Headspace Perspective is Two: What I Have Learnt About Blogging

Today is my blog’s second birthday.

With an overwhelming desire to write but feeling a bit shy about getting published, dabbling in blogging was a perfect compromise. I got set up on WordPress in April 2013 and bought my own domain name. I was so proud of my own little space on the internet.

It is only really in the last year that my blog has really taken off. I’ve said it many times before and I shall say it again: I really wish the success of my blog was not due to the tragedy of Hugo’s death.

Hugo, hanging out in his incubator.

Hugo, hanging out in his incubator.

However, I am able to reflect that I have a lot to be proud of because I have been achieving my goals: raising awareness of baby loss, HELLP syndrome – not to mention showing off my gorgeous Hugo to the world.

Highlights of the past year include #HugosLegacy trending on his first birthday,  achieving my ambition of becoming a Huffington Post blogger, and making some wonderful friends.

To celebrate my blog’s second birthday, I thought I’d share with you some blogging tips I’ve learnt along the way:

Write from the heart

The posts that have had the biggest impact (whether in terms of feedback from readers and/or traffic) have been ones written directly from my heart. Some of them have been a bit scary to publish, but they have been cathartic, working out my feelings of grief. They are often the ones that readers have said have really helped them, which is the main point of blogging for me.

Follow your own path

Readers visit your blog because it’s yours, no one else’s. Say what you have to say, in the way you want to say it. Blog because you love writing, no matter what you are writing about.

By all means take inspiration from bloggers you admire, but trying to be something you’re not is not going to make you a happy blogger over the long term.

Promote your blog, and target those who can help you achieve your goals

Like most bloggers, I promote my posts on social media, and I’ll usually tag the main blogging networks too.

If the post is related to Hugo’s Legacy, I’ll also tweet key people and organisations who can help make sure the right people read them, whether that’s healthcare professionals or people who set policy. Twitter is a great way of networking with people it may otherwise be difficult to reach.

A recent post about breaking bad news was shared by palliative care professionals as far afield as Norway and Canada. I feel honoured that health care professionals have got in touch to say they have reflected on their practise as a result of my writing, and I am so proud that Hugo’s legacy is making a real difference.

You’ll never know unless you try

One day I decided to pitch to the Huffington Post, and was immensely proud to be snapped up straight away.

A little while before Baby Loss Awareness Week I got in touch with Mumsnet to ask if they would like a guest post – they did!

Be proactive: life is too short to hang around waiting to be discovered. The worst response you can get is a ‘no’. No one likes rejection, but there are worse things – such as regretting not trying in the first place.

I was proud that my first Huffington Post article made it to their front page.

I was proud that my first Huffington Post article made it to their front page.

You get out of the blogging community what you put in

On the whole the blogging community is a kind, supportive, loving bunch. I have made some wonderful friends from fellow bloggers. Just like in real life, you will get out what you put in. Show a genuine interest in others’ lives, provide support when needed, offer praise when deserved, and share posts you’ve enjoyed.

Remember, while there are as many reasons for blogging as there are stars in the sky, as I wrote about in The Bloggers Hierarchy of Needs we all share similar motivations:

The Bloggers' Hierarchy of Needs

The Bloggers’ Hierarchy of Needs

A little bit of kindness goes a long way

You don’t always have to agree with other bloggers, just like in real life. Debate is usually welcomed, provided it’s constructive. But don’t get personal. That’s just mean. If you don’t like what you’re reading, there’s a little ‘x’ in the corner of the browser that you can click that makes it go away.

Yes, things can be misinterpreted, but I’ve never understood why people go to an effort to be mean. I remember reading a detailed comment on someone else’s blog that questioned the point of their post – I thought the bigger question was what was the point of the comment?

My writing can always be improved

I love writing, and I am always striving to improve my skill. An effective way of refining your writing is to try new things. I love The Prompt, and Word of the Week because they have given me different things to explore that I am unlikely to have discovered otherwise.

If you’d like a bit of extra help to hone your writing, try a course. I did the Freelance Writing course at the London School of Journalism a few years ago- it’s online, you can go at your own pace. It’s inexpensive (as courses go), and you can pay in instalments.

The course helps you find your own style and voice, structure your writing (eliminate those epic paragraphs!), get your point across succinctly, and offers modules on things like pitching to editors and writing an effective review.

If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well

Anyone who wants to set up a blog should go for it. Your writing ability, spelling, and technical ability doesn’t matter. Everyone has the right to say what they want to say (within the normal caveats of it being ethical, legal, etc).

That said, it is well worth spending a bit of time and effort on it, especially if you want to get commissioned as a writer, or become a pro blogger.

For example, you can help make sure your readers hang around (and hopefully return!) if your theme has a clean layout, with simple navigation and text that is easy to read (swirly typefaces might look pretty but they are difficult to read).

Slouching Towards Thatcham, Pouting In Heels, Honest Mum, and You Baby Me Mummy have written some fabulous tips that expand on the points above.

Stats and rankings are just numbers

Stats, scores, and rankings do not correlate to your talent, your writing, or your worth as a person. There was a time during my darkest days of grief that I thought that.

Granted, stats and rankings can be a useful indicator of how well your blog is doing. There are so many other indicators that cannot be measured and put into a chart or graph: things like comments you have had from your readers to say your post has made their day, made them think, helped them realise they are not alone, or put in to words something they had been unable to do.

Stats and rankings do matter to me (I am passionate about promoting Hugo’s Legacy), but such comments are worth more. They make the effort worth it.

