Bearded Backchat with Milla from Live Oxfordshire
Bearded Backchat is a chance for me to interview PR people and fellow bloggers. This week it’s Milla from Live Oxfordshire, who describes herself as a bit of a hodge-podge, writing about her life and discussing the middle-class bliss that is a blog comment section.
Who are you?
Milla from Live Oxfordshire
What is your “day job”?
I think you could call me a bit of a hodge-podge. Technically I run my own PR & press Consultancy for small businesses, but as I’m also a stay at home parent for a preschooler and a 1-year-old I’ve trimmed down my clients to just the one for now… plus the blogging… and the voluntary work… I’m quite busy.
Where is it that you volunteer?
I volunteer for a local independent charity called the Wallingford Baby Bar which offers infant feeding support to women in South Oxfordshire.
I’ve set up the website/blog for them (wallingfordbabybar.wordpress.com) but don’t have enough wherewithal to blog for them as well - I’m a full-time SAHM with a blog, my own PR business and my husband works two jobs, so time is at a premium, especially since one of my kids is a night owl and one is a lark which means I get very little child-free time in my day!
Trust my children to stagger their sleep schedules for maximum annoyance!
What is your blog called and where can we find it?
It’s called Live Oxfordshire and you can find it, funnily enough, at liveoxfordshire.com.
How do you pronounce that? So that it rhymes with Five Oxfordshire or Sieve Oxfordshire?
It rhymes with sieve - I have a very naff tagline “Don’t just *be* in Oxfordshire, *Live* Oxfordshire” which (hopefully) makes that a bit more clear, but it’s one of those silly things you don’t think about until people start questioning you about it after you buy the damn domain!
What’s your blog about?
It’s about family life, but with a local slant. I blog about anything that’s going on with me and my family, from days out and places we go, to tongue-in-cheek analyses of childrens’ culture (Anyone else think there’s something a bit dodgy about the Tiger Who Came To Tea?), useful ideas of things to buy (usually aimed at aunties and godfathers who have no kids of their own and thus no clue, ie: gender neutral gifts for a 3-year-old or a new baby) and a whole heap of my thoughts and opinions about life, the universe and everything, although there’s a distinct emphasis on children and parenting, as that’s mostly what I think about these days!
Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging because I need to write and my fragile ego just loves to have an audience.
Few things make me happier than knowing that my writing has got through to someone - on whatever level. Comments are the blogger’s version of a room falling quiet to listen to you hold forth at a dinner party. Middle-class bliss.
Why do you still blog?
Well, as I mentioned above, the adulation is a big part of it - maybe one of these days I’ll get me some of that!
More seriously, I’ve finished my family now (Yup, wrote about that too) and I’m thinking about the future and what I’d like to do.
Much as I love helping small businesses promote themselves what I’d really like is a future as a writer and/or broadcaster of some kind and I suppose this is a sort of online portfolio of my work. I also just really really love writing. I do it all the time. I’d do it even if nobody read it, it’s just better when they do.
I also just really really love writing. I do it all the time. I’d do it even if nobody read it, it’s just better when they do.
How has blogging changed since you started?
Well, I started blogging in 2009 and at that point, it was very much just an online diary for me.
It’s only been in the last year that I’ve started to take it seriously and look around at what other people are doing, so the fact that it seems like more of a ‘profession’ now may be due as much to my perception as the actual reality of the situation. But that’s the change that I’ve noticed.
Would you count your blog as a job or something fun to do in your spare time?
Both! And, even more, something that’s necessary for me to feel like a functioning, sane human being. Caring for children 24/7, especially when your other half works long hours, subsumes you.
It takes so much of you - your time, energy, patience, thought process - that you need something that’s yours.
Even if I mostly blog about my children the blog is still all mine: I get to be in control, choose what it wears, what it eats - my blog always listens when I tell it to stop sitting on the baby or drawing on the wall. Hopefully, at some point, Live Oxfordshire will turn into a ‘proper’ job, one way or another, but even if it doesn’t it’s my sanity saver and for that, I love it.
Hopefully, at some point, Live Oxfordshire will turn into a ‘proper’ job, one way or another, but even if it doesn’t it’s my sanity saver and for that, I love it.
Dammit. My blog still smears part-eaten rusks over the living room wall! Where do you get the inspiration to write a blog post?
