Here’s this week’s instalment of Blogger Behind the Blog where I interview a blogger all about their reasons for blogging and what it means to them. This week I’m joined by Hayley from Devon Mama.
Here’s Hayley with more about her blogging life:
Where did your blog name come from?
Devon Mama was one of the first things that popped into my head when I looked at setting up a blog. I live in Devon and I wanted to write about my journey into parenting (I was pregnant at the time), it just made sense! A quick check on social media to make sure the social media handles were free and Devon Mama was born.
When did you start your blog and why?
In the past I’ve had a couple of blogs that I’ve dipped in and out of but nothing serious. When I fell pregnant I decided that I wanted to document my pregnancy and set up Devon Mama. I barely posted on it for the first nine months, life was hectic with a newborn and I just wasn’t in the right mindset.
As time went on I realised that I wanted more from my blog. Things were changing at work and I needed to understand more about digital marketing. I decided to spend my maternity leave blogging properly, went self hosted and threw myself into learning about the world of social media and influencers. It’s helped me two fold – I’ve captured so many memories of our son and I’m now in a position where I’m confident managing a social media team at work!
What did you do before you blogged?
I slept! Blogging for me is a passion. It’s not something I want to rely on as my sole source of income; I work as Content Marketing Director for a national company part time and I love it too much to consider leaving. The time I spend blogging is time I used to spend lazing around on the sofa in the evenings. These days, after my son’s gone to bed, I pull out the laptop and spend my night times tapping away instead… it’s a far more productive use of my time!
What was your first post?
My first post was a recipe called Fifteen Minute Flapjack. Everyone loves cake and it was a recipe that had been in my family for years. I chatted a little to introduce myself before throwing the recipe out there. I think I had about five views, if that!! It’s funny because I look at that post now and cringe a little about silly things but I can’t bring myself to change it.
What inspires you to blog?
I find blogging inspiration comes in waves, sometimes I’m overwhelmed with ideas and other times I struggle to find my voice. As a parent I love reading blogs and reviews to make decisions or to help me find answers and I find it incredibly satisfying when I hear from readers that they’ve found something I’ve written helpful or interesting. Sometimes it’s just that I have something to say – my work allows me to make lots of decisions but I rarely get to write any more due to my position. Sometimes I just need to find and share my voice.
What post has had the best response, which post are you most proud of and which post did you enjoy writing the most?
My proudest post is about going back to work and my concerns about it. I always knew that I wanted to go back to work but it felt like a huge taboo admitting that. Even though I knew it was right for us, I still struggled with guilt about that choice. When I hit publish on posts like that, it feels like I’m broadcasting my insecurities to the world, something I’m really not that comfortable with.
My post on the Six stages of making mum friends continues to get a great response and has been shared on various other sites. It was such a throwaway post for me, written quickly after yet another play date with mums I didn’t really know and yet it really seems to take people’s fancy! I think it’s something every new mum can relate to; we’ve all been in that situation where we’re trying to make conversation with people we can’t stand all in the name of making new friends!
Finally, my favourite posts are the weekly Living Arrows posts that I do. I love this series so much, it’s a little moment on my blog where I can completely indulge in the small details of our week. I’ve already decided that at the end of the year I’m going to print them all down in a folder for my son to look back on. It makes me quite emotional when I look back at what he was like in January – I’ve failed at all the pregnancy journals and baby books so this series covers that for me!
Have any of your posts not had the response that you expected?
I’ve never had any bad responses from the public regarding things that I’ve posted. I’m a fairly easygoing person and hate confrontation so I think that comes through in my blogs. Fingers crossed it stays that way!
Where do you see your blog in a year’s time?
A more polished version of where it is now. I don’t quite feel I’ve found the right balance between reviews and more personal editorial style posts. I hear constantly that you should have a niche to write in and yet I find that I jump from one element of our lives to another. Ultimately, I’d just like to still see myself writing as frequently. It’s become a part of my life that I love and I’m happy if I’m still doing the same in twelve months time.
What is your favourite thing about blogging?
The people I’ve met. I never EVER expected to be in a position where I’d count people I hadn’t met in person as some of my closest friends. I’ve been fortunate enough to gain a handful of other bloggers who I regularly chat to, they know more about my lives than some of my real life friends do! The two Nicolas in particular; Mummy to Dex and I Am Crabstix, they’ve been my support network both in terms of blogging and general life. Without them I’d have been incredibly lonely.
…and your least favourite?
The assumption that you’re getting things for free. Blogging is hard work. People don’t appreciate the hours that it takes to write posts, take images, promote, chase, create… it can all become a bit overwhelming at times, so it’s certainly not working for free!
What’s the best blog post you have ever read?
