On Monday (10th June to be exact) I participated in a #MuseumHour discussion Twitter about freelancing in the museum world. Museum professionals across Twitter discussed how and why they became a freelancer whilst others (myself included) tuned in to obtain information on how to get that first elusive contract as a freelancer whilst also maintaining a happy work-life balance.
One topic that was discussed was the use of having a blog and website combined to promote yourself as a freelancer or prospective freelancer. This got me thinking on the topic of museum blogging and why I blog as a museum professional and historian. My blog has been around in some shape or form since 2013 and for a while I experimented with lifestyle blogging but it just wasn’t for me! I then ‘came back’ to history, museum, hertiage and culture blogging and my blog now consists of advice for museum professionals, interesting historical posts and cultural and heritage trips I go on on a regular basis.
Essentially, I try to combine my love of working within the museum and heritage sector with my other interests including travelling, books, dress-making, baking, walking etc. to offer an alternative blog for both museum professionals, history lovers and those who see the world differently than the ‘mainstream.’ Whilst some might say that personal topics might not be good for a ‘professional’ blog but I think they are just as important as my posts on history and working in museums. I feel that these posts give originality and difference to a topic some might not find overly interesting and if someone reads my post on my holidays abroad and then goes onto read more historical posts and has a new interest in history then all the better I say!
Many people talk about ‘branding’ and that your blog and you are your brand. I read (i.e. indulge) in non-museum, culture and heritage blogs to give me a new perspective into what I can do with my blog. I normally read and follow sustainablity, wellness, food and fitness bloggers and they all have clearly defined brands in some manner or form which really helps clearly say who they are and what they do as bloggers.
Additionally, reading about sustainablity as a museum professional is helpful as museums must also be part of the gear towards a more sustainable future. Reading wellness and fitness blogs are also good to read as museums can be stressful places to work in a lot of the time and getting hints and tips on relaxing is always helpful after a stressful day archiving Victorian toilet brushes (#hashtag true story).
I try to have a clear brand with my blog and website; I’m a somewhat quirky, vintage wearing, red-headed (not natural unfortunately!) Irish dress historian, curator and blogger who likes to ramble on about Irish (and in general) women’s history, Irish dress history, cats, Murder She Wrote and travel on a regular basis. I wear vintage clothing or vintage inspired clothing regularly to work a fact that I think is encouraged within the museum field. I also match my outfits to my conference papers I give or the theme of the conference I’m attending.
To say I’m an individual is an under-statement but then aren’t most people who work in museums quirky or indvidual in their own way and love of particular niche subjects? For me I get very excited about things as far apart as 1930s cookers to 1770’s panniers where to someone else dinosaur bones may be the next best thing to them. What makes museum professionals/historians/bloggers (delete as appropiate) unique is their individuality and passion for their subject area(s) and promoting that passion through the guise of a museum or heritage site.
This passion is something that I hope I convey through my blog and my work as a museum professional, curator and dress historian hence why I like to blog to promote history and museums! Ideally, I would love to be the Irish version of Lucy Worsley or Kate Williams (complete fan girl about these two historians!) as these two professional historians have influenced me to pursue my love of history and who wouldn’t want to get dressed up in historical fashion like Lucy Worsley!? No one I tell you no one! Well maybe your ninety year old Great-Aunt Mildred would not appreciate being dressed up as Constance Markievicz or Napolean Bonaparte.
I bring a sense of humour to my blog and highlight issues, people and places that were far of the so called ‘historic norm’ (*cough* white, older male and based within the Western world *cough*) to show that history is everywhere for everyone to enjoy and is not regulated to one person, place or thing. That history is in everything we do to what we eat, what we wear (espeically for me in what I wear) and how we go about our everyday lives.In the next ‘Thursday Thoughts’ post about blogging I’ll pin point my top tips for museum/heritage/history blogging and tips on how to start your own blog if you’re a museum person/historian/someone who works in the culture sector.