Why Everyone

I wrote a post the other day which seems to have hit a nerve with a few people. It was about blogs being filled with filler posts, rather than actual content. Some people agreed with me; others, not so much.

In the post, I mentioned that I had met a lady at an event, who seemed a little put out about there being so many new blogs springing up. If I remember correctly, her blog had been running for six or seven years. When asked, I mentioned that this blog was two years old. The response was something along the lines of there being so many new blogs, it was hard to keep up with who was whom. I didn’t mention that I’d never heard of her blog, and that in light of this conversation I wasn’t about to go and check it out. I also didn’t mention my other blog, which has been in existence since around 2000.

Perhaps I am in the minority, but I love that there are so many blogs around these days. When I first started blogging, very few of my RL (real life) friends knew what it was, or why one would bother. These were the days before people got publishing deals from their blogs, before sponsored posts, before product reviews for bloggers. We all just wrote about what was going on in our lives, and followed each other. I met several people through that blog who I still consider to be my friends today. I named my daughter after one of them.

I love this blog. It helped me to find both my voice and my confidence after a particularly traumatic period in my life. I have met lots of like-minded people through the blogging community, and several who are completely not like-minded at all, but I like and respect nonetheless. I have learned things I have been able to translate into a business and a reasonable income for myself. I have also been very lucky to have received opportunities through this blog that I would never ordinarily have had – most recently, going on This Morning to talk to Philip Schofield and Amanda Holden about my breakdown. They would never have known about me, if it weren’t for this blog.

This blog is not as successful as some. I’m not at any dizzying heights on any charts; I’m not very sociable at events; I don’t make millions out of it. Then again, I suppose it depends on your definition of “success.” If your version of success involves getting a free holiday in exchange for writing about how great the holiday company is, then crack on. If your idea of success is to get as many sponsored posts as possible, go right ahead. If you picture success as helping to raise awareness of a charity or medical condition, by all means do so. For me, this blog has meant I’m often called upon to discuss parenting subjects on local and national radio. It’s allowed me to write about things I had never talked about. I’ve (hopefully) improved my writing ability, and gained work writing for others because of that. And yes, I get some free stuff too. I consider this blog to be successful because it’s taken me in a direction I had always thought about going in.

Just lately, several people have asked me for advice about blogging: how to get started; whether they should bother with it; whether they had anything worth blogging about. These were people wanting to blog about different subjects, not just parenting (though the more I think about it, the less I identify myself as a “parent blogger” any way). My answer was always the same: do it.

My old blog is mostly cringeworthy when I look back at it – hence the fact I’ve not linked to it anywhere in this post. In 2007 I came under great pressure from a boyfriend to delete it entirely, as he didn’t like for me to have any online presence at all. I compromised by changing the name of it, but refused to delete it. Aside from mining it for content from time to time, it serves as a record of my life. It hasn’t been the most interesting life; nothing ground-breaking occurred in the time I was updating it regularly, but I don’t think it needs to be.

A lot of people worry about setting up a blog because they think nobody will be interested in what they have to say. Who cares? Even if the only people reading it are your cousin in Australia or your nosy neighbour, I still say go ahead and do it if you want to.

These days if you want to research your family tree, you go back a couple of generations and often after a certain point all the information you have is birth, death and marriage dates. You might know a man’s profession, as recorded on such documents, but that’s about it. You don’t know what they liked to do in their spare time, how they got on with their family, whether anyone in their family suffered with something someone in your family is suffering with right now. Ours is probably the first generation recording details of our lives as a matter of course.

Obviously, back in ye olden days, people did keep diaries – but not everyone did. A lot of people would have been illiterate, so really the only diaries are those of people wealthy enough to have learned to read and write. And of those, I should imagine only a percentage kept a diary on a regular basis.

My dad died ten years ago, and I barely knew him. I find out little bits of information about him from time to time, and occasionally it occurs to me how much like him both of my brothers are in their own ways, but still, I don’t know a great deal about him as a person. He didn’t keep a diary; my nan died before he did and I suppose one of his brothers or sister has photos of him as a child. I have a couple of photos from before he met my mum, but nothing much. A few stories of him riding his trike down the stairs as a toddler, or going to Butlins with a woman he was engaged to before he met my mum. He was not the sort of person to keep a diary, but you can bet your arse that if the technology had been available in their day, both my nan and my auntie would have recorded every tiny detail.

