This past week I have been busy.
And I have learned a lot.
In fact, I've learned so much I think I'm going to have to split this into three parts.
What I learned at the Pregnancy Sickness Support Annual Conference
- It is an incredible feeling to be in a room full of people who have experienced the hell of severe NVP and HG during pregnancy. Knowing that whatever you say will be answered with a "YES! That's so true!" or "I know exactly what you mean!" rather than the "Have you tried ginger?" and "I was sick too, but I just had to get on with it" (as if simply surviving every new day wasn't "getting on with it" enough) was ever so slightly mind-blowing.
- The need for local support groups as well as online support groups is crucial. If a single day in the company of people who truly understand made me feel that great, just imagine how much of a difference we could make to so many women suffering during pregnancy!
- I'm not the only one who was never hospitalised, and that I should stop saying, "I never vomited, I only ever brought up bile and suffered from awful nausea" because that is still extreme and traumatic and devalues what we went through. Thanks Mother Eartha for that one!!
- The experience of severe NVP and HG can have as much, if not more, of a traumatic effect on the partners, parents and friends of sufferers as it does on the sufferers themselves. Often it was the mum or husband who struggled to talk about their experience. This needs to be highlighted and makes me glad I have planned a section in the book to cover it.
- There are some experienced and talented volunteers who have so much they can do to help raise the profile of the charity and build up funds. It makes me so proud to know that people come from all walks of life to try and make a difference to others following their own experiences.
- I want to do so much more to help the charity Pregnancy Sickness Support and I need to work out how I can use the skills I have to help them the most.
What I learned from BritMums Live
- There are so many ways that I can use my blog to raise awareness of the things I am most passionate about.
- I do not want to work with brands and look at monetizing my blog. Reviews, sponsored posts and advertising are extra work that I'd rather not do right now and though I've dabbled in these on here for the past few months I don't think they really fit. I enjoyed blogging without any responsibility to anyone but myself and my reader and bringing in brands just complicates things. If I review anything from now on, it will simply be because I have bought/used something and truly loved it and think everyone should try it.
- It's going to be hard to turn down offers from brands. It is so alluring. But I need to stay true to what I want from my blog.
- Finding my voice is esential. I have known this for a long time but I just didn't know what it really was. Everything and everyone seem to suggest finding a niche, but I don't have one. I forget who said this, but someone said 'our lives are diverse so why shouldn't our blogs be diverse too?' I still need to find my voice, but I'm guessing it centres around passion, support and honesty!
- Engaging with your audience involves writing things that they can relate to. Finding the words to touch someone's heart (whether that be in a way that makes them feel passionate about a cause too or which makes them laugh and think "that's just what my life is like too") will give my blog a really good energy.
- I don't post enough photos on my blog, and by utilising light I could take some really amazing photos even with my phone. I want to practise this as soon as Tim is free and willing to be a test subject!
- I should write about what feels good to me, rather than trying to write what I think will sound good to my audience. It is so easy to get drawn into stats and popularity and I know I have fallen for this so many times. But remembering why I started blogging reminds me that I just wanted to write, and so I should just write and enjoy it.
- You'll always find bullies and trolls online, but I need to remember that they are everywhere. If someone attacks my work I need to remember it isn't an attack on me personally. And if I see someone attacking someone else, I can always step in and counter-comment. We need to all stick together to get rid of cyber-bullies.
- eBooks are a great way of getting your work out there. I have so many things, not just the HG book, that I could ultimately turn into eBooks (or PDF downloads if they are heavily formatted and might not translate to eReaders very well). This may be a much better way of earning a bit of extra cash than selling out to advertising and brands which I feel won't sit right on my blog. Advertising and reviews work for some blogs, but they don't work on mine. I need to find my own product, and eBooks may be the way to go.
- Google+ may not be as bad as I thought it would be. I didn't want "yet another thing" to look into, but it may be worth having a look before deciding one way or the other. I don't want another "twitter" where I avoided it for years only to find I actually loved it once I finally joined.
- Some blogs are big hits, but there are just as many bloggers out there who are still "small fish in a big sea" and enjoy blogging for the fun of it. I'm much more like them and should be proud of that in my own way.
- Having the confidence to speak up and share your experience or ask a question can lead to some amazing connections and conversations.
- So many people have been through such heart-breaking things and the community and support offered by blogging is immense. Grief is grief, no matter what caused it or what form it comes in. By standing together we can find common ground and support each other through things.
- Sometimes changing our voice is hard. If we've been writing about something emotionally charged and then switch to something lighter and/or more positive we may lose some readers who liked the drama of it all. But we'll always gain new readers.
- Dad bloggers are lovely and I want to spend more time reading their blogs and getting to know them. There shouldn't be this distinction between "mummy" bloggers and "daddy" bloggers... we're all parents!
What I learned this week as a whole
- I like going to conferences and could get used to travelling, staying in a hotel (especially in London) and meeting up with people, discussing things I am passionate about, and learning new things
- I want to use my voice to help change things. I am a strong writer and I am also discovering that I am quite a strong networker (and, possibly in the future, speaker too). I should be using these abilities to make change, especially as I enjoy doing it!
- I need to learn to let go once in a while. I don't have to have control over everything in my life all the time.
- Seeing pregnant women and babies no longer hurts me quite the way it did before. I must be finding peace and healing in some way. That just blows my mind.
I am sure there are so many more things I learned this week. But these are the major ones.
Tell me, what have you learned this week?