Moms Who Blog : Ophira Bhastekar
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.
Today in the 'Mom Blogger October 2018' series, we meet Ophira from Easy Mommy Life. Ophira is an Indian Mom Blogger who does not like labels and is guided in her quest towards natural and conscious parenting. Her blog is her second baby where she discusses this intentional form of parenting along with other ways Indian Moms can keep themselves engaged.
Could you tell us about your life before Easy Mommy Life?
Easy Mommy Life is a part of my motherhood experience. Before launching the website I was working in Clinical Research. I have always been deeply interested in science, what goes on in the human body, information on diseases and how to eat healthy to combat illness etc. My passion led me to a Masters in Life Sciences and later on Clinical Research.
Other than my interest in all things Medicine and Nutrition, I love living life, new experiences and sharing time with my family and friends. These have always been key focus areas of my life outside of my professional interests. I have done everything I find interesting, be it partying, reading books on diverse topics, engaging in deep conversations, traveling, watching movies, interesting documentaries, discovering new foods. I am a lover of life and everything it has to offer.
What was it that prompted you to create the blog and how did you come up with the name?
I was planning on going back to work. After a lot of thought and consideration I realized that I was needed more time at home with my son. My husband travels for work and my own work entailed long hours, rotational shifts, and long distance travel etc. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving my son in a day care or with a nanny for long hours.
At the same time I am a very determined and positive person. When I made the decision to stay back I knew I wanted to focus on gaining new skills in my time out of the corporate world. I never thought of becoming a blogger. But as I explored my own passions and interests I realized how much I loved every aspect of raising my child in a gentle and natural parenting style and that maybe other mothers could benefit from what I learnt.
When I was a new mother I had to spend time on researching information from medical and pediatric journals and parenting websites. I thought of other new moms who don’t have time to do all this research or maybe don’t understand the scientific lingo. That was the first seed for the idea of starting a Parenting website. At the time I didn’t think of it as a blog. Eventually I settled into the blogger role. But even today my posts are focused on giving new mothers all the information they need on topics related to raising children in a more evidence based manner.
My blog name also came through this need to be a name that encompassed a mother’s life and my intention at making it a little easier with ready-made information. That’s why, 'Easy Mommy Life'.
What were the challenges you faced in setting yourself up as a blogger?
Initially setting up a blog, setting up social media channels, understanding audience point of views and collating information into an easy to understand format were big challenges. I am not a writer by profession, so it took me a while to understand how to structure an article.
The first 6 months, I constantly felt like a fish out of water. I have never used social media extensively like some of the younger generation. So I had to learn a lot about Instagram and Pinterest. To date, I feel like I don’t belong on Instagram because as a person I am not one who can comfortably share my personal life with others. With time as my audience continues to grow, it is becoming easier for me to engage with them. Some of my followers now feel like friends to me. So yes, it has been challenging for me to get out of my comfort zone, but I think I managed well so far.
Who was your biggest support while following your passion?
My husband. He and only he understands my daily challenges as a blogger. He also helps me troubleshoot. I am a science geek and he is a tech geek, I look to him for all things technology related for my blog.
What has been the highest point/happiest moment in your journey as a Blogger?
There have been many. But the first comment I received on my new blog by a reader was my first win. I was so happy there was someone out there who read my blog and took time out to leave me a comment. To date, I love seeing the comment notifications hit my mailbox.
Maybe our readers don’t know but we work so hard and the whole blogging gig is lonely and isolating. A great way to show some love to your favorite blogger is to just go and drop a comment on the post you enjoyed reading.
Do you think Indian Mom Bloggers are increasingly seen as a useful resource as opposed to just a group of hobbyists?
When I was not a mom blogger, I personally read a lot of mommy blogs and even bought a lot of mom blog recommended products.
In a world where the real village is shrinking, us millennial moms look to the Internet and build a virtual village. So yes, we are building a pool of useful information for our readers.
At the same time, I feel in general in India everyone tends to look at the mom blogging community as hobbyists. I have come across many people who ask me, “But what is it you do?” even when they know I am a blogger. It will take time for general public and brands to understand that bloggers also put in hours of work to get one good article published.
Which has been your most memorable post to date and why?
There are too many by now.
My first big one was - https://easymommylife.com/sugar-childhood-obesity/
My first viral post - https://easymommylife.com/non-screen-time-activities-kids/
What has the most memorable comment on your blog been so far?
For the Sugar and Childhood Obesity post, I had my first comment that ran into paragraphs. I was so happy that my blog post resonated with this reader and he literally wrote an entire blog post in the comment himself. I will always remember that comment.
