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The Seriously Fun Way To Boost Your Blog

By Hipster Mum

There is a brilliant scene in the recent film version of the Great Gatsby where the main character, Nick Carraway, walks through a spectacular celebration. “Gossip columnists alongside gangsters and governors exchanging telephone numbers,” he describes marvelling at trays piled with cocktails, feather-plumed movie stars in shimmering frocks and glitter falling over everyone like snow. “All weekend, every weekend, the whole city ended up at Gatsby's.”

A great party is like that: something that everyone wants to be part of. And looking around at the success of party blogs like Hooray, Party With Lenzo, A Subtle Revelry, 100 Layer Cake and more - it’s clear that right now the pull of a great party is stronger than ever.

But what makes a stunning celebration? And how can you throw one that looks ah-mazing in a teeny space without breaking the bank? This is where bloggers come in. Where magazines and large websites might have big budgets to throw grand soirees, real people don’t. Real people look for inspiration and solutions that are, well, real. As bloggers we’re in the perfect position to experiment and document the secret sauce behind a celebration that works IRL - and thanks to the popularity and timeliness of the topic (hello Christmas and summer holidays!) - any content we create has shareability built-in. I know, because this month it happened to me.

Earlier in October through Instagram I connected with Kate and Ashley Lawrence - two sisters with an expanding tribe keen to launch their own children’s fashion website, billieandkate. When we were brainstorming how to promote their brand I suggested we throw a Halloween party and they jumped right on board. A few key elements to set the scene:

1.    Food

Collaborating via Pinterest, we stumbled across some delish inspiration - props to Kate and Ashley for bringing the ideas to life!

2.    Decorations

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We put the word out to local party supply shops and were so excited when the brilliant Shannon Kilford from Born to Party  and Alana from Poppies For Grace came on board. These guys are the decoration masters - their work made such a difference to the look and feel of the shoot!

3.    Clothes

I left this one to @billieandkate - and they killed it. Particularly when it came to the accessories. Often it’s the extras - think hats, sunglasses, etc - that take a good shot and make it remarkable, compelling and ultimately, viral.

4.    Photography

It might not be something you think of first, but great photography is an essential ingredient for blogging any party celebration - hell, it’s an essential ingredient to blogging in general! Not only does a good photographer know how to snap the little details that will make great pics on social, they also know how to collaborate and cajole guests, to encourage and coach them to get the best shots possible. That said, while a good photographer will show your amazing work as it is; but a truly rad photographer will make it look even better. I love snapping parties - and have a special fondness for kids celebrations in particular - so if you have a project in mind, get in touch!

Happy Halloween! (With big thanks to Billie (12 months), Valentine (15 months), Winifred (7), Willis (8), Hutch (10) and Eden (11), Kate and Ashley)

Jade Warne is a photographer, writer, mum of two and blogger at Hipster Mum. Through her blog she offers a creative guide to parenting and features two parts Tina Fey, one part Amy Poehler plus a pinch of Louis C.K! Check out Hipster Mum on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and and hit her up for collabs, freelance work & tacos anytime! hipstermum1@gmail.com

Can Too Much Inspiration Harm You?

Blog-Trends

By Elizabeth Fein

Social media is stocked full of beautiful pictures, creative ideas, and endless inspiration. We can spend hours on Pinterest hoarding ideas. We can scour through gorgeous pictures on Instagram and gather styling ideas. We can search hashtags on Twitter and find the best articles to tell us everything we need to know about whatever interests us. It’s wonderful, but at the same it can be overwhelming. 

Sometimes it can make us inadequate and we end up spending even more time searching for inspiration. It can be a vicious cycle, and we can end up smothering our own creative ideas in the process. These great ideas can even get lost under piles of inspiration. It reminds me of going to a hairdresser with a picture of Jennifer Lawrence from Vogue and saying, “Make me look like this!” (I am totally guilty of this by the way).

Looking to others for inspiration is great, and we all need to start somewhere. We also need to realize that our hair is not as thick as Jennifer Lawrence’s and our face shape is different. Cutting your hair like her’s may make you cry with regret.

