I wanted to write a post about blogging for a while now. I wanted to try and capture the importance that this little hobby plays in my life. 2015 was a year of growth. Or learning. Of establishing what I want to do and finding an overgrown path that needs to be weeded through to get there.
When the lovely Sadhbh of Where Wishes Come From challenged us to a 15 from ’15 – a linky where you look back on the year that was, I knew I wanted to take part. What I didn’t realise was how difficult the piece would actually be to write. Blogging about how you feel about blogging is harder than it seems. You don’t want to offend anyone. And I hope I haven’t. But here is my piece – a round up of blogging highlights on LadyNicci for 2015.
Most Popular Blog Post
According to the Google robots my most popular post in 2015 was Seven Writing Competitions you should enter in 2016. I’ll be honest: I wrote this in a very targeted, this will get a load of views I hope, I way. And it did! I put time into it, because I wanted it to be useful for other writers and take the hard work out of scouring for competitions. I hoped it might inspire other writers too, especially those stuck in a rut. Writing competitions have taken me out of writing cul-de-sacs so many times. Another post I wrote, Ten Essential Tools for Struggling Writers was shared on Flipboard.com and got almost the same views too, so I’m mentioning both.
For sentimental mushy reasons, it’s the birthday post I wrote when my daughter turned one: Happy Birthday August; a year in photos. I enjoyed trying to find a photo for each of the previous months in the year and watching her development. Because, to be fair, many of the memories had already been deleted from my mind due to extreme exhaustion. No sleep = no memory brain cells.
It would have to be this photo of August blackberry picking. It was a beautiful day, we were in beautiful company and it inspired Ten reasons my children will be country bumpkins post. I love her little coat which was a gift from her Nana Tricia.
This whole blog has been an adventure. Finding my blogging voice, my niche, my inspiration. Finishing a draft novel script was probably the biggest project achievement of the year and hopefully in 2016, I’ll be going on a publishing adventure. Looking forward to all those doors slamming in my face!
I don’t do crafts. The child has a few crayons and already I’m in palpitations that there are years ahead as a pseudo art teacher. So instead, here’s a picture of my lovely new blogging space. I added heart shaped lights. That’s crafy, right?
Most common theme
When I set up the blog, I typed out lifestyle, parenting and literary as a description. I don’t know where it came from or what it meant at the time, but I’m glad it started out that way as it allowed me to write about a lot of things while still feeling that it’s all under the one big theme umbrella. At the start of the year, most of my posts were parenting related – as I was finishing maternity leave, going back to work and attempting and mostly winning at keeping the pudding healthy and kicking. Towards the end of the year, as I really concentrated on writing and learning about publishing, the literary posts became more numerous. So writing for sure, has become the most common theme on the blog.
I went through a few platforms before finally getting this self-hosted wordpress thingy right. One of the original sites I had allowed comments, but never told me when they were posted, so even if I did get one, I could never tell really. I remember when the lovely blogger behind attheclothesline posted one of the first comments I ever got on the blog on a book review I’d written. After a small update to the piece, the refresh deleted any comments made, so my one and only solitary comment disappeared into the internet air. I was gutted! Now things have moved on and according to the wordpress robots, I’m hitting nearly 1000 comments in the past six months or so. All bloggers love comments I think. For someone to take the time and leave feedback for you is very touching. I see them as tiny bloggy love letters, as sweet as the notes that you used to pass in class. A shout out to V.B. Kennedy and Laura Flotron who have been very supportive and interactive this year.
Hands down my favourite celebration of the year was the Irish Parenting Blog Awards in April. It was one of the best nights I’ve ever had out. I had only recently joined the group so it was a great way to meet everyone all at once and get to know the people behind the blogs I’d been reading. The IPB is a very close knit, supportive group of bloggers and I’ve learned a huge amount from being involved. Roll on the IPB Awards 2016!
My Best Move
There were a few good moves in 2015. Going self-hosted and getting the site looking better was a good move. Ensuring comments and interactions were available was another plus. Starting my How I Write series, will be, I hope, a very good move going into 2016, as I’m set to learn a lot and meet a lot of talented, hard-working writers. In general, my best move was simply deciding to work hard on the blog.
I was a bit shocked to learn that you could get freebies being a blogger. And delighted. I quickly learned though that as with all things, when money is involved, or business or brands, things change. Having to write a post because you feel you ‘owe’ it or have been paid to do so can take the integrity away from a blog. So I decided, quite early on, that I would only review products if they really appealed to me and I hope, my readers. (All three of you). My favourite freebie of the year was a set of B Toys, which I’ll be blogging about in January. They’re beautiful and appeal to all my artistic design senses, but best of all, they weren’t for me, they were for the bub, who has gotten the most joy from them. Being able to gift something to her, through this, the blog, is an achievement for me.
Best Blog Moment
I had tons of blog highs this year as it was the first year I’ve taken it seriously and learned how to be a ‘blogger’. It started with guest posting on www.herfamily.ie for a week in February. Later in the year I was beaming when I got on the longlist in the parenting category of the Blog Ireland Awards and jumping up and down on the bed (child style, not crazy milf style) when I reached the shortlist. Being asked onto local radio to talk about the blog was another high.
Worst Blog Moment
There was a definite silence when I didn’t reach the finalist list of the Blog Ireland Awards. A type of, don’t talk to me, I’m too upset silence. But to be fair, I got over that very quickly and after wallowing in my own self-pity for one evening, I was straight back to blogging whatever I wanted to blog about. I think poor blog moments have actually come from other blogs. 2015 saw a fair few crimes against bloganity. For me that includes oversharing and looking for attention by posting intimate or hurtful details about family or relationships. There were a few who slagged off other bloggers and lamented the state of the blogging world. As bloggers, I think we have a duty of care. Posting photos of your kids that really shouldn’t be on the internet is unfair. (I’m thinking of a potty training post I saw, with tons of photos of a kid on the pot). In the words of someone else; THINK OF THE CHILDREN.
I’m not in love with any of my titles but because I have to choose, I’m going with How Not to do PR: a moan about donkey socks. A lot of people wanted to know what the donkey socks were so it seemed to spark interest, in some way. Since this post, Bill has been in touch twice. And I haven’t the heart to send him the piece. I know that’s very chicken, but I just can’t give out to his face. Much easier to hide behind a blog post. Sure isn’t that what this blogging lark is all about?
Best Blog Series
I didn’t realise it, but I started three series on LadyNicci this year. They were Can’t Cook, Will Cook, Diary of a One Year Old and How I Write. The cooking has fallen a bit by the wayside after I joined Slimming World and actually learned to cook. But I love the monthly posts about my daughter, as it’s a great way to record her development. The How I Write brings something different; discipline, research, networking. So they are evens as my best blog series.
What my blog did for me in 2015
Everything. It did everything. It washed up, hung out the laundry, made the dinner, dropped me in to get my car. Well it might as well have. That’s how helpful this ol blog has been. It has brought focus, friends, something to do, taught me new skills that actually apply to my real job. It has introduced me to thrilling and amazing people. It has brought me joy. It has lost me hours and it has forced me to drink 20,000 cups of tea. Let’s see what it does for me in 2016.