- Tell us a bit about yourself and your blog:
Hi! I’m Lauren Dare, an American mom of two married to an Englishman living in Ireland. My blog, The Dare Project, is a light hearted story of our family life, our adventures and all the little things that make us happy (even in the dreariest Irish weather). I share DIYs, recipes, travel tips and things to do with kids around Dublin, as well as write about parenting (although I’m only four years into this gig, so I’m by no means any expert).
- What made you decide to start blogging in the first place?
I started blogging about charity shopping and vintage style when I moved to Ireland with my husband in 2008. It took a while to find a job, so blogging gave me something to focus on and gave me a reason to get out and about in Dublin. After my first kid was born, I decided to switch the focus of my blog because I was pretty much living in unattractive nursing tops and I wanted to find a way to capture the positive moments of parenting. My first few months as a mother were rough and it gave me an outlet to process things and an opportunity to find the special, ordinary moments without getting bogged down in the sleeplessness. As time has gone on, the blog has naturally evolved and have given me a great community and plenty of inspiration to be a stay at home mom in these foreign lands.
- Talk us through how you chose your blog name? Has it always been the same?
The Dare Project comes from our last name (How cool is Dare? It might be 30% of the reason I chose to marry my husband) and my never ending quest for projects. I always have something up my sleeve and a new project I want to start (full disclosure: I don’t always finish) and a new course I want to take. So when I was in those overwhelming days of early motherhood with a baby who truly excelled at screaming and failed at eating, my husband suggested I look at it as another project to take on board. I’d figure it all out in time. That was pretty much the motivation for starting the blog and a natural fit for naming it. Parenthood is really just one big project, hopefully the kids will turn out alright.
- What has been your biggest blogging challenge?
My biggest challenge has been balancing blogging and real life and continuing to find inspiration when things are tough around here. When my kids where rock star nappers, it was easy to plan, photograph, edit and post in the quiet hours of the day. But as they have gotten older, my free time has been dwindling leaving me less time to devote to blogging. I tried working a little while they were playing until a T-Rex kicked off the Back Space key from my laptop. When things were really stressful—like during my second pregnancy when I was working part-time, my husband was working two jobs and we had a 1 year old to shower with attention before he got replaced by the baby—I had trouble finding inspiration and sharing my troubles openly. I suppose part of the problem of blogging as a parent is that your kids have plenty of fuel for teenage angst should they choose to troll through your archives one day. I just didn’t want to write or blog about my stress because this is my happy place, so I shut down shop for a while. I feel guilty every time I take a break, but as a blogging hobbyist I have to put my real life first and never want this to be a chore to write (Or a chore for people to read. I think y’all are savvy enough to know when it’s forced.)
- Over your time blogging, what has been your biggest blogging success? It could be an award, a post that you think really struck a chord or just a “YES!” moment from your blogging experience?
Wow, this is a hard one. I haven’t really thought about “blogging success” before. There have been some great moments though, let’s see…Several brands have contacted me to work with them on reviewing products and the feedback is always great (it helps to hear someone say you’re creating great photographs and content). We got to go on a pirate themed family trip, always nice to get a free holiday! I was a finalist in a recipe blogging competition and we‘ve appeared a few times in Irish newspapers. I suppose one of the most unexpected experiences was writing a very personal post about losing my first baby. I hadn’t really talked about it to many friends or family, so writing the post (several years after it happened) really helped heal some wounds. It also led to a feature story on our family and journey that allowed a lot of people to open up to me about their own loss. While it was hard to share, it was amazing to feel that real human connection with your story and to create a space for important topics like miscarriage be brought to light.
- Tell us about your blogging routine. Do you us an editorial calendar? Do you plan in advance or blog it as it happens?
I wish I could tell you I use an editorial calendar. It’s something that has come up again and again in the Blogtacular chats and at last year’s conference. I know that it’s something I need to do in order to keep myself focused with my limited time to work and it’s what transforms good bloggers into disciplined writers and creators. One day I will get it together, but for now I have a vague idea of what would be seasonally appropriate for the next few months and let my crazy family life guide my time and content. Right now I have an awesome DIY I want to share but my kids won’t stop being sick for long enough for me to work on it.
