Actually, I’m always telling people they should blog. My ex-husband, my hairdresser, my lawyer – I even had an in-depth conversation about blogging with the woman at Caffe Nero last week about how she should write a blog because she makes the best coffee, and never scorches it, like they do at Starbucks. I think everyone should blog. Providing none of you nick my readers, of course.
Anyway, 2011 has been a fab year for me in lots of ways, and blogging has brought so many new experiences and opportunities that it’s pretty mind-blowing. Honestly, next time one of my friends asks me what’s the point of blogging, I’m just going to show them this post.
My year kicked off in January 2011 with a new business venture, the Tots100 website, which connects blogs and brands. We’ve grown from around 700 blogs a year ago to now listing more than 2,500 active blogs and working with more than 200 brands and PR agencies.
In February, we headed down to London to take cooking lessons with Dairylea, and launched the Tots100 Parent Blogger Benchmark Study – the first survey to share what bloggers thought about working with brands.
March saw us heading out to Stockley Park to meet with bloggers and Nutella, picking up some more cooking tips.
In April we took our first trip of the year, to the Isle of Wight, where we stayed in a yurt set in a beautiful apple orchard. When we came home, we were invited to help test a new rollercoaster at Drayton Manor, which I know was a highlight of Flea’s year!
In May, we took a week’s holiday to Italy with Thomson Alfresco, staying on Lake Garda, and spending a fab day visiting Venice. When we came home, we had our first ever BlogCamp event in London, thanks to some fab support from our friends at TalkTalk. This was the first free event of its kind for bloggers, and was a huge success.
June saw our second BlogCamp in Manchester – our first event outside London. We then headed down to London for a night out at Glee Live, then a weekend reviewing a hotel in Cornwall. At the end of the month, I was lucky to be invited on a trip of a lifetime to Israel, to see the innovation taking place in that country.
Travelling to Israel with Rosie and Jane was a real life-changing trip for me. I loved meeting so many inspiring women, and I’ll never forget the sights of the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Israeli deserts. Also – true story – I got recognised at Jesus’ grave. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in, shall I?
July was a month of relaxation and not very much work, and we took off for our summer hols in Devon – long days on the beach and evenings grilling dinner in the garden. Just bliss.
In August, we were invited to take cooking classes at the Royal Garden Hotel in London, before heading off to Heathrow Airport for a look at how the airport works behind the scenes. Flea got to sit at the controls of the world’s biggest commercial airline – seriously, how cool is THAT?
We rounded off our summer with a trip to France for a sunny beach holiday with Keycamp, where Flea finally learned to swim!
In September I headed down to London to hear about the work being done by Save the Children at their blogging conference, then got busy organising the second annual MAD Blog Awards, which were even bigger and more brilliant than our 2010 awards, thanks to our fab sponsors at Parentdish.co.uk and some truly fantastic, inspiring and brilliant bloggers.
In October, the Tots100 organised a Bloggers’ Forum about meningitis in Birmingham, and I was really proud to be part of an event that reached more than 50,000 people with important, potentially life-saving messages about meningitis in children.
November saw us heading off to Maths Camp – actually a cunning code-name for Disneyland Paris, where Flea and I tested out the magical Christmas experience at Disney, including rollercoaster rides, parades, fireworks and a visit with the man in red himself.
December saw the launch of a second blogging index, the Foodies100. In less than two weeks, we’ve listed more than 700 UK food and drink blogs, and we’ll be publishing our first charts in the New Year. Next week, we’ll be heading off to Germany to visit the Christmas markets, then heading home for a family Christmas, and a few (hundred) mince pies.
It’s been a brilliant year, and I feel blessed in more ways than I can count. But it’s been hectic, and hard work, too. So, I’ll be popping in from time to time, but mostly I’ll be dedicating myself to the festive season, and spending time with family and friends in the next week or two. Hope you’re all doing the same!