2016 in review: My top 5 personal highlights

When we look back on 2016, many of us will think of it as the Year of Celebrity Deaths, Brexit and Trump. It has certainly been an eventful year.

When I look back on my blogging year, 2016 has been equally eventful.

2016 was the year I decided to walk away from the Tots100 rankings and declared that I will not be returning to Mumsnet’s Blogfest conference. I also stepped back from both a successful cycling blog that I founded and my part-time gig blogging for the Metro newspaper website.

And yet in other respects it has been the most positive 12 months of my nearly ten-year blogging career. Here are my five biggest personal blogging highlights of 2016.

Meet the Parents podcast

I launched my own parenting podcast in the summer of 2015 but after 25 episodes I decided it was time to take it to the next level. And so in February the Meet the Parents podcast was born.

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There are other UK parenting podcasts but as far as I know Meet the Parents is the only one to feature a regular mix of both mums and dads, including a combination of stay-at-home and working parents and with children ranging from a few months to post-university age.

Every week members of this diverse cast spend half an hour chewing the fat over a variety of parenting and related topical issues. As someone who has a face for radio and a voice for silent movies and suffers from a mild stress-induced stammer, hosting an audio show is not something which comes naturally to me. But that’s part of the challenge – and part of the fun.

We’ve recorded 37 episodes to date – or 36 more than I thought we’d manage. If you haven’t listened to any before, you can find us on iTunes or at meettheparentspodcast.com.

When blogging and work collide

If not for the skills I have developed as a blogger, I would never have made the jump from my previous strategic marketing role to my current job heading up social media for Western Europe for my company.

Champagne celebration

It’s not often in life, particularly in a corporate environment, that you get the chance to marry work with your personal passion and pursue your dream job.

Eight months later, I’d be lying if I said it has all been plain sailing. I’ve had to cope with a lot of personal change. I’ve been overworked. I’ve made mistakes. It’s often said that successful modern organisations are those who learn to fail and fail often – if so, I’ve been highly successful this year! But as uncomfortable as that feels, I’ve learned more in the past eight months than in the previous eight years combined. So I’m looking forward to bringing some of those hard-earned lessons to bear in 2017.

Britain’s got the Voice Factor

Regular readers will know that I’m partial to writing musical parodies. However, by my own admission I can’t sing. And, as a major introvert, I can think of few things more terrifying than addressing a room of 500 people.

So, of course, when I was asked to deliver one of the bloggers’ keynotes at this year’s BML16 conference, I said yes. And when I pointed out that the selected post included a parody song and was then asked whether I would like to sing it live on stage, I naturally ran at top speed in the opposite direction agreed.

I really must learn to say no more often.

Honestly, though, once the music started, all the nerves and the (almost) overwhelming urge to throw up disappeared and I loved the experience. The standing ovation I received at the end helped!

I know it’s a bit of a cliché to say that this was a personal watershed moment, but it was. Three months later I volunteered to take the biggest part as a group of us performed a blogger’s version of The 12 Days of Christmas at BlogOnMSI. No nerves whatsoever that day.

I’m now available for weddings and bar mitzvahs at very reasonable rates.

On the radio

I’m far from the first blogger to appear on radio (or TV) and I certainly won’t be the last but my live appearance on BBC Radio Berkshire in July was another of those experiences I would most likely never have achieved if not for my blog.

I was surprised by how well it went. I was reasonably coherent and managed to keep my stammer bottled up fairly well, although I don’t think I’ll be replacing Nick Grimshaw any time soon. Which is fine by me, as I’m so *not* a morning person.

Being the expert

It’s easy to sit in a session at a conference and think how you could do better yourself. It’s a bit harder to actually stand up and actually do it.

When it comes to blogging and the technical side of social media, I know more than most. After all, I have close to ten years’ experience writing blogs and social media is my day job. Even so, my natural introversion and a general lack of self-confidence has stopped me from volunteering myself before.

That all changed at BlogOnMSI in September, when I wrote and delivered a 45-minute session on creating a personal blogging brand. Unlike my previous live experiences at BML and on the radio, I wasn’t at all nervous this time and the session went down well.

I’ve summarised my session in the following series of posts:

Part 1: What is a personal brand?

Part 2: What makes a good blogger brand?

Part 3: Doing a self-evaluation of your brand

Part 4: Refining your brand and going for it

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Would I do another session if asked? Without hesitation.

I guess that’s a sign of how far I’ve come this year. A lot of my reservations about presenting or performing in public have been whittled away through a series of experiences where my blog has opened doors and I’ve been willing enough to step outside my comfort zone and walk through those doors.

For all that ‘success’ in the blogging world is so often defined by numbers – page views, Tots100 ranking, social media followers, domain authority et cetera – there’s more to life than metrics. Looking back, as far as I’m concerned I’ve had a successful year. Bring on 2017.

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