Comparison on social media is often hard to avoid. We see people that appear to be winning at life and we want to be winning at life, too. Social media is a great tool for finding inspiration, but too much of a good thing usually turns into a bad thing.

Here are a few dangers of too much “ inspiration” that you may or may not have thought about. If you haven’t, I hope it helps you move toward the doing instead of the dreaming and comparing.

1. You will end up inadvertently copying someone else.
If you spend a lot of time looking at what a competitor or a personal idol is doing their words and ideas will get trapped in your head. It will start seeping out into your content, and that’s not fun for either party. You may have to answer to it, they may see it and ignore it, or you may be totally off their radar. Whether someone knows or not, you will be putting content out in the world that is a muddled down version of someone else’s idea. Keep your eyes on your own paper. This will clear up enough space to freely create new and engaging content.

2. You will lose control of your own story.
You are the author of your story. By letting someone else’s content guide you, you are handing over the reigns and letting them lead you into the dark forest. This scenario is awesome for them! But you will be ten steps behind them, following blindly, and end up stuck. They will have more room to spread their arms out and twirl around collecting the clients you want. They will end up in inspiration folders everywhere, while you are stuck in the forest dreaming.

3. You might end up emulating someone not worth emulating.
The majority of people on social media are great people. They are simply busy being awesome, living their lives honestly, and doing their own thing. On the flip side, there are people who are master curators and full of s-h-i-t. They curate, imagine, and tell stories, which is OK. Those people are usually fun to follow and there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. It’s just important to remember that they aren’t someone you want to be giving creative space to. They may not have the clients they want, they may owe a photographer their first born because they don’t take their own photos, and they may be unhappy. You can’t waste your time wishing your Pinterest were as awesome as _______ [insert whoever your Pinterest idol is], because that person’s space may not be the space you want to be in. You have your own space to build. A space that will house your content and tell a rad story people want to follow. Just remember, you and everyone else on this planet has something unique and worth listening to.

4. It will hinder you from acting.
Like anything we try to accomplish in life, there is a moment when you have to act. What good is being inspired if you are never going to act? You can collect all you want, scour all you want, and wish until it’s too late. It’s so easy to get caught up in someone else’s blog, tweets, and pictures. Amazing people can inspire you because, yes, they truly are inspiring. Just be gentle with yourself and don’t compare yourself to them. Spending too much time doing this can make you feel inadequate, and hinder your own creativity. Dreaming is not going to build your confidence and get you what you want. Acting is what’s going to help you carve out your own space of awesomeness. You have to take all of those Instagram screenshots, article clippings, and could-be thoughts, and move them out of your own way. You have your own content to make and your own work to do. However imperfect it may seem at first, step by step you will become an expert in your field. Before you know it, someone will be hoarding your content and putting it in their inspiration folder. Talk about #winning!

What are your thoughts on this topic? Does social media make it harder for you to avoid comparison? What are your struggles with comparison? How do you deal with it?

With a background in marketing, Elizabeth Fein is a social media & communications expert. She is a mother, photographer and business owner of Iterate, a social media management agency in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find her on Twitter or Instagram.

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Top Image: Steph Zangeneh

10 Tips For Networking At Blogging Events

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By Christina Butcher

As a full-time blogger I love working online but real life networking has been the real game changer. It’s had the biggest impact on my journey to full-time blogger. It can feel scary to put yourself out there but that’s where things really start. 

Online conversations can build real relationships but when you take them offline, that’s where the magic happens. I remember my first blogging event. I was so nervous I thought about cancelling and staying home. It was raining too so I totally had a good excuse. But I have this saying that good things happen when you put yourself out there. So I got dressed and went out. I was alone and had never met anyone in the room before (though I felt like I knew a couple of people from reading their blogs). It was terrifying but it was also the best thing I’ve ever done. 

That one event has lead to amazing friendships, professional relationships and even speaking gigs. Now I regularly attend blogging events, especially through Blog Society and have started Little Blog Big to bring new bloggers together. Networking at blogging events isn’t like at a corporate event. It’s more relaxed and authentic. The people you meet are way more interesting and you never know where the conversation can go.

Here are my tips to make networking fun and to make it work for you.

