Happy 10th birthday to my blog!
‘From Miss India to Motherhood’ (yes I named it myself) was officially launched in May 2012 by a mother of two adorable boys, who found it surprising, even shocking but mostly just oddly amusing at how her life had changed with the passing years. From being a rebellious teenaged girl growing up in the 80s riding a motorbike in the streets of Mumbai, volunteering for stray dogs over weekends, to becoming a model, facing the camera shy at first, and then walking down the ramp for beauty pageants, Ms. India 1994 being one of them, to doing her MBA followed by a coveted corporate job as a TAS Officer in the Tata Group, marrying the good-looking boy next door, to becoming a MOTHER. Suddenly and without any warning – the world stood still for her as she found the meaning and purpose of her life. Everything else had to revolve around it.
Writing a blog was a new thing in those days and encouraged by a dear friend I gave it a go on the free hosting site blogspot.com. I love the process of writing, the sharing of the story, the memories it brings and knowing that I was creating a personal diary for my sons to read one day was the biggest motivation, that and just sharing how my life had changed over the years, purpose and priorities included! 10 years hence here I am and I would love to share my learnings as a blogger over the decade –
- Being first is good, but consistency is the key – It felt nice being one of the early bloggers in those good old days, I even remember helping others to start their blog many years later. But what was more important that being first is being regular, consistent in delivering value to the audience, writing post after post of meaningful material that helps you build a connection with your readers. I started with a weekly schedule, sometimes writing bits of the same post everyday, sometimes the piece would just flow out in one shot. Of course I suffered a block many times, but I dusted it off and kept it going in the first few years.
- Don’t overthink, just do it – In this day and age of perfection, sometimes we try to get it right so much that we lose track of what we started with. Yes we want to offer the best of everything, but don’t forget the why, yes we want the best possible video to go with the post, but sometimes an OK one would do too. The important thing is to publish it on time, just when people are looking for that content. I wrote five short posts with no images before I launched my website, but I launched my blog anyway. The best of my articles are the ones that I have written in one shot and sent it out before I could edit it, sometimes editing too much removes the heart of the subject.
- Build a community and connect – People follow you because they find something in you that connects with them, maybe you inspire them, maybe they want to learn something from you, maybe they want to work with you. Whatever the reason they are listening to you, you need to stop and listen to them as well. Interact with your audience, reply to those comments and slowly build a community. 5 years ago when I launched my first bazaar through my brand Mums@PLAY with a group of 9 enterprising ‘mompreneurs’, I did not know that I was building a community. All I knew was that we had something in common and that we would do better sticking to each other. Today we are a close-knit community of 200+ women learning something new from each other each day. You can use Facebook groups or email marketing to build that community.
- Use social media to the fullest – Its FREE and its EASY! Think about those days when the only way you could reach the masses was through expensive advertising in newspapers and magazines with limited reach and coverage. Now you have social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram all offering this service for free. You need to let your audience know about you, about what you do. Soon after I launched my blog I realised that not many people would find my website organically, so I started announcing my new blog posts on my personal Facebook profile, when people commented on my posts I would invite them to sign up for my newsletter. A year later I started a Facebook Page for my blog.
- You will learn along the way – It’s OK if you don’t know it all. Start somewhere. When I started my blog I started on a free platform. Later on I felt that I wanted more design and functional capabilities, and I found someone to help me move it to WordPress and went for paid hosting. When newsletters became popular we added a subscription pop-up, when social media became important we added a Facebook and Instagram link to the website. I tried Pinterest for a while but then came out of it. I also realised that having an image to the post increased the reach and I started posting images – stock ones at first and then taking my own. Learning is a journey it never ends. The important thing is that you adapt and keep moving on!
- Write for yourself and you will write forever – This point is somewhat contradictory as you would have heard how important it is to write for your target audience and write for the SEO and write because you have to write. I don’t think so. The only reason why I have been consistent with my writing, at least until other priorities took over, is because I write in my head, for myself. If I can inspire just one person with my writing – let it be myself. Because writing for me is talking to myself. It’s creating the space and the time to hear my thoughts, re-visit my beliefs, its almost like self-coaching. While it is easy to coach others, it is very difficult to coach yourself and while I am still quite new my journey as a coach, my self-coaching had started a long time ago when I started blogging. That kept me going on.
- Network to ward off loneliness – The last ten years have been an upward learning curve, but the last ten years have also been isolating and lonely. Being a solopreneur, trying to build a small business is not easy. You don’t have colleagues, don’t have a boss, no one to be accountable to, no one to share your sob stories or your achievements with and at the end of the day you start questioning the reason why you started. Networking with people in your industry or those who share the same interests can change that. As a blogger mom, I connected with other bloggers, not just in Hong Kong but also in India. We followed each other, learned from each other and created a virtual networking base for ourselves.
- Personal branding can change over time – We called it ‘reputation’ in good old days, meaning the belief or opinion held about someone. Personal branding is that same reputation but more in digital terms. Ever since the start of the internet, depending on how soon it touched your life, each individual carries a certain brand presence in the digital world. Every time you write something you are modifying or altering your brand. My personal brand has evolved across the years. From being a mother, a blogger, an entrepreneur, teacher and now a Business Coach, I have enjoyed the transition and communicated it clearly to my digital audience. Think of your self as any brand that evolves over time. In fact people would want to connect more with the fresh and new rather than the same old brand.
- Keeping up with the times – Blogging has helped me keep abreast of technology and changing times. Over the last couple of years we have seen such a massive change in technology. From smart phones and smart watches to artificial intelligence to apps managing our heartbeats, being a blogger enabled me to stay abreast of what was happening out there as I tried to maintain a balance between work and home as a work-from-home mom blogger and entrepreneur. In fact I was helping out friends in learning the latest specially with social media marketing.
- Focus on content and content alone – This is the last and most important learning for me. Over time trends come and go. When I started blog posts had to be around 500-1000 words to fit into the optimum post reading size, then came the need to have visuals along with the post to boost content and with the advent of social media visuals became even more prominent. I remember finding stock images to start with followed by my original photos, infographics, slide shares, and the start of Vlogs! Every social media has its own parameter of reach, so while its nice to follow that we mustn’t forget the purpose with which we started and as long as you remember that the story will go on!
Starting a blog, a website, a business need inspiration? Connect with me.