Happy 5 years today to Nomipalony! It was 5 years ago on this day that I published my first blog post. Every year since I’ve written a ‘bloggerversary’ post to celebrate making it another year in this strange industry and reflect on the year just gone. There is no way I could have anticipated what 2020 would bring for our lives or the blog or the effect it would have on my blogging journey…
Highlights of my fifth year
- Sharing our speedy wedding on social media and the blog at the start of 2020 was so fun. It was my followers on Instagram and Facebook who encouraged me to wear my mam’s 1982 wedding dress after I posted a boomerang of me trying it on on my Instagram Stories. My wedding posts and photos had my best engagement ever. You lot really seemed to enjoy coming along on the ride with me and it was lovely to share it all to such support. It’s times like that where being so open on social media really pays off as my followers really know me and as such our relationship is genuine. It’s a privilege to get to have such support during the highlights and low lights of my life.
- Speaking at the Culture Vulture #Influence2020 conference at Gosforth Theatre in January to over 100 people alongside Rosie Ramsey and many more great speakers was fab. I was very nervous but I felt such a buzz once I had done it. I got to meet so many of my lovely followers afterwards who stopped and asked me for selfies which felt surreal but so lush. I even got a lovely big hug from Rosie Ramsey (remember hugs, sob) and she gave me a lift home where I discovered she’s even more down to earth in real life! We discussed catching up for a coffee once she’d met her book deadline but then we got locked down forever!
- I worked with IKEA again in February on IKEA storage hacks. I’ve worked with IKEA a few times now and they are such a dreamy partnership for me as we are massive fans. Their style but affordability is a match made in heaven for my blog.
- I got to collaborate with Boots twice in 2020, first for Mother’s Day and then again in the summer on a health campaign. It’s a real boost when big brands choose you to partner with when there is so much competition out there.
- I got to cover the first socially distanced music festival at the Virgin Money Unity Arena this summer on Instagram which was such a treat. I’ve missed gigs so badly so this helped tide me over a little. They were a great idea, executed well and I hope they do them again this year.
- Black Lives Matters taught me to make sure that I put out even more content on equality and social justice on socials and the blog.
- I did lots of fun content to help people celebrate Halloween at home in 2020. Including partnering with MAOAM which was a real ‘sweet treat’.
- We did a press review for the Snug in Otterburn which was the only non-camping holiday we had last year which was a massive highlight for us.
- I chronicled my mam making me the This is Us Rebecca cardigan of dreams and loads of you were here for it.
- I learned that I could archive emails in Gmail but still find them on the search and it’s revolutionised my email inbox!
Wow, you know, I thought I had a bad blogging year, judging it purely on financial merit but looking back, I had so many more high points than I expected, especially considering it was throughout a pandemic.
Low points of my fifth year
Any small business/sole trader will tell you that 2020 was a rollercoster. It was definitely my hardest year for blogging emotionally. I’ve had real ups and downs and have struggled to find my way with social media and the blog through all this.
Firstly, I still have my part-time day job which is classed as a key worker for local government (I argue whether I’m truly a key worker because I’m back office and not front line but semantics). That in itself has been stressful at times and much busier than pre-pandemic as local government has had to implement the Covid response locally on top of what we already do. There have been times I’ve had to change my work due to covid and times that I’ve been worried about potential redeployment. The extra stress of that, combined with ‘homeschooling’ for long periods whilst working has meant that I’ve not felt like I’ve had the time, energy or emotional bandwidth for my blogging business. Whenever the children have been home and I have lost 3 working days a week for the business it has restricted my output for sure.
In addition, I have found myself censoring my output more online in 2020. Myself, as well as many other parenting bloggers I’ve spoken to, have noticed that when times get tough during this pandemic, people tend to take it out on those online. We’ve found a marked increase in negative or critical comments as people struggle through their daily lives. Everyone is on edge and fraught these days. I’ve found that I think much more carefully about what I post now in case I offend anyone. I think in some cases this crushes my authenticity and creativity as sometimes I don’t share things I previously would have in case someone has a go. There are many times during the pandemic that I’ve been struggling too and just haven’t felt that I’ve had the emotional or mental resilience to cope with the criticism. People seem to just be spoiling for a fight right now. My mam said to me the other day that it seemed like ‘my heart wasn’t in it any more as I’d had the stuffing kicked out of me too many times’ and there is certainly some truth in that that I’m trying to navigate. I certainly won’t let it make me stop but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it’s taken some of the joy out of it for me.
Financially 2020 sucked! My income through blogging has tanked and tanked hard. Earnings in 2019 had already started to fall (11% down) due to all the Brexit uncertainty as marketing budgets were diverted elsewhere in companies but 2020 saw that and said ‘hold my beer’.
