People tend focus on the downside of online life, how it can lead to a negative cycle of comparison which can tear away at your confidence or the inevitable trolling. Whilst, yes that can, and of course, does happen (trolling only twice in 6 years here), the flip side of creating and working online is that if you ride the rougher waves, the rewards can be flipping glorious.
Personally, I’ve found that becoming a blogger and vlogger, setting Honest Mum up in 2010, has proved to be the single most empowering and confidence-boosting thing I’ve ever done.
I wasn’t always confident, nor am I perpetually confident either despite what some people might might. I wish. I do however, feel that confidence has become a bit of a default for me, over the years. The brain is plastic, people. Don’t believe me? Read this. So practice equals power, self-love, and the reassurance, experience brings. You’ve pushed yourself out of your comfort zone, grown and seen enough positive results (and learnt from the stumbling blocks/mistakes), to feel the risk is worth it.
First time motherhood was a complete curve ball for me. I lost who I was, and my sleep deprived brain forget who I used to be.
My blog brought me home Wizard of Oz style (along with an amazing therapist), a move closer to family and an admission that I needed help. The blog came first though, it gave me the confidence to keep writing after a career as a screenwriter and director, to rediscover my voice online and in real life. To reach out for support. To trust that if jumped, I’d be OK. That was worse. I was broken anyway so the only way was up.
Twitter gave me that safety net, the women I’d chat to in the night when my baby was up became my tribe, many are still close mates today. They understood how I felt because they felt the same. I could see myself reflected back in the blogs I read back then, the small group of us blogging our lives back in those early days. Together, we collectively felt less alone.
Blogging, and later vlogging, gave me confidence, slowly at first, at a time I was frankly, a shell of myself as a new mother. You can read my post Being Honest: Having a Traumatic Birth for the full account but my blog was my lifeline back then, and in many ways, it still is now. Honest Mum is my everything.
I started my blog to do what I’d always done and needed to do to feel alive: to write. Whilst doing so I uncovered the women I once was as I emerged from the dark shadow which had consumed me.
Fast forward to 2017 and I’m now a proud mumboss. My blog is 6 years old. That’s grandma territory in blogger lives.
I have a lot to thank my kids for for it’s because of them, this business exists. My blog. A blog by a mum, for others mums (and dads) and frankly anyone who shares an interest in the things I love myself: food, fashion, film and travel. It’s my livelihood, my passion: my world.
I’ve come full circle as a director too but I’ve gone from directing film and telly, to campaign videos and being on camera, to writing, editing and curating my own digital magazine, working with global brands I’ve loved forever, and being managed by one of the greatest talent agencies in existence: Insanity
I never expected any of this to happen and whilst it’s been life-changing, stimulating and utterly liberating, my blog continues to offer me the same emotional support it always did: it’s my escape, my release, a reflection of my personality and view point on the world, it makes me feel my voice counts. Whether one person reads it (hi Mum) or a million.
Blogging is installation art really: a living online diary, a keepsake of my family’s experiences; my thoughts and feelings. Nothing truly dates or becomes archived either, thanks to SEO- and vitally, when I need it, my blog is always there for me.
Take last week, I felt dizzy and confused with PMS along with a weird virus and the first thing I did to soothe my restless mind, was reach for my comfort blanket, my normality: my blog.
When I felt anxious, which to be honest, consumed me for most of last year when a close relative was ill, I sought refuge in my blog, in penning escapist posts or writing pieces I never published, which simply served to help me make sense of life at that time.
In the same way that my blog helped me overcome the trauma of my first son’s birth it continues to be my constant, my confidant, my friend.
Doing, creating, publishing, making- and vitally, simply sharing who I am, I’ve realised, is a little bit courageous. We are ALL brave in our pursuits as creatives, putting our art, whatever that may be, out into the world, and not allowing self-doubt to consume us, to stop us in our tracks.
Every single post published, from the first (and we all started at the beginning, don’t forget) to the hundredth builds confidence with every word, until it slowly becomes a default. It’s the act of doing that’s key. The pushing on.
I don’t value others based on following, or likes. I base respect on character and content. On integrity, quality of work and passion.
I don’t want nor need to be the best, for that’s impossible anyway and fruitless, I simply want to be my own best. My mission is to help others. It’s the former teacher and lecturer in me and no doubt down to my family lineage of headmasters and scholars.
I want to support and witness women shining.
I myself, can only thrive with the support of others.
Yesterday, I shared a post on moving back down south
and was blown away by the comments and kind emails which people, from literally all over the world, sent me wishing me the best, offering to help with estate agents, suggestions of where to live and things to do when we move.
Now please don’t misunderstand, that doesn’t feed my ego, it’s much more than that, it touches my heart. To know people out there (points to the internet) care, that they truly care.
To also receive emails from women and to date, it’s been hundreds of women, maybe thousands, thanking me for helping them start blogs and businesses, is why I blog.
It’s what drives me daily. As does putting food on the table. Building a happy, stable life for my family.
Yes as with life, there can be negativity online but I focus on the positive which is there in abundance, people wanting to champion others, to support and cheer lead the heck out of those, they respect.
I won’t lie, the confidence to start this blog and anything creative on reflection, came from the unwavering support of family and friends (my friend Amancay Tapia encouraged me to start a blog in the first place)… and a nomination from BritMums who made me a finalist in their awards 4 weeks after starting
, helped to keep me on track, on persevering. To making this my job. Now, somewhat bizarrely I’m sometimes stopped in the street where people praise my work with most telling me they feel I’m their mate. Those moments, and every comment, message and email keep me on track. They make me feel understood.
It takes a village to raise a baby and it takes a virtual and IRL village to raise a mumboss, right.
Please, if you’re thinking of starting up a blog, an Instagram account, an online business or simply want to begin exploring a different , more flexible way of working, start those first baby steps today.
Buy my bestselling book in paperback or audio
Mumboss: The Honest Mum's Guide to Surviving and Thriving at Work and at Home
Available on Amazon or Audible