What is your career background?
I was film and tv director pre-blogging and started my site Honest Mum during maternity leave in November 2010. I’d gone from being a busy director, often working 12 hours a day in a hugely stimulating environment to just baby and I, and admittedly, felt rather lost and directionless. It didn’t help I was suffering from a traumatic birth and none of my friends had babies either. Feeling so isolated with a colicky baby far from my folks at 28 was tough-going.
You mention on your website how your children, in particular childbirth, led you to this career path – can you tell me a bit more about that?
I have two amazing boys, Oliver, 6 and Alexander, 4 and it was the birth of Oliver which led to me blogging and vlogging full time. I started my blog to rediscover my voice, to carve out a creative space for myself that I desperately needed, at a time where you had to explain to others what a blog actually was. Within 2 weeks I was approached by forward-thinking brands and within 4 I was a finalist at the Britmums’ Brilliance in Blogging Awards in the Fresh Voice category. The latter gave me the confidence to get back on set as a director and by the time I was pregnant with my second son, I’d become a full time blogger. I’m still a filmmaker too, I just direct myself or my family in content for my own channels now. I have a feature film in development and various other short films I want to make and I feel there are no limits or restrictions thanks to the democratic internet when it comes to creative endeavours.
How did you move from the idea to an actual business?
It happened organically as I was approached by PRs from the start and as the blogging world exploded, so did my career. I now have an assistant, publicist, manager and literary agent. I accept guest posts from writers I trust and also have regular monthly contributors but the majority of my site is written by me.
You are currently writing a book and also produce fantastic blogs – where do the ideas for your writings come from?
The blog reflects my life, it’s an online diary but also a space where I can write opinion pieces, sharing what matters to me at any given time. I focus on my loves: family-life, food, fashion, film and travel. I will write about anything that matters. I’m a personal brand so people read me because they want to read my take on things, my view on the world. Plus, the beauty of blogging means there are no gatekeepers, you simply write what you like and hit publish. You are your own editor. I love creating video content too and often vlog days out, awards, premieres, how-to’s and recipes. I’m so excited to be writing my first book which will be published by Piatkus/Little Brown, about my life as a mumboss. I hope it inspires many.
Who is your target audience?
My readership is usually 30+ parents with my biggest sector being the UK, then the US, Australia and Europe.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
I think it’s a combination of having started blogging 6 years ago and being regarded as one of the first parenting bloggers so a pioneer in many respects which also puts me in good stead with regards to SEO and being regarded as a quality site. Of course that strong archive along with the visibility that brings and building a following for years online via social media, press exposure and awards (I won the Best of the Best BritMums award last year as well as Best Social Media) all helps. PR is crucial. Without it your work just won’t be seen. I use tools like Social Oomph and schedule tweets and lots of evergreen material so I’m online even when I’m not. Having had posts which go viral has helped too of course and I was recently informed that I’m regarded as a Google authority on gluten-free food… This all comes from consistently writing quality posts that are shareable and also simply being myself. Being genuine is vital. People can see though fake personas so it’s important you don’t try to be anyone but yourself!
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome?
Overcoming a traumatic birth without a doubt was the biggest challenge of my life. I became better thanks in part to my blog as well as a great therapist and due to my husband and family’s love and support.
What is your proudest moment / biggest success?
It’s a hard one as I’m not great at reflecting, I’m always on a mission to keep evolving whilst meeting new goals but creating a thriving business blogging from my kitchen table and breaking new ground in our field (I’m the first blogger to be a digital ambassador for an airline and am working with Jet2.com and Jet2holidays) as well as my book deal of course, are dreams come true.
What would be the one piece of advice you would offer someone about to start their own business? Do what you love and feel passionate about, as that will help you endure the inevitable ups and downs. Don’t give up. That’s really the difference between those who are successful and those who aren’t. Hone your talent, learn as much as you can about your field (knowledge is power) – I’m as obsessed with the tech side as I am the creative, work on your confidence (fake it until you make it), be tenacious but not ruthless and importantly always be kind. There’s enough success and internet to go around (literally). The only person I’m in competition with is myself. I love collaborating with others and also giving back, sharing what I know. I was a lecturer and teacher pre-blogging too and come from a long line of teachers (my Mum was a Uni Lecturer as well) so it’s in my blood. I’ve received lots of emails and comments over the years saying I’ve inspired people to start up blogs and businesses and knowing I’ve helped others feel more confident, really means everything to me.