- We’d love to see and hear about where you blog.
Ideally, I blog in a nice spot I’ve set up in our spare room under a large bay window. There’s light and space and it’s lovely. But in the winter it is ridiculously cold and dark. So half the year you’ll usually find me on my bed or the couch covered in blankets, laptop on my lap, cup of tea at hand and an episode of whatever TV series I’m binge watching on in the background. I’m pretty good at multitasking.
- What are your blogging goals for 2015?
Get organised! Get focused! Get noticed! This is going to be a big year for us. We’re moving to a new town outside of Dublin and my oldest kid will be starting school. That’s going to give me a lot of great material, but also a lot of distractions. I need to nail editorial planning and need to put some thought into strategy for growing readership. I’ve been happily naïve to stats for the time being, but I don’t want to hide my light under a bushel any longer.
- If you could give new bloggers one top tip, what would it be?
Be yourself, be honest with yourself and be good to yourself in everything you do. It so easy to get discouraged by popularity in blogging and it all begins to feel like high school all over again. But remember that a handful of people that regularly engage with you, is amazing. They are your tribe, serve them well and more will join. Don’t ever feel apologetic about your blog or readership size.
One of the best things I took away from last year’s Blogtacular conference was that size doesn’t necessarily matter. Doing your best work and believing in yourself does.
- What made you push the “Buy Now” button on your ticket for Blogtacular 2015?
I was on a family holiday, stuck on traffic on I35 outside of Austin, TX with a two-year old that was pretty fed up with our 6 hour car ride when I realised the earlybird tickets were about to close. I had been on the fence of buying a ticket so far in advance, but knew I really wanted to go. I think the ticking clock and screaming child put it into perspective. I knew from last year that it was an invigorating and inspirational conference (and awesome to be in London without kids), so I grabbed my mom’s phone and purchased the tickets there in the car. I knew I didn’t want to miss out and really wanted to see all the great people I met last year. It’s funny how one afternoon with someone (and a year of online conversations) can create great pals.
- You came to Blogtacular in 2014 what did it do for you?
I’m a pretty big fan of Kat Goldin and Kat Molesworth. I took their Capturing Childhood courses and attended the first London photography workshop, so I knew they had the skills to put on a great conference and even more importantly have superb goodie bag taste. They also have an incredible ability to attract the best people and draw out the best in people. I knew there would be a great buzz about the conference (and I was not disappointed!)
- How has blogging changed your life?
Blogging has helped me grow into the person I knew I wanted to be when I was 17 (before college and careers side-lined that) It has kept me afloat amid a million dirty nappies and lunchtime tantrums. I have a purpose and excuse for exploring my creative side and a voice when I need it. Through blogging, I’ve started to learn design and photography and have created beautiful images and fun little films for my children to enjoy. Most importantly though, it has given me a wonderful community of friends and awesome women to look up to and go to for advice or inspiration. Motherhood can be isolating, especially when you are taking it on without friends or family nearby. I don’t know how I would have survived these past few years without blogging to (or without all of the lovely people that comment and give me a virtual high-five when I need it most).
- Which 3 blogs do you read every week without fail.
Just three, that’s too hard! I would totally get ushered off by an orchestra if this was an Oscar speech, so I’m going to give you 4.
Mel Wiggins http://www.melwiggins.com/ – Mel’s blog is a mix of parenting, style and activism (she works for an amazing anti-slavery organisation). She’s a real kindred spirit and I always read her blog imagining we are buddies (hope that’s not creepy Mel!)
A Life Less Physical http://alifelessphysical.com/ I met Sarah at Blogtacular last year. I love her writing style and admire her honesty in sharing intimate details of her life. Plus she and her chef BF create some drool worthy recipes.
Emma Davies Photography http://emmadaviesphotography.com/ Emma runs great photography courses and has weekly tips for photographers that help keep me from falling into bad habits with my camera. Her photo prompts and activities like #1day12pics are great for keeping me snap happy.
Tigerlilly Quinn http://www.tigerlillyquinn.com/ I always check out Fritha because her photos are so joyful, but also to remind me of what the big guns are up to. I can blame her for any sudden shopping sprees.
You can find Lauren: