I have to whisper because I think I’m about to commit blogger blasphemy, but here’s the secret: I don’t want to become a pro blogger.
I spent three years at university, one year at law school and then another two doing my training contract before I qualified into my day job, and in the nearly 12 years I’ve worked in the profession since I think I’ve achieved a reasonable measure of success. It goes against everything English and everything female to admit it, but I’m good at my job, and I enjoy it.
I’ve also very much enjoyed making a little money through my blog, because it’s always nice to have a self funding hobby, but right now I have no intention of making it my full time career.
But it means that whenever I’ve gone to something like BritMums or BlogCamp there’s always been a moment during the day, no matter how much I’ve really really enjoyed the rest of it, when I feel I’m on the outside looking in. There seems to be an assumption that we all dream of giving up the day job to work from home writing advertorial for brands and squeezing in a bit of affiliate marketing, and I know I don’t fit that mold.
If it is your dream, that’s wonderful – go for it. But when did it become the accepted collective dream? And a collective dream for a particular niche of bloggers too; there doesn’t seem to be the same ambition assumed about knitting bloggers, or any other craft for that matter.
The beauty of blogging is its versatility. Over the years I have got so much out of blogging, a little money yes, but also some very dear friends, some amazing experiences, a record of the beginning of our life as a family in a way that my memory will never be able to compete with long term, and the impetus and excuse to write. It’s paid unexpected dividends too – the ability to write to a deadline and in a readable style has proved very useful in my day job, as has a working knowledge of social media. I wouldn’t swap it for the world.
But blogging can also be the mainstay of your income, give you the chance to be a stay at home mum to your small children and make that an affordable choice, or launch you in directions you might never have imagined.
You only have to look around to see where blogging can take you if you dream big enough – Alice’s Telegraph column is touching and funny and a brilliant read; Katie has just finished writing Hurrah for Gin the book which I cannot wait to read; and in a couple of weeks I’m going to have one of my favourite days out of the whole year thanks to Kat dreaming up Blogtacular and making it a reality. All amazing things achieved by wonderful women who had blogging as the first step on the way to making their dreams a reality.
What bothers me about the “sponsored posts and affiliate marketing” model is not that it doesn’t apply to me, or even that there are sessions at blogging conferences where I’m not the target market, because that would be spectacularly arrogant. It’s the idea that that’s the natural end point in blogging, the aim rather than simply an option.
As a collective group, and, as much as I hate to admit it, as women and as mothers, it’s all too easy for our hard work to be somehow diminished, in this as in so many other things; for those who work long and hard at pro-blogging to have it written off as a quaint little hobby, for those of us who write just because we love it to be told we’re only in it to review free lunch boxes.
If we present just one model as being the status quo then I think we run the risk of colluding in that perception, of keeping ourselves small by presenting a limited ambition. And yet now is exactly the time we should be shouting from the rooftops that there is nothing that you can’t achieve.
I wish there was a magic wand I could wave and say, “and this is how we do just that! – onwards and upwards” but life is never that simple. We can’t individually turn a tide of public opinion, and inaccurate though it may be, as a label “mummy blogger” does come with a certain stereotype attached. But perhaps the starting point is simply in acknowledging it ourselves, and by our words and actions making sure that that stereotype is exactly that – farcical and a million miles from the truth.
The truth is that blogging is the stepping stone and the rest is only limited by your imagination and the number of hours in the day, and that’s a message I think we can all get behind – even if all you want to do with your blog is practice your writing and have a little nudge to take nice photos of your children.