Instead of doing a ‘year in review’ clip-show style post today, I wanted to do something a little different. I want to talk about what’s changed for me since I abandoned my old blog, Hear Mum Roar about 11 months ago, to take on a personal blog instead. I was hoping to unpublish the site in March, but you can read here why I haven’t done that yet. A lot of the photos over there have sentimental value, and as soon as I find the time, I’ll be collecting the photos and shutting the site down.
I’d say the most surprising thing that’s happened over the past 11 months, is that the PR emails to my Hear Mum Roar address have not slowed down one bit. I have to be clear here: I have not touched Hear Mum Roar, it is sitting there, festering away, doing nothing.
I’m still being invited to kid-friendly events, still receiving advertising queries and being asked to do product reviews. I find this really interesting. I remember when that blog was new, every PR email was exciting! I mentioned here that when I began Hear Mum Roar I was unashamedly and openly wanting to make a profession out of that blog. So, when my first PR emails rolled in, I felt like such a special little snowflake. ‘My blog is on the radar! My blog is going places!’
Also throughout the year, I’ve had a few bloggers mention to me that they wished PR companies would contact them. Can I just say, be careful what you wish for? My experience this year has shown me that a lot of PR companies are really not that interested in the content we’re churning out anyway, if we’re churning any out at all. I learned that I can abandon my blog completely for almost a year, and I’ll still be invited to kid-friendly PR events! Actually, I’m getting more invites now than when I was writing the blog. Can I just stop for a minute and say,
Does anyone have any theories as to what would possibly be in it for them to do this? So yeah, that was an eye opener. Also that us bloggers are not the precious little petals we think we are. Great way to put my ego firmly back in its place and that was a really good thing.
Creativity and Self Expression
It’s a lot easier for me 11 months on, to express myself the way I want to. I feel as though I’m slowly, slowly, tapping into a more creative side, which is wonderful. That’s what I was hoping to acheive. I have found the change very difficult all year, to be honest. Giving myself the freedom to blog about whatever I want sometimes froze me. Sometimes I didn’t know what I wanted to say. Time has helped me to open myself up to new, different topics.
When I first started this blog, I still saw blogging as a chore, despite loving blogging and knowing I want to blog. That’s pretty much a post Hear Mum Roar hangover. With every month that passes, blogging has become more of a joy, and I want to blog more and more all the time. The focus is no longer on the business side of blogging, the stats, the ‘reach’, the influence. I just get to do my thing. This means I can put more time and energy into the actual blog posts themselves, the writing, the videos, the photos. There’s a lot less pressure and self-promotion needed, and that is exactly where I want to be.
The only monetisation I’ve taken on with Funken Wagnel so far has been placing ads on my You Tube videos. Today, I just disabled monetisation on those too. I used to do sponsored posts at Hear Mum Roar in the early days, and ended up deciding to ditch them quite a while before quitting that blog. Best thing I ever did, to be honest. I personally feel that sponsored posts are a dying, unsustainable model. I’m not criticising those who still do them, I just have learned over time that they are not for me, and I don’t personally see a future in it.
When I first moved over to Funken Wagnel, I actually found it very hard to break the ‘working with brands’ habit. I didn’t really know how I felt about it, so I played around, only taking on brands that were right for me. I did receive gift vouchers from Target, with no pressure to write if I didn’t want to. I was very happy to deal with them, because I was grateful that they’d helped my family after our fire.
I also ended up doing some book reviews for Random House, which has been wonderful. I was wanting to experiment with book reviews anyway, and had done a few with books bought with my own money. I’ll be doing a few more book reviews that I’ve already committed to, then I’ll probably stop. More about that later.
As time goes on, I see myself working less and less with brands. Of course, I never say never! But for now, it feels right to let brand work fade off into the distance. I’d really like to get off my butt and get back into my freelance writing. I’ve not done any all year, as it’s been a dreadful year for us. It’s been good to take some time off from it, but I’m looking forward to getting back into it now, if I can.
I was interested this year in dabbling with book reviews, but next year, I don’t see myself doing many, if any at all. I could see it becoming a pressure if I pursue it further, plus I don’t think it’s what my readers come here for. I’m glad to have had a go though, and that’s what starting this new blog has meant for me; having a go at whatever I feel like at any given time. So you’ll probably see a couple more reviews, then I’ll stop for a while, I think.
When I began writing Hear Mum Roar, all I was, was a mum. Nothing wrong with that. I mean, I had a school-aged kid, a toddler and a baby. It’s all I had time for, and therefore all that I thought about, all I wanted to write about. Somewhere in those two years, my kids grew, my partner became sick, and I became more. I wanted more. I didn’t know who I was, or what I wanted, but by the time I started Funken Wagnel, there was this hunger to get to know the new me. There was finally time to ask myself what I wanted from my life.
Being able to write about any subject I please, has immensely helped me to look at my own identity. My life. I’m still learning, still discovering, still experimenting. But I feel a hell of a lot less uncertain about all this stuff than I did when I started this blog. It’s helped. You guys reading it and talking to me has helped.
In fact, in the first few months of the blog, I’m sure regular readers could attest that I had a lot of bitterness that needed to come out. What some would know, but many wouldn’t, is that I was smack bang in the middle of having a breakdown. I couldn’t and can’t talk about it because it wouldn’t be fair on the people who were involved.
To those of you who held my hand through that time, be it through emails, the phone and private messages on facebook, THANK YOU. Any support during a time like that is just everything to the person going through it. I feel teary writing this part, but the truth is, I was in a very bad situation I saw no way out of. Happily, I can say everything’s sorted now.
Discovering My Readers
Like any blogger, I started this blog with no readers. It was the most freeing thing I could’ve possibly done. I needed to not have readers when I began. I couldn’t experiment freely if I had to worry about what anyone else wanted. That means working with brands, and it initially meant readers too. Of course, now I’ve got myself started creatively speaking, I care about my readers. What you want, what you like and what you don’t like.
I feel as though my relationship with readers at this new blog is tighter here. It’s a small blog, but it has regulars. My favourite part of blogging is talking to you. If you keep reading this blog, keep talking! I love to hear from you. I’ve been enjoying the bit of feedback that trickles in now and then, too. I don’t want you guys to see this blog as a place where you can’t speak your mind. If you like something, or think something’s shit, tell me! If I can survive being called/told the following things on YouTube:
‘dole bludger or beurocrat’
‘next time I see you, you’d better be wearing a hijab!’
… then I can survive you telling me your opinion.
It’s only taken 2 years at Hear Mum Roar and 11 months over here for me to work out which social media sites I prefer to play in.
I’ve realised I like Twitter sometimes, but in moderation. I’ve realised Facebook is my favourite place to hang. I tried Instagram again, and have realised that nothing is going to make me like it.
I like Pinterest and StumbleUpon in small doses. I got more involved in YouTube this year because I wanted to dabble in vlogging. I’m thinking that next year I’ll experiment more with hosting my vlogs on site rather than using YouTube.
I like Ravelry, but keep forgetting to go there! Maybe when I have more time for crafting again? I’ve gotten more into Flickr this year, and hope to get more involved over there. It’s fun.
I’ve dabbled in Tumblr, but this year, have finally worked out I don’t think it’s for me. I started up with Good Reads this year. I like it, but I’ll admit I don’t really know what to do with it?
My most favourite social media I’ve recently gotten into though, is Tout. It’s microvlogging, which means you post a 15 second video, a bit like a tweet. All replies are videos too. I don’t know many people to talk to on there yet, because many Tout-ers are into wrestling and sports, but I’m hoping as more people discover it, there’ll be more people to talk to. I hope so, because Touting is so much fun!
I love that this is the year I’ve finally worked out which social media sites I prefer to hang at. It means I can spend more time at those, and less at the ones that aren’t my cup of tea. I’d love to know your fave hangouts too!
I look back on this old vlog from when I started Funken Wagnel…
…and I think it’s the best choice I’ve ever made. No regrets at all.
I look forward to playing around more in 2013, I wonder what I’ll discover then? I wonder who else will have joined us by then? If I’m not vlogging book reviews anymore, what will I be vlogging about? I do know I’d love to have a crack at an animation, just to see if I can!
All in all, I think moving away from mum-blogging has been the answer for me. I still play with plenty of mum-bloggers, and that’s cool too. Hell, I still get called a mum blogger from time to time! That’s cool.
Are you reflecting on your year today, your blog, if you have one? What discoveries have you made? What do you hope for in 2013? Most of all…
HAPPY NEW YEAR!