These days, if you have access to the internet – and most of us do – you can blog about whatever crosses your mind. Post a million photos of your offspring. Write in detail about what you ate for tea last night. Photograph your child’s doodles on the wall before you wash them off. It might be boring to a lot of people, but in a hundred years’ time, our descendants won’t have to scrape about at local libraries and registry offices, trying to fill in the gaps of their ancestry.

Whilst I might not find your blog particularly interesting, I would hope that you’re not writing for me. And in the same way as I find it interesting to find out how people lived their day to day lives a hundred or two hundred years ago, a hundred or two hundred years from now, people will find these blogs and have a record better than any official document, of how we live our lives, what we’re interested in, what’s important to us.

These days, there are loads of resources to tell you how to start a successful blog, how to monetise your blog, how to get rich through your blog. Yes, you can do all of those things if you want – but you don’t have to. You can just write a blog that gets 50 hits a week, about your love for collecting bobble heads, if you like. You can write about your past, exorcise your demons. You can document your training for a marathon. You can write about how much you dislike it when your husband snores. Set up a Tumblr and post a bunch of photos from your life. It doesn’t matter to me what you blog about – only to you.

So what are you waiting for? Go do some writing. Or take some photos. Or create a graphic. Start the blog you always wanted to start. You don’t need an instruction manual, or approval or permission or membership. It doesn’t need to cost you a penny more than you already pay for your internet connection. And you might just find that someone, somewhere, is interested in what you have to say.


Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.

17 Comments

francesca govier · 08/11/2014 at 21:18

The main thing that stands out for me in this post is how you talk about our generation being the first to document our lives – not just a basic family tree. I never thought of blogging in this way and this has given me even more motivation to write on. Thank you #bloghop x

Tim · 09/11/2014 at 11:09

Well said, Vicky. All the advice about monetising and publicising your blog does many bloggers a disservice, as it’s not what everyone is in it for – nor should it be. I also love the fact there are so many blogs out there – it can be tricky to sift through them all, but the more blogs there are the greater the chance of finding ones that engage your specific interests.

I do okay in terms of generating traffic – and of course it’s always gratifying when the numbers gradually increase – but that’s never been why I write. I do earn money from blogging, but it’s pocket money relatively speaking and that’s fine by me. I write because I write and because it makes me happy. Family and friends read me and a few others too who I have come to know through the blogging community. That’s all the validation I’ll ever need. A few dozen, a few hundred or several thousand – it doesn’t change what I write, nor should it.

mamamim.com · 09/11/2014 at 11:13

Oh I LOVE this post – thank you for sharing your thoughts. Your outlook is so positive and encouraging :) :)
PS I saw you on This Morning and you were brilliant!
#sundayroundup
http://www.mamamim.com

Betty and the Bumps · 09/11/2014 at 19:18

Hi Vicky!

Really enjoyed this one (and your post about filler content, for the record!).

I think there is too much pressure on new bloggers to get reviews and sponsored posts out there otherwise you feel like a failure.

I’ve been blogging a year and I’ve never made a penny out of it. I’m not saying I wouldn’t want to but it has to be crafted to a level I am pleased with filled with a lot of interesting content before I think about monetising.

x

The mummy madness · 09/11/2014 at 20:34

yes I agree Ive been blogging for a while and not a overly successful blog compared to others but I have got alot out of it. My grammar for one looking at old posts my writing is all over the place and with me being dyslexic its been a big help. My blog can be a bit filtered when I have writers block not with sposered posts they are very few more random things. I love looking back at things with my family and its an incentive to do more together. Sorry for the ramble great post wish more bloggers had this opinion Ive seen some corkers lately of people to big for there boots bit cray cray.

Thanks for joining up to the Sunday round up

Adrian · 10/11/2014 at 09:03

Great advice. Do it because you want to not for anyone else. U feel the same about writing fiction. If you and someone you love are the only people who read it that is okay. Setting out with a mercenary plan for world domination is unlikely to attract readers. Your cynicism will shine through rather than your passion!

Spidermummy x · 10/11/2014 at 16:08

As a new (2 months) blogger, this is a lovely inspiring piece to read. Thank you x

Emma AKA Size15Stylist · 10/11/2014 at 21:10

Too right.

