This week I’m very honoured and privileged to interview Susie one of most inspiring bloggers around today.
Susie is also the inspirational genius who is behind the campaign #itsoktofeelshit. Susie’s efforts to raise awareness around mental health and in particular around the mental health issues our young people suffer from is admirable.
Some of us just “talk the talk”, others “walk the walk” and make a real difference. Susie is one such person. She is making a difference and I personally applaud her awesome efforts.
You will hear a lot more about the campaign later in the interview. I am in awe of what Susie has done to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health, and this week could not have been better timing to interview Susie, because this week is Children’s Mental Health Week.
I would like to say a big thank you to Susie for giving me the push I needed to write my own mental health journey.
At the end of the interview there will be a link so you can help too by purchasing a t-shirt. If you can help it will be massively appreciated. 100% of the profits go directly to Young Minds UK.
So on with the questions which I am sure you will enjoy reading.
1. When and why did you start blogging?
I launched So Happy In Town / S.H.I.T. back in February 2017, so exactly 2 years ago. I love writing and there was so much I wanted to write about to do with parenting, and instead of having to pitch ideas to magazines, I realised it would be a great way to write whatever I wanted.
2. Has any previous training or education before blogging, helped you when it comes to blogging?
I was a primary teacher so I had experience with working with children of all ages, and I had been writing in my spare time for a few magazines and websites, so that helped.
3. Do you take much notice of your blogging statistics? (page views, unique monthly users, charts etc)
I did at the beginning and would find myself becoming disheartened if I hadn’t had as many views from one month to the next, so then I decided to stop checking. Don’t get me wrong, I have the occasional look but it really doesn’t bother me at all anymore. I always said I’d be happy if my mum and a few of my best friends looked at my blog, so any more is a bonus!
4. When you get approached by a brand who want to work with you, how do you decide if it’s right for you and your readers?
I decided when I launched my blog that my primary aim was not to sell to my readers – it was more a commentary on life as a parent – so I have only done one collaboration in my whole time running S.H.I.T. – it was a private sushi chef in my home because I felt it was something we’d all love to be treated to, even if it was only once in a lifetime!
5. What do you think are the key ingredients that make a successful top blog?
I think total honesty and being yourself when you write. I find it’s easy to tell if someone is trying to emulate another blog, and it just doesn’t feel authentic or real. We’re all unique so let’s celebrate that.
6. How do you balance your work with your family life?
This is hard as even though all three of my kids are at school now, there is always so many other things I could/should be doing during the day, but I try to put aside 2-3 hours when they’re at school to get blogging work done. I don’t know how people do it with little ones still around at home – hats off to them.
7. Many bloggers won’t talk about or use photos of their children on their blog. What are your feelings when it comes to talking about your children on your blog or social media?
My eldest two girls are at the age now where they’re adamant that they don’t want to be featured in the blog or on my social media, and I totally respect that. I also decided when I started that I’d only ever use photos of them or talk about them in a way that they were comfortable with, so I did obviously have to run it by them that they would be referred to as the Little S.H.I.T.s (which they took surprisingly well!). I never talk about anything that is personal to them. My little boy loves to appear in my Instagram stories though – I think he thinks it’s his way to becoming a YouTuber.
8. As a mum blogger and influencer in the UK, do you feel under any pressure or certain responsibility in regards to the content you publish?
I definitely feel we have a responsibility to our readers to be honest but to never judge others. We’re all trying our best to bring up our kids as best we can, and what I’m doing may be very different to what someone else is doing, but whatever works for each person is right for them and their families.
9. What do you think your children will think when they are teenagers about how their early life has been recorded online? Happy or mortified.
I’ve always been very careful not to record any of their lives online for the very reason that it may leave them feeling mortified when they’re older, and once it’s written it can’t be unwritten – I write more generically about the Little S.H.I.T.s rather than it being specifically about my own kids.
10. When family or friends find out you are a blogger/influencer, what is their reaction?
When I first told my mum I wanted to start a blog, she was very worried that I’d be exposing myself and my family online but she thinks it’s great now as she’s realised I manage to write without doing that. My kids think it’s cool (although they’re not too happy about the naughty word my blog plays on, though their friends think it’s great!) and are very supportive, as is Mr S.H.I.T. and my friends.