Before the event:

1. Look up the guest list
Check if there is a list of who’s going or if there’s a Facebook group or Twitter list for the event. Doing a little research on the guest list will help you learn more about who will be there and find out if there’s anyone you really want to connect with.

2. Have your elevator pitch ready
Your elevator pitch is a quick sentence or two about you and your blog. It’s a quick way to introduce who you are and what you do. It’s tough to summarise this in a sentence. Try to keep it short and interesting so that people want to ask you more questions and keep the conversation going.

3. Set an intention
Think about what you want to get out of attending this event. Is there a project you're working on that you need help with, or maybe you are looking to meet more bloggers from your niche. Setting an intention helps to keep you focused.

At the event:

4. Smile & breathe
If you don’t do anything else, just remember to smile and breathe. Blogging events are fun and nothing to be nervous about. A smile makes everything better.

5. Put down your phone (just for a minute)
Blogging events are one of the few places where you are encouraged to use your phone as much as possible. You’ll want to Instagram and share what’s happening but be mindful and put your phone down for just a minute. You’re much more approachable when you’re not looking at your phone. You can always #latergram it.

6. Be present
When you’re talking with someone, give them your attention and listen to them. Don’t worry about what you’re going to say next. Please don’t look over their shoulder to find someone better to talk to. There's always time to move around the room and talk to others later. 

7. Ask questions
If you’re nervous about small talk, remember that most people like talking about themselves. Ask open questions (who, what, where, when, why and how) and let the person answer. It’s easy to strike up a conversation with questions. 

8. Focus on giving
Often traditional networking is about what the other person can do for you. Instead, think about how you can help the person you're talking to. Maybe it's a service you offer, or you can recommend a friend or another blogger.

After the event:

9. Get social 
Connect with the people you met on social media. Follow them and message them to say how lovely it was to connect at the event. Keep the lines of communication open and growing.

10. It’s all about the follow-up
You met at this event, now what? Keep developing that connection online. Read and comment on their blog and share their content on your social channels. You never know what kind of collaboration or friendship that initial meeting could lead to.

So don’t be afraid to organise a meet-up with local bloggers or go to a blogging workshop or networking event. You’ll learn so much from taking your online relationships offline. 

Christina Butcher is a full-time blogger and New York Times bestselling author. When she’s not fighting bad hair days at Hair Romance or inspiring adventures with her husband Jim at Mr & Mrs Romance, she’s helping bloggers grow their Little Blog Big with live workshops and networking events.

The A-Z Guide To Soulful Blogging

A-Z Guide

By Janelle Ledwidge

After working in the digital media industry for nearly 15 years, I’ve seen plenty of blogs and websites come and go. This A-Z of soulful blogging includes my top tips and strategies to help get your blog bursting with creativity and be a magnet for readers and potential customers alike.

A: AUTHENTIC, ACTIVE & ASKING FOR HELP
A blog that’s written from a place of authenticity will easily blossom. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery however it’s exhausting keeping up the façade of trying to be something or someone you’re not. Be authentic and the writing and content creation will flow. Your tribe will gravitate towards you and your work, and will become loyal supporters in no time.

Asking for help isn’t always easy. Sometimes you might feel like a failure or needy by doing so, but the reality is you’ve just got to reach out to people, in or beyond your existing network. Do you have a friend who’s connected to someone you’d love to meet? Ask for an introduction. Stuck with a tech issue and need some guidance? Tap your existing network or find a group of likeminded bloggers where you can share tips and resources. Never shy away from asking and be ready to give back generously.

Being an active blogger means you’re regularly producing content and filling up your website, which is good for Google. It’s also great for developing your writing style and keeping your readers up to date and interested in what you’ve got to say. Part of being an active blogger also means looking after the backend of your blog by installing the latest plugins, security patches and backing up your content. Get familiar with your blog analytics to see what posts are performing and where your traffic is coming from.

B: BRAND & BLOG BOREDOM
More often than not, your blog or your website is the cornerstone of your business and an online extension of your voice, style and brand. It’s the place to showcase your latest articles, news, products and services and is a primary platform for people to find and connect with you. Provide readers with a brilliant and cohesive user experience by ensuring your blog is truly representative of who you are. If you’re a solopreneur, then what you publish online in the form of content and design actually becomes part of your personal brand.