It’s worth remembering that your Tots ranking is relative to how other bloggers are doing. Potty Mouthed Mummy has a great guide to how the scores are worked out.

And finally…I would like to say a huge thank you to all my readers for their kindness, support and encouragement. You have all made a massive contribution to Hugo’s Legacy, and it means the world to me.

You Baby Me Mummy

28 thoughts on “Headspace Perspective is Two: What I Have Learnt About Blogging

  1. Louise says:

    Happy belated blog birthday Leigh and thank you for sharing your tips. You do so much to help raise awareness of HELLP syndrome and baby loss and your beautiful Hugo has touched the hearts of so many people through your blog x

    Like

  2. oddsocksandlollipops says:

    Happy Blog Birthday.
    It’s such a shame that it was from such heartbreak that a beautiful thing has grown. I love reading your blog, it leaves me in awe a lot of the time, and I feel too clumsy to post a comment. You touch and help so many people’s lives it’s such a powerful and amazing thing.

    Like

  3. Emma says:

    Leigh, we’re on different paths, but quite often your words of wisdom strike a note with me exactly when I need them. Please know that aside from the amazing things you’re doing to raise awareness HELLP syndrome, Hugo’s legacy extends far beyond that. You’re helping a much wider circle of people… you are helping me to feel human and connected again. Thank you so much for your willingness to share, and for the inspiration you keep giving me. X

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Darling Emma, thank you for such a generous comment. My grief posts are a catharsis for me, and I am touched that they help others too. Your words have really moved me…I’m truly humbled that what I write has an impact on others, too. The wonderful thing about blogging and about social media is that we are all here to support each other through life in general, and the heartbreak of grief in particular. Much love xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Katie / Pouting In Heels says:

    Happy Blog Birthday darling Leigh! You have achieved so much in two years, I’m so proud of you and so delighted for you and all that you are achieving in #HugosLegacy. You are one of my top five favourite bloggers and a true inspiration. May your blogging star continue to shine bright, just like Hugo. With love xxx p.s Thank you for the mention! X

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Thank you lovely Katie, that’s such a kind comment. Wow, with so many amazing bloggers out there I am truly touched to be in your top 5! Thank you for all your love, support, and always remembering Hugo. I hope my blogging star shines as brightly as my Hugo does. You’re a fabulous friend, and I am glad blogging has introduced us xxx

      Like

  5. mytravelmonkey says:

    Happy blog birthday lovely. Some great advice and for what it’s worth, I don’t always comment but I do read – a lot… Think sometimes you move me too much that I’m speechless on how to respond. You’re certainly one inspiring lady xx

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  6. Harriet says:

    Congratulations on turning two! I love reading your blog; it feels rather as if you’re a friend who lives too far away to meet up but you keep me in touch with your life. Your determination to achieve in terms of Hugo’s legacy is astounding. Also as a student nurse I find it invaluable to see your experiences in healthcare from your viewpoint. Your words are shaping my future practice, and I bet there are other readers who will say the same. Look after yourself Leigh, and keep blogging. You are brilliant xx

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Your wonderful comment really moved me, Harriet, thank you. It’s lovely that you see my blog as a way of keeping in touch, and I am especially touched that Hugo’s legacy will help your patients. Thank you so much for reading and for all your support xxx

      Like

  7. Sara (@mumturnedmom) says:

    Happy Blog Birthday Leigh, you’ve done so much for Hugo’s Legacy and you really are an inspiration x Thank you very much for mentioning The Prompt, I am so glad that you have chosen to share so many wonderful posts there x

    Like

  8. babylossmama says:

    Wow, two years! Congratulations! You’ve accomplished so much for Hugo’s legacy. I’ve been a bit sluggish on blogging lately, so appreciate the tips regarding The Prompt and Word of the Week. Hoping it gives me the inspiration I need!

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Thank you. I’ve probably said this before: I’m sorry that blogging has introduced us because of our shared loss of our precious little boys, but it is good to know someone who has been through similar events. Do look at the Prompt and Word of the Week – I hope it gives you inspiration and I look forward to reading your posts! xxx

      Like

  9. Casey Bottono says:

    Happy blogging birthday, dear Leigh!

    Your blog and your writing inspired me to crawl back to my own after things exploded in November last year. I’m still picking up pieces, but thankfully, your writings continue to aid me on this path back to being who I want to be. If not for you, I’d never have discovered Megan’s course, and certainly wouldn’t have signed up for Round One. More hope.

    Have a great day, whatever you do to celebrate. If your weather’s anything like ours, though, it might be a little warm for a hot chocolate. 🙂

    Take care,

    Casey

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Oh Casey, they are such lovely words, thank you so very much. I’m glad social media introduced us to each other, and that you then found Megan’s wonderful course. Wasn’t it a lovely day today? Much too warm for hot chocolate 🙂 Much love to you xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Tara says:

    Happy blog birthday, Leigh. Some great, useful tips there. I have written a post on a similar subject today, although really mine is just about writing whatever you want, how you want. I hope you have some cake 🙂

    Like

  11. pottymouthedmummy says:

    Thanks for the mention lovely, an honour. Something beautiful has come from your loss – this blog but as you say, I think we all wish it wasn’t because of you losing Hugo. Happy anniversary xxx

    Like

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      You’re more than welcome lovely Sian, you’re so generous with your technical tips. Oh, me too. I wish I was writing about Hugo as a naughty little eight month old. Thank you for all your kindness and support as always xxx

      Like

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