My little blog is one year old. I am feeling wistful but rather than wax lyrical – as I did about my son turning one – about how much I have enjoyed blogging this last year, I thought a post about how to blog might just be a bit more useful.

Why take my advice?

You can check out some of my blog stats here in my first year stats post including my follower numbers but first and foremost blogging is awesome!

I absolutely love blogging, it has brought me so much more than I thought it would; it’s a creative outlet that I didn’t even realise I was missing and being part of the blogging community is brilliant. I have worked on my blog in some way every day of that year (yes every single day, weekends included). Any time I can snatch an hour it’s the first thing that pops into my mind to do, at any time of day. When I am doing anything else if I’m not with the kids I can’t help but wonder what I could be doing with the blog (sorry friends!) or what I could do later or what I could write a post about. And when out with my friend Ceri at MyahzineTV I relish being able to go full geek, sharing our fails and wins, tips and tricks, or even popping up a laptop to quickly finish some editing 😉
So that gives you some idea of how much you can choose to put into your blog but hopefully also goes some way to illustrate how enjoyable it is!

So without further ado here’s a quick run-down of how to start your blog AND get people to read it.

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1. Set up a blog with WordPress.com

It’s really simple to do just go to the WordPress website and set up your blog following the start up guide. I would recommend buying your url name from the outset which I did as part of the set-up process. It was around £23. For the year. It prevents gaining a good following then finding later down the line that someone else has purchased the url for your name. The hardest part about step 1 is choosing your blog name! There are other platforms you can choose but I found WordPress really easy to use. You can go self-hosted from the outset but most people start with a free blog site.

2. Write a blog post and publish it!

Easy right! Some people like to have a back log of draft posts ready before they get started other people write as they go. There’s no right or wrong way to do it just get yourself out there. The only rule is to be authentic.

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3. Set up all your social media.

I would say do this the same day you set up your blog if possible. Be consistent across all the social media platforms you use, so try to use the same name. I would suggest using the same picture because if a reader comes to find you on Twitter from your blog, it makes it easier for them to find you. Side note: remember people will search for you by typing in your name so try to make it start with the same letter on Twitter if your name is already taken. It’s not essential but it can help. There is so much to say about social media in regard to blogging, it’s a whole other ten blog posts!

4. Do a bit of research.

Find out about SEO (search engine optimisation). This is basically finding out about the ways that Google puts your blog in front of potential readers when people do a search. There are ways you can write your posts to make them easier for people to find if they are searching for a particular topic such as using lots of key words. There is a lot of info out there about SEO and it sounds intimidating but once you get your head into it you feel like you’re getting the keys to the castle. 😉

5. Promote promote promote

Get used to the idea that you write because you want people to read it. That is totally OK. It took me a little while to really get into the idea of promoting and sharing my posts and I feel like I wasted a bit of time here. Not everyone is going to love what you’ve written but a lot will, and the support from friends and family will make you feel like a million bucks.

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6. Join the community

Find other bloggers on Twitter and other social media, see what groups they are part of and request to join any open ones. We’ve all been the newbie and so you will find bloggers are a great bunch who are willing to help new people just starting out. Also, there are thousands of people blogging so you’re bound to find a few on your wavelength if you get yourself out there a bit. I would say here also, do not link drop in groups it is considered very bad etiquette (we all have links we want to share but every feed would get clogged if everyone only used the groups to link drop) and ask yourself what can you contribute before wading in with a million questions. Can you answer someone’s question that has been posted? Can you re-tweet someone’s content?

Blogging is brilliant fun and it’s always great to see new blogs pop up and watch them grow. No one is better than another and get the idea out of your head that your writing is not good enough or you don’t have anything to offer. We are each unique and that is a good enough reason to start your blogging journey. Go for it and let me know when you do – I will come and have a read and follow you on Twitter!

 

*Please kindly ask me before using any of the images herein many thanks thehippychristianmum@gmail.com

I’m not much of a hippy. I’m an impostor. In fact I kind of feel a bit rude borrowing the name from the real hippies out there making a change for the good in the world while I still shop at places so cheap their production practises are probably questionable. I have sort of covered why I chose the name The Hippy Christian Mum in my blog post and my About Me page. It was to do with certain personal  parenting choices I have made like home birthing, longer breastfeeding and baby-wearing. But I’m a luke-warm hippy at best. No more or less a hippy than most people really.  I love the idea of not flushing chemicals out into the waste system but at the same time I really just want to clean my loo.

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So although I’ve never claimed to be an all out activist I do wonder if my blog name is right overall. I really do not want to mis-lead. I also do not entirely fit into the Christian blogger groups as my posts are never super spiritual. I never meant for them to be, and that’s OK with me.  This was always a mummy blog and that’s what I want it to be. I’m secure about my faith so I don’t mind being a bit off the beaten track with that.  I enjoy reading those posts too.

