6 things I never expected when I started my blog

6 things I never expected when I started my blogWhen I started Meetoo it was almost by accident.  Back in early 2011 I decided I wanted to set up a website – I did some research about my idea and even wrote myself a little business plan (which is probably one of the more organised and, if you know me, amusing things I have done).

I use the term “business” in business plan very loosely – there was actually no strategy in there as to how I would make any money (other than a dot point which said: sell advertising – and I have clearly failed at that!).  Making money was the bit I had no idea how to do.  And to be honest it will never be a strength or raison d’etre for Meetoo.

Back in April 2011, when I was still planning and not actually doing, I decided before I could invest my imaginary money in building a website I needed to start somewhere smaller.. and so I registered myself with a free blog platform and 30 seconds later Meetoo was officially born.

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  But that didn’t matter, apart from myself and a friend, there was no one reading my blog so it was the perfect testing ground.  The old “Just Do It” slogan definitely applies to blogging.   Had I known that I didn’t need a “website” that actually my blog was one in the same – rather than worry about my lack of knowledge I should have just dived in and got on with it.  It turns out the only way to learn is on the job.

As a mum with young children I had felt returning to work was out of my grasp at that moment – and yet I needed something beyond my laundry pile and daily struggle to work out the dinner menu, something to get my brain focused with something mentally invigorating.  If not, I could see the signs of early onset dementia in the not too distant future.

People blog for many different reasons.

When I started blogging it was simply to record experiences with my kids (in case the dementia set in regardless; thankfully other than habitually loosing my phone I am doing okay – that or everyone is too polite to say anything).  Also I hoped that at some point I might get a few invites to events (something I missed from my PR girl days).

To my delight there have been loads of unexpected things that came about as a result of my blog, things that I had never imagined a possibility at the outset.

6 things I never expected when I started my blog

1. I have met all these amazing people.

Sure my blog sometimes involves attending shows that involve a bit of VIP meet and greet (which is always a bit of fun) but that’s not what I mean.  Over the past four years I have met all these other bloggers.  When I started out I actually knew nothing of other bloggers (embarrassing to admit now but back then I thought blogging was for nerds and backpackers – how incredibly wrong I was!!).

There is a whole industry that exists to support bloggers personal development – beyond the plethora of articles you can find online there are all these fabulous events that exist for bloggers to get together in real life and hear from their heroes.  And the brilliant part is that many of them are heavily subsidised by sponsors so they are often free or amazing value.

When you meet people in real life (not just the speakers but the people sitting around you in the room) you get to hear their stories – and you become part of a tribe.. some of it happened quite quickly – and some has happened over time.  But it is incredibly empowering to feel so connected with very talented women (and the odd guy) from all around Australia.  And quite a lot of these amazing bloggers are now my friends in real life.

2. I worked out what my career was, again.

Back when I was a kid I wanted to be a vet.. then in high school I decided I wanted to be an airline pilot – I actually got accepted into Aviation Science (not sure who was more shocked, myself or my parents) but I wavered, changed my mind and studied industrial design instead.  When I finished design I still didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do.. but the process of working and volunteering for design events crystallised what it was I wanted to do – I wanted to promote Australian design. Finally I had a passion, and I spent the next 10 years fulfilling that dream.

Problem was – the moment I held my first child, that dream career (that had taken me so long to get to) was a very distant memory… I did eventually go back to my job (because I had to) for two days a week, but oh, I was so soo bored.

And so after my firstborn arrived I felt like I had returned to year 11 when the careers counsellor at school wanted to know what I liked doing.. I don’t know, nothing, everything?  At that point I just wanted to be with my kid and see her smile.  It wasn’t until I started blogging that I found something that was almost as thrilling as my kids smile – quite quickly I became completely addicted to the entire process – and not only was it something I felt passionate about, I could do it and not miss out on being with my babies.

