Why did you start your blog?

I’m asked this question fairly frequently, and my answer is always the same as my tagline. It’s an online diary of sorts. I needed a space to clear my head. A space to pour out the anger and the hurt and the torment that surrounded my son’s birth. Because no matter how I tried, the only person I could speak to about it was my husband. He was the only person I knew who understood and who knew what to say to me. Nobody else could say the right things. I started my blog because I needed to say so much more than I could say to my husband because there came a point where even he needed to move on.

why did you start your blog2Move on.

My blog has moved on. In the almost three years since I started writing about my son, things have moved on a lot, and quickly.

This weekend I sat at home and I followed the Mad Blog Awards with a pounding heart. I cannot tell you how proud I am that Jennie came home with an award in her arms. No replacement for the baby girl who should have been there, but an award all the same. And today I have watched the beautiful film that Sally put together to showcase all of the finalists in the Outstanding blogger category and it made me realise. That. That is what blogging used to be about for me. That is why I started my blog, in the end.

When I wrote about my son and his traumatic birth, I never imagined it would connect me to so many other women. The lovely, lovely Jayne, co-founder of Maternity Matters, and the one person who took my hand when I needed it and showed me what blogging could do. And in five months, my little blog was in the finals of the Mad Blog Awards itself. How I wish I had known what that meant! How I wish I had been there to experience the fact that people appreciated what I was writing.

But I was pregnant. And sick. And working. And not really sure that I was supposed to be there. And then. Then Bella was here and life was changing and somehow, somewhere, I lost my track. I lost my purpose. I lost the reasons why I started blogging.

love writing about my son now, and the things we do- the messy play and the early learning and the adventures we get why did you start your blog1up to together. I love also using my blog where I can to support Jennie, and the Lullaby Trust and to help in some small way to build a legacy with a mother who has an aching heart and empty arms. My friend. I love all of that, but I don’t recognise my blog any more. I don’t know if this is a bad thing, but I do know that my friend’s achievments this weekend have inspired me.

As she has inspired so many people ever since she picked up the virtual pen and put it to virtual paper (and that is why she won) Jennie, has inspired me once more. Not only to make each and every day with my children count as much as I can, but to make my blog count too. Because this blog was started with some good intentions too, and because I felt sure there was something I could do, some difference I could make with it. And because I’m not ‘over’ my son’s birth and what happened to us; there is still so much to write about.

Why did you start your blog?

Do One Thing for Tamsyn

Last night I was lucky enough to be a part of something amazing. I was lucky enough to witness, on a day that had brought so much unhappiness, despair and heartache for so many people, a show of strength, determination and good will.
This is Tamsyn and her husband, Alex.

I’ve known Tamsyn since she started her blog, Anecdotes of a Manic Mum. We connected over a love for writing about our families and she made me laugh with her witty observations of her life in France with their four children. Almost one year ago, Alex was injured during a rugby game and as a result, spent ten weeks in a coma. Doctors repeatedly told Tamsyn to prepare for the worst.

How?
How can you prepare for the fact that the man you love- the man who helped you to create four beautiful children- was not going to make it? How can you look into the faces of four children, who depend on you to make everything alright, and tell them that actually things are terrible? Things are bleak and things are unfair.
How?

Tamsyn did not accept Alex’s prognosis and he has made an astonishing recovery. But he is no longer the father, husband, that he was. Alex cannot walk,talk or see. He spends his days in a neuro facility in the UK while his family live elsewhere, in housing that does not allow for him. Alex’s family yearn for him to be beside them.

A few weeks ago, Tamsyn issued an SOS. She cried for help to feed her children, having had her benefits cut and this amazing community- of which I am SO proud to be a part of- stepped up. Tamsyn’s story was shared and her benefits were reinstated. So last night? Last night it happened again. This community of parent bloggers stepped up for Tamsyn as the Do One Thing for Tamsyn campaign was launched and this video was published.

PLEASE do one thing for Tamsyn. Help her get her soul mate back home. Help her feed and clothe her children. Help. Watch the video on Babyhuddle. Write a comment. Share it. Re-tweet it. Pin it. Embed it on your own blog. Write your own blog post. Buy a t-shirt. Share a picture of you in your t-shirt. Like Making Waves for Alex on Facebook. Follow Tamsyn and Make Waves for Alex on Twitter. SHARE.

