As regular readers know Mom Blogger October is when we meet Indian Mom Bloggers from across the world in an effort to understand their challenges and triumphs as they work on being themselves while juggling motherhood, as well.
Nikita Azad is what I would call 'a rebel amongst Mom Bloggers'. She has a penchant for speaking her mind and preferring not to do things that others do. She is unafraid to call a spade, a spade and is honest, upfront and transparent. Here she is talking to us about her life as Being Mamma Bear.
Could you tell us about your life before Being Mamma Bear?
Ah, it seems like such a distant memory; almost like it was another lifetime. Well, I think I was trying to write a book. And I used to be a paper crafter who spent her nights with scissors and glue and glitter. Sleeping was my favourite pastime and dressing up was a hobby I pursued passionately. Jokes apart, just before I became ‘Mamma Bear’ I was working on polishing a finished manuscript that was about 30,000 words too long to be able to convince a traditional publishing house to go with for an author who wasn’t even a blip on their radar.
What was it that prompted you to create the blog and how did you come up with the name?
Before I even started round 2,648 of editing the manuscript (that I hope will see the light of day in this century) I got pregnant. A rough first trimester saw me binge-watching shows because I was rendered incapable of smelling good things without throwing up. Eating was a necessity and my sore taste buds made that a task too. So to kill boredom and do something worthwhile, I became ‘Mamma Bear’ because I thought the internet needed a record of my absolutely ordinary and boring life as a pregnant woman.
As for the name, my sister came up with it. I wanted the blog to be about my life as a mother – whether I had just the one baby (or ten). We needed a name that would make sense even when the number of children I had, changed, and even when the baby would no longer be a baby. And then we realised that the only constant was that I would be a mom, so my blog would be about me being a mom. And I do give out the “don’t mess with me” vibe, so Mamma Bear was almost perfect to describe me.
What were the challenges you faced in setting yourself up as a blogger?
I get most of my traffic from sharing my post on Instagram. That’s where most of my audience is. So when I answer this, I’m talking about my Instagram, really. When I started off, it wasn’t that hard. Or maybe I did pay as much attention to growth and statistics and the number of collaborations I could add to my social media resume. I just did what I thought people might find interesting or funny, and what I had time for.
Before I started out, I did know that bloggers had many advantages and that I wanted to explore the possibility of making a career out of it because it was the only option that gave me the flexibility and freedom to work from home and be the primary caregiver for my child. And even though today, over two years later, my blog is not a source of income for me (not one that I can rely on) it is a creative outlet. It is a place where I can be myself and share my story with other moms.
Fortunately for me, many people appreciated the raw, unfiltered truth in my posts and how I didn’t hide the not-so-pretty parts of my life. #Keepinitreal and being myself was the only way I knew. I couldn’t put on a show and claim I had a perfect life when, as someone told someone else I know that ‘their maid looked better than I did.” At least not for long. Reality was easier. Way easier.
My reality was accepted and the support I got, the fact that people could relate to what I had to say, helped me create a beautiful community (if I say so myself) that appreciates honesty, offers support without judgement, and tells it like it is.
If I had started now, in late 2018, well, I guess that would have been a totally different ballgame.
Who was your biggest support while following your passion?
It has to be my husband. For something that required a lot of investment from the only earning member in our household to fuel something that wasn’t generating returns, he has been pretty generous. Sure, there have been moments of doubt and reflection where we have wondered if it is all worth it, and at worst it has resulted in the two of us deciding to not spend money for something blogging-related. And even though our family would benefit from me getting a real job with a fixed salary, we have decided to see where blogging takes us.
What has been the highest point/happiest moment in your journey as a Blogger?
I got major celebrity feels on our recent trip to Pondicherry earlier this year in February. We were on our first vacation since the baby and on our first evening there, we were walking back to our hotel from Rock Beach when, on the streets of Pondicherry, a lady stopped me, I thought she was going to ask me for directions. Instead, this is what she asked me. “Are you ‘Being Mamma Bear?’ I didn’t know how to react. Someone recognised me! Although, I must admit that it’s probably likely that she recognised my daughter and not me. LOL. But still. She was also from Mumbai and was in Pondicherry that weekend with her husband and their daughter. We talked for a bit and even took a picture together. Turns out that she went to school with one of my close friends from college. What a small world!
Do you think Indian Mom Bloggers are increasingly seen as a useful resource as opposed to just a group of hobbyists?
Honestly, I don’t know what the general public sees us as. I’m sure many new moms rely on information shared by bloggers. Among the serious majority, there’s also a scarily increasing number of newbie bloggers out there who’re not it in it just for the free stuff. But there’s an audience for that too, so. The ones who are doing it seriously are not hobbyists at all. So many moms put in the effort to click great pictures and read up before they write articles that make so much sense, and these blogs are definitely a great resource.
