Here’s Why You Don’t Need a Tribe, Pod or Anything Else

A while ago there was a lot of talk in the blogging community about blogging tribes and how it was the next must-have thing in the world of blogging. But lately there has been less talk of tribes and more of pods. A general pod or ones across social media – Instagram pods, Facebook pods. Pods for anything blogging related that you would like to improve. But, whether you call it a tribe or a pod it’s essentially the same thing – a group who help and support each other to inflate activity on their blogs and/or social media, to like, share, comment and generally engage with content.

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Things I’m Loving Since Leaving the Day Job

This time last month was my last day at a company I had worked at for nearly 14 years. It’s been a bit surreal not going into work each week but a month on and I thought I would share some of the things I’ve been enjoying now that I don’t have a place of work to go to:

The holiday feeling – it still feels like I’m on annual leave or something. I feel generally relaxed, refreshed and with less worries too. Anyone who works will have that ‘Monday morning feeling’ and I love not having that any more. Although I’m still working with this blog it isn’t the same, it’s still very much a rewarding hobby and so it’s lovely to not have that eugh feeling at the start of a new working week.

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The Creepy Side of Blogging

You might read the title of this and think that, surely, there isn’t a creepy side to blogging. That blogging is all pretty pictures, nice stories about days out and families doing things together, sharing beautiful snippets of life across social media. But, a recent news report showed how creepy blogging can actually be.

Now, not many of us will have someone create a social media account and then follow our movements, dressing like us and taking photos in exactly the same places as us. But, most bloggers will at some point or another have felt a little on edge or even violated whilst blogging.

We share so much of our lives online and there are times when readers get quite attached to us, our families and this social media bubble that we create. It’s like a real life soap opera and even the most mundane of bloggers’ lives can be interesting to someone standing on the sidelines looking in. I love sharing little bits of our lives, days out and the ordinary moments – as do many bloggers, it’s now very much a part of my life and daily routine.

But there are times when other people will reply to literally everything you post online. They’ll comment on every single blog post and it may only be one or two words but it shows that they are there, watching your life constantly as it unfolds on your blog and social media.

There are also people that will tweet or share something on Facebook, responding to your social shares or even your blog posts. But not tagging you in them, not making you part of the conversation – just a passive, aggressive response, usually at your expense. Bloggers will find themselves the butt of jokes or the topic of conversation in Twitter threads, Facebook groups, other blog posts and even offline too. What starts off as someone having a bit of a dig can slowly turn into obsession, verging on harassment, with no real logic or reason.

Plenty of bloggers have had photos stolen, blog posts duplicated or ideas stolen and well meaning strangers hanging on their every word. But, being on the receiving end of this attention can make you feel differently about blogging. It can make you worry about the things you post online, it can make you feel vulnerable and it can make you question whether blogging is the right thing to be doing at all.

If you’re a blogger and this sounds familiar then don’t get disheartened. Don’t stop writing and doing this thing you love. Just see it as flattery – your photos must be lovely to be stolen, your blog posts must be pretty good to be copied and if you’re often a topic of conversation then it means you are obviously something worth talking about!

But, if you’re a reader, reading this and thinking ‘woah, I comment on literally everything someone does on social media but I’m just bored, I like reading it, it’s like real life Eastenders!’ – then don’t worry, I’m sure we all know you mean well. Just don’t dress the same as us and go around taking photos at places we have recently been to – now, that would be creepy!

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A Huge Leap of Faith

Four and a half years ago I started a blog. I wrote an introduction, started documenting LP’s weaning journey and wrote about whatever was on my mind at the time. It was cathartic and it turned into such a lovely hobby.

Just over a year later, when Little Man was tiny, I decided to go self hosted with the aim of making my blog into something. I stopped hiding my blog and instead started shouting about it, letting real life and the blog merge for the first time. It felt good to be out in the open with it and I started what was to become a labour of love over the next few years.

Three and a bit years on from going self hosted and I have decided that something’s got to give. Anyone that knows me knows how busy I am. How busy we are as a family and how constant our lives are. I work 19 hours a week across three days, two of these days my lovely in laws have the children and the third day is always Hubby’s day off. We mostly work opposite each other to save on childcare costs and because of this we are often like ships passing in the night.

