Thought about blogging, but not entirely sure how you go about it? Well, wonder no more. Susanna, who runs the britishmummybloggers.co.uk network, gives a step by step guide to getting online.
Mummy, or “mommy” blogging, a huge phenomenon in the US, is just starting to take hold in the UK. A staggering 36 million women worldwide participate in “blogosphere” every week and fifteen million women have their own blogs. A growing number of these women are British.
I’ve put together this guide to help mums who are interested in creating a blog, but have no idea where to start. I assume a bit of technical savvy (such as you know how to surf the Internet) but in no way do you have to be an IT expert. I’m not, and trust me, if I can do it, so can you.
So what are you waiting for? Sit back, have a read and get blogging!
A blog is a shortened version of a “web log”. A “mummy blog” is where mums write about their experiences of motherhood. Being a mum can be isolating. Some mums really enjoy the opportunity to connect with other mums who are going through similiar life events.
Blogging can be a sense of light relief and accomplishment. It’s not for everyone, but many women enjoy it. Watch out, it can be addictive! Check out the comments on this post, it’s full of reasons why mums blog. And it’s not just mums who blog, there are some excellent blogs out there written by authors with dangly bits, like Single Parent Dad.
Get a free Google Blogger account and start writing! You’ll need to pick a name for your blog. This is probably one of the more important decisions you will make. There are lots of blogs out there, so pick a name that makes you stand out a bit. Some of my favourites are Dulwich Divorcee, Part Mummy, Part Me and More than Just a Mother. You can get an idea of the variety of blog names from this list.
Many British Mummy Bloggers are anonymous, though more are “coming out”. Being anonymous “takes the gloves off” and gives you the freedom to write whatever you want, without offending anyone. It also limits the amount of information about you and your family in a public forum like the Internet. You can make up names for your children, such as I do on my site. There are many clever anonymous bloggers out there, such as Potty Mummy, Nappy Valley, and Bush Babies.
If you don’t want anyone else to use the clever name you’ve picked for yourself, go to 123Reg and buy the rights to the domain name. You can buy the .co.uk domain and get free privacy (hide you contact details on the register) for about £6. If you’re really serious about it, buy the .com domain as well, with privacy (which I highly suggest) it’s about £30.
In addition to your blog name, you will need to write a short biography about yourself. It can be as short as a couples sentences, or more indepth. This is your chance to make your blog stand out (in marketing it is called positioning). Alpha Mummy is for mums or dads “who work, used to work, or want to go back to work someday”. Little Mummy, is well, little (5 ft.) and Jo Beafoix is “like Kate Moss. But not.”
Write about whatever strikes your fancy — a reaction to something you read in the paper, something you did today or something that you feel strongly about. A blog is a bit like a diary. I often just sit down in a quiet place and start writing, without taking the pen off the paper and keeping the pen moving. Eventually something coherent, and occasionally meaningful, comes out. Also, you don’t need to have a degree in Creative Writing or have been a journalist to start a blog (though it helps). Most bloggers update their sites at least once a week.
Google’s Blogger is free and is very popular. If you want more flexibility, try Typepad or WordPress, though there is a minimal cost associated with these tools.
The main way to get readers, is to be a reader. Go to this list of the Best British Mummy Bloggers and start making your way through the list. If you like what you read, make a comment. One of the unwritten rules of mummy blogging is to return comments. If you really like a blog, add it to your blogroll. Also, join an online community, such as British Mummy Bloggers and Blogher. Also, register your blog on Technorati.
Your blogroll is your list of favourite blogs. Call it what you like — chum’s blogs, blogs I read, or just plain blogroll. Create a list on the side of your blog and get reading!
RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”. You need to add an RSS feed to your site so people can subscribe, it is an easy way for blogs to send updates to their readers. An RSS feed provides a list of recent content posted on a blog, with links to each new page. When you subscribe to an RSS feed, you’re automatically notified whenever new content that’s of interest to you is posted. Still confused? Watch this video “Google Reader in Plain English”.
Photos add a lot to a post. You can take your own, or use some of the free stock photography that is available. Flickr is also a good source of photos. Make sure you search under the “Creative Commons” license and always give your photographer credit. You should compress all photos for web use, so that you don’t turn people off with long loading times. To do this, get a free photo editing tool off the web (such as Picasso). My laptop came with Microsoft Office Picture Editor, which is easy enough to use and does most things I need.
Remember that everything you write is “out there.” There are all kinds of weirdos and pervs out there, so be careful about what you write, never give your address, etc. Beware even if you go anonymous, a hacker could find out pretty much whatever he wants. You may not want to publish any photos of your kids, for example. Also, beware of trolls, people who harass you online. Read this sobering article about them before you engage.
Many of the mums in the US make money from their blogs. Checkout Google Ad Sense and Blogher. I run ads on my site and quite honestly there is not much money it, I have barely made enough to fuel my coffee habit.
How else can I expand my readership?
Thames Valley Mums Blog and London Mums Blog are community blogs that take contributions from the blogging community. If you are interested being exposed to a new readership, you may want to enquire about being a contributor.
This post was written by Susanna, a mummy blogging evangelist and founder of britishmummybloggers.co.uk.