11 musings on 11 years of blogging

On Saturday morning I sat down at the 4th(?) I think Problogger conference that I have attended. I spent the day learning about this and that, hearing from experts and colleagues about the best way to do this or that. I got a couple of ideas that I may try and implement and I had a crack at breaking through on some bigger ideas that always seem to be the biggest ones to get stuck on. Timely given that it was 11 years to the day that I started my blog with my first ever post…here I was all these years later, still going, still learning, still turning up.

This blog is older than any of my children. It’s such a part of me now, that I am unable to stop, ever I think. Who knows? It makes me document all areas of my life and beyond: I have become an observer, a collector, a documenter…each post helps me stop in my day to day life, create mindfulness and start conversations. It connects people. It helps people. Every single day it does something, and that’s something isn’t it? I would never have imagined all those years ago all the things that this blog has given me and my family. It’s truly amazing and I don’t often stop to think about it, but shit right?

As much as I get emails about making a tree change, I often get emails about blogging. I have never been a great mentor, I try and help out whenever I can but I am not great at reading other blogs, commenting, connecting in groups of people in the Australian blogging community. I just literally do not have the time. It’s a miracle some days that I even get a blog post out and reply to comments on my blog. But I thought I would share 11 ideas and thoughts on blogging, maybe helpful to some of you, maybe not, but here goes.

1. Remember why you started

I started this blog in 2006 because I was pregnant and I wanted to stay in contact with my sisters and share photos and stories with them. Facebook didn’t exist! A blog seemed a natural platform to do it and I enjoyed reading some of the “family/personal” blogs in the US that were staring to flourish. I never had a clear goal or niche or voice, it was just me sharing. Of course things have slightly changed over that time…ha! There are approximately 12 gazillion more blogs now than there was, some still going, some left behind, lonely and not updated. There’s different platforms and social media, it’s “noisy” out there. Some people love the idea of starting a blog, get it all perfect and ready to go just so, before publishing their first post with their 45 draft posts ready to fly. Me? Well, I am still here, sharing my stories in words or pictures. Effectively my audience is still the same, women that I am connected to albeit that I may not know them all now and that there may be about 30,000 more of them every month reading it. But when I think about it, it’s still the same. When you get stuck on your blog, unsure of what direction to go in, have a think about why it was you started and try and do that. Sure sometimes it may need to change, but keep it simple. Just do it. That’s why I still blog when I am travelling, documenting Maggie each month, because it’s my life, it’s my diary and it’s my story. I write it for me first and others second. It has become such an amazing and priceless amount of “stuff” that diarises documents our life over the past 11 years. What a precious gift! So when in doubt, go back to the start.

2. Be someone’s whiskey not everyone’s cup of tea

I love this saying that someone shared with me and that I have seen in many an inspiring quote over a stock photo on Pinterest. It’s so true though, you cannot please all the people, all the time. Much like in real life when you meet people, some you connect with more than others for whatever reason, their style of clothing, interiors, home, parenting methods, humour, if you connect with a few good people that really get you – then how good is that? I’d rather connect with a few people than lots that really don’t get me. There are never going to be surprises with me (same in real life) you know how I feel and think because I put it all out there. If you get it, great, if not then that’s OK too! I am never going to make the people who don’t like me, like me and that’s cool. We’re cool! I have gotten so much better at not thinking about the people that don’t like me, like really don’t like me. The ones that email, that comment, I just don’t let them get to me like I used to. I can’t change their mind, it’s none of my business and I am getting too old for this shit anyway. So connect with the people that matter and don’t spend a minute longer on the ones that don’t.

3. Damned if you do, if you don’t

I always have a little giggle to myself when I get the old “I’m a little disappointed in….” why? How can you be disappointed in me? You don’t really know me. If it was my family and close friends saying it then sure, but we don’t really know each other do we? Don’t be disappointed! I am just a human and sometimes I make mistakes. I shop in supermarkets and sometimes I use plastic bags even though I would like to be foraging and only going to organic farmers markets. I definitely swear way too much in front of my kids. I sometimes complain about motherhood even though I know I am hashtag blessed to have them in the first place. Most of the time I can’t win. But like I said above, as long as the people that matter are OK, then I am too. Don’t be disappointed in me and if you are a blogger know that you are damned if you do or you don’t, it’s just how it goes. And the judgement and comments and the filter that maybe once was there has definitely fallen away the longer this whole social media/online business has been doing on. It’s rotted our brains and made us judge quicker and harsher and easier than ever before – try and remember that behind blogs at least, a person is there, reading your comment. Save your disappointment for stuff that matters like your own life with real people that you know, or the fact that bread is SO good and yet makes us all fat. Now that shit is really disappointing.

