We all start blogging for different reasons but our blog then grows with us, perhaps following a predefined path or simply reflecting and responding to changes in our lives. I found myself in a twitter discussion with friends musing on our old timer status in blogging and insecurities as the blogging scene expands each year with fresh new talent. Mari from Maris World started this with a reflective post on her blog titled does my blog have a sell by date?; I mean seriously when your blog is rank 3 on TOTS 100 and you write for Brit Mums how can you possibly feel any worries about your blog future? Anyway if Mari felt she had reason to question the direction and longevity of her blog, I certainly needed to do a little blog navel gazing myself.
I began blogging in March 2011 with a toe in the water in Blogger. The blog is still there it just moved by the autumn as I realised I wanted to take it more seriously and link it to the new website I was designing at the time, a forerunner to what I have today. I began purely as desperation was setting in with the recession and the failure of parenting magazine adverts to deliver a return in terms of holiday bookings. A good friend of mine popped round after school one day while our girls played. I confessed our bookings were slower than usual for the first time ever and that advertising wasn’t working as it used to and she suggested I looked at social media and a blog. That friend was Mandy of Gift wrapped and gorgeous who was starting her online business supported on twitter. I only had the facebook page for Coombe Mill back then with a few hundred likes. Mandy helped me set up a twitter account, gave me some pointers on my dated website, and suggested I try a blog. She pointed me to Red Ted Art as a good example of a blog and suggested I put a pitch in to win SBS with Theo Paphitis and left me to it.
Mandy I will never forget that cuppa and play date, you were my introduction to blogging and a whole new way of marketing and I was off on my own journey.
In no time I felt I had parenting contacts all over the web, Coombe Mill was reaching the audiences I once paid magazines to do for me and our bookings were on the rise again. I was thrilled to be recognised in the big blogging awards and the buzz from these spurred me on to greater heights each year. I know I can’t sustain this level of success going forward but at least I know my blog is out there, well known and achieving what I set out for it and more. It is now one of the most visited pages on my whole website and generates the fresh content that helps people discover our farm when searching for Family Holidays.
That was my planned blogging path, what I hadn’t expected was to be sucked into real friendships along the way. From bloggers who return to Coombe Mill year after year like The Boy and Me, Redpeffer and One Dad 3 Girls, to name just a few, to twitter friends I thought I’d never meet being there at conferences for a good natter. Blogging has given me a wider circle of friends, taken me away from TV in the evenings and even improved my appalling spelling and made me realize I can actually write, take a half way decent photo and finally beat my husband at scrabble!
I never dreamt when I began that I would want to meet people in real life, that my virtual and real life would in anyway merge, yet as I prepare for my first Blog Camp next month and my third Brit Mums Live I am like a child going to a birthday party, full of excitement to meet everyone again, to exchange news, to learn new things, to come away exhausted but reinvigorated with new ideas for my blog.
Despite the highlights I’ve enjoyed in blogging I read a post like Mari’s that I mentioned at the start and it really strikes a cord of self doubt, the blogging world is growing so fast with some amazing new people whose blogs I enjoy and I wonder if I am the old timer hanging in there when I should move on, search for a new way to promote my business and stop hassling my now reluctant teenagers for a photo. Instead I should perhaps focus on mucking out pigs, checking cleaning rotas and managing not to leave a child behind on the school run, yes I have done that!
My rational mind says it is good to be challenged by new trends, to welcome new blogging friends and consolidate old friendships. An element of insecurity is a good thing and not something to shy away from; it pushes me out of my comfort zone and keeps me scanning the horizons for ways to improve. While I have more posts in draft than time to write them and permanently carry a camera round my neck, I will continue to blog. I have however conceded that it isn’t all for Coombe Mill, it is me indulging in my own passion too and for this reason I feel it is important to find time for my blog alongside the more menial chores of the day, regardless of whether or not I have reached my blog sell by date.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.