11. Is there any subject you won’t write about on your blog? If so what and why?
I won’t write about personal things that happen to my kids. It’s their lives and they are old enough now to read these things online and for their friends to read them too, so I feel I have a duty to protect their privacy.
12. What has been the most exciting thing to have happened to you from being a blogger/influencer?
Getting to the finals of the BiBs in both 2017 and 2018 was a huge honour, especially when I haven’t been doing this very long and there are lots of amazing bloggers out there. Also launching my #itsoktofeelshit T-shirt campaign for YoungMinds has been very exciting and the support has been amazing.
13. Do you think with the rise of Instagram and other social platforms, could we be seeing the end of the blog?
I’ve been wondering that more and more recently as I see more people actually writing posts on their Instagram feeds, rather than writing in a blog. I think because we’ve all become used to having instant access to information, even an extra click seems too much to bother with, so people will read a post on Instagram but can’t be bothered to click through to someone’s blog. I think because of that there’s sadly a shelf life for blogs.
You started, and you are, the inspiration behind the mental health campaign #itsoktofeelshit
14. Why did you start the campaign?
I started this campaign because I feel passionately about young people’s mental health having first been hit myself by depression and panic attacks in my early 20’s and not knowing or being told it was ok to feel like that. I thought I was a freak who would be ostracised by society if I told anyone how much I was struggling, when it seemed that everyone else was coping so well. But even more so, because we, as a family, have been effected first hand and we are very much not alone – one in five children will experience a mental health difficulty at least once in their first 11 years, and many adults with lifetime mental health issues can trace the symptoms back to childhood. I really wanted to do something to raise awareness and to let kids know that it really is ok and it’s good to share.
15. Where did the idea for the awesome hashtag #itsoktofeelshit come from?
I wanted to play on my blog name and seeing as it is called S.H.I.T. it seemed the perfect slogan. And it totally sums up what I wanted young people to feel – that it’s ok to shit and there’s nothing to be ashamed about. Mental illness is just like physical illness and it’s really good to talk about it.
16. All the profits from the campaign are going to YoungMinds UK. Why did you decide on that charity?
When we were struggling and expected to wait for months and months on NHS waiting lists because sadly, young people’s mental health has not been given the funding it so desperately needs, I discovered YoungMinds and suddenly there was a place where we could all go to for support whether it was on the phone, or by e-mail or looking at their website. It’s an amazing charity and as with all these charities, they are relying on donations to keep doing the wonderful work that they do to support young people who are struggling. Without it, we’d have felt a lot more helpless.
17. It’s an awesome campaign that raises really important issues around mental health and our young people. Has the impact of this surprised you?
I had no idea when I launched it what the reaction would be. I wondered whether would people think ‘here we go, yet another campaign’ and not be interested, and would I even sell ten T-shirts? But I knew I had to give it a go even if I did only sell ten because every little helps. But the reaction and support has blown me away.
18. Why do you think the campaign has resonated with so many people?
I think it’s because so many people out there can relate to it – whether it’s because they themselves struggle with their own mental health, or they did when they were younger and didn’t have any support, or they know someone else who has struggled, or their own children have. I’d say all of us have been effected by mental illness in some way.
19. The campaign is focused towards young people. Do you think there is a connection between today’s world and social media that they’re growing up in and their mental health?
Absolutely. The pressure on kids these days with Instagram, Whatsapp, SnapChat in their faces every day, making them feel they have to live up to this perfect life is phenomenal. In my opinion, their mental health doesn’t stand a chance. My daughter got her first phone last summer and I noticed her stress levels rise overnight. It’s so important to monitor their time on their phones and what they’re looking at and keep the conversations open about how it’s making them feel.
20. What are your plans with the campaign and how long will it continue?
I never had a finite time that I was running the campaign for, but it’s amazing how the momentum is still going strong. We have raised nearly £3500 for YoungMinds now which is amazing. I plan to go into the YoungMinds offices in a few weeks time with the final cheque (I would love it to be £4000!) and catch up with them about what the money will go towards.
21. Finally, do you have any plans to embark on any other campaigns with regard to mental health?
I’m concentrating on this one for now, but I’d love to get an event organised to raise awareness for young people’s mental health with workshops and talks for parents. It’s just an idea for now, but watch this space.
Finally I just want to say the biggest thank you ever to Susie for agreeing to be interviewed by me.
If you would like to help our young minds with there mental health, you can by purchasing a T-shirt Here