2019 has come and gone and just like that dumped a load of change on the Hoopers! While there has been a lot of consistency in certain areas (still creating happy customers at Hooper Signs), something changed and our focus dwindled.
Becoming Family / Travel Bloggers
When we started blogging 4 years ago, our plan was to create a diary of our lives to share with family and friends. Within 6 months we learned so much about blogging and were welcomed into the North East blogging world, where we’ve made some amazing friends, that encourage and support us in the dips.
As we hit the 1 year anniversary, our focus became finding new experiences and sharing our thoughts on them with our friends, followers and readers. This is when running our blog felt like it was a job/mission. Every weekend we’d go out and do 3 things to write about and post over the following week. I’m not moaning and it was good fun, but became costly.
The three things would generally knit together. For example, we’d go to the cinema, in the morning, eat out for lunch and find an attraction in the afternoon (Centre for Life etc.) Or a day at Beamish on Saturday, out for an evening meal, then Sunday could be a visit to a craft fair/market.
We’d then spend Sunday night writing it all up, editing photos and scheduling the posts to be published on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“Freebies” are not freebies!
The majority of posts that we created were self-funded. Eating out doesn’t come cheap unless you find a social enterprise café. So, when we started to get offered restaurant reviews/day out reviews we couldn’t help but say yes.
Thing is what many consider to be a “Free” meal out is paid for in time. An average blog post for us would take up to 2 hours to write (at least 500 words), we’re slow typers! Then another 30 minutes editing photos and pulling it all together. We could be at the venue for 1 – 2 hours. Then while there, I’m looking around for things to photograph, trying to exclude normal paying customers to avoid any GDPR / consent issues.
We also need to disclose any gifted items as #ad now, which adds to clarity, but we didn’t need to at the beginning.
So what many consider to be a “Freebie” takes a lot of time and stress, that many people don’t realise. There are many other stats related items that go on behind the scenes, but I won’t bore you with that.
Building up a Youtube Channel / Channels
Occasionally we’d decide to create a video from one of our days out. I’d spent plenty of time watching other peoples videos, so why not create one or two.
Before long the kids wanted to have their own channel that wasn’t about family days out. Their vision was for opening / unboxing toys just like their idol (at the time) Tiana Toys and Me. As they wanted to do this I fully supported them and offered to video and edit the videos (something that could easily become a full-time job).
Creating a 10-minute video would take around an hour and a bit to film, 1 hour and a half to edit, (depending on broadband speed) 45 minutes to upload and create supporting images for it.
The channel was going really well.
Our highest viewed video had 156,000 views. We were averaging a video a week all toy unboxing. Everything was going in the right direction. Our subscribers were growing (currently 1664 subs), we’d started to earn some money from advertising. Then there was a big shakeup with YouTube.
In 2019, to help safeguard channels that primarily had children as the main focus, YT decided to turn off comments. This was to prevent bullying, trolling and a coded message to paedophiles. I’ll quickly add that I monitored our comments and removed anything that was inappropriate but never had anything of concern, mainly spam.
YouTube then decided to adjust the way channels can earn money from advertising that has children as their main focus. All of which I partly agree with, but there is something that general viewers don’t realise.
It is believed that if a YT video shows signs of social interaction it gets promoted as a suggested video (among other things). So if you create a video unboxing a toy and someone comments on it then it gets promoted for more viewers. Even if that comment was negative. So turning comments off also has an impact on the growth of a channel.
We remodelled the studio, got contacted by a PR company to create a video that was to potentially lead to a series of videos. However, the approval time for the video took 5 months.
During this time that kids decided videos weren’t their thing! So the studio got transformed back into a bedroom.
Allocating time to projects
2019 was also the year we updated our bathroom and downstairs toilet (blog post to follow), updated the YT studio, then converted it to a bedroom. Had many weekends away, a couple of road trips and two trips to Butlins. We took my mother to experience Butlins for the first time and added a New Year’s eve break to the end of the year.
It was also in 2019 that I set myself a running goal, to beat all my previous times for the Blaydon Race. For the past few years, I’ve taken part in the Blaydon Race. The run is relatively short and “fast”, which appeals to me. From my first race in 2016 (I started running in January 2016).
These are the official race times from when the bell is rung at the start. My actual time was better.
The previous years were 52 and 50 minutes. To shave 6 minutes of my result saw me going to the gym five days a week! Running on four of them, swimming on the fifth. I really enjoyed it and plan to get back into the routine this year and beat my 44-minute result from last year.
Ultimately in 2019 were allocated time to doing things, but burning out when it came to writing about them. Despite this, we added nearly 60 posts to the blog in 2019, while creating videos, and spending time with the family.