Welcome to this weeks edition of the ‘Blogging Behind The Scenes’ series. Throughout the ‘Blogging Behind The Scenes’ series both myself and a group of bloggers will be sharing our experiences and advice upon a range of blogging related topics, this week we are discussing being a blogger from a small town or community, how bloggers cope with their friends, family, neighbours, parents in the playground and local public being aware of their blog and whether or not it may be an issue.
Small Town Small Minds
Whilst I’m far from the stereotypical ‘country bumpkin’ I was brought up and have lived within this rather isolated, rural area for almost the entirety of my life. Cumbria may well be the third largest county in England but given that it is predominantly rural (consisting only of small towns, villages and the one city all of which is sparsely dotted around random mountains, lakes and fields full of sheep). Cumbria is far from metropolitan, to be completely honest I often wonder whether this county may still be set in the dark ages.
As you can imagine whilst there are some wonderful people living around my area who I think very highly of, there is sadly also an incredible amount of small town – small-minded people who find technology more of an inconvenience than a progression. They are barely able to understand or accept the concept of the internet never mind social media or god forbid blogging!
Big Smoke Blogging
I first began blogging whilst studying at University, it seemed to be the ‘in thing’ with most students back then as prior to MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and the many social media platforms. Blogs on LiveJournal and such were the ideal platform on which to keep family and friends regularly updated on the latest and greatest moments from your ventures away from home.
Blogging was far from frowned upon in the ‘big smoke’ of Sheffield, it seemed like a fairly everyday, normal activity to be getting along with. However, back here in the sticks my family and friends seemed a little perplexed, anxious even about the idea of me sharing information online.
Shortly after graduating from University I took a look back at my so-called journal and realised that the majority of my posts were self-consumed and filled with teenage angst fuelled fluff all of which I was more than happy to delete, which is precisely what I did.
The Girl With The Website
Years down the line I began developing and writing an online parenting magazine which required a professional tone and unlike my blog was far from personal. Many of my family and friends were aware of this online magazine and seemed fairly impressed by my work. However, there were a few elbow nudges and sly nods whenever I stepped foot into the local parenting groups. People were either really impressed with my work and would ask me all sorts of questions or they would avoid me completely as I was ‘that girl with a website’.
Vlogging, Is It One Step Too Far?
Alongside writing articles for my magazine I also spent time shooting and recording videos of my son which I chose to upload to YouTube. Back then Vlogging was a very new thing and whilst my videos were saved on YouTube they weren’t exactly ‘Vlogs’ as such, they were more a monthly record of my little ones for me to look back upon and enjoy.
Over time I began came more comfortable with the idea of featuring within videos and began Vlogging myself and shortly became part of a Vlogging community. It was a great place to be, we shared tips, ideas, suggestions and watched each others little ones as they grew and developed. It suited me far better than visiting parenting groups, I got to know lots of other parents from all around the World.
Blogging, Vlogging and the Workplace
However, whilst I was happy to share my videos online it seemed my workplace were far from amused. They simply couldn’t understand why I would wish to share my life on the internet nor were they happy for me to continue.
I was told to remove all online content including my social media accounts (which were already locked from public display) and despite removing all videos by making them private from public viewing as requested, my workplace continued to complain about almost anything and everything I did or didn’t do for that matter. I was eventually made redundant from my position and quite frankly I was more than happy to leave given their endless manipulation and intimidation.
It wasn’t as if my videos were offensive or inappropriate in any which way, most of my videos were either informative or educational.I know lots of teachers who are either bloggers, Vloggers or both and their managers have no problems whatsoever with this. Yet the School which I worked within at the time had no understanding or tolerance of such behaviour and were completely unable to accept how technology was advancing.
It’s funny looking back as the students within the school who had come across my videos at the time were either completely uninterested or informed me that they themselves found my videos beneficial in some way or other. Whereas the adults were totally unable to understand why I would ever do such a thing and as a result I received a great deal of ridicule within the staff room.
I later worked within an establishment with a complete intolerance of social media for security reasons. At the time I respected this and it was only after that job ended that I chose to return to Vlogging.
Understandably my ‘Vlogging’ confidence has been shattered somewhat given past experiences and I tend not to make as many videos as I once did. I am hoping to get back into Vlogging a little more in the future but doubt I will ever be fully comfortable with this platform of social sharing thanks to the narrow-minded views and opinions which were forced upon me years ago.
I have always had a great passion for writing and following my daughters second birthday I had a little more time on my hands and began blogging once again but this time from a personal perspective. RachelSwirl (this here blog) was born and I began sharing my posts, pictures, videos, reviews and such like.
It wasn’t long after launching my blog that my family and friends got wind of my writing and began following my posts. I wasn’t entirely sure whether I was comfortable with this at first but over time I’ve found myself caring far less about what others think.
Family & Friends
My Mum doesn’t seem to mind me being a blogger, she is happy so long as I am happy. My Father knows that I write online but he hasn’t been filled in with the finer details as he would no doubt have something to say about the matter and I couldn’t imagine it being greatly positive. My in-laws are fairly cool with whatever I chose to do so long as I stay safe and keep them out of it which is fair enough.
My friends are really accepting of my blog, without the encouragement and support from my friends I doubt I would have returned to blogging in the first place. I often mention friends within my posts from time to time and I have even had the odd request for a shoutout or mention. Actually, there have been a few occasions where there has been the odd complaint if they haven’t found themselves featured somewhere within at least one or more of my posts!