3. Turns out as a stay at home mum blogging was good CV fodder for my on-hold career.

Quite quickly I realised that blogging gave me the perfect opportunity to learn new skills – my previous life in PR was experiencing a huge shift while I was off managing tiny humans.  Turns out that building my own blog and building an audience was possibly the best thing I could do to keep up to date with the industry – short of actually going back to the workforce.  Even as little as nine months ago I couldn’t have predicted that my return (now just six months ago) into the workforce in a career capacity has been made possible because I am foremost a blogger.

4. I have learnt new stuff – and that excites me, and there is still more to learn.

Once I found my writing rhythm (back in 2011) I decided I needed to work out how to connect with more readers (a few more than my two friends) – so I avidly read every article I could find about social media and signed up to every free webinar I came across.  Half the time I had no idea what the “experts” were talking about, but over time it started to sink in.  And I loved learning all this new stuff and trying it out – this hobby of mine was a wonderful testing ground for applying so many new skills and combining stuff I knew from my old life in PR.

Added to that until this year I have managed every facet of setting up my blog all by myself.  My brother in law redirected my URL for me and my cousin designed my logo, otherwise it was all me – I tinkered about in WordPress and tried to get my head around technical stuff like SEO.  There really is no end to the stuff you can learn if you have the desire and purpose.

After a couple of years I exhausted all the self-help articles on the internet – many just gave one piece of an overall puzzle, and often I was not entirely sure how it all came together.  After muddling about and feeling a bit frustrated with my lack of momentum I decided I needed to know more, more than I could glean from disparate articles.

If I could travel back in time and give myself one more piece of advice when I first started, that would be: fork out the cash and sign up to a reputable course.

Having all the information collated and set out means that the “ah-ha” moment clicks in a matter of weeks (rather than years) and having an industry expert whom you can ask questions of when things don’t make sense will fast track your knowledge and mastering of the medium tenfold.

I have taken part in a few courses and even purchased the odd e-book, but the one I have really found provided a very supportive and behind the scenes “how-to” was Brandlicious* by Louisa Claire.  If you want to work with brands then you need to have your house in order and you need to know what they are looking for – Louisa not only gives you all the tools, she has you thinking strategically and professionally.. if you want to go after bigger opportunities you need to be able to demonstrate to PRs you are the perfect answer to their clients problem.

5. Blogging has expanded my networks and experiences.

As well as the blogging community there have been other networks I count myself pretty lucky to have access to thanks to Meetoo.  I have been working with publicists and PRs from many different agencies for nearly four years – and that’s a handy network to have built up.  I have also enjoyed meeting business owners from all walks of life.  And I still haven’t bored of the VIP previews or behind the scenes opportunities.  I have built connections through my social media – not in a massive way as I tend to shy away from controversy, but occasionally people email me to share a tip or say thanks and that always makes my week.  I have had opportunities to collaborate – one of my favourites has been working with Natalie from tiny + little and the National Gallery of Victoria.  I am a blog ambassador for World Vision which is incredibly humbling.  Last year I even won a Bronze place in the AusMumprenuer Blog Award!

6. To my friends (and other people I meet who aren’t bloggers) I am a curiosity.

At the beginning I loved being able to say at Kinder functions I did something other than managing to keep my family fed, clothed and living in an acceptable level of sanitation.  Being defined by chores was a conversation killer – being a blogger was infinitely more interesting to share.

In the early days the 50 entries I’d get to a competition I was running would be 90% friends (and 10% their friends).  Over time that shifted (and thankfully grew!).  But without their hand-up at the beginning it would have been much more demoralising and slow burn – they have been my greatest advocates.

Are you a blogger?  What unexpected benefits have you gained from your blog?

If you decide to sign up to the Brandlicious course (and I can highly recommend it) then as an affiliate I get a kick-back for my referral.  I wouldn’t support this course if I didn’t believe in it or consider Louisa to be an industry leader in this area.

I also get a small % of the registration fee if you decide to nominate someone (and that can be yourself) for a AusMumprenuer award.

6 things I never expected when I started my blog