What happens when you get three bloggers who love to have a chat but are too technically incompetent to navigate the world of podcasting? You get a blogcast – an online chat.
Introducing our first Women of Words Blogcast with:
Oh, and don’t forget to join Bec’s mailing list so we can let you know when the next episode is live! We’ll be chatting about all manner of topics related to parenting, politics, writing and life in general.
Do bloggers have writing credentials?
Bec: So ladies, tell me… did you know how to write before you decided to start a blog?
Amy: Not really – I used to just argue on the internet A LOT plus use forums and have huge online conversations.
Mel: Yes, I’ve always considered myself a writer of sorts and seemed to always end up in jobs where part of my role was to write professionally.
Bec: I did a Writing Fiction course at uni… it was so good I ended up not writing again creatively for nearly 10 years…
Amy: I have always had jobs that required a high level of communicating though – and writing was part of that, now that I think on it.
Bec: Yes, I’ve written A LOT of business letters over the years, as well as exciting things like reports and newsletters… But nothing like online writing.
Mel: It’s weird. I’ve never actually studied writing, it’s just always something that came naturally to me. Like breathing. Even the idea of studying “writing” seemed strange to me. I know that sounds arrogant. I’ll own that.
Amy: Not at all Mel- I have had it in my head that I need a piece of paper (eg. degree) to write, so I’m working on one. Turns out one of my next assignments is to start a blog. It also turns out that I have learned a few things but could have gotten by without it, I think.
Bec: I was the chick in high school who breathed on the paper and got an A+ but nearly flunked year 9 Chemistry… it’s always been in my genes.
Is starting a blog easy?
Bec: So how does that work, then, you just open a website and slap up some words, yes?
Amy: Well, that’s what I did. I believe other people actually plan this stuff, though. They “launch” blogs. Which is totally fine and I admire their organisation and foresight
Bec: Yeah, I launched my blog – I hit publish and then shared it on Facebook to all my friends… *coughs*
Mel: I see so many newbie or wannabe bloggers asking for advice on how to start and I tell them these three things:
- Sign up for a free WordPress blog.
- Give it a name.
- Start writing.
Bec: Yes, that’s pretty much how I started – the most basic WordPress template, an image and a post. What was your first post?
Amy: I just started faffing. For over a year I think- I didn’t even have a blog facebook or twitter or anything.
Bec: Mine was about how to accidentally feed your kids healthy food or something.
Mel: I think new bloggers tend to overthink it and it can be overwhelming. Already they are thinking about hosting and design and logos and SEO. Stuff all that. You can launch a blog in five minutes and start writing immediately. No one will be reading it other than you anyway. Just do it.
Bec: Yes! Start a blog, start writing, playing and start READING. Other blogs, about online writing, social media, SEO, networking. But pick one topic at a time and go slowly.
Amy: I’ll tell you a secret- I had this whole other blog once. I think I wrote two posts. One ranty one about alternative therapies and a scathing one about the practice of finning sharks for soup.
Bec: Oooh, what was it called?
Amy: I honestly have no idea.
Mel: My first post was called “Awkward First Post“. It was the shortest and least interesting post I have ever done. I kind of looked at it like losing my virginity… It’s going to suck: just get it over and done with already.
Amy: My first on Handbagmafia was just a bit about how I found the name.
Mel: Oh and when I say “first post” I mean the first post for Hugzilla. I actually had a Blogger blog back in 2004, before blogging went all polished and professional. It was just a bunch of uber-geeks writing s**t online.
Bec: Isn’t that what we do?
What’s the difference between a blogger and a writer?
Amy: So can we talk about being a ‘blogger’ vs being a writer?
Amy: Like, what is the difference?
Bec: You mean there’s a difference?
Bec: Writer = writes words. Blogger = words + SEO + presence + web maintenance + Instagram + FB + Twitter + publisher + brand manager ++++++
Amy: So you think bloggers work harder? We do I guess, when you frame it like that.