With 2 months to go in this financial year (and no current contracts agreed) my earnings are down 68% from 2019. Compared to 2018 they are down 72%. So my freelance earnings are only 32% of what they were last year but not a penny in support.
It’s very hard to motivate yourself to work when you aren’t getting paid!
I’m so thankful that I hadn’t already quit my day job and I have that part-time income coming in which reduces money stress. However, because I do have that part-time job, I haven’t received a penny from the Government in self-employment grants. I am one of the #excluded. And whilst I do have my part-time job to provide some income, I made my income up to a full-time salary with my freelancing income, like lots of people, particularly mothers do!
Then on top of that, someone who I worked with in good faith in November has ripped me off and I’ve lost £750 in earnings that I was counting on. Some people are just arseholes, pandemic or no pandemic.
All of the above has made me question where I’m going with blogging/social media and freelancing in general. Prior to the pandemic, I was planning on quitting my day job and going full-time freelance. However, Covid has revealed just how risky that can be. Given the current climate, I’ve definitely put that on the back burner for the foreseeable future.
I feel a change in direction is needed though I’m not quite sure what yet. I have started to become more uneasy with sharing so much of the children online now that they are getting older. I’m very mindful about which brands I do business with and what I support and I only get more discerning as time goes on.
I know I don’t want to stop entirely. There is still so much I love about blogging and freelancing. But I do want to be more mindful about the direction I move in going forward. This means slowing everything down and taking more time to consider my next steps with what I’m doing. Given that there isn’t much brand work now, it’s the perfect time to do this and take the pressure off myself.
Up until the end of December 2020, I would never post less than one post a week. That was my absolute minimum. Now I am removing that pressure on myself. This is my first post in a month and it’s the longest I’ve gone not posting since I launched the blog 5 years ago. And you know what, I don’t think anyone has even noticed!
Progress against objectives in 2020
This section is almost redundant this year. Like, I didn’t plan for a goddamn pandemic when I was setting my goals last January! However, let’s see what I said I would do and whether I didn’t in 2020:
- Increase page views to 25k sessions a month. This is so I can get onto Mediavine (blog ad service) and start making more passive income. I didn’t get there sadly but I did increase my blog views, especially in the run up to Christmas and I have solid plans for improving old content that will help increase them further. However, Mediavine have now increased their sessions requirements to 50,000 now so I’m a way off sadly. My ultimate goal with blogging though is to get to that passive income level. It’s so much harder to achieve than it seems though.
- Publish some articles in the ‘mainstream’ press – I just want to try out some journalistic style writing to see if its a viable way of diversifying my income. Didn’t do this but it’s still a goal for 2021 once the kids go back to school.
- Increase Instagram followers to 10k so I can get swipe up and increase my page views and affiliate marketing income. Still dreaming of that elusive 10k. I increased my Instagram following from 5013 to 6069 in 2020 which was an increase of 21% so not too shabby really. It’s not the 10k I care about, I just want the swipe up goddamn it!
- Increase income and then go full-time freelance. Hahahahahahaha sob.
- Do a few press trips The fact that I did one (the Snug in Otterburn) in that climate is nothing short than a miracle.
Goals for 2021
- Take a step back and figure out how I want to move forward more mindfully. How has Covid changed what I want from my life?
- Be even more selective about the branded projects that I do. By removing the goal of going full-time freelance, I can be even more discerning about the page projects I take on.
- Spend more time working on the SEO of old posts to improve page views (even if this means less new content)
- Investigate freelance journalism further to see whether I enjoy that and try to get some articles published on other sites once the kids are back in school. Writing is the bit of blogging I like the most, rather than the advertising side.
- Set timers for social media and admin 3-4 times a day and largely stick to that so I don’t get distracted and context switch constantly. Be more strategic about social media growth instead of just pissing about on them!
- Figure out a new direction to take my Facebook page in because what used to work over there isn’t working anymore
- Spend some more time on activism. What’s the point of having a platform if you aren’t trying to do something worthwhile with it?
- Develop my mailing list and start doing regular emails to it
Thank you for 5 years
So a huge thank you to all of you for supporting me for 5 whole years. For listening to my ramblings and being interested in what I’ve got to say. I’m so incredibly grateful and don’t take it for granted – I still try to reply to every comment you lot make on the blog or my social media. Interacting with you all is my favourite part of this whole blogging malarky!
Keep telling me what you want to see and read from me and I’ll keep doing my best to bring you stuff that’s helpful and makes you smile or laugh!
Let me know in the comments if there is anything you’d like to see from me this year. Let me know what your opinions are on what direction I should take going forward!
Here’s to year 6 together! Whatever that ends up looking like!