4. Make mistakes

And boy have I made a few. Ha! I have overshared. I’ve hurt people. I’ve spent time on stuff that would get me no where. I’ve done jobs I shouldn’t have done. I’ve forgotten my audience. I’ve forgotten why I blog. I’ve not taken breaks when I should have. Should I go on? I could! I have made so many mistakes but with all of them I have learned from them and they have helped me know what NOT to do. Mistakes are good, don’t be afraid of them, and you can always come back from them.

5. Be persistent and consistent

Keep going, keep going, keep going. So boring! But it’s what you need to do. Most bloggers that make a living from their blogs now work bloody hard on it and they do it each and every day. They keep turning up. And while at times it may be flowing easier than others, we all consistently turn up for work and write something, share something. This doesn’t need to be every day (I know I blog too much and need to dial that back a bit) so long as you consistently do your thing: whether that’s daily or 3 times a week or once a month, do that, and do it consistently. Turn up when your readers expect you to and surprise and delight them outside of these times if you can. Don’t get caught up getting worried about numbers or stats and let them get you down, just keep going.

6. Bring everything back to your blog platform

I most certainly do not have a great, huge following of people. I get around 30,000 unique visits to my blog each month (less than a few years ago now too) I have only 14k followers on Facebook and 22k Instagram followers. Not huge numbers at all, but they are my numbers and I have worked hard to maintain them remembering that it’s just me that does all the work: the writing, the photographs, the marketing, the finances, the selling, the pitching, the reporting (ok, I do get some help with that). There are blogs that have HUGE platforms and audiences on social media – for brands that counts for something and it makes them attractive to work with. But for me I will always make my blog the main place to focus my attention. It’s where I want to drive my audience and traffic and it’s where I want all the eyeballs, most of the time. You know why? Because I own that platform. If Facebook was to close, what good is an amazing community? Or if they make us all pay to use it? It has changed and it will continue to and for me, keep people back on the blog. For me the blog is my home and where the heart of things are and where I will invite people in. You might see me around at the shops (Facebook) or on my phone (Instagram) but I really want people coming into my home (blog). That’s your strength I reckon.

7. Don’t complain or explain

I learned these wise words from an old blogging friend and they always ring true to me. I always get frustrated when I see others (and I have too) justify this or that or try and explain how hard they work when some dick tells them they have sold out or whatever. Don’t explain yourself to anyone. You don’t need to! And don’t complain. Pretty simple mantra isn’t it? But I like it.

8. Be proud of how far you have come

Blogging can be a lonely old existence. When you are juggling it with family life it’s long hours and just plain hard work. You might love a piece you write and it flops. I turn down more work than you guys would ever know about, it’s a juggle and it’s just plain exhausting at times. And when you are flying solo you can forget to remember how far you have come – I am terrible at stopping and looking at my successes as I only seem to see all the things I haven’t done right, or that others are doing better than me. Stop. Look back. Remember how far you have come and how you go in a little while. I remember this post that I learnt from a Problogger session  few years ago about writing down your milestones and putting them into a cup so at any time you can pull out those milestones that were a big deal then and see it really was a long time ago. I need to do this more often.

9. You can change someone’s day

How cool is it that your words, your story, your photo can literally change someone’s day?! Hopefully for the better! My blog has changed someone’s morning with a smiling photo of Maggie, it has helped someone’s dinner with a recipe, my story has made people think about making a tree change, has made people move, have extra babies, make an appointment with their GP about post natal depression, have a laugh, roll their eyes, take a trip, eat a custard tart. HOW COOL IS THAT? It might just be a blog, but it’s something. Help someone fix a problem that they didn’t even know they had. Show them a solution. Teach them something that you know and are good that you can’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t know how to do – do it all and change someone’s day, or life. Hopefully for the better!