I can only hope that family and friends who wish to read my posts understand that yes, I have a potty mouth and yes, I say it as I see it, I’m an honest person both online and offline and whilst I may cover topics which could be regarded as taboo, perhaps offensive even that no offense is ever intended. If any of my posts should offend you for whatever reason it’s really simply just don’t read them!
Catching On & Catching Up
Given that most people tend to have a social media account these days and blogs seem a little more accepted, I find my blog isn’t that much of a shock to the system for the locals. However, there is still the odd occasion when I’ll walk into the playground, a play group, a playdate or a public house and there will be the odd nudge, the hushed whisper and the sudden realisation that I was or am now the topic of conversation, that girl with the blog.
Do I care? Not really… I’m past caring! I am proud of my work and I bloody love blogging, it’s part of me and as far as I am concerned Cumbria needs to ‘catch on’ and ‘catch up’. As for family and friends, surely if they love me for who I am then they love and respect the fact that part of that is my writing and therefore my blog.
I asked other bloggers and vloggers how they deal with their family, friends, neighbours, fellow parents and locals being aware of their blogs/ vlogs. Here are some of their responses:
“Most of mine know I blog. It doesn’t bother me. I’m fairly open about my life and beliefs anyway. I get a buzz from mums at the school gates telling me they’ve read my blog.”
“I find it quite embarrassing but only because everyone is mostly so nice about it. I always take a moment when someone makes a comment about something and I wonder how they know whatever it is they are commenting on, then realise they’ve read it on the blog!”
“Before I felt embarrassed but I live in a tiny village next to a small town so everyone knows everyone’s business! I just don’t openly talk about it but don’t hide it.”
“Most people know I blog. I do get embarrassed when someone I don’t know very well in the playground comes up to me and says ‘I didn’t know you wrote a blog’. I always just smile and say yeah. My mum however tells me not to say too much. I just told her it’s my blog, my space on the internet for me to choose what I write.”
“All my friends, family, teachers at the kid’s school and the staff at the school I used to work at know about my blog because I’m super proud of it. I couldn’t care less about what anyone else thinks though – I’ve not had anything negative said at all!”
“I’ve had a few people come up to me and say ‘Oh I love your blog, and we visited a new place because of you’ it really gave me a lovely feeling, and I felt I was achieving what I was trying to do. I do find it a little strange when they know so much more about me, then I know about them!”
“I only put things on my blog that I’m happy for the general public to read so nothing too personal is shared. Therefore I don’t mind family and friends reading the content and it has never been a problem.”
“I live in a fairly small village on outskirts of a city. I usually get ‘I really recognise you’ or ‘your daughter seems really familiar’ – 9 times out of 10 it’s that they’ve seen something on the blog. I find myself getting a little shy about it, which is crazy really. I should be proud!”
“The kids at my son’s school watch us on YouTube. They ask loads of questions as do their parents and I don’t mind. I’ve worked hard at my blog so it’s nice to be able to talk openly as I did it all under a cloak of secrecy for over two years, due to worrying what people may think. Turns out? No one really cares!”
“I’m happy to tell people about my blog but don’t usually get a chance as my son tells everyone as he’s so proud yet he always gets it wrong and says I have a million followers or something and i end up embarrassed and correcting him.”
“I don’t ever mention my blog to people but an increasing number of my friends and family read it. I used to freak out so much every time someone I knew followed me on social media, I hated the idea of them reading my thoughts etc. I’ve found I now edit what I write a little more, which is a shame in a way but I’m not quite ready to discuss EVERYTHING with my sons nursery/my work colleagues/my dad! I’m trying to get used to people making comments about things we’ve done without me telling them, it’s a bit of an adjustment! Although most people either never mention it or have loads of nice questions about how it all works etc.”
“I live in a small village and when I was dropping my daughter to school a parent came up to me and asked for a photo. It was so weird. She said she read my blog all the time and was a super fan. It made me crack up because I don’t see myself as a popular person. I just blog from behind a computer.”
“It doesn’t bother me at all. I’m very proud of my little blog, so I don’t mind people knowing. I think all bloggers should be proud of their blogs and opinions!”
“I live in a small village (we don’t even have a pub!) and I actively share my blog to our comms sites – some of my most regular readers are local. However we’re very British about it all, they support it online but we don’t talk about it in person.”
“I’m happy to tell people about my blog though some just don’t understand it at all. The worst is my husband who constantly embarrasses me when we receive bad service anywhere he will say things like “my wife is a blogger and gets so many views and she will now be writing about this”. I seriously often wish the floor would just swallow me whole.”
“I recently had a tense discussion with my manager at work about the blog, having to explain where I find the time to juggle my commitments and kids. I only work there 3 days a week and felt infuriated I had to explain about draft posts, Hootsuite and other things to people who have no clue about what I do in my free time as a hobby. There is no conflict between my day job and blog topic either, which makes it even harder to accept.”
Should you fancy being part of the series and sharing some of your own ideas or expertise then please feel free to join the ‘UK Parent Blogger Crowdsourcing Group‘ and look out for my weekly topic comment requests, I’d love to hear from you! Alternatively you can get in touch via email, drop me a message via social media or add your comments below.