Have you ever been trolled? How did you handle it?
I haven’t been trolled. But there have been instances where someone will comment on something I wrote to question my statements. This is part of the job description, so I don’t take it too personally. I try my best to research all information before I make any statements on the blog. I even link to my sources. Some points I make keeping information more to the Indian point of view and our lifestyle in mind. These points may not match another countries guidelines or lifestyle. Also, I am a human in the end; it is quite possible I make a mistake sometimes. But as I said I just reply politely and explain why I wrote what I did.
Have you ever started to write a post and then abandoned it? Why?
Many! I have a few draft posts. Sometimes I write something, and then feel this is not the right time to write this. Since I am talking about parenting there are posts I hold back on because I feel I need more experience as a mother before I say some things. Even if they are well researched, an experienced mothers point of view also adds value to the post. Few such posts are on hold until then.
Do you stick to a regular posting schedule or do you post whenever inspiration strikes? Do you have a writing routine?
I post weekly, so 5 posts a month. There have been a few months when I could only manage 4, but I try my best to write 5 posts a month. I make a rough monthly blogging calendar with blog post ideas. Sometimes I ask my audience for ideas and they help me with topics too.
Do you find it hard to get your voice heard in the crowded blogosphere?
Initially, yes. But when you keep blogging consistently creating good quality content, your audience finds you. I have found help from so many bloggers too, my content resonated with them and they were kind enough to help me along the way.
Hey, I am being featured on the Times Of Amma, by my reader and fellow blogger, Sinduja who nominated my name. At the end of the day, that is what’s important in my opinion creating content that helps people and being genuine in your interactions.
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?
There are still consumers for long form content. Mothers like me still look at blogs for information. I don’t think it’s the end of the traditional blog. Blogging has also evolved from more personal diary entries to content that seeks to address specific pain points. It’s no longer just a mother's journal on the internet. Bloggers are trying to give their audience what they are looking, I feel the true competition for bloggers is not micro blogging sites its video content like Youtube. For some watching a video is more interesting than reading a blog post.
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?
I haven’t really thought about my career trajectory five years from now. But I defintely love being called a blogger/content creator at the moment. I wear this badge with pride. Down the line I want to start something just for moms too, and not just focus on parenting topics. I love encouraging other women to get out of self-limiting boxes. So creating a space for moms is very much on my mind.
What tips do you have for other Indian Mom bloggers?
Be yourself, there is no rush to make money. Do not ape what others are doing or topics that are trending just to gain followers or make money if that is not you. Think of what you are passionate about and help people on that topic. It’s easier this way and you can continue blogging as a career longer when you are passionate about the subject you choose.
And this question is from Sindhuja, who nominated you for the feature- What tips can you give other work at home moms to manage kids while doing justice to the work as well?
I am still trying to create the elusive work life balance myself. Blogging consistently for more than a year I have created my own system and would like to leave you with a few tips that helped me.
First things first, get help. If you want to succeed in your personal blogging goals you need time and space to work. Working only during kids nap time is always risky because there are days they skip naps or need more of your time. I hired a nanny to help with my son, so that I get a few hours each day of blocked time at my computer. You can chose a good day care if that is available.
Second, for each day I create a list that includes blog goals, mom goals and home chores etc. I don’t make extensive lists, its usally 2-3 blog goals, 2 mom goals of the day. I have learnt to make small to-do lists so that I don’t feel overwhelmed or defeated.
I find keeping lists useful because I work more efficiently that way. I specifically include mom goals on the list too, because its important to give my son good quality time. In that period I don’t use my phone, I usually click pictures in the beginning or at the end of our activity for Instagram. But the rest of the time I am away from the phone. I realise this is important as he grows and I am working on reducing time on social media and giving that time to my son.
Then for chores etc. I involve my son and we both do these together or I do these things when he naps.
An important point I will add here is, there are days, especially in the early years of a child’s life when things don’t go as planned. You have to set realistic goals and also be prepared to fail on some days.
My current goal is to increase blog traffic. For me working at my goal each day is success.
If you are an Indian Mom Who Blogs, follow the Times of Amma on Instagram and Facebook for more features with Indian Mom Bloggers and live interactive sessions for Aspiring Mom Bloggers. If you are new to the world of Indian Mom Blogging, don't forget to get your copy of 'The Beginner's Guide to the Indian Mom Blogger Universe' here. Click here for the 2016 and 2017 edition of the Mom Blogger October.