Today is my blog’s second birthday.
With an overwhelming desire to write but feeling a bit shy about getting published, dabbling in blogging was a perfect compromise. I got set up on WordPress in April 2013 and bought my own domain name. I was so proud of my own little space on the internet.
It is only really in the last year that my blog has really taken off. I’ve said it many times before and I shall say it again: I really wish the success of my blog was not due to the tragedy of Hugo’s death.
However, I am able to reflect that I have a lot to be proud of because I have been achieving my goals: raising awareness of baby loss, HELLP syndrome – not to mention showing off my gorgeous Hugo to the world.
Highlights of the past year include #HugosLegacy trending on his first birthday, achieving my ambition of becoming a Huffington Post blogger, and making some wonderful friends.
To celebrate my blog’s second birthday, I thought I’d share with you some blogging tips I’ve learnt along the way:
Write from the heart
The posts that have had the biggest impact (whether in terms of feedback from readers and/or traffic) have been ones written directly from my heart. Some of them have been a bit scary to publish, but they have been cathartic, working out my feelings of grief. They are often the ones that readers have said have really helped them, which is the main point of blogging for me.
Follow your own path
Readers visit your blog because it’s yours, no one else’s. Say what you have to say, in the way you want to say it. Blog because you love writing, no matter what you are writing about.
By all means take inspiration from bloggers you admire, but trying to be something you’re not is not going to make you a happy blogger over the long term.
Promote your blog, and target those who can help you achieve your goals
Like most bloggers, I promote my posts on social media, and I’ll usually tag the main blogging networks too.
If the post is related to Hugo’s Legacy, I’ll also tweet key people and organisations who can help make sure the right people read them, whether that’s healthcare professionals or people who set policy. Twitter is a great way of networking with people it may otherwise be difficult to reach.
A recent post about breaking bad news was shared by palliative care professionals as far afield as Norway and Canada. I feel honoured that health care professionals have got in touch to say they have reflected on their practise as a result of my writing, and I am so proud that Hugo’s legacy is making a real difference.
You’ll never know unless you try
One day I decided to pitch to the Huffington Post, and was immensely proud to be snapped up straight away.
A little while before Baby Loss Awareness Week I got in touch with Mumsnet to ask if they would like a guest post – they did!
Be proactive: life is too short to hang around waiting to be discovered. The worst response you can get is a ‘no’. No one likes rejection, but there are worse things – such as regretting not trying in the first place.
You get out of the blogging community what you put in
On the whole the blogging community is a kind, supportive, loving bunch. I have made some wonderful friends from fellow bloggers. Just like in real life, you will get out what you put in. Show a genuine interest in others’ lives, provide support when needed, offer praise when deserved, and share posts you’ve enjoyed.
Remember, while there are as many reasons for blogging as there are stars in the sky, as I wrote about in The Bloggers Hierarchy of Needs we all share similar motivations:
A little bit of kindness goes a long way
You don’t always have to agree with other bloggers, just like in real life. Debate is usually welcomed, provided it’s constructive. But don’t get personal. That’s just mean. If you don’t like what you’re reading, there’s a little ‘x’ in the corner of the browser that you can click that makes it go away.
Yes, things can be misinterpreted, but I’ve never understood why people go to an effort to be mean. I remember reading a detailed comment on someone else’s blog that questioned the point of their post – I thought the bigger question was what was the point of the comment?
My writing can always be improved
I love writing, and I am always striving to improve my skill. An effective way of refining your writing is to try new things. I love The Prompt, and Word of the Week because they have given me different things to explore that I am unlikely to have discovered otherwise.
If you’d like a bit of extra help to hone your writing, try a course. I did the Freelance Writing course at the London School of Journalism a few years ago- it’s online, you can go at your own pace. It’s inexpensive (as courses go), and you can pay in instalments.
The course helps you find your own style and voice, structure your writing (eliminate those epic paragraphs!), get your point across succinctly, and offers modules on things like pitching to editors and writing an effective review.
If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well
Anyone who wants to set up a blog should go for it. Your writing ability, spelling, and technical ability doesn’t matter. Everyone has the right to say what they want to say (within the normal caveats of it being ethical, legal, etc).
That said, it is well worth spending a bit of time and effort on it, especially if you want to get commissioned as a writer, or become a pro blogger.
For example, you can help make sure your readers hang around (and hopefully return!) if your theme has a clean layout, with simple navigation and text that is easy to read (swirly typefaces might look pretty but they are difficult to read).
Slouching Towards Thatcham, Pouting In Heels, Honest Mum, and You Baby Me Mummy have written some fabulous tips that expand on the points above.
Stats and rankings are just numbers
Stats, scores, and rankings do not correlate to your talent, your writing, or your worth as a person. There was a time during my darkest days of grief that I thought that.
Granted, stats and rankings can be a useful indicator of how well your blog is doing. There are so many other indicators that cannot be measured and put into a chart or graph: things like comments you have had from your readers to say your post has made their day, made them think, helped them realise they are not alone, or put in to words something they had been unable to do.
Stats and rankings do matter to me (I am passionate about promoting Hugo’s Legacy), but such comments are worth more. They make the effort worth it.
It’s worth remembering that your Tots ranking is relative to how other bloggers are doing. Potty Mouthed Mummy has a great guide to how the scores are worked out.
And finally…I would like to say a huge thank you to all my readers for their kindness, support and encouragement. You have all made a massive contribution to Hugo’s Legacy, and it means the world to me.