“I want to keep learning, keep having fantastic experiences and spend more time with my family. A simple dream but a worthwhile one I think!”
I love all the different blog names out there in the blogosphere and the meanings behind them. Can you tell me how you decided on your blog name?
I wish I had an interesting story but it really was just a case of the name popping into my head and I went with it! Luckily I really like it; it sounds good and encapsulates what my blog is about.
Can you tell me a little bit about the focus/vision/ethos behind your blog?
The ethos behind my blog is very simple: I just want to encourage people to spend more time outdoors. I didn’t have any particular knowledge and I couldn’t afford lots of kit when I started camping and walking, but we stuck with it and learnt as we went along. I have to fit my outdoor time around work, and now with a family in tow things have changed slightly. Essentially, I just want to show how easy it is for anyone to enjoy being outdoors.
Who, or what inspired you to start out on your blogging adventure and how has the journey been so far?
The Helpful Hiker started out purely as a personal record of our walks and camping trips. My husband is a great photographer and we visited lots of beautiful places that I wanted to document. I thought our friends and family might enjoy it, and I wanted a way to remember where we’d been. I think you can tell that it started organically, from the heart and with no real direction or understanding where blogging could lead. It was just my ramblings with a few pretty photos thrown in! On my last maternity leave (2015) I was able to spend a lot of time on my blog and it developed into something more. I’m not very proactive with brands, but have been lucky to have received lots of opportunities and some great kit to try out. I make a bit out of money, but I’m still learning every-day. I love the fact that I have picked up so many new skills (WordPress, dealing with brands, social media etc.) and I love running my own little empire. At the beginning I didn’t realise the potential or have any idea where it would lead. Now I can’t imagine my life without blogging.
How challenging is it to find the time to write good content with work and family commitments? Do you have a set time or day that you set aside specifically for blogging?
This is my biggest challenge! I work around 50 hours a week in retail, plus I help my husband run his garden design business, we have a three-year old, I’m 6 months pregnant and we moved house last week. Life is never dull that’s for sure. To be honest I am very good at getting a lot done in tiny pockets of time that I can snatch here and there. (I’m currently answering these questions at 10 o’clock at night on a Saturday after a 10-hour shift). Part of the reason for moving was that we can both now work from home in our converted cellar. I’m hoping that with a proper work station and another maternity leave on the horizon I can start adhering to a proper schedule and be a lot more productive.
Which of your blog posts has attracted the most readers?
Annoyingly, I have one post that outperforms any other by a country mile and it was a total fluke. I basically collated a list of the best outdoor hashtags to use on social media and it has been incredibly popular. It’s over two years old (although I have updated a couple of times) and gets around 3500-4000 hits a month straight from google. I’ve tried desperately to recreate this success but haven’t quite managed it yet!
If a reader only has time to click on one blog post of yours which one would you recommend?
Again, not a typical post but one of my favourites as it was fun to write (and true!)
How is 2018 unfolding so far and do you have any exciting plans or adventures planned?
2018 has been a whirlwind so far! We’re cutting back on the grand adventures this year and concentrating on family time. We’ve just come back from a brilliant weekend in the Malvern Hills that I am in the process of writing up, plus we have a camping trip at the end of the month. We’ll probably try to squeeze in another camp in June, but failing that it’ll be lots of mini local adventures. To be honest, I’m looking forward to finishing work and regrouping as it’s been a stressful few months.
What would you say to anyone thinking about starting their own blog?
Just do it! You can definitely spend too long thinking about things and procrastinating. With blogging just jump right in and learn as you go along. There are so many great bloggers out there who are so generous with their time and expertise. It’s a very supportive community and I love learning new things all the time. I am a believer in “fake it till you make it”!
What keeps you motivated in everyday life and in the blogging world?
At the moment my overriding thought is to carry on blogging as I love it so much, plus the skills that I’ve learnt have the potential to help me find a much better (and badly needed) balance in my life. I want to keep learning, keep having fantastic experiences and spend more time with my family. A simple dream but a worthwhile one I think!
How has blogging impacted your life? Has your outlook on the world changed? Has the way you live changed?
Blogging has had a massive impact on my life. I’m naturally quite a quiet person so it has been a challenge putting myself out there, but it has given me so much confidence. I’m not at all technically minded, so it’s been a steep learning curve but an amazing one. It’s a massive bonus that I get to do all this while promoting something that I genuinely believe in. I was a GetOutside champion for the Ordnance Survey last year and it gave me such a boost and pushed me to keep going. Now having the opportunity to use the skills I’ve learnt through blogging to earn money is a massive achievement. It really has changed my life.
If you had to recommend one other blog that inspires or encourages you what would it be?
(Can I choose two? This is so difficult!) There are so many I could choose but back when I started out and didn’t really know what blogging was, I found a couple of brilliant outdoor blogs that summed up what I wanted to aim for. Camping with Style and Get Out with the Kids are both well written, informative and really professional. The people behind them are so passionate and knowledgeable about the outdoors and that really comes through in their writing. Having met them, they’re also super approachable and lovely in real life too!
Where can we find you on social media?
Lauren is a Mum of one and outdoor blogger with a passion for the many amazing outdoor spaces that Britain has to offer. “I started blogging to document our adventures-both big and small-and hopefully to pass on some tips and advice to help others. Put simply, the ethos behind The Helpful Hiker is that it’s easy for anyone and everyone to enjoy the outdoors. You don’t need to spend a lot of money and you don’t need lots of expensive equipment.”