Feeling bored with your blog? You’re most likely to get blog boredom (blogdom) more than your average reader because you’re often looking at your blog with a critical mindset and you’ve read the content over and over. Change up the look and feel with a new theme or swap out graphical elements to refresh the visual appeal. Tweaking the design and adding fresh content regularly keeps it interesting.

C: CONTENT CREATION & COLLABORATION
Content creation is the lifeblood of your blog and originality is key. It’s how readers get to know you and it’s what keeps them coming back for more. Collaborating with other bloggers is a great way to showcase your talent, cross pollinate ideas, forge alliances and expand your network. If you are inviting guest bloggers, keep the quality consistent and be sure to communicate your standards to any potential collaborators.

D: DYNAMISM
There’s no denying we live in a digital world and we are massive consumers of content 24/7. Your blog should look good and perform well online but also be mobile responsive so it’s viewable on a smartphone or tablet. Keep your blog dynamic and engaging with content that is disruptive. No one wants to read article after article that’s all about you. It’s like having a conversation at a party with someone who only speaks about themselves, which is really boring. When it comes to blogging it pays to know your strengths and weaknesses. If the technology aspect of blogging has you running in the opposite direction, consider delegating some of the set up or design work by using a service like Fiverr.com, Airtasker.com or with a VA (virtual assistant).

E: ENTREPRENEURSHIP & EFFICIENCY
It’s easy for your entrepreneurial spirit to be dampened if you find blogging to be a chore. What to write about and what will people think of your work are typical concerns when you’re first starting out. Think about the sort of experience you want readers to have when they visit your blog. What are you really passionate writing about? Blogging should be something you look forward to. Make the most of your time by blogging with efficiency. Spend some time writing articles and schedule blog posts and social media in advance to free up your creative time.

F: FOLLOWING, FREEBIES & FONTS
The blogosphere can be a lonely place, especially if you’re pouring your heart and soul into creating gorgeous content and no one seems to be visiting or leaving a comment on your blog. Is there anybody out there? It can take a while to build a loyal following and the key is quality content and consistency. Having a nice opt in freebie can be good for building your email list. Connecting with other likeminded bloggers can also help you to build your profile. If you read someone’s blog post and love it, be sure to say so by leaving a comment. Regularly check your favourite blogs and get to know the people behind the words. If you’re not getting the levels of traffic you want be sure to check your SEO and one of the simplest tips is check your fonts. You might love a particular, quirky font but if it looks odd on the screen or is difficult to read then people simply won’t stick around to read the content.

G: GENEROSITY
If you’re looking to position yourself as a thought-leader via your blog be generous with the information you’re sharing. You never know when or where your next potential client is coming from or how a new business relationship may eventuate. The Internet is a truly global marketplace. Your next customer might be from the same city or someone from a different country. When it comes to business and growing your online presence via your blog, remember we all start from humble beginnings. If you’re an established blogger, show your support to a new blog or biz that’s caught your eye by leaving a comment or sharing a mention on social media. It never hurts to give back and be grateful for any support that’s been shown to you on your blogging journey.

H: HUMILITY
The social and business networks built through blogging can become central to how well you establish your profile and brand in the offline world. Reach out and connect with your network in real life through events and local meet ups. If sales and generating revenue is part of your focus, then hone in on your business strategy to make sure you’re paying equal attention to the e-commerce side of your blog. If you’re a new blogger, avoid the typical 6 month burn out and perish syndrome and use the first year to try out new ideas with content creation and design to see what works best for you as you refine positioning and niche. As you’ll be hustling for opportunities, it pays to stay humble and offer your assistance to others when you can.

I: ISOLATION, INSPIRATION & INSECURITIES
As a society, technology connects us in ways not previously experienced by past generations. The flipside to this connectivity is there are many entrepreneurs and bloggers today working in isolation. Isolation can be hard to deal with particularly if you have an extroverted personality. With many opting for email communication it can even be challenging to have a phone conversation with someone. It pays to take a balanced approach to communication in business and in life so if you feel disconnected, try to incorporate a mix of styles to support you which could include face-to-face meetings or skype video calls, speaking engagements or networking groups.

