Being made redundant can feel like the end of the world, but for one blogging mum, it signalled the start of a brand new career. Kat Gold was made redundant from her job as a civil servant while she was pregnant with her third child, in 2011.
"I volunteered for redundancy because I wanted to be able to spend time with my children, but it was very worrying, wondering how we'd pay the bills," says Kat. "We were broke, and I couldn't possibly have paid for childcare for three children."
Kat is a keen crafter, and has always loved knitting, crocheting and making things for friends and family. Sometimes, she shared images of her work on her blog, Slugs on the Refrigerator, alongside stories about raising her three young children.
"When I looked at what skills I had, I realised that there might be people who would want to buy the things I made, or might want to know how I made them," explains Kat. "So in October 2011, I posted a free pattern on the blog, which showed people how to make an owl hat (see image above."
Over the next few days, more than 10,000 people downloaded the free pattern. Kat was alternately thrilled – and terrified.
"I had no idea it would be so popular and I was a little scared. Suddenly, my blog was being read by thousands of people, and they were reading posts about the difficult time I had with my first baby. It's still very strange and quite intimidating."
Nevertheless, spurred on by her success, Kat began to post patterns and make a small charge for people to download them – around £2.50. Demand for the patterns has been extremely strong, and Kat's blog is visited by up to 40,000 people each month.
Alongside patterns, Kat has also started selling hand-made items, such as hand-sewn fairy wings for adults, which sell for around £60.
Blogging has been critical to the success of Kat's new venture, because it has given her contacts and support that would have been out of reach for many businesses.
"As a blogger, I could see what other people had done, and the community is so supportive that if you aren't technically minded, people are always very happy to help, and offer advice," she says.
Kat's blog has also allowed her to stay close to family – her own family are in Iowa, while her husband's family live in South Africa – but it's also been a really important way of making new friends.
I think I used to imagine blogging was something nerds did, or people who didn't have real lives, but it's actually the most wonderful way to make friends. I've been lucky to meet many other bloggers on weekends away, and spend time with their families. It's a hugely social community.
Sometimes, just the act of writing a blog post can be enough, though. Whether Kat is musing about the importance of creativity or the fears and joy around a new pregnancy, the blog is ultimately about Kat's family life.
"What I love about a blog is that it gives you something at the end of the day that shows you existed. So much of the time with young children you're lost in the day to day, and it's hard to feel you've achieved something when you feel lost between laundry and nappy changes. In that way, my blog is really important to me."
Every week we bring our Blogger of the Week's favourite websites. Be inspired!
Kat Gold in Designs: Starting my new business and selling online means that I count 2011 as the best year of my life, thanks in no small part to our little Baby Oops.
www.etsy.com: I try to support independent business through this site whenever I can, and it's fantastic for virtual shopping on a whole range of things.
www.clothkits.co.uk: I love buying things for the children here. Their beautiful bright children's clothes kits to make yourself are a fantastic introduction to sewing your own clothes.
www.ikeahackers.net: I have a huge soft spot for Ikea and as soon as I buy something there I check Ikea Hackers for ideas on how to 'hack' my purchases.
housewifeconfidential.co.uk: Brilliant for family-friendly recipes, things I wouldn't usually make but which are pretty much fool-proof.
crappypictures.typepad.com: The blog I visit when I need a giggle. She's one funny woman!
www.ravelry.com: A social networking site for knitters and crocheters, chock full of patterns, advice and inspiration.