The Mothership’s Founder Helen Farmer tells TMN her views on the UAE’s ever-changing media landscape, offers advice to others looking to start blogging and talks about how she sees blogging evolving in the Middle East…
Name: Helen Farmer
From: Northumberland, UK
Current Job Title: I’m the Founder of parenting blog The Mothership (themothershipdxb.com), as well as a freelance Writer, Editor and Radio Presenter.
When did you first arrive in Dubai?January 2007
Where did you work prior?In the UK I was in broadcasting, print and PR before moving to Dubai to work for Explorer Publishing as a Writer and Deputy Editor of their guide books. I then went to Motivate Publishing as Deputy Editor of What’s On, before launching and editing good magazine which I’ve now being doing since 2013.
What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?How nice everyone was. When I arrived it was even more social than it is now, with a lot of people from both media and PR going out almost every night.
Has your opinion changed much?
It has matured a lot on both sides, with fewer fresh graduates and more experienced talent. Now with cool, home grown titles, international magazines and bigger agencies, we’re starting to see more collaborations rather than the standard press release model, which is great. And the UAE is finally starting to catch up with digital.
Is blogging your full time job or a part time passion?
A bit of both! It’s a part time job, but a full time passion.
Tell us about your blog…
I started The Mothership last year, when my daughter was six months old. I simply wanted to connect with other new mums, through honest, real posts about the good, bad and downright mind-blowing truths of parenting in the UAE. I fear I might have put some women off pregnancy…
The Mothership then grew to become a Facebook page and recently I had the website rebranded and redesigned to make it more user-friendly, as well as having the capacity to include reviews, news and recommendations.
I now work with brands that I admire, have held workshops to support other working mums and have built a great community.
What’s the most rewarding part of blogging?
When another mum comments saying “Yes! Me too! Thank you.” Motherhood can be really lonely at times and I truly appreciate that moment of realisation and connection, when my followers share their own similar experiences.
Which international Bloggers inspire you?
I love Joanna Goddard from Cup of Jo, who mixes stylish inspiration with normal living and Sarah Turner from The Unmumsy Mum, who made it acceptable for mothers to admit that parenting isn’t always cuddles and candyfloss – it’s frustrating and often very messy.
What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a blog?
Write from your heart and don’t try to be someone you’re not. I’m more high street than high fashion, couldn’t offer makeup tips to save my life and definitely shouldn’t be sharing recipes, but people understand what I’m really about. Start writing and you’ll find your tribe.
Do you accept press material from PRs?
After being in magazines in the UAE for more than six years I’m on a few press lists! I’ll always check out something relevant, but am more responsive when a PR gets in touch with a personalised suggestion for collaboration.
How would you rather be contacted?
I prefer email, and can be reached at Helen@themothershipdxb.com
Describe yourself in five words…
Working mum. A bit tired.
What’s your most overused saying?
“Have you heard about that new… ?”
Five things you can’t live without?
Family, phone, giant CamelBak water bottle, BBC television and the beach.
How do you see online journalism/blogging changing in the UAE in the coming years?
If bloggers are monetising a site or social feed, there needs to be some form of regulation in terms of sharing their numbers and data. This is so new for the UAE, that some people (no names) mislead potential clients and it can have a negative effect on those who are more transparent.
What would be the next step for you as a blogger?
I’m planning to hold further events and workshops after the summer, as well as continue to work with more brands that are in line with my values and really benefit my followers.
Parenting blog The Mothership has been rebranded and given a new website, themothershipdxb.com. Launched in 2015 by magazine Editor and Broadcaster Helen Farmer, the improved website platform and brand identity will now allow for more blog posts, reviews, recommendations and news, as well as make it possible to work with select partners. There are also now options for user interactions, social sharing and advertising space, created as a response to demand from both UAE companies and followers.
“I started blogging as a way of dealing with the newness and weirdness of being a mum and I’ve been overwhelmed by the reception,” says Helen. “It isn’t about ‘perfect’ parenting – it’s about connecting UAE mums, sharing honest and reliable content and keeping a sense of humour throughout. I’m really looking forward to working with great brands that are in line with my values, and having the opportunity to share information with The Mothership’s audience.”