I’m a student of the blogging-is-amazing school, and this empowering skill is going nowhere. I once read that bloggers have no competition, and every blogger I’ve come across has been friendly and helpful, especially if I found myself in a technical pickle.

Without my blog my daughter wouldn’t spend half as much time with her grandparents and I’d still be miserable in a job I really had lost my faith in. Now I barely have time for lunch and am always amazed when toddler-daughter and her grandparents turn up at the end of the day…..blogging is the best vocation ever!

Kelly · 12/11/2014 at 12:22

What a great perspective! I too wouldn’t bother checking out a blog if someone seemed a little “put out” by all the new bloggers out there. I am a new blogger and I do it for the love, not the money or recognition! And I tend to agree if past generations had access to the internet, they would have documented everything the way we do. For one, my Mum even started a blog called Nanna’s Wisdom so she can share her stories, experiences and recipes with us (her kids, grandkids etc) and the world! Thanks so much for this encouraging post! #sharewithmelinky

BritishMumUSA · 12/11/2014 at 12:48

It took me nearly two years to do it. Blog that is. I still don’t have the courage to write about what I thought I would write about. Teenager. Enough said. We are in an amazing place now so i struggle with delving into the bad times. I do love the community that I have found. I put a little work into it and it is an amazing feed back. Love this post.

Tarana Khan · 12/11/2014 at 12:58

Yes, there are a lot of blogs, but each of us is different. I think that when we write, we shouldn’t try to fit in any format but write from a very unique perspective. I agree with you about recording thoughts and memories. Since we have the means, we should do it. #sharewithme

Helen · 13/11/2014 at 12:43

I started my blog just last month. I wanted to be able to document our life, to have one place where I could find a lot to do with my family. I don’t share everything, somethings are just mine to keep, but I like that I can share little things that I am really proud of. I don’t have many friends, and those that I do I can’t share everything with, so this is my way of letting off steam – which can be good steam – and having a hobby. It would be lovely to be recognised for my blog, to be able to review things, but that is not why I started and it is not my ambition. My blog to me is already successful because I am documenting our life :)

This is a great post and I need to keep reminding myself that :)

Emma T · 13/11/2014 at 23:35

A-men to that. I keep trying to persuade my brother to set up a blog, but he’s still not sure about what topic to go for as he’d not want it to be a personal one. I write my blog for my son and I as a record, and it’s great that people read it. It’s definitely given me other skills that I wouldn’t have had before, even though I do it as a hobby.

I class blogging as (mostly) a modern way of keeping a record.

Louise · 14/11/2014 at 11:06

Great post – there are so many good reasons to blog for yourself – it’s a wonderful way of recording all those little moments in life and if people read it and enjoy that it, or you can make money out of it, that is a bonus. The blogs I like best to read are those which record the real moments – yes, I read the sponsored posts and the reviews too but they’re not my favourite things to read although they might give me some useful info for thinking about Christmas or birthday presents. I love your comment about this being the first generation to record so much online – sometimes that’s not a good thing but there is so much information there to pass down to the future generations about who we are and how we lived our lives.

ghostwritermummy · 14/11/2014 at 11:53

I am not a hugely popular blogger and I don’t rank that highly at all, but this blog is so important to me. I started writing with the intention to get my emotions on the page and work through a difficult time in my life. I write for me and I have never changed that. Yes. the odd review and sponsored post does pop up but the main meat of my blog is personal and will stay that way. Each to their own, but thats why its so important to me x x x x

Maddy@writingbubble · 14/11/2014 at 13:54

I’m just popping over from Louise’s friday fab 5. I think it’s great that there are so many blogs out there – it means there’s something for everyone and you’re bound to bump into someone like minded (it that’s what you’re after). Mine is a writing blog (although my sons crop up in it too) and I know that I wouldn’t have come nearly so far in my creative journey without it. And where else would put all my sleep deprived poems about parenting problems if I didn’t blog?! This is a great, thought provoking post xx

Single Parents Now (Ty Oliver) · 15/11/2014 at 19:53

I completely agree with the idea of blogging ! To me, it helped me discover who I am. In addition you are the voice for so many who may not have anyone to turn to /go to for help . However, they may can find comfort, peace, and healthy information in your blog.

#HappyBlogging

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