Today we have Jenny from The Brick Castle blog as our blogger in the spotlight. Jenny writes mainly about her family life and the things they get up to, with a few honest reviews, and a moan every now and again.
Can you tell our readers about yourself?
I am one of the oldest bloggers in the Tots 100, with 4 children over 16 to prove it, and 2 little ones still in Primary School. We are all big fans of LEGO. I have a background working in Education, especially with adults and young people with additional needs, and I used to write and deliver community training courses for the NHS.
In August 2014 we lost our oldest girl to suicide, and all of our lives now really revolve around that event.
How would you describe your blog?
The Brick Castle has a lot of reviews and giveaways at times, but is peppered with personal posts which I try to make as upbeat as possible – both for my readers and for myself. I have a long-standing loyal readership who return regularly to check up on us and see that we can still smile.
What inspired you to start your blog?
I was reviewing games and puzzles for Orchard Toys and a couple of other companies, and was if I had somewhere to keep all of my reviews. A blog was the obvious answer. I’ve been using the internet since before a lot of my blogging peers were born, but running a public blog was still a big step.
What topics do you cover on your blog?
I still review – mainly toys, games and books (including lots of LEGO). I also cover some family days out and family health. My posts on Chicken Pox and head Lice are regularly my highest viewed. Since Elspeth’s death I have also become fairly well-known for my posts about her loss and the effect it has had on our family.
How do you want to improve yourself and your blog in the next year?
I want to switch off at a decent hour and take every weekend off with my family. Sometimes I find I’ve done 60 or more hours a week because it’s so easy to carry on working until umpteen o clock, and you can easily be on social media for several hours in a day if you add it up.
How do you motivate yourself to keep the blog up and running?
I need the little bit of cash and other things I gain. We actually would not leave the house if left to our own devices – agreeing to go and review events means we actually go out and do stuff!
What do you find the most frustrating aspect of blogging?
The emails. I get around 200-300 a day, most of which are completely irrelevant or unsuitable, but I have to trawl through them as best I can and hope I don’t miss that vital email offering me a trip to the moon with a million dollars spending money.
What is the most positive aspect about blogging?
The community. I had no idea it existed, when I discovered it did I thought it would be bitchy. Turns out it is an amazingly supportive and helpful network who are on hand whenever you need help.
How much time do you spend blogging?
A lot. I am a perfectionist and can spend hours thinking about a blog post, 2 hours writing it and another 2 hours editing it. I am also active on Social Media and really enjoy it, so that takes a lot of time, then the emails….and the admin. I probably work a junior doctor’s hours regularly.
Have you always blogged about the same content that you blog about today?
My content has changed as my life has changed and as my family got older. My children were aged 18-2 when I started, they’re 22-nearly 6 now.
Would you encourage other people to make their own blog?
I have had blogs for as long as I can remember, but only 1 is well known. It is cathartic writing, it sorts out your head. Even if it’s only for you, do it.
What is the best advice you could give to someone who is just starting their own blog?
Write what you want to read and you’ll gather a readership of people similar to you. Don’t change to try to suit a perceived readership, because you’ll lose the die-hard fans and won’t enjoy yourself.
What type of networking do you think is better to enhance your traffic to the blog and to engage with your readers?
For me joining in with communities with a shared interest – in my case LEGO. Being friendly and helpful to other bloggers is a good one, you’ll meet some great people and get some fantastic advice.
Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?
It is now my profession.
A lot of people think that blogging is an easy way to make money online? Do you agree?
I can go out and get a job working a quarter of the hours and have twice as much cash in my bank each month. I can’t do that when it suits though and it would be impossible with our family situation for me to be away from home at all, so for me being able to work odd hours during the day and in bed at night while my partner kills things on the Playstation beside me is priceless.
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