9 tips on how mums can blog better

Blogging mum Nicola Baird – camera snaps by daughter, Nell (then 10).

If you ever get the uncomfortable feeling that you are a lonely blogger (with too few followers) then sign up to the dailypost.wordpress.com link which provides fab tips on how people keep their blogging mojo.

Recently wordpress writing guru Erica V wrote about how she breaks through a boredom barrier in order to find her creativity, http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/creatively-bored/. As a regular blogger I often read her posts, but this time, cheekily, I made a comment guessing that she didn’t have kids.

Turns out she doesn’t.

How did I know? Having a “pram in the hallway” and a busy family life forces you to change your approach to work and leisure time. There’s so little free “me” time before a child goes to nursery or school that to produce a reasonable blog entry means you need supersonic pre-planning skills. If blogging ever bores you, then stop right now. If you’re after ideas on more ways to mine your creativity for posts, then read on…

This post rather assumes you are a parent posting about parenting stuff and use your family as inspiration, but don’t feel you have to a) have kids or b) write about family life to make these tricks work. I also teach a blogging class to second year university students at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts. Very few of the 100+ students I’ve taught are parents, but they’ve found these ideas help make it much easier to write great blog posts regularly while juggling busy lives.

1 Set a goal

Say your goal is one or two posts a week. Every post needs at least one photo, so take your camera/phone around with you. Bonus – you make a pictorial record of what you and the baby are up to.

2 Use washing up or bath time to dream up new blog post ideas
Looking after children is a very small task, lots of cleaning and cooking is involved. This mix of love and drudgery unites millions of us dead or alive, world over. It’s also how you can source material for endless blog posts on sleep deprivation, family life, weaning, veg hating, homework and housework etc. Here’s how:

  • While your hands are on the cleaning job, can you find a universal theme in the funny things your child did or said?
  • Did you join in or overhear a conversation that got your synapses sparking?
  • Have you noticed something that makes you angry you’d like to sound-off about or share?
  • Did you pick up or work out a really good time-saving or fun tip that other parents are sure to value?

Say yes to any of these and you’ve got yourself a blog idea…

3 No one is a natural multi-tasker…
…not if they are also breastfeeding, a single parent, running a family with three children, or have a job as well. Use a slim notebook (that you carry everywhere) to jot down your ideas – just like a shopping list. That way you won’t forget your post gems. Better still you can go back to your list and see if that sparks ideas about what to write.

4 Keep it simple
Ever wondered why so many blog posts offer a list of the top 3, top 5 or top 7 ways to do something? Few parents have the luxury of time which may be why they don’t manage to stretch their good advice out to a top 10! But lists are easy to write if you’re over-tired or stuck for ideas. And readers love them (well, I do).

5 Too tired to think up a post?
If your list isn’t producing inspiration, try doing what magazine editors do – use a theme. Great ideas include:

  • Photo posts (eg, Silent Sunday is always one photo of something, no need even for a caption, posted every Sunday).
  • Recipes (eg, Foody Tuesday – a seasonal recipe, or just a food diary of what you/your child eat each Tuesday)
  • News inspired (eg, Topical Thursday – you could sum up a current news story (mumsnet has a good weekly summary) that parents can’t resist talking and tantruming about, such as Tiger Mum techniques, cost of pre-school child care, tax breaks, rights and wrongs of dressing kids in secondhand clothes/shoes, etc)
  • Craft (eg, Craft How To Friday. Or how about a project running up to a big event, eg, Thanksgiving Day, Diwali or Christmas which diaries what your family is making, what gifts you plan to give, where you are sourcing the decorations/food etc) and links to other blogs offering info on similar preparations?

6 Positive energy please
Moan in your diary, to your partner or your mum. But only moan on a blog if it’s funny (can you tell I’m British?).  As every rule is there to be broken it’s OK to post a raw moan of despair occasionally, but ideally less than one a month. Blogs aren’t just for getting stuff off your chest (unless that’s your blog’s USP – unique selling point).

7 Make it bigger
Posts showing Claudio looking cute or Amy getting yet another certificate for being a genius are best for your family. Friends and the blogging community may get a little sick of your over-achieving, faultless brood – but not if you also offer ideas and links on how to do it, where to get it, who else is doing it. Write up the mistakes too (eg, just suppose you’d left your eight-year-old daughter behind as British PM David Cameron did after a recent family pub lunch). Mistakes are sure to be the posts us readers can learn from, enjoy and empathise with (or even be outraged by).

8 Play tag
If you’ve managed to find time to post an anecdote, ensure that the blogging world can find your gems. However rushed you are, make time to categorise and tag. Either do it in draft stage before you post, or if you forget, go back and add. That way you’ll be able to find it – and so will your readers – without wasting research time.

9 Be super flexible
Some people manage to run babies and children on schedules – but most of don’t manage. So if your child’s awake, or not distracted by a game, food, sleep or a screen when you want to post, then re-schedule.

You need about 10 minutes to research, 10 minutes to write a first draft and 10 minutes to edit and fact check each post. But not all these tasks need you to be logged on. Wits say that when raising children the minutes drag and the years fly, so instead of cursing your distraction go and enjoy being distracted.

10 Oops, no time
Doorbell rang, wet laundry needs hanging up, job deadline looming… you see, it’s hard to get to #10 – and I’d planned on a 101 list. Good luck with your blogging. Let me know if any of these ideas help you. Thanks.

Nicola Baird is a journalist, author and environmental specialist, plus mum of two girls (now 11 and 13 years old). She blogs at https://homemadekids.wordpress.com and also on family travel without using planes at http://aroundbritainnoplane.blogspot.com. Her most recent book shares ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children, see Homemade Kids. Or for lots of ideas about parenting click here.

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3 Comments on “9 tips on how mums can blog better”

  1. Thanks Nicola, great tips. As you know, my blog features a mix of parenting experience stories and general musings and ramblings about anything that springs to mind! I definitely agree about carrying a notepad, I’m always jotting down random thoughts for things I want to write about, either for my blog, or just general article/story ideas. Sometimes when I’m flicking through the notebook for inspiration I find ideas that I don’t even remember having after reading them – I know I wrote them because they’re in my handwriting!

    • nicola baird Says:

      Vanessa – thanks for commenting as you are a fab blogger. I felt very anxious about the title but would like it to be read quite widely so went for a rather grand catch-all list. It’s amazing how much we forget isn’t it? But I’m impressed that you can read your handwriting – mine is awful unless I try v hard. N x

  2. nicola baird Says:

    From Chris: I reckon that’s a brilliant blog post – and deserves to be seen far and wide. Very insightful and gives an interesting perspective. The title is exactly right. Perhaps there’s even the framework of a new book there…?

    From Anon: How wonderful! This is a great blog post – and very useful.

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