Vulnerable Blogging

Putting yourself into the spotlight online can be quite a daunting experience. Now that we have kids, especially, we both have to think quite carefully about what we put online and what we don’t. But even if you don’t, just taking that first step and writing online can feel intimidating for lots of reasons.

One thing I know that worries first-time bloggers is that perhaps they’ll put something online and someone somewhere will take issue with it and they’ll end up with someone “trolling” in response, or even worse with ongoing harassment as a result.

That worry that one day we’ll have to deal with someone being unusually nasty is something that we both talk about from time to time. Bad stuff happens and from time to time you hear about a prominent blogger having to take a break from it as a result.

You could take a view that the best thing to do would be to have a very “at arm's length” approach to writing online. To reinforce yourself from any of that risk by being slightly impersonal in what you write. And that works for business blogs and if you’re doing “content marketing” rather than writing from the heart.

We’ve both learned, though, that if you write from the heart, and don’t just talk about the highs – how life is one long Instagram success-fest, well, you find a certain type of person takes note and follows along. 

That’s the approach that we’ve both taken – Stef is always tweeting not just about the successes, the wins, the highs, but the stuff that hasn’t worked along the way. Sometimes you can’t go into too much detail when things aren’t going so well, but it’s all part of the process. Without a little struggle, your whole story can look pretty dull from the outside.

Blogging is about telling a story, and none of the major basic plot structures of any well-known stories are entirely lacking in any form of struggle. In fact, the struggle is a big part of them!

So we’ve decided to be somewhat vulnerable in our writing over the years. To put ourselves in the spotlight occasionally, and not hold back from talking about some of the struggles along the way. But that’s in moderation. People equally don’t appreciate following along for someone’s constant tales of how things aren’t going well. You’ve got to have the right balance. Vulnerable enough to give people a sense of the reality of what you’re doing. Stand-offish enough to give an air of mystery and to help them something of themselves in what you write about.

I think people will begin tiring of the overly-polished Instagram life. There are so many apps that can remove all the blemishes, clone out the strangers in the background, fill in those shadows, crop out the imperfect world around your perfect moment. That’s not to say that we’ll all want to see every detail of the lives of others, but understanding how much of your own reality into your writing and how you represent yourself online is something I’d encourage us all to think about.

One last thought is about positivity. The world can throw things at you and your plans might not work out all the time, but you can still be positive through it without dismissing those events. We both try to be positive and support other people to do what they’re doing. That’s why we’ve made Makelight in the first place! If you can stick to something like that, where you’re able to balance up talking about some of the honest reality of your life, but putting that in the overall context that you’re striving towards things being awesome, you’re probably on a good path. 

At least, that’s what we’re always trying to do. Balance up being positive, talking about possibilities and futures as-yet-unmade, with a little reality, a little vulnerability and not being too self-involved along the way. It’s tough to achieve, and we’re not there yet by any means, but these are the things we talk about when we’re asking ourselves “what shall I write today?” Have a think – when were you last vulnerable in a post or are you mostly presenting a veneer to the world?

Anthropologie Workshop

Last year I was lucky enough to run an Instagram workshop in my favourite store and this year they invited me back to hold another one. What a total joy! Thank you for having me again Anthropologie, Regent Street. 

I am only doing a handful of workshops this year, so that made it even more special. 

This year I had a beautiful space one the first floor of the shop, overlooking Regent Street, with beautiful natural light from the big industrial style windows. What a joy! And like last year I was able to wander round the store with one of their big baskets, collecting beautiful props for everyone to photograph during the workshop. This year two Makelight Members, who had arrived early, helped me with this task, which made it even more fun. Thank you Vaani and Ju!  

During the workshop I talked about the importance of story telling in your images, developing a style, how to get the most from your smartphone photographing and tips for styling, composing and editing your images. This was followed by time to practise with the gorgeous Anthropologie props and then of course we couldn't finish without a good old chat about how to grow your following and reach your audience. 

It was so lovely to meet some Makelight Members for the first time, see some familiar faces and of course to meet some new people too. Thank you so much for coming everyone. And a huge thank you to Anthropologie for hosting me again. xo

Emily Quinton at Anthropologie : Makelight
Emily Quinton at Anthropologie : Makelight
Emily Quinton at Anthropologie : Makelight
Emily Quinton at Anthropologie : Makelight
Emily Quinton at Anthropologie : Makelight

Thank you for the photos above Vaani! xo

Emily Quinton at Anthropologie : Makelight
Emily Quinton at Anthropologie : Makelight
Emily Quinton at Anthropologie : Makelight
Emily Quinton at Anthropologie : Makelight
Emily Quinton at Anthropologie : Makelight
Emily Quinton at Anthropologie : Makelight

One simple change you could try too

I cannot think of a time over the past few years when I haven’t mentioned being busy in a reply to the question ‘how are you?’. I regularly include happy, tired, overwhelmed, excited too but I know that 80% of the time my mind is racing and juggling and I’m trying to work out how to fit everything in. 

I am a pretty organised person and highly motivated. I have worked for myself for a long time and I am good at time management. I fit a lot into life. I always have done but over the past couple of years I have felt like perhaps I've been getting things little bit wrong and there might be a different approach to living and working in a world where we can do so much at any time of day or night. 

Busy by Tony Crabbe : Makelight

And then I read (well listened to on Audible!) Tony Crabbe’s “Busy. How to thrive in a world of too much”. I felt like it had been written for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve read something that has literally stopped me in my tracks and made me not only really think but also start taking action straight away. 

I started this post with a summary of the book but I feel that this book is way too good and important for a summary, so I think you should make time to read it yourself. 

But I did want to share one simple change I have made with you. It is so easy and little that you might want to try it too. 

Setting my phone alarm

I now set my morning phone alarm at 9pm when I am still downstairs. I try not to look at it again after that but at the very least I don’t look at it once I’m heading up to bed. I simply put it by my bed for the morning and do not touch it. When I climb into bed I read a book or magazine instead of getting sucked into my phone. 

Now, this might seem so simple and obvious. You might wonder why on earth I don’t just have an alarm clock and leave my phone downstairs. Well, for a number of reasons that doesn’t work for me for my morning routine (little people, a yoga app, Instagram time….) and for now I’m fine with that. 

Before I made this change, I would regularly go up to bed determined not to look at my phone because I know all the reasons why this is not a good idea. And I often wanted to read my book but however I hard I tried when I stopped to set my alarm I would just need to check something else on my phone or a notification would pop up that I couldn't just ignore. 

This little change means that I now go to sleep earlier. I go to bed so much calmer, I never see an email once I’ve headed up to bed, I don’t suddenly fall down an Instagram or Pinterest rabbit hole by mistake, or obsess over Makelight stats, or start chatting with friends in different time zones and I don’t read the news, which in the current state of the world is never a good idea before trying to go to sleep!

I have been doing this for two weeks now and for the first time in ages I’m excited about going up to bed because I can’t wait to read the next chapter of my book. I feel that beautiful sense of calm relaxation before I go to sleep….that feeling that for the past few years I’ve only really got on holiday. I thought it was to do with being a busy mother of four…not my iPhone! 

Thank you, thank you Tony for helping me to make this one simple change. I will now be riding this wave and making other small changes that I know will have an equally big effect. 

Do you have any small little habits like this that have a big impact on a busy life? I’d love to hear them. xo