Inspiring your readers with heartfelt, well written content will keep them coming back for more but it’s not enough to simply have a blog. People need to find you online and that’s where building a strong following on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter can really help. Instructional video content is growing in popularity and if this type of content appeals to you then overcome any insecurities you might have with being on screen and record a few videos at home for practice first. Improve your on-camera technique and get used to talking straight into the camera with emotion. Let your personality shine through. 

J: JEALOUSY
It can be frustrating when you’re not achieving the results you want from blogging and business and you see someone else nailing it on all fronts. But don’t let jealousy bite you or become consumed by it. We’re all on our own journey and are at different stages of our individual journeys. Being jealous of someone else’s success will detract you from your own mission and eat away at your confidence. Jettison jealously and focus on bringing your personal best to everything that you do and the results will come.

K: KIN & KINETIC
Kinfolk; your tribe, your circle. The people that will be your biggest supporters and most avid readers. As soon as you start blogging, start nurturing your tribe. Have a clear understanding about who they are and connect with them in a meaningful and authentic way. Producing content for the web means you’re creating for a kinetic platform. It’s an ever evolving, pervasive, dynamic environment so keep your content fresh, accessible and full of movement with beautiful visual elements.

L: LISTEN, LEARN & LEVERAGE
Take the time to listen to what your readers like and learn about their preferences. Once you have a clear understanding of this, creating compelling content will become so much easier. Ultimately you want to love what you do so leverage all your available resources to bring your blog to life.

M: MOTIVATION, MARKETING & MIXING IT UP
Stay motivated about your blog by preparing an editorial calendar that will keep you moving towards your writing goals and content creation like a pro. If you’ve reached a stage with your blog that has you questioning its overall direction, go back to your original vision and start formulating a plan that will bring you back into mission mode. Refresh your marketing approach and try out a few different ideas that might attract new readers like a competition, webinar or video series. Mix up content formats to see what works best with your tribe.

N: NEWSWORTHINESS
Neglected, abandoned blogs are everywhere so make sure your blog doesn’t perish by keeping your content newsworthy and interesting. Nurture your tribe and give your readers a mix of personal, inspirational and instructional content.

O: OBSTACLES, OPPORTUNITIES & AN OPEN MIND
Keep an open mind about the types of publicity activities you’re willing to undertake when building your brand and blog. If you dislike dealing with the media or reluctant to engage in public speaking try to overcome these obstacles and be prepared when opportunity knocks. Stick to a calendar system and practice diarising your daily to-dos to help you stay organised. To avoid task-overwhelm, group scheduled tasks by project and break down jobs within a project into manageable chunks that will enable you to progress and remain optimistic.

P: PROCRASTINATION, PASSION, PERSONALISATION & PROOFING
Procrastination is the nemesis of productivity. If you find yourself putting off a certain project take the time to question why and identify the real reason behind the reluctance to move forward. The most exciting projects are the ones we are most passionate about. Passion fuels creativity and it’s often the practical driving force that stretches us beyond our comfort zone when dealing with completing larger, more complex projects. Personalise your blog and give it a professional edge with original, proofread content and most importantly, protect your digital work from theft by using an online plagiarism tool like Copyscape.com.

Q: QUALITY
In the realms of content production, quality versus quantity is the winner every time. Thoughtful, beautifully written blog posts that occur with regularity will capture your reader’s interest and keep them engaged. Don’t sacrifice your standards to meet a publishing demand just for the sake of putting something out there. Know when to quit if an element on your blog or a particular topic isn’t generating interest. Question your readers to find out what they want you to write about and keep experimenting.

R: RESPOND & RELATIONSHIP
Running a blog is a two way communication channel. If someone takes the time to read your blog post and makes a comment, be sure to respond promptly and in a meaningful way. Move beyond the typical remarks and engage your readers in a conversation that forges a closer connection and opens up the dialogue. Think relationship building, not simply reply and you’ll create a richer engagement with your tribe and potential ideal clients.