On top of this we have a house, two young children and now school and preschool drop off and pick up each day. And then there’s this blog. So you can see, something really has to give.

I have spent the last three years working 19 hours a week, putting over forty hours a week into this blog and running a home, sorting out the children and spending as much time as possible planning adventures to fill the rare occasions where we do get time together as a family, booking annual leave to try and extend that family time and trying to hang on to the times where all four of us are in the same place, at the same time for more than a few minutes. We have been living for those times where we are all together.

And now, after three years, something is going to give.

Last week I gave in my notice at work. My notice period takes us to the start of November where I can enjoy the build up to Christmas and the school holidays with the children. The timing means that next year we can start afresh. Next year is a brand new start for all of us.

Next year sees me going from being a part time working parent to being a work from home parent – with me being fully self employed. It will be the first time since I was 14 that I haven’t been employed and it will be the first time I have worked purely for myself. It will also be the first time I haven’t had a guaranteed monthly income.

But, a good friend of mine said to me a couple of months ago that giving up my day job wouldn’t be giving up that guaranteed income, it would in fact be investing that money into a better work/life balance for our family, more time to invest into moving this blog forward and more free time on the calendar to go on more adventures as a family too.

I am looking forward to the New Year and the start of a whole new life for all of us. I am looking forward to full weekends with the children, whole school holidays with them and investing those 19 hours a week into making memories with the people that I love the most.

This is a huge change for us but it may well be the biggest adventure yet. I’m not going to say that this decision has been easy to make – but I am proud of myself for getting us to the point where we had options to choose from. Richard Yates once said “If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want”.

I didn’t want to be working every weekend, I have always wanted to be at home with my children but the last three years have been about building foundations to make that life, and dream, a reality. Who knows what the future will bring? But we have all been working hard to lead the life we want – and I am starting to think that we are pretty close to that life already.

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10 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Blogging

I started blogging four and a half years ago but I only started taking blogging seriously when I went self hosted three years ago – and more so when I changed my blog name, and felt like I’d come home nearly two years ago.

Here are a few things that I wish I’d known when I started blogging:

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There is so much more to blogging than just writing

When I started blogging I wrote a couple of hundred words about our day, something on my mind or pretty much anything that I felt like writing about. Then I’d hit publish and forget about it. It’s not surprising that no-one really read my blog back then – I didn’t promote it, didn’t talk about it, didn’t publicise it. I was pretty anonymous, didn’t want my real life friends to read what I had to write and so I literally just published and walked away.

But, there is so much more to blogging than that – and I wish I’d known than from the start. If you want people to read what you write then you have to promote it, you have to tell everyone about it and you have to make it nice to read too – adding photos to every post and making them as appealing to readers as possible.

Blogging is addictive

But, one you start writing it’s really hard to stop – especially as people start to find your blog, start to read and start to comment. You have an audience and you want to write for them – as well as for yourself. At the start I spent probably half an hour writing a post whenever the mood took me – once a month, twice a month. But now, I spend at least some time each day working on my blog and more often than not I will plough hours and hours each day into writing, taking photos, promoting and all the behind the scenes admin too. But, I love it. It’s so addictive but enjoyable too.

Blogging can be a career

At the start I didn’t realise there were other bloggers or that bloggers could make money out of blogging or that it could lead to so many different avenues of self employment. Blogging opens doors for people and if I had known this from the start I would have approached it differently, looking at it as a job from the start and being professional from the start – writing things that would be good from a search engine perspective, taking better photos and creating an online portfolio of my work.

Instead, I wrote because I loved writing and had things to say. Seeing blogging as a job has only happened fairly recently really and I still don’t really see it as a job – I see it as a hobby that brings me so many amazing opportunities. I have never had a job that I love as much as blogging and so I find it hard to see it as a career. But it is a career for many and I wish I had known this from the beginning.

Your blog name is everything

When I started blogging my blog was called Red and Baby Led. Soon after, I went self hosted and changed the blog name to Redhead Babyled – a name I loved and that suited me perfect whilst the children were young but, as soon as they were out of the baby days I wanted something that could grow with me, something with longevity and no need to change it again in the future. This is where What the Redhead said came in.

