Sunshine Blogger Award
Well isn't this nice? I do love these types of posts where other bloggers recognise blogs they love.
I was handed this accolade by Bean at Small Town Threads. I don't follow many fashion accounts, and I only read two fashion blogs*, one of which is hers. I love Bean, and I love her blog because it cuts to the chase and through the bullshit. Her most recent posts have branched out to talk about racism, interiors, and sustainable fashion. And her IG posts are a thing of wonder. Check her out if you haven't already.
Anyway, back to Bean's questions. At the end I'm going to recommend a few of my favourite blogs and set them some questions.
What was the trigger point that made you think: F*ck it, I’m just gonna do it, I’m gonna blog?
I actually started my first blog in 2008 on Blogger. (It’s deleted so don’t bother trying to find it!), then moved to Wordpress. I had no idea what I was really doing, it just started as an outlet for me to write, and also, in the early days of Blogger, to 'meet' new people. I completely missed the boat when it came to blogging and monetising opportunities. My children were teenagers by then so I couldn’t do the mummy-blogger thing, I’m not a fashionista so I don’t write about fashion. I would say I’m a lifestyle blogger if pushed, and it was only when I moved to London and set up 'Life and Love in London' that I really made more of an effort to write. Now I have Lara in the Middle, where I intended to write about our life after ‘retirement’ but I’ve actually been so busy ‘doing’ I forgot to ‘write’! I’m hoping this post will kickstart me again.
Do you feel like you have always been your own, true, authentic self in terms of your blog-voice, or did it take a while to settle into it?
To be honest, I've always just written what I’ve thought and how I've felt about it. I"m not really creative enough to blog as someone else. Some of my best writing was done anonymously during the year my second marriage broke down, but I won't be owning it anytime soon so you’ll just have to judge me on what you read on Lara in the Middle.
I’ve only ever done one sponsored post, (a camera bag) and have refused all offers of tooth whitening/Tena lady promotions because I like to write what I want on my blog. So no money has ever been earned by my writing, and therefore I feel able to be me. Sometimes I think what I’ve written is crap and I will mess about with it so much it loses ‘my voice’ and that’s when I know I’m not being authentic. It always amazes me when people bother to respond to what I’ve written. One thing I will never write about is politics. Who needs the hassle?
What’s the difference for you, in terms of satisfaction, between Instagram and Blogging?
When I started blogging there wasn’t really the social media presence that there is now. I was a little slow to Twitter; I joined in 2009 but didn’t really get it. When I looked again in around 2011, it was full of bloggers sharing stuff so I jumped in with both feet. I hardly look at Twitter now, have cut right back on who I follow and just keep my head down and avoid the politics. It’s not a place for chat so much these days as a place for grandstanding, bullying, politics and just shouting people down. Instagram is my social media of choice now. It’s so much warmer and friendlier, provided you follow who you like rather than who you think you should follow.
Instagram for me is like a micro-blog - it's easier to capture a moment's thoughts and it accommodates my photography in one hit. In fact I think that’s why I blog less now, because it’s easier to stick your thoughts on Instagram than write a whole essay about how you feel. Also the feedback is much more instant. However, I do miss writing in long form, and as I own my site and URL now, I have much more control over the content of my blog than any other social media site. When I blog I share it on Instagram and Facebook and most people respond on those platforms rather than the blog. It’s often easier to have a conversation on Instagram and Facebook. I do find it a bit galling that some Instagrammers call themselves bloggers when they've not even got a blog, let alone written more than an IG post in their lives. It also annoys me that not everyone can have the "swipe up" option on their accounts, especially business accounts. My relationship with Instagram is a little love-hate right now!
Tell us your blogging routine? (when, where, cup of tea etc etc?)
I haven’t blogged for so long I’ve forgotten! Seriously though, I find I work better at my desk. I have a MacBook that comes everywhere with me and after people it’s what I’d save first from a burning house. Usually I have the radio on while I’m writing, and a cup of tea on the go. If, after an hour, I’ve been on Instagram more than I’ve been writing I give it up as a bad job. If the cup of tea goes cold I'll know it's a good post. I do really need to be in the mood to write though, and then I spend a long time wondering if I’m just echoing what someone else has already said. Answering questions like this gives me food for thought!
In an ideal world, what would be the next step on from your blog?
Last year when Ian was made redundant we made the decision to make the most of the opportunity - after all, it was only 18 months ahead of our original plan to retire in 2020. It made me re-assess my blog Life and Love in London and realised that that part of my life was going to be coming to an end. I thought long and hard about what to do next and came up with Lara in the Middle. “Lara in the middle of what?” asked Ian. “Everything” I replied “I’m in the middle of my life, I’m in the middle of my parents and children, and apparently I’m in the middle of the menopause now too. That’s a lot to write about!”
However life has taken over and I feel I’ve neglected my blog. Quite a lot has happened in the past year and by the time I’ve processed it it’s often felt too much effort to write about it. When I did write about the menopause recently one of Ian’s friends felt I was over-sharing and asked him if he was bothered about me writing things like that for all to read. He said if I felt the need to write it he wasn’t bothered… unless my grammar was crap. As an aside, Ian always reads my post before I publish them, so if he didn’t support it, it wouldn’t be out there in the first place. Anyway, in answer to the original question,the next step on my blog is for me to actually write it, put it out there and enjoying the conversations it creates**
Bean, I hope I've done justice to your question and I hope others have enjoyed my answers and learnt a little more about me and what motivates me to write. Thank you for the nomination!
In turn I would like to nominate some bloggers who I do know quite well, two of whom I have met in person, and I would like to ask them the following questions...
What made you want to blog in the first place?
Who is the blogger/writer that inspires you the most?
What opportunities have come your way because of your blog that you might not have had?
Is there a post that you are most proud of? Why?
If someone asked your advice on starting their own blog what three top tips would you've them?
I would like to nominate
T at Mummy Barrow
Suzanne at Inside Outside and Beyond
Lorraine at This Fifty Something Life
All three of these ladies have recently taken stock of their blogs and its future direction and made a concerted effort to keep their blogs relevant.I always make a point of reading their posts.
I'm hoping this post has helped with my block so with any luck you might get another post from me this week!
* The other is Gail's blog, Not Givin' In, you should also check that out.
**No word of a lie, whilst I was writing this post a lady I've known since my twitter days messaged me to say she was missing my blog posts. So really, just when you think no-one cares what you write and think, there is someone out there waiting to see what you do next.