10. If you want to go pro – treat it like a business

If you really want to go professional or make a living from your blog then you need to treat it like a business. Your blog is your “brand” and with you being your blog you are your brand. Know your numbers. Don’t get obsessed with those numbers, but know them. Know your readers, their ages, where they live, their ages. Know your social media numbers, your reach, you should be able to let any brand know ALL OF THE THINGS if you were to get stuck with them at a networking function. Being dumped by my agent at The Remarkables Group last year was actually the best thing that could have happened to me. It made me take things seriously. I have to work harder than ever before to get jobs and make clients happy but I think I can do that better than anyone else because I know me better than anyone can sell me. I am planning more than ever, across my income and expenses better than I used to and I think the work I am doing now is better than before. Now my skills are best in doing what I do on the blog – like any business owner they become successful for their “thing” whatever that is and then it grows and they get stuck having to do all these other things like manage staff and finances. Get good people working for you that can do the things you aren’t best at, so you can focus on the things you are good at and hopefully keep growing. So while I am probably doing more than I used to before, I know what’s going on, I am working proactively with people I want to and I am getting help from people that really understand me and where I want to go.

11. A little each day becomes something

So that one post back on the 29th July 2006, turned into 2,881 posts. That first comment from someone other than my family turned into over 45,000 comments, that first page view turned into almost 8 million views 11 years later. See? All those little bits, turn into something much bigger. If you just keep going, keep turning up and doing it, before you know it you will be able to look back and see that all that work, well it’s something.

And for me that something is something that I am very proud of. I have created a body of stories that connect, humour, inspire and teach thousands of people every single day. That’s something indeed.

So to all of you out there thinking about starting a blog, or stuck in your one, I hope that these thoughts help you a little. It’s not what you want to hear, but just keep going. It’s hard and lonely but it’s so much more than those things. Your something makes someone’s day a better place, a story can make someone feel less alone. These words these connect us and bring us back to what we have been doing since the beginning of time, connecting with each other. Alone we can only do so much but together? Well, watch out.

Keep your head down, don’t compare your success or failures to anyone else’s, own your story and your voice and remember to stop and look at how far you have come. And keep turning up. I’ll be here doing the same.

And to those of you that are just readers, thank YOU. Without you guys there would be no BabyMac. Thank you for sharing your stories, for getting me and my humour. Thanks for turning up, still, all these years later. It makes my job the best in the world. So thank you.

Here’s to 11 more. Shit, no, that seems a little exhausting, let’s start with another year. Thank you x

Comments

  1. Please never change. You were one of my first blogs and the only one I have truly connected with. I saw you IRL once and nearly walked up and hugged you, I had to remind myself that we aren’t friends even though you have affected my life on many levels. Your blog has gave me confidence to take leaps of faith, made me think outside the box, has helped me feed my kids, has taken me on road trips, has influenced my decision to purchase things – I connect with you because I see us as very similar and when I moved here many moons ago I found it really hard to find my kind of people (still do). Your the friend I couldn’t find in this big bad city. I love your blog, thank you for sharing.

  2. I visit your blog every day. I love it. I have never meet you but your personality that shines through what you share on your blog is so addictive.Great advise in this post, not only for blogging but for simply getting through life.

  3. Congratulations on all you have achieved Beth and big thanks for sharing your great intel and wisdom. Here’s to many more stories and connections. x

  4. Well done Beth,

    I found Nikki’s blog while on holiday at Noosa seven years ago in one of those sunshine coast mags. Which led me to you and Mrs Woog. You were the first blogs I ever read- crazy to think there was a time before blogs. I keep coming back because you are funny (very), you give good interiors, you give me a glimpse of country life and you are true to you. Authenticity is precious- at 42 I am with you on the whisky versus tea, and you Beth are real. Plus you have lovely, witty and engaged readers. Keep going, we do love what you do, because you do it so well. x

  5. Hi Beth,

    I was trying to get a minute with you at PB on the weekend to once again thank you. You see, as I think I’ve told you before, it was your story of blogging (not sure if it was in the paper or the story on The Project) that gave me the kick I needed to get a blog up and going. Now I have the great pleasure of fulfilling a gap in the blogging market sharing stories of our family juggling a son with a disability and accessible travel. I had a lady tell me last year that she took a trip from The Netherlands to New York based on my tips. Her family told her she was nuts and couldn’t managed being a wheelchair user but my info helped her do it. Thankfully it was a success. I’ll be celebrating 5 years of blogging this December.