So either I don’t really fit anywhere or I’m a blogging genius and I’ve created my very own super niche. Which is more likely I wonder? Does the name just exclude me from both groups, just frittering on the outskirts of all of them?  I certainly do connect with and enjoy reading other hippy type blogs. And with the name The Hippy Christian Mum I could be more likely to be approached by companies who are thoughtful about their environmental impact. That would be right up my street because I think that’s really commendable. The idea of a complete re-brand seems daunting, and restarting at a DA of 0, but the general advice seems to be if you are thinking of doing it to do it earlier rather than later.

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Maybe I’m experiencing some sort of blogger nerves as my blog approaches it’s 1st year anniversary (May 27th if you’re wondering). I am actually a lot more excited about that than I thought I would be. I cannot help but compare my blog to others that have been going about the same length of time. Usually I fall short but then I remember how much I love blogging and I suppose that can’t be measured in page views. (That’s not to say people with high numbers don’t do it because they love it too!)

I go from buzzing with ideas about really driving my blog to days where I feel silly for even thinking like that. I wonder if The Hippy Christian Mum really just sounds quite condescending. The original thought behind it was to juxtapose two terms-even though they actually go well together when you think about it.

Maybe if I’m happy just pootling along then there’s no need to change the name but if I look to the long term and hope to forward it then perhaps a change would be good?

The only thing is I just got some business cards made up.

What do you think? Have you ever changed the name of your blog before? Was it easy and are you glad you did it? Did you get 1st anniversary nerves? Or is that just me?! Would you change the name of your blog?

 

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

 

What kind of numbers could you be looking at after your first year? Which social media channels should you focus on?

May 2017 heralds the completion of one full year of blogging for me. I started when my second baby was 3 months old and I started the blog to share my traumatic birth experience. I had no previous or relevant experience and started from scratch the way many people start- by Googling ‘How to Start a Blog.’

I love my blog. I love sitting down to write, I love finding inspiration for posts in my everyday, I love connecting with people in the blog community, promoting on social media, everything that goes along with it I really enjoy. It’s my creative space. Just mine.  However, I have avoided the anticipated pressure of turning my blog into a business.

The Hippy Christian Mum went self hosted at the end of last year (Dec 2016) in a bid to make it a bit more of an official capacity but I am still relishing the joy it brings of being a hobby rather than a business. I have been messing about over on YouTube too and really enjoying watching other vlogging families and making videos.

So here’s a quick low down of what my stats look like at the end of my first year blogging:

  • My Moz DA = 29
  • My Tots100 ranking = 1,752
  • Facebook page likes = 166
  • Twitter followers =1,221
  • Instagram followers = 383
  • YouTube subscribers = 76
  • Pinterest followers = 161

These stats are pretty poor really in comparison to other blogs that started out around the same time as me, but I know the why behind my stats (apart from one). If you have been slogging and slogging and not really seeing an increase in your stats then it might be worth asking where to concentrate your time. There’s loads of helpful blog posts out there about this kind of thing.

Moz DA is the internet domain authority, basically how good your site and posts are at showing up in searches. Mine is 29, some of the bigger bloggers I know are at around 40 and some very visible bloggers I see a lot in the groups who are regularly posting content are a bit lower in the early 20’s so I think 29 is OK. You might often see people advertising their DA when offering to give a backlink on their site to your site for a guest post.

My Tots100 ranking is dire. This ranking would be representative of a blog which does not post very often or is very new. This is the stat that I’m slightly confused about. Tots100 is great website for bloggers go and check it out! The scoring system is explained on their website but basically they take a few numbers and try to calculate where your blog ranks among all the registered blogs. My low number could be because my Instagram following is low compared to a lot of bloggers (Instagram is a whole other kettle of fish!) and I’m not on Klout so that may or may not attribute to the low score.

 

Facebook is actually one of my more successful platforms. Even though 166 likes may be considered really low, my post reach is quite high in relation to page likes thanks to very supportive friends who like, share and comment on my posts. My posts are never gonna go viral on there but I’m thankful for a lot of support from my friends. Facebook have been a bit hit and miss for bloggers and small business owners of late in changing their charging structure. I personally do not pay to boost posts there yet but I don’t see why you wouldn’t  if you felt it would benefit your page. I get enough from the engagement with my blog on Facebook to feel the benefit.

Twitter. Oh how I love Twitter. It’s like the detention room at school, all the funny people are over on Twitter! I used to spend a lot of time there, probably more than any other social media channel because I see things like posts, news, and funny articles that I don’t find anywhere else. However, the mummy blogging network on Twitter is – I hate to say it – a bit of a bore! It is mostly, and understandably, used as a marketing tool with most mummy blogger accounts using post schedulers to make their hard-worked on posts visible. So I’m missing the witty quips and indulgent swearing I used to get from my old personal account where I followed a lot of American comedians.

Instagram as I said is a whole can of worms, with the algorithm changing so frequently (or so it seems) that none of us can keep up. People are really tapping into the power of Instagram so the landscape has changed a lot in the last few months even. There are Instagram bots and ‘like for like’ and people following and un-following left right and centre! I go on there because my ego can’t help but think people are actually interested to see pics of my little family and what we have been up to but also there are some *amazing* photographers on there if you know where to look ;). There are some really cute accounts too and I must confess to completely enjoying the element of voyeurism Instagram affords.

