Friday, 7 July 2017

A Basic Breakdown of Why Butterfly Free is not a Brilliant Blog

 If you are ever to read an article about how to become a good blogger, you will likely find a list of exactly the opposite of what I've been doing lately. To gain a strong, loyal readership, one is advised to meticulously construct a monthly plan of posts - each one varied enough, but relevant to the common theme - and stick to a regimented posting schedule so that your readers can get into the habit of anticipating your updates at a certain time and frequency. One is supposed to be consistent. Content is key. Specially tailored photography to accompany each blog post is also expected.

I used to be the Social Media Executive for a major luxury brand, and the Media Editor of a key national organisation. I know how all this online malarkey is supposed to work. I know what I'm supposed to do. But I've not been doing it. Butterfly Free hasn't followed the rules of how to be a successful blog.

And I shall tell you why:

1. I didn't start writing Butterfly Free for the purpose of accumulating a huge following
In DJ Khaled speak, this is a 'major key'. There are some pretty simple steps and formulae to implement if your sole purpose is for that 'followers' figure to exponentially rise. But the important thing to remember is that number of followers DOES NOT equate to quality of engagement. I would rather have 2000 mamas-to-be and thyroid warriors reading my posts, than 20,000 Beliebers who were lured to my page under false pretenses by click bait or misleading SEO. Quality over quantity.

2. Monetising my blog is not my main aim
Another important factor. If I was purely motivated by making money from this page, you would see it littered with pop-up adverts and my Instagram would be strewn with sponsored posts (which quite possibly would bear no relevance at all to me or what I write about). My main reasons for starting to write these posts were: to share information, raise awareness, help people who are or have been in similar situations to me, and also from a purely personal point of view, because I find it cathartic to write about these topics. If I get a bit of revenue from it, great. If a company sends me some free stuff as a result of it, great. If I get invited to some interesting PR-type events, great. But that is not my specific game plan.

3. My writing takes energy
I'm pregnant. I have a thyroid condition. Energy isn't going spare round here! Because my writing generally includes an equal serving of emotion and of research, it can be quite exhausting to sit down and thrash out a post. I like to write them in one sitting as well; I'm not someone who can leave a post half-finished as a draft and come back to it later. It's all or nothing. I write on the spot, when I feel inspired at a certain moment. Sometimes a topic idea comes to me and I type the whole thing out on my iPhone. I generally click 'Publish' as soon as I'm done - even if perhaps I don't link it on my social media pages until a more appropriate time the next day. 

4. Half-hearted content won't do
There are some perfectly popular bloggers whose pages I follow or check, and they seem like lovely people, but when I click on their 'new post' links their actual written blog content is so wishy-washy and bland that it makes me wonder why they even bother. Just make it a photo blog if you're not even going to put any effort into stringing more than one paragraph together! I like my writing to be authentic. My posts are long, I know, but I have to explain everything fully because that's just my way; that's who I am. That's also how I like to read. In depth. In detail. I could very easily post little two- or three-paragraph updates every single day, but that would completely defeat the object of why I started this page (see points above).

5. My content is not aesthetically pleasing enough
In the era of filters, Photoshop and personal branding, the visual impact of my website and my Instagram is not particularly impressive. I'm not a talented photographer by any stretch of the imagination (my husband will testify to that - it takes me at least 50 attempts to take a picture of him that he's happy with, and he's VERY photogenic *mashallah* but at least my Camera Roll is filled with his face), and I'm not going to pretend to be. Nor am I a graphic designer. I post pictures I like to see with my untrained eye, and I may even dabble with adding a bit of text to an image using the incredibly advanced Phonto app on my iPhone (if you don't know, it's probably the most basic photo editing app going), but I am well aware that visually what I post doesn't have the 'wow' factor. And that's ok. Because I'm all about the words anyway. 

So, this is why I wouldn't even call myself a blogger. I don't class Butterfly Free as a blog. It's more of an online journal, or notebook of my experiences and thought processes. And I'm very grateful to those of you who take the time to read it. 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

36 Weeks, with Writer's Block

Once again I have been horribly lax with my writing, and some very lovely ladies have sent me messages of care and concern since my last post, so I just wanted to give a brief update as we enter July; our due month!

I am now 36 weeks pregnant, and with it I am suffering from Writer's Block. Since my last post I haven't had a single flash of inspiration; not one idea that made me think, "Yes! I want to write about that." I've just been plodding along, day by day, trying to distract myself from the fact that my beloved husband is such a long way away, and preparing the practical things for our little one's impending arrival.

My maternity care since arriving in the UK and booking in at the Kensington Wing of Chelsea & Westminster Hospital has been fabulous so far; I adore my midwife, and my 'link' consultant - the famous Miss Gubby Ayida - is truly deserving of her prestigious reputation. I feel in excellent hands. Baby is growing well; he's been head-down since 32 weeks and ready to make his emergence into the world. I - thankfully - don't have any complications and have been signed off for a natural, midwife-led delivery, and my TSH level is nicely in check at 2.02 since last doubling my dosage.

I've only had one mild episode of Braxton Hicks contractions so far, before my husband had to suddenly fly off, and nothing since. I have, however, lost a bit of my plug in recent days, which suggests things are moving in the right direction and my body is gearing up for delivery in the coming weeks.

My mother has been a great source of support during a time when I have been emotionally tested and feeling vulnerable, and I am very fortunate to be staying with her. She can see the anguish it has caused me to have my husband unexpectedly whisked away at such a crucial time to answer the call of duty, and whilst she is always there to offer a sympathetic ear, most of the time I have preferred to process the situation alone.

Instead we have been busying ourselves with getting all the baby stuff ready - finally I've ticked 99% of the items on my Baby Shopping List off! Harrods was the supplier of the Sleepyhead Deluxe sleeping pod and the Mima Xari seat kit and starter pack, Peter Jones provided many a muslin cloth, baby bath, cellular blankets and the suchlike, whilst I online-ordered a fantastic Moses Basket with a rocking stand from a company called Shnuggle, which I felt a great sense of satisfaction in putting together by myself. Sleep suits, babygrows, romper suits and other newborn wardrobe essentials have come from a combination of Peter Jones, Petit Bateau, My 1st Years, and M&Co, and all those delightful baby-related toiletries (nappies, Metanium nappy rash cream, Lanisoh nipple cream etc.) have been sourced from Boots. I purchased nursing bras and comfy, dark nightwear and a dressing gown from Marks & Spencer to prepare for my hospital stay.

The midwife has now asked to see me every 7 days from the 36-week stage onwards, and I've been offered the delight of a sweep from as early as 38 weeks if I so wish, to try and bring on labour. Generally 3 sweeps should be conducted before an actual induction of labour is necessary, and my induction - if it gets to that stage - would be bang on my due date of 40 weeks. Some ladies aren't even offered a sweep until then, but in my case I understand that things are being planned a bit earlier because a) baby is already of a healthy size and weight to come on out, and more importantly b) because the chances of developing pre-eclampsia from 40 weeks onwards is considerably higher in someone with an underlying thyroid condition. Although mine is nicely under control, I suppose they would rather not take any risks by letting me go overdue.

I'm hoping and praying for an early delivery, not least because my husband would be in his military no-contact lockdown from 1st August, so our little man really needs to pop out by his due date of 29th July at the very latest. I'm not at the 'I just want to get this baby out of me!' stage yet, and I don't know if I ever will be, because I'm still carrying relatively small and luckily not suffering from any aches or pains. But what I certainly am is excited, and desperate to meet our tiny human. And I'm desperate for my husband to be with us to meet him too.