S: SHARING & SOCIAL MEDIA
Sharing the content you’ve created is critical in driving traffic to your blog and building your online profile. Understand the content consumption preferences of your tribe and what social media platforms they’re using and schedule accordingly. Use social media to your advantage but don’t compromise your blogging efforts by spending all your time building your presence on different social platforms. Ultimately you want those connections and conversations to happen on your blog whenever possible where you have more chance of converting casual readers into valuable subscribers.

T: TRUST
Trust in your instincts. If you’re fretting over pushing the publish button on your latest blog post, go with it and trust in what you have written and what you have created. Sometimes what you write won’t hit the mark, but that’s OK. You learn from the experience, move on and try again. If you’ve been absent from your blog or need to take a break then be transparent with your readers and share what’s going on. They’ll appreciate your honesty and approachability.

U: UNIQUE
Make your blog an inviting destination by writing with your unique style and provide plenty of useful, relevant content to help readers improve their own lives. Maintain the upkeep of your blog and if you’re publishing via a blogging platform like Wordpress be sure to uninstall any untested plugins that could cause a stability issue.

V: VIRALITY & VISUALS
It’s almost impossible to predict what content will go viral so don’t create content hinging your hopes on it being a viral smash. What’s trending in content right now are visuals. Images and video grab attention and are a critical element in content marketing. The world needs to hear your voice via your blog but it also wants to look at pretty pictures too. Having a clear vision for your blog is also paramount. What do you want to achieve as a result of producing content? What’s the reason you want to create a blog in the first place? While we’ve talked a lot about blogging and business from an entrepreneurial viewpoint, there is absolutely no reason why you couldn’t apply the various strategies to a purely creative or personal blog. It’s often the case when we’re investing our time on a passionate pursuit, it can sometimes grow and become ripe for commercial interest and investment.

W: WRITE & WEAVE
The wonderful words you write and all the hard work you invest in building your blog will pay off and win the eyes of readers and the hearts of your destined tribe. Keep weaving your uniqueness through everything you produce for your blog and let people connect with your true, authentic self.

X: XENODOCHIAL & THE X-FACTOR
First impressions count online so make your blog a welcoming destination that is xenodochial with user friendly design, accessible type and the right mix of content. Give your blog the x-factor and give readers a reason to visit again and again.

Y: YES
Say yes to opportunities that will help you to build your blog and brand. How else will people get to know you and your work? Support yourself by saying yes more and embrace the possibilities that flow your way.

Z: ZERO IN
Before publishing your next post, check to see if you can tighten up the text by zeroing in and removing any unnecessary words or use a tool like PaperRater.com to improve your writing and readability. 

janelle-ledwidge

Janelle Ledwidge is a qualified life coach, Licensed Facilitator of The Desire Map, co-author of “A Faster Future” and holistic health coach-in-training. As the Curator of AGLITTERINGSOUL.COM, Janelle loves writing and designing relevant, heartfelt, actionable content to inspire creative, ambitious women and soulful entrepreneurs who understand that investing in personal development is the key to crafting a lifestyle rich with happiness, passion and purpose. Visit Janelle at AGLITTERINGSOUL.COM and connect on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.

Balance: How To Blog While Being Fair To Your Family And To Yourself

blogging-taking-care-of-family

By Robyna May

I wonder how many times, in how many families, the scene plays out. It’s nearing dinner time. In about half an hour, baths will need to be run and children will need to be settled. An amazing idea for a blog post has entered my mind. I quickly sit down on the computer. Intending to be only a few minutes - just to jot down a rough sketch. Time ticks on and dinner doesn’t make itself. I have once again tried to snatch time that doesn’t exist and I know that I am being unfair. But I fear that if I let the idea go, I will never catch it again. This is how my blog posts are written - stolen bits and pieces of time, patched together.

When I am inspired, the words fall and I catch them. But inspiration does not wait for an appropriate time. If I schedule time to blog, I can find myself in front of a blinking cursor, desperately trying to recapture what came so easily in my head only a day ago.  If I blog when the mood takes me, then I am battling with children who are demanding my attention and a husband who wants to me manage my time better. Like so many women, I blog about being a mother and a wife.  It feels so terribly inauthentic when my words convey how much I love my children to the world and my actions convey some thing entirely different to my family.