    Like you I don’t have much time to read many blogs. Yours is one that I never miss.

    Happy Blogiversary!

    Thanks again.

    Julie

  6. I really enjoyed this post, so interesting to get a small glimpse of what it takes to create this space. And like Helen said it is good advice for life, not just blogging.
    I’ll keep reading while you keep writing and as someone who doesn’t do FB I am so glad that your blog is your number 1.

  7. Thankyou Beth for doing what you do! I read your blog every day and love the glimpse into your world you share with us. I have 3 boys the same ages as your girls and I feel such a connection with you. Congratulations on 11 years!!

  8. 11 years! My darling you’re an institution!
    Well done.
    A x

  9. Don’t ever stop Beth! Ever, ever, ever.

    Maybe your blog can be one of the first to be handed down to the next generation in (more than) a few decades??

    You’ve done all the things you mentioned for me via this blog – brought me a smile at a sweet/cheeky Maggie pic, a great recipe shared and sought out again and again. You’ve made my love of nature come more alive, you have made me think, and cry, and marvel.

    That’s definitely something!

    Thank you Beth xx

  10. Beth, there are so many nuggets of gold in this post. Thank the blogging world for you. I’ve loved watching you grow and blossom – especially in the past year. Cannot wait to see what comes next. X

  11. Congrats on 11 years. Number 9 is a favourite because, well, it’s tue. Love the whisky vs tea analogy but I have never understood why people read blogs they hate or comment negatively or rudely. I don’t read blogs written by people I don’t relate to or ‘like’ but if I happen to do so, I don’t feel the need to fire off a nasty comment, I just move on. Of course there have been times I’ve read your blog when I don’t agree with something you have said – I might nicely comment my opinion and move on – I do think it’s perfectly fine to disagree with people but I think you can do it without being disrespectful or rude. And gosh, there are times when I read your blog and I am so jealous of your life and adventures that I just have to not read it for a day or two until I have gotten over myself. Though I am sometimes jealous, I am genuinely happy for you because I know a lot of hard work has gone into it. I cringed when I read the ‘I’m disappointed’ comment – for the first time ever I found myself guilty of writing a message that started with this to a designer who had used another designers work and had not given credit for it. I wasn’t nasty but why the fuck did I send it? Who the hell did I think I was? I became a troll. Now, I never, ever leave nasty comments on blogs or in messages – I hate those people, and you’re right – they don’t know you so who they to be disappointed in you? On that day I was guilty as charged. I apologised profusely but I’ve done the damage and I’m still ashamed by my behaviour. It’s a slippery bloody slope but one I’m certain I won’t fall down again. I’m a dick.

    • You are NOT a dick! You are human. And you are aware of yourself and bloody honest – hats off to you. Thank YOU for your comment and for being here xx

  12. Congratulations you rad lady! I am celebrating my blog’s 5th birthday this month and though my numbers are comparatively low, I am darn proud of what I have achieved. I am a doing a wrap up of what I have learned in those 5 years too. The most significant one being “You can make someone’s day.” I love your blog and your passion and your WHY. Thanks for doing what you do xx

  13. Congratulations and this is such a great reminder about the why & what of being a blogger! I started following you and Mrs Woog and Nikki at Styling You all around the first Aussie bloggers conference in 2011. I would have via twitter back then too as twitter was so much more fun in 2010. Love your blog and read every post. I feel like someone who has been part of your children’s growing years… love Denyse xx

  14. What a great post. Thanks for sharing those great insights. I love your blog, and reading your blog inspires me to keep going with mine. The biggest message for me is the consistency – I’ve given other work the priority, so the blog goes by the wayside until I find the time to write again. But like you say, consistency is key. Thanks again, I’m going to go write a blog post now! ?

