Blog Spotlight with Helen Wills, editor of Actually Mummy
If it's parenting with electric cars and Center Parcs holidays you're looking for then you can do no better than Actually Mummy, the award-winning blog that started life as a diary written in the voice of the daughter of editor Helen Wills!
Hi Helen! Tell us about your blog, how did you get started?
I began the blog in 2011, as a way to record family memories. I’d been writing a handwritten diary in the voice of my daughter (don’t ask me why, it just kind of happened that way!) but I’d been getting lazy with it. Then I discovered a dad blog and decided to take her antics online.
How do you source content for your blog?
Content comes from so many different sources. My children and their daily interactions with the world are a constant source of ideas – whether it’s their quirky mannerisms, their learning discoveries, or documenting their experiences in life, there’s always something funny, poignant, or informative to write about. News stories and topical conversations on social media spark other ideas and, of course, there are often wonderful offers of trips and experiences for us to review that create great content.
Do you have a favourite post or one that best sums up your blog?
My most visited post is about how to get the most out of a Center Parcs holiday which is written in my own voice, but one of my earliest posts is probably the one which best sums up the characters in the story of our family. 'Not a Perfect Parent' tells the story of a mum who berates herself for losing her temper over the squabbles of family life, and a daughter who totally gets it. Our presentation and photography skills have come a long way since those early days, but this is still one of my favourites.
Do you write reviews?
I never accept a review product or experience unless I know it’s something which will resonate with our family. It’s so hard to write genuinely – and in a style consistent with the rest of the blog – about products that don’t mean something special to us. I want my reviews to be authentic, to maintain the anecdotal storytelling that I try to weave into my other posts. When we manage to achieve that, the views and interaction on the posts speak for themselves, and they are as well-read as any other post we write.
How did you build a following for your blog?
It’s hard when you first start throwing your stories into the abyss. For a while it was friends and family who read our posts, but I quickly learned that cultivating a community of readers is integral to blog promotion. There is no substitute for hard work spent finding like-minded writers and engaging with their content. This is how my blog has grown, and many of my regular readers are bloggers I found during those early months. The online engagement I have with them through our sites, as well as on Twitter, Facebook, and Google + is worth more than 100 paid-for publicity posts.
Are you PR friendly? Do you accept contributions and content for your blog?
I very rarely accept pre-written content. I prefer to work with a smaller number of brands with whom I can identify strongly, and whose products my family will really enjoy. But I’m always happy to talk about how we can work with a relevant brand, and some of our best experiences as a family have been as a result of approaches by innovative brands and PRs.
How best do you like to be approached by PRs?
Email is always the best way. I try to reply to all approaches, though it can take me a while, as I research the brand or product before deciding if we’re a good fit.
What’s in store for your blogging career in 2014?
I’m very excited by my blog at the moment! I’ve recently completed a photography course, which is improving my visual content dramatically. My family is now also of an age where travel is becoming much easier, and we’re taking more adventurous trips together. I’m looking forward to writing about our experiences of further-flung destinations, and adding the kids into the passion for travel that my husband and I had before babies made it more difficult. It’s going to be a good year!
Helen can be found tweeting @actuallyblog.