YouTube is fun and scatty and has a really youthful, new vibe to it. I post these vids and wonder why people would want to watch me on a video but they do! And I watch them too! I’m actually currently a bit addicted to the Daily Bumps YouTube channel who are an American vlogging family. YouTube is exciting because it feels like you could find anything you want on there. Someone advised that if you look at YouTube as a search engine rather than another social media platform you will likely have more success over there. P.S. if you like YouTube check out my friend’s channel MyahZineTV it’s fab! My friend Ceri and her husband and daughter do crafts, kids recipes and weekly fun vlogs.

Pinterest to be honest can be found languishing in the corner. I love it but I tend to forget it’s there and I use it for personal use more than for the blog. I know there is masses of untapped traffic through Pinterest and I see quite a few of the American mommy bloggers doing a lot with it so I think this might be one for me to work on.

Anyway that was quite a long post for some stats! But the long and short of it is, enjoy your blog, make it unique to you, ask yourself how you define success and go for it! Don’t be shy. Good Luck.

You’ve got your first PR invite, all looks legit, what happens next?

I was positively ecstatic to receive an invite to a blogger event from a bona fide PR company.  Having only been blogging for four months it really was a great surprise. You may have seen posts from bloggers about events they have attended and products they have been sent to review and it all looks very exciting. They have worked hard on their blogs and worked up a big following but how does it all come about? And what actually happens at a blogging PR event?

If you’re a newbie blogger like me, here is the lowdown (you know, from my extensive experience).

 

What is a Blogging Event?

It will differ wildly depending on the product and the brand. For example this Tefal event – A Moment With Franca was in a house in North London as it was for cookwear. If it was a film pre-screening it may be at a cinema. The one I was invited to was for Smiggle which is a kid’s stationery brand so it was at their Cardiff store. It was in the morning 8.45am-10am and the store was closed to the public. There would be competitions and free goodie bags and the invite extended to my family too; so the kids could try the products.

 

How do you get invited to a Blogging Event?

I registered with Tots 100 which is a blogging community website which links with PR companies. I registered, messed it up, emailed someone and then forgot about it. That is where the PR company who organised the event (Beattie Communications) got the details of my blog along with my contact email. To register just outline your blog in one paragraph, add your social media links, and tick the box that says you’re happy to be contacted. At the event I met some other mummy bloggers, one of whom Heledd from Yummy Blogger invited me to join a facebook group for parent bloggers local to my area. Event opportunities are often shared on that page too which is really handy.

What happens at a Blogging Event?

It was all very exciting and felt very exclusive. Thankfully I wasn’t the only blogger there who hadn’t been to anything like this before Madeline from This Glorious Life was a newbie event blogger person too which I was glad of.

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Me, Madeline & Heledd.

 

I went with my family; hubby & 2 kids. We got there early to find the store roped off with a chalkboard sign at the front saying ‘Welcome bloggers!’chalkboard sign

There were a few other people nervously loitering so we said a quick hello to one another. The rep from Beattie Communications said hi, ticked my name off the list and let us in. There were free coffees and breakfast baps on offer which was a nice touch. I couldn’t eat/drink them as I am currently dairy free for babba so hubby had 2 instead. The cheek of it! While he was eating me and Beg got down to business perusing the goods. I took a load of pics while Beg sniffed everything as she had discovered some things were scented. The Manager (who had an Australian accent – Smiggle is an Australian company) gave us a quick talk to give some background information about the company. She highlighted one or two things they were keen to promote; mainly their back to school range. This was when we found out there was a £200 gift card up for grabs and one of our names would be pulled out of a hat to win it later. Oooh. Then we looked round a bit more while a staff member demonstrated a toy for the kids and helped them with their entries to the design a backpack competition.

Then the big moment for the gift card raffle. The name was drawn and it was me! I couldn’t believe it. So while everyone else made their purchases and left, Beg went on a trolley dash (basket dash) and shopped, shopped, shopped. Everyone had a goody bag at the end and just like at a kid’s party we knew we could then politely exit. Then we went round the corner by the loos and did some silly posed pictures with our haul but you don’t have to do this bit yourself if you don’t want to.   

What happens after?

I emailed the PR company to say thanks for inviting me and used the event hashtag #backtosmiggle on my social media. Then a few days later I wrote up the review and published it and also emailed the PR company to let them know it was live.back to school

The Best Bits.

The obvious highlight of the day was winning the gift card. Seeing Beg so excited because of something I had done and feeling a great ownership of my blog was good. Also I was thrilled to meet other local mummy bloggers that I had previously only met online.

Hopefully this post gives a little insight into what these type of events can entail. I hope there will be more in the future to write about but until then here’s a video of me ‘unboxing’ the free goodie bag.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday