Twelve years ago to the day, I launched this blog going live with the short post ‘My Blog is Born’, with a handful of others saved in drafts to help me keep up momentum from launch.
I didn’t have a grand masterplan back in November 2010. It was a completely different digital world to the one we know now. I had no idea blogging could become a business.
No one in the UK did.
Yes, there were a few high profile entrepreneurial blogger mums in the US with brand deals and press coverage under their belts but that seemed like a pipe dream at the time plus I was determined to return back to a directing career I loved.
Just a few months after setting up the blog, I directed a set of fashion ads, finding myself based in Manchester whilst my baby, Oliver, was in Leeds with my husband and folks, which was a trying time for me. It felt unnatural to be away from my baby and I was frustrated that a directing career meant missing out on so much of his life.
Luckily, blogging started to become a popular new medium with brands embracing digital storytelling over traditional media and by the time I’d had my second son, Alexander, two years after launching, in 2012, working on honestmum.com had become my full time albeit flexible job.
Life has changed a million times over since those early days of course and while I’m grateful the blog is still well-read and brands continue to want to collaborate with me here, social media platforms, have become incredibly popular and there’s a huge emphasis on video content now (which is a 360 for me as a former director).
My own videos often go viral on Facebook for example (I call it the Florence Effect) and some months, I reach highs of 8 million people across my social media channels and here. I can’t even visualise that many people, to be honest and it’s always bizarre when we’re recognised out and about as we certainly don’t consider ourselves famous. I think the 11 year old drama school wannabee in me has reached a few dreams at least!!
Despite the prevalence and popularity of social media platforms, there’s still a place for long-form blogging and owning your own digital real estate as it were, as blogs provide you with a living CV, a family archive if you’re a parenting blogger, a fashion archive if you’re a style blogger and so on, and it’s the perfect tool to boost visibility and PR for your work, whatever that might be. An artist requires a blog on their website for example to help promote and sell their artwork so blogs are useful for everyone. A website alone is static and isn’t updated often enough to feature in search engines so blog are good business. Literally!
You have more control over a blog too and with consistent content, can achieve optimum SEO, helping you reach new and large audiences. Content creation on social media on the other hand, is like renting rather than owning online space, leaving you in the hands of the ever-changing whims of algorithms.
Blogging, more than any other platform, also rewards you for longer periods, many years in fact, if you write regularly and consistently (at least twice a week). Facebook will give you months of reach but Instagram is usually just a few weeks at best. I have blog posts which are still popular over a decade on!
If you show Google you’re a trusted site or blog with high quality content and quality backlinks from high authority sites (the press etc) you will become and stay relevant and popular, and with a worldwide audience to boot, whereas social media tends to solely favour the country you live in.
You should still nurture content-creation on social media (repurposing content everywhere) and a huge element of my job is undeneniably dedicated to Instagram, and I reach highs of 2 million alone on Pinterest a month but my blog is how I’m discovered for the most part by readers and PRs irrespective of where I end up sharing editorial or campaigns.
The digital world keeps evolving so it’s important to be agile. Becoming an early adapter of new platforms will see benefit you if they blow up but blogs are not going anywhere. You just need to look at the US with their many millionaire and no doubt billionaire mummy bloggers as testiment of that.
Any day now ;)!
As well as the digital changes I’ve experienced over the years, my own personal life has transformed as I have three children with my daughter Florence turning 1 tomorrow! Three kids feels intense and challenging most days (I’m not sure why more people don’t candidly discuss this, more) so I unsurprisingly don’t have as much time as I once did.
Florence is the most demanding of my children and not just because she’s a baby.
Xander was incredibly placid as a child and would sit by my feet in the playroom playing for hours whilst I worked, happy as can be whereas Florence is similar to her eldest brother, Oliver, and wants my constant attention. That’s OK, it’s more than OK, I love being with her (and being her favourite person) but it doesn’t leave much room for error when it comes to working smartly.
I have to shoot on weekends and be highly selective with my workload, spreading 2 days work across the week in short but meaningful bursts.
Having Florence when Xander turned nine was a shock to the system physically and mentally and in many ways, some of the feelings I experiened with Oliver returned with her birth (something I’ve not shared in detail yet).
My confidence has admittedly waned this year, my mental health didn’t stabilise until Florence turned 10 months old (I had weeks of feeling OK followed by weeks of feeling terribly anxious and low); my body is far from what it was pre-baby and similarly to when I had Oliver, we moved cities as a family, returning back to Leeds to be close to my folks, meaning lots of disruption for us all (and the greater good).
We’ve adapted though and seeing my three kids together in photos like the one below taken on a calm Sunday in Harrogate makes me beam with pride. It doesn’t mean that motherhood is not hard, though. It really is but unconditional love (and wine, for me) carries us through.
Wow, on reflection, the past 12 years have been quite the ride: I’ve worked with international and small brands alike, I wrote an Amazon bestselling book Mumboss, with two editions, which was also released in the US and Canada as The Working Mom, as well as being available in other countries worldwide.
I’ve interviewed and collaborated with incredible talent from Kim Cattrall to Westlife, Jamie Oliver, James Martin, Brad Bird and many others. I’ve consulted for PR agencies, I’ve regularly appeared on TV and in the press as a parenting expert and I’ve even directed and appeared in car ads.
My kids and I have travelled to some super cool countries all over the world thanks to the blog from Finland to Jamaica and beyond, making a lifetime of memories. Working flexibly and not missing out on my kids’ milestones have been the highlight of my career. As have the close friendships I’ve made thanks to working online.
A journalist I hugely respect interviewed me last week for a piece on the BBC and mentioned that I’d changed and shaped the blogging world, helping parents find meaningful and financially-stable careers in the process, which meant a lot. If that’s part of my legacy, I’ll take it, thank you very much!
…Who knows what the next twelve years or even the next year might look like.
I’ve reached a turning point potentially in my career and life but I’m not sure if I’ll be pivoting or what the next chapter will look like.
I’m grateful to be in demand and to continue a creative career which works around my family but I’m equally hopeful to experience new challenges as well, whatever they might be.
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My debut book is my guide to surviving and thriving at work and at home and offers insight into how to create a digital business or return to work with confidence.
Mumboss: The Honest Mum's Guide to Surviving and Thriving at Work and at Home (UK 2nd Edition)