Which has been your most memorable post to date and why?
Out of all the posts on my blog, the “101 Series” are my personal favourite. One day when my baby cried for a totally random reason, I thought why not make a list of totally random weird things babies cry about and I was able to list a 101. And then I made another list, this time with 101 excuses I can make because I have a baby. In my bank of ideas a “101 reasons why toddlers cry” and “101 skills I’ve mastered since I became a mom” are next in line.
Have you ever been trolled? How did you handle it?
Well, on Instagram yes. On the blog, not so much. My simple rule is to call them out, whether it is sharing screenshots on stories or making an entire post to address a troll’s comment.
Have you ever started to write a post and then abandoned it? Why?
Oh, so many times! I think I have at least 16 half-written drafts on wordpress, 5-6 ideas for posts in the Notes app on my phone, and about twenty more in an excel sheet somewhere. Most of the times it is because I couldn’t find the time to actually complete the post or even start writing. But sometimes it’s also because an idea may sound good in my head but when I actually try to type it out, I can’t get past the first few lines. But I never delete it. Who knows? Someday I just might be inspired to finish writing that post I started three years ago!
Do you stick to a regular posting schedule or do you post whenever inspiration strikes? Do you have a writing routine?
I am awesome at making blog calendars. Like, if it were my job, I would kick ass every day. At one point, I had content for blog posts lined up for almost 6 months. But following through? Ermm... that’s a little tough. Somehow it’s only when I want to do some major writing that my baby decides that she is going to make things very hard and unpredictable for me. So I have never been able to stick to a schedule for more than a week.
But there are times when inspiration strikes and I can’t stop myself from writing a three-thousand-word-long essay that was supposed to be an Instagram caption, and it turned into a blog post only because it was waaaaay too long for Instagram.
Somewhere down the road when my child has a more predictable routine, I hope to ‘slay’, as they say.
Do you find it hard to get your voice heard in the crowded blogosphere?
Yes and no. I’m not sure if it’s just me or it is in fact true that every other mom on Instagram is a blogger. So yes, it is hard because everyone has something to say and if everyone’s talking then who is listening? If everyone is a creator then who is the consumer? We are all attempting to churn out quality posts every single day, so then how much time do we have to spend on listening to / reading what others have to say. Some days it feels like I am talking to myself on social media, and some days it’s like a cacophony of posts that everyone is trying to get more views and likes on. So yes, it is very easy for content to get lost simply because there’s too much content out there.
Also no, it’s not that hard because I believe I have a style, a voice that’s unlike others. I go easy on brand endorsements and try to keep it more about my life as a mother and Laddoo antics. I try to be funny in my posts and thankfully most people get my jokes, so that’s an added bonus. But all things said and done, content is king. When I do write about something that’s actually significant and not just a ‘time-pass’ post, it does get read.
Many say that blogging is dead thanks to other micro-blogging avenues like Instagram,
Twitter and others. As the owner of a traditional blog, how would you respond to that?
I wholeheartedly agree, as far as my own blog is concerned. Instagram is just easier, right? You pick a picture (or ten) and write a short or (if you’re anything like I am) an extra-extra-long caption and be done with it. I could post a picture without a caption and it would still work. Like I said earlier, some of my blog posts only exist because they were too long for Instagram, as in running into more than 1 comment. But I believe there’s an entire universe out there that still blogs very religiously, so no, blogging isn’t dead. Like many other things, I hope to be able to explore that soon.
Do you see your blog as a stepping stone to something else? Do you see yourself wearing the tag of 'blogger' five years down the line?
For me, my blog is two things. A diary where I record my experiences, and a rough note book where I get to practise my craft – write often, make mistakes, and get better. In the process, if it ends up entertaining people, that’s an added bonus. Eventually, my dream is write at least one book every two years. Hopefully, this will help me do that. Not in terms of recognition, but in terms of cultivating a habit where I write every day no matter what.
What tips do you have for other Indian Mom bloggers?
Yes! Loads! But I’ll stick to two. First and foremost, stand out. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Find out what your strengths are and maximise on them. In this day where there’s no shortage of bloggers, if you want to be seen, heard, and taken seriously, you can’t survive by doing what everyone else is doing.
Also, do not focus on numbers. If you have amazing content, the numbers will come. The
power of organic growth cannot be explained, it can only be experienced.
You can follow Nikita's Blog here.
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Click here for the 2016 and 2017 edition of the Mom Blogger October.