Jo Middleton aka @slummysinglemummy on her blog and new book 'Playgroups and Prosecco'
When and why did you decide to start blogging?
I started my blog back at the end of 2009. I’d quit a job that summer – I was the Fundraising Manager at a big housing association – because I was sick of working for other people and fancied myself as a freelance journalist. I don’t know what I thought I was playing at really, as I had no savings, journalistic experience or relevant qualifications! I was watching a lot of Sex and The City at the time though. I started the blog a little while later as a way to showcase my writing when I was pitching ideas to newspapers and magazines. I never planned for it really to be a thing on its own.
How do you maintain audience loyalty in the competitive world of honest mum-blogging?
Timing-wise, I think I was really lucky. When I started blogging ten years ago there were nowhere near as many people doing it and it was much easier to be heard. I guess I just try to be honest, be myself, and say yes to as many opportunities as possible. I avoid anything controversial, steer clear of blogger politics, and always try to be kind and professional. Consistency is important for audience loyalty too – people want to know what to expect when they invest time clicking on a link, so you need to be reliably entertaining.
What have been some of the challenges of single parenting?
There are practical challenges, like childcare and trying to make enough money for everybody, but as my kids have got older (they are 16 and 23 now). The main challenge for me is not having the emotional support of another adult. I’ve been through some tricky times with both of my children, and it can feel like a lot of responsibility. It would be nice sometimes to have someone else to say ‘You know what, I’ve got this one.’
To what do you ascribe your popularity?
I wish I had some kind of secret formula, but honestly, I’m just me. I try to be relatable, especially as a single parent, because I think often we just want to know that we’re not on our own, that other people are crying all over the fish fingers sometimes too. I try not to overthink my blog posts because I want to keep that chatty style – a lot of people who know me say they can imagine me saying the things I write out loud, and I think that helps people feel connected to what I’m saying.
How did you find the process of writing ‘Playgroups and Prosecco’? Is it different to writing for the blog?
I’m used to writing 600 words or so at a time, so the prospect of having to write tens of thousands, all strung together to make a story, was rather daunting! Just like the blog though, I tried not to overthink it. I knew that my editor liked the style of my blog. I’d love for people to read it and laugh and think ‘Oh God, I totally know that feeling!’