My life! I’ve had blog posts spring from comments on other blog posts, from conversations I’ve had with new mums online, from other peoples’ blog posts (see item 3 for the link to my inspiration post), from blog hops I’ve taken part in (see most of the breastfeeding posts on my blog!) and just from stuff that pops into my head while I’m doing something completely different.
If you could recommend three other blogs to read, what three would you recommend and why?
Hmm, this is tricky. I suppose it depends on what you’re looking for really, but the three I rely on for blog advice are MrAndMrsTPlus3, WhatKatySaid and ChloeSocial. They all give really useful, down to earth advice that I have found helpful.
What is the single best thing that has come about as a result of your blog?
Goodness, I could be terribly flip and say ‘a microwave’, but that hasn’t arrived yet and I don’t like counting my chickens, so I think - instead - I’ll be nauseatingly twee and say that getting to talk to other bloggers and feel like part of that community has been a really exciting opportunity.
It’s also been really special when I get Mumsnet Blog of the day, which has happened a couple of times - most recently with “Modern Parenting - Why being connected doesn’t mean you’re disconnecting”
It’s such a thrill to get some kind of meaningful recognition.
Edit: Since originally answering this question, I have had a microwave. It’s awesome. I’ve also been on a shopping spree for my blog which was fabulous as I rarely buy myself clothes and this was a guilt-free opportunity!
What would be your perfect blog post?
I suppose it depends on your definition of ‘perfect’.
For me, something that really generates a response is a perfect post. Whenever I get a big rush of hits, lots of shares or comments I know I’ve done something right. Mind you, if anybody wants to send me on an all-expenses paid review trip… well, anywhere I wouldn’t say no!
What can you recommend to other bloggers to increase the traffic to their sites?
Incredibly cheesy as it may sound I would have to say to write from the heart about something important to you.
As a parenting blogger, I think this is even more important. All the posts that have done well for me have been topics about which I was hugely passionate. Or, as one of my blogger friends says “nothing like a good rant to get the figures up”!
Ahhh. everyone loves a good old “rant post”! Which brands do you enjoy working with?
As a newly self-hosted blogger, I haven’t actually worked with many brands.
In fact, at this point, I’ve only worked with Ao.com, but as a first experience, I have to say they’ve been really great - good communication, very friendly and open to my advances. I can only hope any future collaborations go as well as this has… so far!
Everyone has that one company that they have always wanted to work with but have never quite been able to. Who is yours?
As I said above I haven’t actually worked with many brands, so for me, it’s more of a wish list.
As a blog with a local slant I would be really keen to do more Oxfordshire-based reviews, so any local businesses would be made very welcome.
More generally, I’m not sure I can choose any one brand in particular, but I’d love an ongoing relationship with someone who supports all sides of family life, something like John Lewis, Debenhams or House of Fraser - from food to electronics, clothing to furniture. Because that’s what family life and parenting are about and it makes sense to me to work with a brand that reflects that.
What is your own personal favourite post on your site?
This is really tough, because I have a few pieces I’m attached to, but I think - although I’m rather proud of the comical or silly posts I’ve done, this one called “Behind the birth story” is the most meaningful to me. I wrote it on the suggestion of my midwife when I was struggling to come to terms with the difficult birth of my daughter and, although I’ve had some wobbly moments since then, I’m much more at peace with the experience.
I didn’t get much feedback on it, but then I wrote it just for me, to face the demons so it didn’t matter so much. I’m just proud that I was brave enough to put it out there and was able to move on and enjoy my beautiful daughter without focusing on what went wrong.
Whose blog would you love to be featured on or write a guest post for?
God, so many of them - I’d be well chuffed if one of the three I mentioned above featured me on their blog, but I don’t often blog about, um, blogs so they probably wouldn’t want me!
I think it’s a compliment any time one’s writing is featured or shared elsewhere. Go on, make my day, pick a post of mine and share it 😉
Lastly, if you were to interview another blogger, what question would you ask that I haven’t asked here?…
Has your blog ever had any real life repercussions of any kind for you? (ie: someone recognising you from your blog/family or friends taking offence at something you’ve written etc)
… And what is your answer to that question?
No, but it’s something I always wonder when I read other peoples’ blogs!
Thanks for taking part, Milla!
You can catch up with Milla in all of the usual places:
Don’t forget to visit Milla from Live Oxfordshire at her blog, Live Oxfordshire, too.
(Header adapted from an original design by www.lucykatedesign.co.uk, with thanks)