That’s so hard to answer because I feel privileged to read a huge number of really inspiring blog posts each week – it’s one of my favourite things about being a blogger. There are two posts thought that stand out to me as being some of the most memorable (and emotional) that I’ve read.
The first was by Steph at ‘Was This In The Plan?’ and it was about her husband, Andy, losing his fight with cancer. Steph’s blog wasn’t one that I’d heard of before but I happened across this post on my lunch break one day. I sat there at my desk and sobbed at how she was handling it and the emotion that came through. I quickly found myself reading through her other posts and was overcome by what an amazing woman she is. Her bit about ‘what would you do if you knew you only had a few weeks to live?’ is something that’s stuck with me ever since, it’s important to remember how fragile life can be!
The second is by Laura at Five Little Doves and is ‘Kicks Count – If I Had Known Then What I Know Now’. Laura’s posts are always so relatable and honest but this piece really resonated with me. I was so fortunate not to have any issues in my pregnancy but I still had days where kicks would be less and I’d worry about causing a fuss with my midwives. Laura continuously highlights how important it is to count kicks throughout all of her posts and this collaboration with Kicks Count is a stark reminder of something that we all dread happening. Again, I was in floods of tears at the end… a true sign of a good writer.
What blog do you love to read and why?
Can I wimp out here and say I couldn’t possibly choose one? It’s so dependent on my mood and the day. At the moment, we’re renovating and I’m loving reading more home and DIY type blogs such as Little House On The Corner. Unfortunately that means I’m constantly bugging my husband for us to take on more and more little projects – I think he’d rather I stuck to parenting blogs!
Do you do anything differently now to when you started blogging?
Definitely. I’m far fussier about the images and content I put up and the social media that supports them. Overall this is a good thing as it’s helped improve the quality of what I put out there but sometimes I miss the early days of blogging. I miss the spontaneity of writing whatever comes into my head rather than over-analysing it and thinking about angles, audience and imagery. I think it’s a balance that I haven’t quite got right yet.
Is blogging what you expected it to be?
Yes and no. In basic terms, it’s exactly what I expected but at the same time, it’s a whole new world. It’s a far more intense and involving thing than I ever thought it would be but I think you get out of it what you put in. The people, the language, the ways of working… it’s taken and given me far more than I ever imagined.
What’s been your favourite blog collaboration to date?
My favourite was almost certainly working with Debenhams on their pre-Father’s Day campaign. It came at a time when I was really questioning the direction of my blog and whether I could juggle blogging with working, raising our son and renovating our home. When I saw the email, I let out a little squeal. For me, Debenhams is a huge brand; a shop that I’ve personally used almost my entire life. It felt like a validation of the work that I’d done – if they saw potential in me, clearly something was going well!
It was also the point where I started to open up to my friends and family about blogging, finally this was a brand that they could understand. My Dad must have asked me a million questions about it over the next few weeks whereas previously we’d ignored the whole thing. For me, I guess you could say it was a turning point. Plus, we got a fab new BBQ and utensils out of it… something I’m still reaping the brownie points from!
Are there any brands you would love to work with, why?
There are a couple I’d love to work with; Sleepyhead of Sweden (I’d also love to petition them to make an adult sized version!), Pampers and Cosatto. They’re all brands that I aspire to as a parent, separate from my blogger side, and to work with them would be ideal. That said, my goal for this year was to work on a car seat campaign and a buggy campaign. I’ve got one of each of those in the pipeline so I’m pretty pleased right now!
Have you had any blogging fails so far?
I’ve sent emails to the wrong people, made posts live with dead links, tagged brands wrongly… all the little things that you overlook when you’re working in the rush of a baby nap. Thankfully nothing major though!
What is your biggest blogging hope, dream or ambition?
That it continues to make me happy. That sounds a bit lame, doesn’t it? Yes, there are brands I’d love to work with and money I’d love to make but ultimately, I want to still that love of blogging.
What do you do when you’re not blogging?
Everything! My days consist of working on my ‘real’ job, sorting the builders on our house, walking the dog, keeping our son happy and alive, seeing family and friends; there is never a quiet moment in our lives. I love going out for dinner or getting away for a weekend with my boys. It’s one of the rare times when we get some quality time together. Oh and I love when they go out and leave me home alone; I put the trashy TV on, pull out the snacks and pretend I’m a child-free, carefree student again. It’s bliss!
and lastly, tell us all a random fact about yourself
I’m allergic to avocado, which is awful because I love it! It’s only something that’s happened in the last few years, it cause my throat to swell up a couple of times and since then I’ve steered clear. The hilarious thing is, my mum bought me an avocado knife for Christmas last year. God knows why any normal person would need one, but for someone who now can’t eat them, it was ridiculous!!