Creative people everywhere struggle with this issue - how to feed your creative spirit whilst maintaining the other parts of your life. Passion can be all-consuming and insistent. It wears the cloak of importance and urgency so very easily. To put that passion to one side requires a discipline I find at odds with my creativity. Writing is not my only passion. I love to sew and to paint and to read. These projects are finite. Not so blogging.  A blog is not just a place to write, it is a place that needs tending. There are communities to be a part of. There are blogs to read. There are images to produce. There are skills to learn. If left unchecked, I could lose myself in the whole vortex of blogging for days.  There is always something to do on the great blogging to do list. And I am one of those people that strives to have a list full of struck off items.  

As bloggers, we have exactly the same number of hours in the day as everyone else.  Bloggers work and look for work, they care for parents, partners and children, they study, they volunteer, they spend time with friends, they have vast lives outside of blogging.  It wonder if it looks like bloggers have excess spare time they have decided to fill with words. Realistically, I think bloggers have invested time in their passion for writing. Perhaps their teenaged days were filled with journals and dubious poetry (mine were). Perhaps they have narrated their lives in their own head since they were little (I did and I do). What drives people to blog isn’t a sea of time to be filled, it’s passion and creativity and words and a desire to share. But is a passion that needs to fit within life. It needs to be balanced with partners and kids and friends and family and work. I often struggle to find that balance.

My husband doesn’t read my blog. He doesn’t understand the need to write. He knows that it takes me away from him and the kids for stretches of time. He knows that if I don’t write, I get twitchy. He knows that I need it and he thinks I should manage time better.  When the blog enjoys modest monetary success, he becomes a little more interested. But on the whole, blogging remains a mystery to him. He knows it’s important to me and so it is tolerated.  After his work and looking after our two young boys, we have precious little time for each other. Too often blogging intrudes on that time.

My kids don’t understand the blog. They want to play and they want my attention. When my arms are full of laundry or dishes, my kids understand that I am doing chores - that I cannot play right at that moment. When I sit down to the computer, my one year old reaches out for me. My six year old wants to know why he can’t have screen time if mummy is.

To be the best version of me, I need a creative outlet. At the moment, that outlet is blogging. In that space I am more than mum and more than wife. I can test out ideas, I can push boundaries and I can push myself. I meet interesting people. I learn incredible things. It is a window to a wide and beautiful world. But sometimes I need to make a choice, close that window and focus on my family.

I have thought about ways to create balance this year.  Here are the things that I think will work for me: 

  • Scheduling time specifically for blogging and communicating that with my family. With the understanding that blogging time is mine and I should not be interrupted. On the other side, I won’t blog on the computer or phone outside of that time.
  • Within the schedule, include all the various blogging tasks and focus on them ONLY when they come up. 
  • A constant notepad and pen for capturing the fragments of inspiration. Taking down a word or phrase should be enough to access the memories at a later date.
  • Understanding what is urgent, what is important and what is neither. Making sure that my priorities align with what I really want my life to look like.
  • Making time for myself that doesn’t include writing or blogging.
  • Understanding that not all life experiences need to be translated into blog posts, not every drink and dinner needs to be instagrammed and not every joyous moment with my boys needs to be on Facebook.
  • Investing time and money in writing workshops and training so that I can trust myself to write both when the inspiration is running hot and when I need to dig deeper.
  • Avoiding the comparison trap.
  • Remember why I blog in the first place and hold fast to it.

I honestly believe that being able to express creativity through blogging makes me a better person, mother and wife. But it cannot consume all of my spare time. Excuse me, I am off to play with my children and kiss my husband.

Robyna May writes as one half as the Mummy and the Minx, a blog dedicated to empowering mothers and inspiring minxes.  She writes about getting the mojo back into your life after kids and expanding possibilities when they contract after having babies. Her passions are writing and creating beautiful things. She has unkempt hair, a crazy, messy house, a racing brain and a heart overflowing with love.