Looking back at 2021: family memories and work success

I was struggling to think of positive things to write about 2021. I knew it hadn’t been a particularly bad year all things considered, but it felt like a bit of a nothing year. I’ve not had a baby, we (thankfully) haven’t had any family tragedies, life has just happened. And then I went through the videos on my phone to create an Instagram Reel. There were days out and holidays I had forgotten. Many days at home filled with laughter (and sibling fights I imagine), days on the beach, snow, playgrounds, mud. So much that I had forgotten. So while I remember, here are a few of my memories of 2021.

me and my children dressed up for a night in New Year's Eve 2021
NYE 2021

Birthdays at Home

January started with us not being able to see anyone, the children didn’t go back to school (until March), but January is a birthday month with 3 people in our house having a January birthday. There were cakes, decorations and most specially there was a birthday party for Little. We had a tea party including crackers, we had party games like pin the scales on the dinosaur and pass the parcel and we invited family to join in by Zoom and she blew her cake candles out on camera. 

Playing at pin a scale on the dinosaur party game
5th Birthday Party Games At Home


Snow

There was snow. Lots of snow (for Essex) on lots of days. BB and Mittens found it a bit too cold, but the girls ran outside in their pyjamas to enjoy it and I spent a lot of time just standing at the window and watching the flakes fall from the sky.

My 3 children standing in the garden on a snowy day
Playing in the snow in our garden and some very snowy gloves


"Baby Boy"

At some point in the year BB weaned from breastfeeding, this was a difficult milestone for me because it was the first time in over 6 years that I wasn’t breastfeeding or pregnant. My son has grown up so much this year. In photographs taken in January he looks like a baby, now he looks like a little boy. He started nursery at the beginning of the year, is (kinda) toilet trained and he’s showing so much personality. His talking has been slow to develop, and is still behind, but he is finally able to communicate well with us, and more importantly he can talk well enough to play with his siblings, sharing his ideas and imagination rather than just doing what his sisters say.

BB sitting on my lap at Great Yarmouth beach throwing sand in the air
BB on the beach at Great Yarmouth throwing sand in the air


Sports

Little got to move up to Karate from Mini-Ninjas and got her Red belt. M, who was ready to do her Orange belt grading pre-pandemic finally got back up the required standard and received her Orange belt. M started to do Junior Park Run and Little decided she wanted to do it too, although she can't run the whole way round yet.

Little wearing a white Gi with a red belt doing a pose after her red belt grading
Little at her Karate Red Belt Grading


House Repairs

I went through a motivated period in the summer to get some repairs completed around the house, but every time I tried to get one thing sorted it turned out far more complicated than expected. Like the gutters I thought that were blocked and it turns out the roof tiles were sliding off the roof and it was only the gutter holding them on. That was fixed quickly enough but the site of the scaffolders waving long metal poles around in front of my windows is not a memory I will be forgetting anytime soon. I didn’t like that.

M carrying her toddler brother on a beach at Wells Norfolk with beach huts in the background
M and BB hugging on the beach


Holidays

We went to Butlins for the weekend (it was the first time I have ever been) and despite non-stop rain forecast Bognor worked it’s magic and we had good weather. We went camping at the beginning of the Summer holidays with friends and after pitching our tent in a down pour (there was a big puddle in our sleeping area I had to dry out) we managed plenty of time around the campfire having fun. We went away with family in August and stayed right next to the beach at Camber Sands and then in September I sneaked away for a few days with BB to stay at my Mum’s house in France, getting a nice dose of sunshine. 

Close up of Little looking at the camera covered in sea water
Little covered in sea water from splashing around


Blogging Successes in 2021

With BB starting nursery I have finally had some solid time to work this year and my blog has had it’s most successful year yet. Other than in school holidays, home learning and a ridiculous about of time with children being off sick I have been able to focus on blogging and it has shown results. I have had my most financially successful blogging year to date.

For the second year running the number of users to my site has been up by around 50%, a lot of that has been due to an increase in Google traffic which continues to show a great improvement. Search traffic to my site doubled between 2019 and 2020 and it went up by 90% in 2021 compared to 2020. I will be overjoyed to keep seeing that level of my growth. My most popular post had just over 10k views in 2021 and that was nearly all from Google. 

My lifetime AD revenue in 2021 was more than double my blog's AD earnings in the previous 5 years put together.

There have continued to be less work events and I have turned down quite a few opportunities to go on review days out with my family as at times I haven’t felt comfortable promoting these. I managed to get to the BlogOn conference though which was great to finally see some familiar faces again.

My favourite reviews have been my new duvet and pillow and the awesome scooters from MicroTrike that all the children received. I have enjoyed my ongoing collaborations with Marsh Farm, The Harvey Centre and Wicked Uncle. I'm glad I got to try Skinkissed too, I shared how it improved my spots in this post

My success on social media has been less exciting.  It’s one of those things that I have less control over thanks to the algorithm and my content isn’t anything standout so to make progress requires a lot of effort for very little return.

On Instagram I gained about 600 followers, 100 on Twitter and a whopping 15 on Facebook. That probably reflects the amount of effort I have put into each platform. I love Instagram, but it’s not an area where I am ever going to be huge so in 2022 it will just be about me having fun and connecting with people rather than growth. I have met some people I am very happy to have in my life through Instagram and it's not a platform I will be abandoning any time soon. 

Aims for 2022

2022 should see me turning 40 and my son starting nursery full time in September. We'll be applying for his school place and a secondary school for M at the end of the year which is pretty huge. We have no major plans, no holidays booked and it would just be nice if my children could have birthday parties this year and we could maybe go on a family holiday. I am not going to plan too much because I’m happier that way; the last few years have shown that we aren’t as much in control as we might think.

On the work front I do have plans though, in 2022 I will:

  • Continue to build my organic traffic to this site through useful posts (as well as continuing to share more personal posts).
  • Build on my affiliate income.
  • Complete my planned 40 giveaways for my 40th birthday target (I am currently on giveaway number 14 so I have a long way to go.)
  • Build traffic on my other two websites so by the end of the year they are getting reliable organic traffic with the hope that I will bring in more clients to write for and advise on their digital strategies.
  • Consistently post on Instagram and TikTok.
  • Publish more toy review YouTube videos, aiming for simple, useful videos rather than anything complex and fancy that takes too long.


And now I’m going to have a cup of tea.

No comments