An interview with Hayley McLean, author of the mummy blog Sparkles and Stretchmarks. Hayley spoke to us about the mix of content that makes up her blog, best practices around working with PRs and comms and attending Brit Mums Live in June.
Why should people read your blog? I put a lot of time and effort into my blog, ensuring there is a good mix of organic content such as opinion pieces on issues that we face as parents as well as informative and detailed product reviews, and fun lifestyle and how-to posts.
I like to think of my blog as an online magazine where people can flick through and find an array of articles to suit their taste.
I make sure all content is well written and try to take extra care with my photography, to really show products in their best light.
What makes your blog different? I think what makes my blog different is the mix of topics covered – I of course like to do all of the usual cutesy posts about life with a baby showing lots of adorable pics and glimpses of family life, but I do also like to keep it real and post about the struggles we all face as mothers. I also like to regularly post humorous light hearted pieces as often as possible – I enjoy writing in a sarcastic style and find these posts to be among my most popular!
What’s your favourite blog and why? There are so many to choose from. I enjoy blogs that make me both envy the writers life as it looks so glamourous but also enables me to relate to them as they show the realness too – one of the best blogs for this is This Little House
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a blog? I’d advise them to make sure that they’re in it for the right reasons. A love of writing is a must in my opinion, and you need to dedicate a lot of time. You only get out of it what you’re willing to put into it. If you’re in it just to get some products to review – it shows and it won’t last long.
How does a good PR work with you? I love to get emails from PR people who make it clear that they have taken the time to look at my blog and make themselves familiar with it – when an email addresses me by name and makes reference to my sons name or age, or a recent post I’ve published then I know they’ve actually bothered to look at who we are rather than just send out a generic copy and paste email.
I think a good PR also discusses expectations from both sides right from the start – when they would like the review/piece to go live by, what they would like to be included, etc – this way there can be no crossed wires and everybody knows where they stand.
What do PRs do that’s bad? The biggest no-no for me is quite simply addressing me by the wrong name! I’d say 50% of the emails I get are addressed to “Helen” or “Hannah” rather than Hayley! This puts me off from the start as if they can’t take five seconds to read my name, they can’t be that interested in working with me!
What was your blogging highlight of 2013? Well all of 2013 was a highlight for me – it was the year I became a mum and also the year I started blogging as my blog began in January 2013! Hitting half a million views towards the end of the year was a great feeling!
What will be big in your blogosphere in 2014? I think the biggest thing for me is attending Brit Mums Live, it’s the first blogger conference I’ll have been to and I’m very excited about it!