This week on the blog, I have the pleasure of introducing Harriet to you. For those of you who don’t know, Harriet blogs at Toby And Roo and has recently made it into the coveted number one Mummy blogger spot. She commands over 50,000 followers on Instagram and is feeding her three children through the hard work and determination she ploughs into her blog. No mean feat I can tell you!
It’s a big statement but I think Toby and Roo is probably my all time favourite blog and that is due to Harriet’s ability to write with both candour and a healthy dose of the over-share but also intelligence and wit. When she writes, she has something to say and I like that. It is probably those things that, when you read her blog, make you feel like you sat down to share a bottle of wine with a really good (and funny) friend. It’s also most likely the reason she is going from strength to strength.
So with three (in her words) slightly feral kids, two of the most ridiculously cute dogs you’ll ever see and a wine merchant hubby – I sat down with Harriet to find out how exactly she manages it all.
How did you come about setting up Toby and Roo?
I absolutely loved a blog called Babyccino Kids and I wanted to share all the fun things I did with the kids, all of the fashion finds and that kind of thing. I started out blogging about “oohh look at these cute trousers I’ve found” and “I love this craft for my kids” and then as it grew I would throw in blogs about my child’s behaviour or something and then eventually I phased out (without meaning to) the “oh look at this” posts and I started posting about me, my life and my views. That’s when things took off really, when it became something more than “oh check this out”.
What were your expectations of being a blogger?
I think I thought that it would allow me to share the fun things I did with the kids and never really thought it was something that would be a career. Eventually I started to pick up and realised that I could make this something that I could do around my children, or even with my children, and make a really good living at the same time.
How does the reality of being a blogger differ from your expectations? Or is it as you imagined it would be?
It is wildly different to what I thought – I remember when I first started I was super excited because I pitched to a company to get some clothes for the kids for holiday. I had no concept of what my social stats were worth, domain authority values or anything. I got the swim shorts and I was so happy. I’ve also found that blogging for a living is very different to what I thought it would be when I left work 2 years ago. I thought that I would be working part time, totally flexible around my kids and have lots of free days to play/craft/bake… yeah. That hasn’t transpired!
Describe a typical working day in your life.
I get up around 6.30/45, check my Instagram, twitter, facebook page, WhatsApp and emails (usually in that order!), then I get coffee because I don’t function without it at all, get the kids ready for school, do the school run and come home to get set up on work. I’ll perhaps do an Instagram shoot, write a bit, schedule social media content, edit old posts, agree new deals, invoice clients… any of these things amongst others! I spend a lot of time faffing around on Instagram and procrastinating so I have to try and remember to get on with the important stuff! I then go to pick the kids up, do the dinner/bath/homework/bed routines and once everyone is snoozing I get back on it. I try to Instagram around 8pm and that can take me a good hour to really engage with my followers, then (depending on what I’ve got going on that month – this month I’m happy and being a bit lazy… she says typing at 11.14pm) I’ll either switch off or I’ll work until 11/12am.
What is the best and worst part of being your own boss?
Best part is being so flexible – I can go and get the kids from school at the drop of a hat if needs be, or I can say “I’m not working on this day because it’s sport’s day”. That is invaluable to me. Worst part? That panic at the beginning of the month when I haven’t set anything up for the rest of the month and I’m wondering if perhaps this month I won’t be able to put Sofia the First on the telly and grub in the belly. Touch wood, we haven’t had that month… but there is always the knowledge that the pressure is on me.
How do you deal with negativity from trolls or even from people who don’t think you have a real job?
Ahh trolls, meh. I genuinely don’t let it bother me – I’ve written about topics like abortion and feminism, so I expect trolling from time to time. I generally take it as an opportunity to hone my sarcasm skills J K Rowling style or I ignore it. As for the people who don’t think it’s a real job – we get that from time to time. I know my husband’s friend’s have asked him if I plan to go back to work now Edith is at preschool and he is very quick to say I’ve been “back at work” since she was 2 weeks old, but we’re hoping it won’t be long before he doesn’t have to work any more and can be a stay at home parent. It generally shuts people up.
Who do you look to for inspiration in your career?
I spoke about this recently – I was asked to appear on a TV show and they wanted me to be really divisive and I said I wasn’t prepared to do so. I want to build women up and unite mothers (and fathers) in parenthood. I feel like the absolutely love Anna from Mother Pukka is super inspiring, The Unmumsy Mum, Constance Hall, Giovanna Fletcher – they’ve all built successful careers on positivity and helping other women. I’d like to think that Toby & Roo is the same – a no judgement, united zone.
Where would you like to take Toby and Roo in the future?
Gosh, I don’t know – it’s surprised me with where it’s grown to already. I’d really like to try and expand into vlogging, I think there is something in that but as a perfectionist I don’t like to do things by halves!
Pick three pieces of advice that you would give to new bloggers starting out who want to build their blog into their business.
Prepare to work hard. Believe in yourself and stay positive. Never say no to something just because you don’t see the immediate gain, but never say yes to something that compromises your values and beliefs – people smell fake a million miles away.
A massive thank you to Harriet for taking part in this series.