Since the start of lockdown until recently, parents across the country almost lost their minds trying to homeschool their kids while also working from home. And then there are some who also kept up their mom blog duties. How did they even cope?
Mom of four (with another on the way) Luchae Williams of My Spreadsheet Brain from Port Elizabeth says she feels like she did lose her mind a little. She and her husband have a blended family and certainly had their work cut out for them. “I've managed by simply cutting myself some slack. I may not get to the home schooling every day, or I would stick my kids in front of a screen for an hour so that I can get my work done... I had to give myself a pep talk not to feel bad about it. These are unusual circumstances, which calls for a different way of doing life.”
It’s that pragmatism and her 'spreadsheet brain' that help her keep things together. “I'm a lists kinda gal, so I thrive on making lists and spreadsheets and ticking things off as I go along.”
Shanèy Vijendranath in Joburg runs You, Baby and I as well as her start-up MomSays, which she co-founded with her husband. She has three little ones and says that at the start of the lockdown she thought that she had everything under control. But later on Shanèy had to learn to navigate meltdowns (both her and the kids’).
“There were times I felt like I was losing my mind. In the beginning I had a schedule but by mid-lockdown I just felt like everything was falling apart. Everything just went downhill… having to do proper work and with having two kids that are in two different phases of homeschooling, it was difficult.”
Once they finally had a routine, including going back to work after the kids go to sleep, things were better. And she’s very lucky to have extra help. “Before lockdown, I normally worked from home, so I did have a good work routine in place. But having all three kids at home has been a challenge. I am lucky that my mom lives with me and my nanny has been with us during the entire Covid-19 lockdown.”
Shanèy highlights the importance of having a supportive partner and taking care of yourself. “Someone that can help you with the little things, whether it’s just bathing the kids or doing homework or homeschooling. And you have to know when you need to take time off. Me-time is important, so I try to have a little bit of time in between the week even if it’s on a Sunday where I spend an hour just focusing on me and maybe doing a facial. It’s all about balance and having that support system. Me-time has definitely helped me keep everything together.”
Having a supportive community of people that can inspire her has also been important. “I chat with friends every week. We motivate each other and talk about anything, and that has really helped me to focus and write content and put me in a good headspace. It’s important knowing that you’re not the only one going through all these emotions. Some days you feel like you’re failing at business, or failing at everything. The next thing, you’re just so motivated and pumped to start something. You need people you can really connect with and share how you're feeling, so they can help you move forward.”
The two bloggers didn’t go into blogging to make money. Luchae said she didn’t start a blog with a business in mind – this came later. “I knew I had a lot to say and I needed a space to put it, since my Facebook Notes section just wasn’t working out for me. It was only much later on that I learnt about blogging as a business."
Shanèy explains that when she started out, she had no idea she could make money from blogging. “Six months down the line I realised that I could, and I tried to do what everyone else did because that’s what worked. Over the years I realised that I am good at certain things and I wanted to really focus on my strengths: What am I good at? What am I good at providing? How do I set up my audience? I built my business model for the blog around these principles.”
When she started working on her start-up, MomSays, Shanèy thought about how she could leverage her blog. “I wanted to give brands a taste of what I was building and give them an idea of what my start-up would be. It was basically research for me to see if this is something brands will put money into. For the last three years, I focused on a business model that would accommodate MomSays [while differentiating it] and the blog. The business model for my blog is mainly sharing campaigns on my Instagram or Facebook and my blog. MomSays is focused more on community and getting other moms to share their opinions.”
Thinking of becoming a blogger?
Shanèy shares these guidelines.
1. Brands will pay what you ask for if they see that your blog is worth investing in. If you want other people to take you seriously, you need to take it seriously. Invest time in your platforms and in creating good content. Get your own domain – it shows others that you’re taking this seriously and you’re putting money behind this. Get a theme, work on, and build your brand and your social media platforms.
2. Network with others and get to know the industry, what works for you and how you can stand out from the pack – it is a very competitive space. You need to know what you really want to blog about and why.
3. Social media is just a tool to help you promote what you’re building. Don’t make it your main focus. Build your own subscribers list so that you own your audience. Otherwise, you could lose your following on Instagram if you’re blocked or hacked.
4. Build something bigger from your blog. What are your next steps? “You shouldn’t just want to be a blogger… I think I’ve done a pretty good job in leveraging my blog to build my startup.”
5. Research the brands that you want to collaborate with, have a clear idea of what you want to do with each brand, build a media kit, learn how and when to approach brands, and how to present a pitch deck.
6. Just start blogging and don’t think about it too much. “People want genuine, authentic content and if you feel that you can really share that, go ahead and do it. A lot of us are just so scared of what other people are going to think that we forget about the content that we really want to share. Not everyone will like you or follow you, and that’s okay because you’re not everyone’s cup of tea.
Shanèy offers more insight into mommy blogging on her post 10 things that I learned about being a mommy blogger in South Africa.
Author: Leanne Feris