Cat from Sorting Self, who organises personal development events for local mums in North London, invited me to give an informal presentation about blogging. The event was earlier this week.
Despite having given several lectures on blogging and (ironically) presenting techniques to a group of University undergraduates earlier this year, I spent several days preparing for this event, and was a bag of nerves.
The last thing I said to the hubster before I left was “why do I agree to these things?” That’s the old Impostor Syndrome kicking in again.
The room was full of expectant new bloggers and bloggers-to-be, several of whom I knew – either from the boys’ school, or through networking. I’m not sure if the familiar faces made me more nervous.
I talked for what seemed like an eternity, but I had so much to cover: everything from why, when and how to start a blog to how to turn it into a career. During the Q&A I was joined by Sunita from Lucky Things who shared her inspiring story and added her own tips. Here we are:
According to one audience member, they had absorbed as much information during my hour long presentation, as most blogging conferences provide over the course of a day.
Which made me think that I might have something useful to share here on the blog.
I know I’m not the only one writing about blogging. Ecourses, Ebooks, training programmes and webinars abound on the interweb. Sometimes it seems that the only bloggers making real money from blogging, are those teaching other bloggers to blog.
Blogging will eat itself eventually.
How it all began
During an existential crisis in my early 40s, and a pending loss of childcare, I decided to leave my 20 year corporate career and find a way to fit work around my life, rather than trying to fit my life around work.
I set up a makeup business. After a few months unsuccessfully chasing clients, I realised I had a lot of time on my hands and very little direction.
The universe answered my call for help by introducing me to a neighbour I hadn’t met before. Within five minutes we were talking about her very successful blog. I was in a confident mood and asked if she’d like to have coffee with me.
That was the meeting that changed my business. Mel became my blogging mentor and inspired me to start a blog about my personal and professional experience targeted at the over 40s.
A keen writer, I had loads of spare time (see failing business above) and wanted to connect with like minded people. Starting a blog made perfect sense.
But how in god’s name does a person with no technical experience start a blog?
Serendipity struck again two weeks after that first cuppa with Mel, in the form of Lucy Hall. Lucy, a web designer gave a talk at a local networking lunch about social media and the importance of blogging for business.
She talked about how blogging keeps business websites dynamic, brings potential customers back again and again, and gives sites a boost on search engines.
The big learning I took away from that meeting was that to be taken seriously as a blogger, you need a website of your own.
Sure, it’s fine to test the water by starting your blog on wordpress.com or blogger.com, but move your content into your own self-hosted website as soon as you can. With your own domain you have more control over your design, own your content rather than having a third party as your host, and can use a professional looking email address rather than a Gmail.
Lucy agreed to help me set up two blogs – one for my makeup business (sadly now closed, but that’s a story for another time) and the one you’re reading now.
And the rest, my dear friends, is history.
I wrote 10 posts in readiness for launch and the blog was born. Those first few posts are utterly cringe-worthy, but I’m not deleting them because they prove to me how far I’ve come; and demonstrate to others how it’s possible to start a blog that is far from perfect, and improve it over time.
The important thing is to start!
Lifestyle Maven now brings me amazing experiences, provides therapy, connects me with interesting people and introduces me to brands I had never heard of but have fallen in love with. It has stretched my ability beyond what I thought was possible, pushed me to learn skills I didn’t think I was capable of and teaches me something new every day.
It hasn’t made me rich. It sits comfortably along side my new recruitment business. It might not ever be my main source of income, but it makes me a more interesting and curious person and for that I am grateful.
I have so much more to share. I want to condense everything I’ve learned so that you don’t have to spend hundreds of pounds on courses and conferences like I did. And I will, all in good time. But as you can see, I have a tendency to get over-excited about this stuff, so I’ll close this chapter with some food for thought…
Last night one of the women in the audience approached me after my presentation and asked if I knew anyone who would mentor a new blogger. I offered to mentor her myself. Mel mentored me, and I’ll pay it forward by mentoring the next up and coming blogger.
I woke up in the middle of the night thinking how great it would be if there was some kind of resource to help new bloggers find mentors.
What do you think of that idea? Would you be interested in finding a more experienced blogger whose brains you could pick for the price of a cup of coffee and a slice of lemon drizzle cake?
I’m really keen to get a mentoring scheme started. I don’t know how yet. Maybe it already exists? Leave me a comment if you’re interested either in mentoring someone, or if you’d like to find a mentor of your own and I’ll see if I can do some matchmaking!
Much love, Vx