If I’d known then what I know now I would have picked a better name from the start. one that wouldn’t need changing as our lifestyle or family age changed. I would always tell people now to pick a name that won’t pigeon hole you – try to steer away from things that shout ‘parenting blogger’ and instead have something that is more generic or more about you than the kids. Changing name wasn’t hard – Zoe did it for me – and my DA/stats were back to where they’d been previously within 3 months but it would have saved a lot of effort had I just picked a different name in the first place.

You should sign up to every social media platform with a relevant name

When you start blogging you should really make sure that related social media accounts are available – and grab them as soon as possible! Otherwise, years down the line you’ll end up like me, using Twitter and Instagram accounts that you used before you started blogging that are completely unrelated to blogging and now feel that you can’t possibly change the names as no-one will know who you are. So, I’ll be Genuine Placebo on Twitter and Instagram for a little bit longer!

Go self hosted asap but pick your hosting carefully

I went self hosted about 18 months after I started blogging and I wish I had done it from the start. Self hosted blogs often look more professional, let you start building your own DA and open up more opportunities to you. But you can always get a vanity URL which does exactly the same thing. I know many hugely successful bloggers who are still happy on Blogger.

For me, I love knowing I own my website – rather than it belonging to Blogger or WordPress. It’s mine and I can restore it if anything happens to my hosting company. On that note, make sure you pick your hosting company wisely. I was originally with Bluehost – until they held my blog to ransom and wanted me to pay $1500+ just to get my blog back online. I’m now with TSOhost after a lot of recommendations and couldn’t be happier – their customer service is fantastic.

There are so many other bloggers who are doing exactly the same thing

I had no idea that there were other bloggers, all writing about their lives and doing exactly the same thing as me. It was when I first joined Facebook blogging groups that I found the blogging community and I have never looked back. It’s incredible having so many people that you automatically have something in common with and from there I have built some incredible friendships. I don’t know what I did before I was part of the blogging community and I just wish I’d found it sooner.

The more you blog the busier you get

You write a post and a few people might see it and it might occasionally get found on Google. In a few years that post might get a broken link on it or a spammy comment. But, if you have written 2,000 posts more people will see them but you’ll get more broken links, more spammy comments and more to do behind the scenes. But, as you get more posts there’s also more for PRs to find, there’s more opportunity for a brand to come across your blog and there’s more for other websites to link back to.

All of this means that you tend to get more contact, more to reply to on social media, more emails, more comments to acknowledge. More everything. But, there are no more hours in the day. Just more to do. Blogging snowballs. You start writing and think that will be it but a couple of years later you have to-do lists as long as your arm, broken links coming out of your ears and just so much to do. But you love it – and you wonder what you possibly filled your days with before you started blogging.

People who don’t blog often don’t understand

I have one really good friend from before I started blogging who really does understand it. She knows it’s not all free stuff and constant deliveries of things I don’t have to pay for. She knows that every single thing that arrives at my door I have to spend hours using, photographing, writing about and promoting.

But, most people who don’t blog just see that free stuff. They question every aspect of your life – asking if you got your new car for free, if your extension will be free and if you actually pay for anything. They don’t understand – and after a while you give up trying to explain.

So, if you’re reading this thinking of starting a blog for the endless free stuff – walk away now. There’s no such thing as a free lunch – and the same goes for blogging. Nothing is free and often a £20 toy will take a whole day to use, photograph, write about and promote.

Blogging can change your life

When I first started writing, 1st April 2012, I had no idea, four and a half years later, my life would have changed so much. I’m sure we would still be the same people if I hadn’t started blogging but we wouldn’t have had as many amazing opportunities or the money to give the children so many things. We wouldn’t have as many people in our lives and we wouldn’t have as many options available to us in the future.

Blogging has literally changed my life and I am so glad I started writing. My life is so full, the children’s life is so busy but so happy and we have so much to look forward to. If you took blogging away from that we would all have so much free time but what would we do with it all? I have no idea. Blogging is pretty incredible really.

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