Blogging my way into business

 

Ma Puce web photoMy name is Luci and you might know me through my blog mother.wife.me I’ve just launched a new business, a website called Ma Puce. It’s a French language-learning hub for parents of young children that brings together the best information and resources for teaching a child French as a second language.

My aim in setting up a business is that I will have the flexibility to bring up my daughter in the way that I want to by being there for her whenever she needs me without having to juggle an employers needs with hers.

Kissing Goodbye To Employment

I had planned to go back to work – PR for the record – when my daughter was around 6 months old but once she arrived I realised it wasn’t right for us. I needed to either start freelancing or set up my own business if I wanted to bring up my daughter my way.

My first blog and my first attempt at a freelance career

I started blogging at the end of November 2011. I’d decided to set myself up as a freelance copywriter and thought a blog could ‘showcase’ my writing skills.

Freelance copywriting wasn’t my answer. I got a few projects but it is nigh on impossible to juggle being a full-time mum to a toddler with being a hungry-for-it freelancer.

The blog however did take off and what’s more I love blogging and like many a newbie I got quite obsessed for a while. Blog post ideas would come to me at all hours and let’s not even go there about how many times a day I used to check my stats. I’ve calmed down now, but I still love sitting down at my computer to bash out a post.

What blogging has done for me:

Confidence: In my experience it’s true that becoming a full-time mum knocks your confidence. Blogging gave me back my confidence. mother.wife.me even got shortlisted for the BritMums Brilliance In Blogging Fresh Voices Award earlier this year which was a massive boost.

Community: The blogging community is a place where I regularly chat, tweet and comment with a whole array of interesting, inspiring and supportive people whom I wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to meet.

Focus: Blogging takes discipline, you need to plan and manage your blog if you really want it to flourish. Focusing on anything other than a small child/children is hard when you are a full-time mum. Blogging has helped me find a way.

Social Media Experience: Through blogging I’ve become a Social Media Expert by default. It is amazing how much knowledge I’ve soaked up from living and breathing social media on a daily basis.

My Business Idea

I started a section on my blog called Ma Puce back in the Spring but it never really fitted in with the core of what my blog is about. However, it gave me a business idea.

Even though the Ma Puce section didn’t really work out I knew that it had potential. I noticed that there’s a growing trend for parents wanting to teach their babies, toddlers and young children a second language.

There is also an evolving community of non-native bilingual bloggers and at the same time lots of information, products, services and resources on the web. It takes an age to search for them and root out the good stuff.

So there was my business idea: to provide an online hub. Rounding up the very best of what is available on the web plus providing information, guides and support for this growing group of parents eager to teach their child French.

Starting My Business

Given that we’ve cut back considerably to enable me to be a full-time mum my coffers aren’t exactly overflowing with cash. So, I knew from the outset that I needed to set things up with a shoestring budget which meant doing as much of it myself as possible.

A top tip for anyone else looking to start up a business on next to no money is to tap-up your friends, family and contacts! I’m lucky that my husband has a brand and design agency – he did my logo and he is also able to host Ma Puce on his company server.

Another tip is to read one or two books about starting your own business. I really like Duncan Bannatyne’s Wake Up and Change Your Life and Deborah Meaden’s Common Sense Rules. Don’t get bogged down in reading too many books though, it’ll confuse you and you’ll never actually get started.
I also signed up to an online business course by ACE Inspire which gave me bundles of information on every aspect of starting and growing an online business.

Given I didn’t have big cash to spend on someone building my website, I chose to build it myself using WordPress.org. WordPress is the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world but it isn’t just about blogs with WordPress, there are plenty of templates for websites available too.

I went for a really customisable template, which was almost the death of Ma Puce before it launched, because I hadn’t realised how much CSS and coding I’d need to learn to get it to look just as I wanted it to. On the upside – I’ve inadvertently learned more digital skills. On the downside – it took me way longer than I originally planned for.

The feedback I’ve had so far is that I’ve done a good job with the look and functionality of Ma Puce but I plan that down the line a professional will give it a makeover.

Up and Running

I soft launched Ma Puce at the start of September. The aim is to build up a following for the site through social media, SEO and the Ma Puce blog over the next couple of months. I can use this period to get feedback, add the mile-long list of content that I still want to get onto the site and analyse the behaviour of site visitors – what they flock to, what they ignore.

In the background I’m also busy beavering away registering the business, the Ma Puce trademark and working on my business plan – which is ever evolving.

The Future’s Bright

Of course the big focus is on monetisation and I have a huge list of tactics to monetise the blog with the aim of it becoming my main source of income. I’m not just thinking advertising, I’m thinking brand partnerships, content sponsorships, pay-for content, Apps and extending the brand offline.

I know I have a long way to go before I can say I have a successful business but I’m so happy that I’ve started. It isn’t easy finding time, I do often find myself frustrated that I have to fit a full-time week’s work into early mornings, late nights and weekends. But I think it’s worth it.

I’ll do another guest post on BritMums in six months time, to let you know how it’s coming along but in the meantime, if either teaching your child French as a second language interests you or if you are interested to see the fruits of my labours so far pay Ma Puce a visit!

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About Luci Hindmarsh

Luci McQuitty Hindmarsh is a mother, wife and writer- in that order. Honest. She is based in London and started her career in journalism before accidentally languishing in PR for too many years – it was the lashings of champagne wot done it. Motherhood allowed her to change track and get back to what she loves – writing. Luci has two blogs. Her personal blog, www.motherwifeme.com is about all things parenting, marriage and anything else that piques her interest. Her other blog, Ma Puce, is part her Ma Puce website, an online resource to help parents teach their babies, toddlers and young children French as a second language. www.mapucebilingual.co.uk Luci can regularly be found loitering with intent on Twitter as @motherwifeme and @mapucebilingual and also ventures onto Facebook.

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3 Responses to Blogging my way into business

  1. Franglaise Mummy 16 September 2012 at 17:27 #

    This is really interesting. My daughter is 5.5 years old and has been brought up bilingually as my husband is French and I am English, she also spent the first 3.5 years of her life in France before we relocated to London where we’re now based. Bilingualism in my children is hugely important to my husband and me, and while it isn’t an issue with our daughter as she’s lived in both countries, it may be with baby number 2 who is due in November.

    I will be following Ma Puce closely to find out more. This is also something close to my heart as whilst in France I taught English as a foreign language to children/babies as young as 4 months old.

    Great name too, this is what our daughter tends to get called in our house 🙂

  2. mother.wife.me 17 September 2012 at 10:11 #

    Hello! Wow, three years of total immersion in France, that takes some beating! Hopefully you will find plenty on Ma Puce to help you along with baby number 2. There’s new content going on all the time and if you have any top tips, please do share them with us over at Ma Puce!

  3. Cassie | Womenswaytowealth 18 September 2012 at 09:10 #

    Congrats Lucy, on starting your business and on a great post. Very inspiring to others and I love how you’re bootstrapping the business. Most importantly you’ve taken action on your idea, something that many dream of doing but fear – or life – gets in the way.

    I’m a big fan of bootstrapping because, as well as getting you started, it’s a great way to test out your business ideas before spending big bucks on a fancy website or product development. It’s a low cost, low risk strategy. As you say in your article you can scale up and have your website professionally “made over” once you’re generating income.

    If it’s helpful, I’m just launching a Bootstrappers Guide To Starting A Business, a free e-course to help women entrepreneurs start their businesses on a shoestring. I’ll Tweet you the link.

    Best of luck with Ma Puce. It sounds amazingly exciting!