Gosh, somewhere along the line my 3 year blog anniversary arrived, and I was so busy I didn’t even notice! It seems hard to imagine a time now when I didn’t write this blog, it’s become such a huge part of my life – my third baby. It’s been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, so I thought I’d take some time to reflect a little on it all.
A Record of our Family Memories
I started Hot Pink Wellingtons as a way to better document our family life, and while I think that remains the core of my blog, it’s become so much more. It’s brought us opportunities as a family that have been absolutely wonderful and that would never have been possible were it not for this blog. We’ve had visits to Lapland UK to meet Father Christmas, had trips away to places like Bluestone in Wales, and seen dinosaurs at Paradise Wildlife Park. I’ve been lucky to work with some amazing brands that we have been long time fans of, like Johnson’s Baby , JoJo Maman Bebe, and the Great Little Trading Company. And over the last 6 months, it’s been the reason I’ve not had to return to office work, and instead have focused on bringing in money through my blog, which has allowed me to stay home with Ben, and be there for Max as he starts school.
Fuelling a creative fire
My blog has taken me on a huge personal development journey. I’ve become more confident in knowing who I am – pushing me to do things I never thought I’d be able to do. I’ve always admired beautiful photos, but I’d felt photography was too technical a skill for me to ever be able to master. I love that blogging encouraged me to pick up a camera and give it a go, and although I look back at my earlier photos now and cringe, I’m so proud of how far I’ve come with my photography skills. Along the way I found a new creative outlet that allowed me to capture my growing family at a hugely important time in our lives. Because of blogging, I now have thousands of gorgeous photos of us all; memories that we’ll be able to look back on once the boys are older, and John and I are all wrinkled and grey.
I’ve always loved the creative arts, and although my career took me down the admin route, I loved that I had my opera singing to fulfil my creative side once my working day was finished. But once my boys came along, I found singing completely incompatible with family life. There was no time for weekly practice, let alone the daily practice that I really needed, and gradually it slipped and I found myself unable to sing to the standard I wanted to anymore.
Photography has been the perfect creative outlet for me – I’ve been able to learn as I go, and my camera comes with us on our family days out and when we’re at home too. I love that photography is a never-ending journey – there’s always something new to learn, or a different way to look at something, or find inspiration from. Just like singing, it has the technique element combined with artistry, which is a combination that has always fascinated me.
Facing my shyness
Blogging has forced me to combat my shyness. To say overcome would be an overstatement – I still get nervous going to blogging events and meeting new people. But I’ve forced myself to do it over and over again, and it gets a little bit easier every time. I’ve had to become my own salesperson and that’s something that I’ve always struggled with. Blowing my own trumpet has never been something I’m good at, but I’ve learned that it’s essential when you’re putting yourself out there. If you don’t do it, no-one else is going to do it for you.
I still feel awkward in real life when people talk about my blog. I don’t know when you get over that really! As proud as I am of what I’ve created, it still seems somehow cringy to say to people outside the blogging or PR world that this is what I do; that I write about my life and my thoughts, and put myself out there for people to read about. After all, we don’t have a particularly interesting story or angle to talk about that draws people in. I’m not really that interesting, I’m a pretty average person.
As much as blogging has brought so much joy and self improvement into my life, it’s fair to say that it’s brought it’s struggles too.
The inevitable comparison and the numbers game
Comparison truly is the thief of joy, and it’s rife in the blogging world. It’s inevitable really. In a world where you have a number under your name on every social media platform, where everyone’s rank is right there for you to see, it’s impossible not to compare yourself to other people. It’s a world where follower numbers, likes, and shares are everything, and when you see other bloggers doing so much better than you on that front, it’s difficult not to feel disheartened at times. It’s left me feeling despondent as I’ve watched other bloggers who started at the same time as me completely eclipse me in terms of numbers, while mine just slowly chug along.
But honestly, comparison just isn’t possible. Other bloggers might be better writers, incredible photographers, or have a more interesting story to tell, but they might also have been going for longer, might be working longer hours, might have won awards, might be doing all sorts of behind the scenes tactics to bring in more of a following. You just don’t know what’s behind anyone else’s profile. I definitely still have moments where I struggle with comparison, whether it’s looking at other people’s photos and wondering why I can’t create something that beautiful, or looking at someone else’s follower numbers and wondering why mine stubbornly stay put. But when those feelings start to creep in, I try to remind myself that the most important thing is to be happy with the content I’m creating, and with the way I go about growing my following. Other people can do what they like, but it shouldn’t affect me or how I feel about my blog.
It’s all encompassing
I’ve really struggled this year with the fact that there is no ‘off button’ when your blog revolves around your life. It can feel like you’re always on social media, that you always have to be behind the camera capturing the special moments. Even when we go on holiday, I’m still ‘on’ (even more so if it’s a sponsored trip away!).
This year I’ve started to put the camera down more often. To go on days out where I don’t take my camera, and make sure that I’m properly present and enjoying the moment. And when I do take the camera, to make sure that I put it away for good periods of time, rather than constantly having it in my hands.
I’ve made sure that I have at least one day a week where I don’t post on social media, and we have the evening with just me and my husband, rather than me, my husband, and my phone, as I sit liking and commenting on Instagram. I’m not going to lie, I still have moments when we’re out and I haven’t got the camera with me where I spot what would have been a beautiful photo and regret it, but let’s face it, I have hundreds of lovely photos of the boys, and I feel it’s more important for me to be there with them, rather than always behind the camera.
The ridiculous world of social media
There’s definitely been a realisation for me that people outside of the blogging world just don’t get a lot of it. They don’t understand the significance of interacting with you on social media – that when they scroll by your post without clicking that ‘like’ button, that the algorithm will decide it’s not interesting content and then hide your post from the world. They don’t understand that for every post you do for a brand campaign, you have to report back the stats to the brand, and the brand will judge the success of your post (and whether they want to work with you again) based on how many likes it’s had. And when you don’t feel the support from your friends or family, it definitely stings. For people outside of the blogging world, I suspect the social media side of things seems ridiculous, and perhaps it is, but when it’s how you bring in an income, it doesn’t start to seem ridiculous at all and it’s very easy to become obsessed with it.
But for all of the negatives, I’m still as in love with blogging as I was when I started – in fact, much more so. It’s my space – I’ve created it from scratch, and it’s mine to write or do whatever I want with. It’s brought so many positives into my life, and I love that we have this amazing record of our lives as the boys have grown up. If you’ve ever considered starting a blog – do it! It’s hard work, but I don’t think you’d ever regret it.
Here’s to the next year of blogging!