Mel: I think that all bloggers are writers, but not all bloggers are good writers.
Amy: Catherine Deveny hates the term blogger – she says you are a WRITER not a BLOGGER.
Bec: I think you can be a writer who blogs – ie. a writer who journals their life each day.
Mel: I disagree, Amy. I think there is a place for the term ‘blogger’, as per Bec’s description. I think blogs are the independent alternative to mainstream media that has long been dominated by commercial interests.
Mel: We are no longer just consumers of media. We are creators. Thanks to the internet.
Amy: There is definitely that aspect. With that comes a whole other responsibility and not everyone sees that.
Mel: I think this power is unprecedented in human history. And yes, like all power it is subject to abuse. But the beauty of the internet is that in many ways it is self-regulating. For every act of speech there is an opposing viewpoint. Not self-regulating. Self-policing is probably a better word.
Do you have to be a GOOD writer to be a successful blogger?
Mel: *dons flame suit* There are lots of bloggers who aren’t very good writers.
Amy: It’s true, there are.
Mel: Some of them are also wildly successful.
Bec: I think there are some incredibly successful bloggers out there whose grammar and spelling leave a whole lot to be desired… but they have huge followings because people love to get to know other people who aren’t perfect.
Mel: Or they are leveraging an existing public profile.
Don’t call it a mummy blog…
Bec: So… shall we discuss ‘mummy blogging’? *ducks for cover*
Mel: Yes please! I have so much to say about this!
Amy: Me too!
Bec: I’m gonna come out and say it – I hate the term. I hate ‘mumpreneur’ too.
Amy: ME TOO.
Bec: I hate anything that demeans what women do by attaching an extra couple of syllables to an everyday activity.
Amy: Why must we specify a woman’s family state in her title?
Bec: Yup. It’s when you flip it, it seems totally ridiculous. I love the @manwhohasitall Twitter account. Here’s a gem:
Is it REALLY possible for men to juggle kids, housework, career, good looks, a naturally glowing nose and ‘me time’?
— manwhohasitall (@manwhohasitall) October 18, 2015
Amy: And what gets me is jerks like Mark Latham and Miranda Devine and others who use ‘mummy blogger’ as a derogatory term. They use is to disempower women like us who have blogs and use them to have our say and, like Mel said, present an alternative viewpoint to traditional media.
Bec: The internet has opened up a voice for everyone, including mothers, that has never before been available. It’s not really surprising to see blowback.
Amy: Mums who blog might do so to catalogue every moment of pregnancy, birth and beyond and that really is okay- it’s not of interest to everyone but why should it be hidden away when there are probably 10,000 women out there at any given moment seeking out their blogs to find info or to find someone they identify with or feel reassured by in some way?
Mel: Confession: I started my blog as a direct response to mummy bloggers. Or what I thought mummy bloggers were, which happened to coincide with the stereotypical depiction of the bored, narcissistic housewife who relentlessly blogs the dull minutiae of her life because she thinks the world will find it fascinating.
I’ll admit it. I fell for that sexist bullshit. My tagline is “Don’t call it a mummy blog”. But the more I immersed myself in that world, the more I came to admire the women in it: their talent, wit, intelligence and creative flair. I realised I had fallen for that chauvinistic bullshit.
And then I embraced the hell out of the term ‘mummy blogger’.
Amy: By the same token, mums can know about and have opinions on all kinds of stuff and so can dads- because we are all people before we are parents y’know? ?
Bec: There’s been plenty of pushback by parents – mums and dads – who blog about how hard parenting is, how skilled it can be as well as how rewarding. So definitely blogging about parenting well and truly has a place.
Amy: It IS hard, being a parent-the more parenting bloggers share their stories, the less alone people will feel maybe.
Mel: I have to admit though, I find it a bit limiting. I’m at the stage now where my kids are getting older and I’m bored of writing about parenting. I want to expand my scope, and wiggle my way out of that tiny pigeonhole.