Whatever you choose to do, you only need to one thing to show that you care. That one thing may only take seconds in your life, but it could have a huge impact on Tamsyn’s life.

 

*****UPDATE*****

Since this post went live Tamsyn has received the devastating news that Alex’s rehabilitation funding is to be CUT. If this is not rectified Alex will be transferred to a care home. PLEASE continue to share this post so that we can reverse this decision!

Please don’t forget that Babyhuddle is donating £2.50 for every product review written on the site to raise money for Alex. Now, more than ever your review could make a real difference to the future of Alex’s family. Your review could help bring Alex home.

5 great things that PRs do

Sometimes there isn’t enough recongition or celebration of things that other people get right. The Oylmpics has shown us exactly how skewed things can be. This time two weeks ago, not many of us had heard of Jessica Ennis (a hard working, dedicated and inspirational athlete who generally keeps herself to herself) but most of us could name a footballer or two who had disgraced himself on a night out. Similarly, we know all about x,y,z celeb who slept with so and so or swindled the tax man, etc etc etc. The point is, we notice the bad stuff and the bad stuff gets reported. We don’t often sit back and tell people about the good stuff, mainly because we sometimes take positive actions for granted.

Last week I read a post by Attachment Mummy about a PR approach that had gone badly wrong. It led me to thinking that while I had every sympathy for her complaint against the PR, why does nobody celebrate the things that PRs actually do for bloggers? It seems that blogging is a little like being a celebrity (hear me out PLEASE!) – at first, they need the media to get themselves out there and get people to recognise their work, but after a while the media attention becomes tiresome and they start to feel overwhelmed by it all. Likewise, bloggers need good PRs to help them to raise their profiles and to build relationships with brands. But there comes a point where deleting email after email also becomes tiresome so its easy to forget why we bothered in the first place. So I’ve been wondering- what are the good things that PRs do?

1. They read your blog

We’ve all had the email that says “I’ve been reading your blog and I really love it! I wondered if you would like to sample a packet of tasty dog treats…” when you are a single mother with no pets and no desire to feed dogs. But every now and then we get a lovely email that really shows us our blog has been read. Some of them even comment on specific posts, which is fantastic. Tristan Harrison from Philips Avent said

 
“When dealing with parenting bloggers the most important thing to do is also the most obvious and simple thing you can do. This is familiarise yourself with the blog in question. This will instantly let know whether or not the parenting blogger in question will be interested in your product or story.”

2.They take the time to have a conversation with you

This is a good one. They do want you to do something for them because as a blogger, you are useful to them in promoting their brand (and they are also useful to you) but they don’t just leave it there. I’ve had some genuinely lovely emails with Emma at Cosatto that often have little do to with whatever we’ve been discussing for the brand/ blog. We’ve chatted about being battered by toddlers and she’s imparted advice on weaning. Via email, she comes across as approachable and friendly. She isn’t all business and let’s face it- as bloggers,we are mostly all in it for the hobby. It’s not our job and so its nice to come across a PR who recognises that. Leading on to the next point…

3. They don’t put unrealistic time restraints on you

Parent bloggers are parents first and good PRs recognise this. Its unlikely we can make it to a central London event tomorrow if we live in Manchester. Good PRs will know where you live and will give plenty of time for you to make arrangements. When completing reviews, good PRs will allow you sufficient time to use the product and to write the review. Excellent PRs don’t chase reviews and they certainly don’t badger you to include specific details. I’ve had the pleasure to work with lots of PRs that have allowed me to juggle my job, my kids and my blog last because it is my hobby, not my job.

4.They organise good blogger events well

Bloggers love being invited to events that are well organised, interesting, relevant and manageable. The best events have childcare and travel costs covered, PRs inform the bloggers why they would like them to attend and they also let them know why it is worth their while. This isn’t to say that bloggers are only happy to attend events that have a decent goody bag. Rather, bloggers like to know that their time is being valued and a good PR will know this. I attended a fantastic event at Mamas and Papas, which was organised by Lynne and Nicola at Mum Panel and I’m told that Next throw a good bash too. Others worth a mention are Daniel Johnson PR (via Molly at Mother’s Always Right) and of course I need to mention Cosatto once more for their fantastic Great Cosatto Cuppa. The latter isn’t only open to bloggers either, any of the brand’s fans are able to apply for golden tickets and the point of the events is simply to meet the mums who use the products. A good blogger event doesn’t have to sell you something or provide content for your next post, although a good event will certainly prompt a post anyway.

I should point out here that I have also attended an event that was not so well organised and did leave a bitter taste in my mouth. BUT I have to say that once I had let the PR know what had gone wrong, things were rectified efficiently and I feel this is important. Things do go wrong now and then and good PRs know how to handle that. Most bloggers are happy enough to get a polite and constructive response to their complaints and let’s face it- that doesn’t cost anything.

5. They stay in touch…

… and not just when they want something from you. Nickie at Typecast has had excellent relations with the PR company for Men Are Useless. She worked on a campaign with them two years ago and since then they have kept in touch. PRs don’t have to do this, but its nice when they do. I regularly have emails from PRs I have worked with in the past that are just ‘checking in’ and I think its nice to stay in touch that way. You never know when you might work with them again so its worth keeping in touch just in case.

Obviously, there are many PR approaches that bloggers are not happy with, but they have been written about already. I’m sure that excellent PRs have also been written about too but what the heck. No harm in sharing the love, eh? Others worth a mention certainly include Bump PR, who have been lovely to work with, Louise at Your Virtual PR (always lovely to deal with) Jackie who deals with Kiddy Car Seats and River Island. I’m sure there are many, many more so I apologise if I have missed any. The point is, it isn’t all bad and as long as there are parent bloggers, there will be parent related PRs, so we may as well get on with it.

The one where you’re no longer a finalist…

I haven’t only just realised this; my brain isn’t that deadened with endless nappy changes and night feeds. Not just yet, anyway. It’s just that I haven’t been able to work out exactly how I want to put this. I still don’t really know. I’m just going to go with the flow.

So the Mads blog award finalists have been announced and, despite being nominated in two categories, I am not a finalist. This means I am no longer a finalist, since I remained a finalist after not winning in my category last year… or something like that. I think I want to blog about this.

I’ve been reading comments here and there and posts like this one from Molly at Mother’s Always Right, which are questioning success in blogging. Molly asks how we define blogging success and my response to her was:

“I think it depends on WHY u blog. I started to raise awareness of birth trauma and to get my own head around what happened. I think most days I am successful.”

Others commented along similar lines and the consensus seems to be that you get out of blogging what you put into it. So how do those bloggers who used to be finalists feel now that they aren’t finalists anymore?

I have to admit that I was a little bit disappointed, but certainly not surprised. Since the winners were announced last year, life has changed immeasurably for me. I kind of had to let blogging step aside to make room for new things. Like babies and things like that. I know I didn’t put into my blog what I had been putting in. I let things go. Oh, I was still writing, but I wasn’t really blogging. To be blogging, you need to be doing a whole lot more than just writing.

I have the utmost respect for those bloggers who are once more finalists in the awards. These are the hardcore bloggers who work damn hard on their blogs and at being bloggers. They read, they comment, they interact, they take part in memes, linkys, campaigns and debates. They dedicated huge amounts of their time towards embracing the blogging community and they are ever evolving and moving their blogs onwards and upwards. I have to say that some bloggers who also did not make the final cut are also doing this. But anyway, much respect to those who are finalists. It’s blummin hard work.
*edit: Also, and this applies to ALL the finalists, each blog that has made the final cut is there due to the outstanding quality of the writing. No matter how much they read, or comment or anything else. Some of those finalists are just as busy as the rest of us and still manage to stand out from the crowd. You have to admire that.
ant
I’ve finally found the time to read once more and I am in awe of the amount of blogs out there. My inbox is now stuffed with new blogs and my timeline is buzzing with posts I need to read. I am commenting more on posts that are springing out to me and I am starting to get myself back into the whole blogging thing again.

So I’m no longer a finalist. But I am still here. And to those of us who also are no longer finalists but are still here, well done. Life gets in the way (new babies, new jobs, new priorities) but at least we still remembered that we love writing and reading and engaging and bloggging.

 

 
MAD Blog Awards 2012

This year’s finalists are all pretty awesome. Please take a moment or two to vote for your favourite here. Some of my favourites are:

The Boy and Me

Mammy Woo

SAHM loving it

Diary of a premmy mum

Diary of a first child

Red Ted Art

Northern Mum

Mummy Whisperer

Not my year off

Edspire

Typecast

Patch of Puddles

Multiple Mummy

Go take a look…