Blogging can take us places, from worldwide travel destinations to actual skills like improving our confidence or learning to code. Here, blogger Helen McGinn tells us her story of how blogging and the support she received at the start led to great things. Over to Helen…
It all started one night, back in 2009, when my boobs were hurting so much I thought they were going to explode. Mastitis, as it turned out. So there I was, praying at the altar of Google trying to find something online to help me through, when I came across my first ever ‘mummy blog’. Turns out it was A Modern Mother, written by BritMums’ own Susannah Scott. Not that she’d written about mastitis specifically but disappearing down the internet rabbit hole had led me to her, and to a beautifully written blog by someone I could relate to. And so I decided to start one of my own, with a twist.
My passion is wine. Yeah, yeah, you and me both but seriously, I made a living out of it for years as a professional wine buyer for a big supermarket. My job was travelling the globe sniffing out the good stuff. But when kids came along, the globetrotting was somewhat more difficult. So I changed jobs, took on a part-time wine marketing role, and loved it. But with friends still calling and emailing for wine advice on a regular basis (especially at around 5pm on a Friday afternoon) I decided to start a blog, listing a couple of my favourite wines a week, whatever I’d tasted that week I thought worth sharing. I called it The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club.
It was an instant hit – with my mum, sister and husband (when I reminded him to read it). But before long, the weekly posts started to get comments from people I wasn’t actually related to and suddenly it started to take on a life of its own. I joined the BritMums collective and found a community of like-minded people all with their own creative space, sharing ideas and inspiration along the way. It was enormously helpful in those early blogging days and I know the Knackered Mother’s Wine Club would not have grown quite as it did without the support I found through BritMums.
A couple of years later, I was asked to turn the blog into a book and I was able to write my dream wine book, something that I always thought would happen in my head, not in actual real life. Soon after came an offer to write a weekly wine column for a national newspaper (four years on and I’m still doing that). Then came a few years of telly, as Alan Titchmarsh’s wine expert on his weekly chat show. Definitely not making this up. I did wine tastings with everyone from Roger Moore to Frank Lampard, Atomic Kitten and Sooty & Sweep. Not all at the same time, obviously.
I’ve just written my second book, Teetotal Tipples, about not drinking. Actually, it’s not really; it’s about how to get through a dry spell in style. And of course I’ve sneaked in some wines at the back. I still post weekly on the blog and to be honest, even after all these years, that’s still the most rewarding part of my job. I love the interaction with other readers and bloggers. Always will.
So big up to BritMums. They didn’t cure my mastitis (cabbage leaves didn’t either. Antibiotics on the other hand…) but as a collective, it’s boss.