convincing myself to have a go!), I have learnt so much.  One of the things I had never considered or even prepared myself for, was the amazing community that blogging creates.  Being a sociable person and one who thrives on communication with others 24/7, this was a pleasant surprise and one which I have embraced.
Maybe I am blinkered, but I can honestly say that I have not come across any hostility.  There is no evident rivalry amongst bloggers (perhaps I’m too ‘green’ to have noticed yet!) and anyone I have come into contact with has been nothing but helpful, welcoming and full of encouragement.  Even the rather daunting ‘big’ bloggers, the ones who seem to have 7 gazillion followers and 50,000 page views per day, have been so lovely and not at all worthy of the ‘scary’ label that I had given them – Mich being one of them!
Not long after I started blogging, tragedy struck the parent blogging community when a very popular and well-loved blogger, suffered a sudden and massive brain haemorrhage.  I watched from the side lines as the understandably stunned community came into its own - emotional and practical support were offered to her family and to one another, twitter prayer vigils were organised (which trended incidentally) and it was just beautiful to watch the virtual community dispel the myth it seems to have created.  This was not born out of ‘false friendships’, it was an instinctive reaction by people who cared.
I was equally amazed when many from that very same community rallied around another blogger who had sadly been forced into bringing up her family in a squalid council property.  Again, bloggers not only offered emotional support but practical help too, succeeding in transforming her run-down council property into something habitable and ultimately a home - truly inspiring.  
Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?
If you’re new to blogging and now questioning how on earth you tap into this amazing community of bloggers, here are my top tips:
1.       Linkies (or Bloghops).  You will find many of these taking place during the week.  They are basically an opportunity to link up your post and take part in a ready-made community.  Some of the more prominent linkies are: Silent Sunday (Mocha Beanie Mummy), Saturday is Caption Day (Mammasaurus), R2BC (run by our very own Mich!), The Gallery (Sticky Fingers), Project 365 (The Boy and Me).  There seems to be a linky out there to meet everyone’s interest - don’t be shy, have a go!

2.       Commenting.  I can’t stress highly enough the need to visit and comment on other blogs. Look for those that inspire or interest you, people who you have things in common with.  Quickly they will become regular visitors to your blog and your very own little community will be born.  If someone leaves a comment at the bottom of your post, the blogging etiquette appears to be: comment under it and then visit their blog in return (it took a while for me to realise this!)

3.       Twitter. If you have a blog, you must join Twitter! I’m not too ‘up’ on all the other social networking sites but this one should be a priority. Share your posts, engage with other bloggers and retweet their posts.  The support is phenomenal - I’ve had my child’s homework questions answered, parenting advice given and tea and sympathy offered (virtually of course!)

4.       Forums. There are many different forums and networks designed especially for bloggers.  The best (and most welcoming!) ones I have found are Britmums, Netmums and Love All Blogs (there’s even a designated area on this website for newbies).  Sign up, introduce yourself and start linking up your blog posts.  You will soon find some friendly voices to interact with as well as gaining new readers.

5.       Blogroll. Set up an area on your own blog which features blogs that you enjoy reading.  Make these a priority to visit every time a new post appears. You will quickly find that the support is reciprocated and a small network of trusted bloggers will begin to develop.

6.       Blogging events.  There are many blogging events which take place throughout the year and I get the impression that they aren’t just about learning!  This year I am plucking up the courage to attend ‘Britmums Live!’ taking place in London in June.  If you asked me a year ago if I would even consider attending a conference not knowing a soul, you can imagine the answer - I just hope these bloggers live up to my expectations!

In a nutshell - don’t be a stranger.  Introduce yourself, start commenting and don’t be put off by seemingly ‘more popular’, ‘more professional’ and ‘more experienced’ bloggers. Everyone was a newbie once and most people will remember that.   Come and visit my blog, I’m always up for new ‘friends’ and will certainly make a return visit to yours J
Go on, visit Suzanne, she is a diamond you won't regret it!
Thank you Suzanne, tomorrow we have another great post for you as part of new bloggers fortnight. On a different slant new blogger Leoarna shares with us how blogging is good for your mental health.