Ironically, it’s a pigeonhole that gets lots of eyeballs to my blog, so I am going to have to accept that it will probably mean a drop in readership.
Bec: The thing that frustrates me about the term is that people still make the assumption that a) it’s ‘only’ parenting so therefore it must be fluff and b) all we blog about is parenting.
I’d just like to say: a) We’re raising the next generation… be nice and b) I am a human being who happens to have children. That doesn’t mean that’s all I’m interested in.
Amy: Yes because the assumption is that if you are a mum and a blogger you can’t possibly think of anything except your kids.
Bec: Kids. Or wine. Or shopping, craft, clothing… There are a whole bunch of assumptions that go along with mummy blogging.
Amy: I can’t craft for s**t. I am the sh**est ever crafter.
Bec: I’m a closet cross stitcher… but I hate glue.
Amy: I am desperate to crochet, but all I can make is woolly tangles.
Mel: Oh, and tell people you are a mummy blogger. If you get away with an eyeroll and a smirk you’re doing well… “Oh, you’re one of those….”
Bec: I was introduced a while back to someone as ‘a successful blogger’. They frowned and said ‘Isn’t that what young people do?’ I shrugged and said, ‘Blogging is just a fancy name for writing on the internet.’ I think that pretty much sums it up.
The problem with telling people you’re a blogger is that they seem to assume it’s somehow less; less serious, less interesting, than ‘real’ writing.
Mel: It’s like they automatically assume that you can’t write and your blog is full of baby bump updates and pictures of your kids. I have ONE picture of my kids on my blog for my profile picture, and that was under duress.
Bec: So I think Catherine Deveney might be on to something. Is it time to stop calling ourselves bloggers and start calling ourselves writers and media outlet owners? Or do we need to just own the ‘blogger’ label?
What does a successful blogger look like?
Amy: What defines success as a blogger?
Mel: Great question. I have no idea. It can’t just be numbers.
Bec: Success all depends on why you’re blogging to start with.
For me it’s impact, as well as personal satisfaction in the creative outlet. How does my writing affect people? Does it make their day just a little bit better? Does it make them think about something they wouldn’t otherwise have thought of?
Amy: For me, it’s always been personal satisfaction. Hell, I did it for ages with no marketing at all, I just liked it. However, impact has its place for sure. It’s great when you find your thoughts have had some impression on someone.
Mel: My favourite music artists are all indie bands. Lots of them have tiny cult followings but have made a lasting impact on the style and evolution of music whilst chart-toppers of the time have faded into obscurity. I think uniqueness, influence and engagement are markers of success.
Is blogging all about the money?
Bec: So what about money? Do you have to make money to be successful?
Amy: If so, I am not a success, not even a little.
Mel: Again to the example of the indie bands I love… Money is not a marker of creative success to me.
Bec: Most bloggers I know – ourselves included – don’t rely on it for income at all. It’s more of a creative outlet.
Amy: I rarely do sponsored stuff, I refuse to host ads. I’m pretty s**t at the money making side of blogging. I just don’t wanna devote myself to working with brands- it isn’t interesting to me as a reader let alone a writer- I have no problem with others doing it- some do it really well. But no- not for me.
Mel: In fact, I often think the opposite – the market tends to reward creative types that are unthreatening and easy-to-digest.
Bec: True. I see blogging primarily as an opportunity to participate in public discourse… I suspect that’s almost mutually exclusive with monetisation.
Mel: Brands tend to want to work with safe bets. They don’t want to risk working with someone who might compromise their brand values or stir up controversy or offend anyone or whatever. So edgy humour is out. Satirists are out. People who make political statements are out.
Amy: In summation: You want to write? Get yourself a blog and just do it. Tell anyone who tries to put you down to f**k off and keep at it because someone out there will read it. And work with brands if you want but know that it isn’t essential- the only measure of success is how you feel about what you’re doing.
What do you think – is blogging ‘real’ writing?
Should bloggers start calling themselves ‘writers’?