  15. Congrats on 11 years! I love when my favourite bloggers blog about blogging (did I say the ‘b’ word enough?) because I find it inspiring!
    I have a teeny tiny following (like really – we’re talking the 300s on Facebook) but sometimes I really am moved when I receive positive feedback that I have helped somebody. Big highlights for me have been when I was pregnant with my son (6 in November) and I had a crazy type of rash that not many people know about and since then I receive emails still to this day from desperate, itchy women who are so glad someone gets it.
    Two days ago I revealed that I am pregnant after a 3 year battle with secondary infertility. I started to share my story from the beginning (I’d had to keep a lot close to my chest for a long time) and I was sent a message from someone desperate to connect with me because she felt alone until I blogged about it. So. Worth. It.

  16. I love you & your blog Beth, & I mean that in a totally non creepy way. You are one of a handful that I’ve read for many years & even though I know I don’t know you, you still feel like a real person in my life. Thanks for all the words xx

  17. Hi Beth, I have been reading your blog for years but hardly ever commented.
    I just want to say thank you so much for your blog. Your writing and pictures always give me a smile even in the middle of chaos and stress and your recipes and tips have been so useful. I have 3 boys and my middle one who’s 11 has been making your Anne cake for the last year or two for any occasion he can think of! I don’t even have to help him anymore which is awesome! And he always gets so many compliments on what a fantastic cake it is – so we give out the recipe and the blog and the story that goes with it!
    Thanks for all that you share here in this space you’ve created 🙂

  18. Polly McDougall says:

    Just wanted to say thank you! I love your blog and your incredible generosity in sharing so many pieces of your life with us. Thank you!

  19. All I can say is thank you, your blog is my first go to every morning. Started as my son is in Australia, in some way it made me feel connected with him…I can even let him know when Lurpack is on offer!!! You are doing a great job and I love every detail you so kindly share with us. Please keep up the good work, you have a wonderful family and they are all a credit to you and Rob. Thank you again. x

  20. Rebecca Freestun Astier says:

    Beth, congratulations on this milestone! You’re the only blogger I read consistently (and yes I too now follow Nikki thanks to you speaking so highly of her..and let’s face it I need the style advice!!) Stay awesome!

  21. Congratulations Beth. I read your blog daily over a cuppa, it’s my “me time” and it’s one part of my day that I truly look forward too. Thank you for all you share with us x

  22. Libby Beats says:

    It makes me so happy to know you are going to continue blogging as I plan to continue reading.

  23. Congratulations and Thankyou beth!
    You are a character, a bright spark! … very capable and competent!
    I so enjoy your sense of humour and you sharing your everyday stories with us!
    Not to mention poppet! Too adorable and always putting a smile on my dial!
    Much love m ?x

  24. Love your musings, articles, recipes, pictures, because it’s all real. Your heart shines through everything you put in your blog and that’s an amazing talent to have. Thanks for sharing! Xx

  25. Oh Beth Macdonald…. I would be nothing without you. Just when I start to feel a little down or overwhelmed with everything you seem to pump out a blog post that absolutely resonates with me, as if you have written it just for ME. Like that first post I read of yours back in 2014 about Great Expectations…. https://www.baby-mac.com/2014/01/great-expectations/ – oh boy, I remember at that time I really needed to read this and it made me feel like I wasn’t totally crazy and I wasn’t really alone (even though I live at Bum F&%k Nowhere). I have been really slack and maybe overthinking blogging lately – feeling very overwhelmed and that it is all too much and then I read a post like this one you have just written and it makes me slap myself and just get on with things. Thanks for everything Beth, for the motivation and keeping it real. xxxx

    • Darls, whenever you need a good slap around just CALL ME. I am very good at giving them. Don’t overthink it, remember your why and keep doing that. Just keep doing it. Love your guts! x

  26. Took me a few days to get to this post. I found you through my Mum, who read about you in Highlife. Thank goodness she did! Through your blog – I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve cooked some of the best meals of my life, I’ve visited Burrawang and stayed at the precious Vance Hall, I’ve felt the peace that comes from someone acknowledging that sometimes motherhood is crap and it’s ok to say that, I’ve even started my own little teeny food blog. I could go on….but this is my rambling way of saying “thank you”
    Hugs x

Speak Your Mind

*