I can’t believe it has been and gone already, the whirlwind that was BritMumsLive 2014.
On Friday I travelled down to London with a fellow Midlands Mama, Zoe (Mama Geek) to attend ‘the’ blogging conference of the year. Sponsored by Koo-di, I was able to stay for two (toddler and hubby-free) nights in the big smoke to attend the event with a desire to meet and make friends, learn a thing or two about blogging and most importantly, relax and enjoy myself.
I won’t lie, I was quite nervous before the event. I’m not really one for crowds, they make me feel a bit lost and uneasy but I knew that there would be a few faces that I would recognise and that made me feel a bit more at ease. Last year I felt like a fish out of water. I didn’t want to feel like that again so over the last year I have made more of an effort to read more blogs and found out more about other bloggers to immerse myself into the blogging community. Still, I felt a little paranoid that no-one would know who I was but I think that is probably down to my own self esteem and anxiety issues.
I had made plans to room share with the very lovely Lucy (of Mrs Bishops Bakes and Banter) a friend I had made online but had never met in person. We have spoken to each other ‘online’ for nearly three years following each others blogs with tales of family life, her wedding to the lovely Mr B, our pregnancies and subsequently sharing the lives of our gorgeous little boys so I was really excited to meet her in person and give her a big hug and to say thank you for all the support she has given me over the last few years.
After meeting Lucy, Stacey from Koo-di and the rest of the Koo-di ambassador gang, we made our way to The Brewery with anticipation and excitement. The key note from Emma Freud was interesting; regretfully I didn’t know who her boyfriend was although I knew quite a few of his films but if I’m honest she didn’t wow me like Kirstie Allsopp did the previous year.
I didn’t attend any of the first sessions as I wanted to take in the atmosphere, grab a cup of coffee and ease myself into the conference. It is a bit full on. There’s a lot of faces, a lot of hugging and a lot of schmoozing going on in the brand den on the first day and it can be rather overwhelming. For the record, I really don’t like trying to sell myself to brands. I feel awkward and silly. I get all paranoid over thinking what I’m saying and I end up saying some silly old shit that I probably usually wouldn’t say. It’s a confidence thing and although I’m working on that, it does take guts to walk up to an empty stand and talk to them.
The session I most wanted to attend was by Lucy Heath (Capture by Lucy) an amazing blogger who makes every day things look simply beautiful. I’ve been following Lucy’s blog for ages and was delighted to have got a seat in the session as it was very popular. Literally everyone wanted to see her speak and take on board her tips to make our blogs beautiful. She is very inspirational and I personally took a great deal away from her session.
– make your blog easy to read, make it responsive
– manage the content in your sidebar
– make your contact details available on every page
– keep the search button high up on the page so readers can find it
– use the footer on your blog, it’s not a dumping ground
– have a photograph of you on your blog in the sidebar so people can see who you are
The Brilliant in Blogging (BiB) Awards took place and I was delighted to see a few familiar faces win awards in their categories (most notably, Lucy of Capture by Lucy and Katie of MummyDaddyMe. I was also delighted that Team Honk won an award so was very proud to be a part of such a successful charity campaign, even if I did look ridiculous at the time!
Koo-di treated their ambassadors to a lovely meal out which was great as I was in fine company. Koo-di had sponsored quite a few of my favourite bloggers including Zoe (Mama Geek), Jade (Late for Reality), Donna (RedheadBabyLed) Kate (My Family Fever) and Emma (The Mini Mes and Me) so it was lovely to sit down and meet them properly and have a good catch up.
Day one of BritMumsLive was exhausting. I collapsed into bed full of thoughts about who I had seen, who I was hoping to catch up with and ideas on what sessions I wanted to sit in on for day two. If Lucy and I hadn’t of stayed up chatting until nearly 2am we would of been very rested but I was enjoying myself and her company too much! It was great to not have to worry about looking after anyone else other than myself and I do miss proper girly chats.
Breakfast was rushed on Saturday morning as we wanted to get to The Brewery in time for the key note speech by Ben Brooks-Dutton (Life as a Widower). At last years BritMumsLive, Ben won a BiBs award for his inspirational blog which documents life as he adjusts to bringing up his little boy Jackson following the death of his wife, Desreen. I sobbed as I heard a brief snippet of his story last year whilst holding a four month old Little Mr in my arms so I was keen to hear how he was getting on. He didn’t disappoint. Ben’s outlook on life is refreshing and it was interesting to hear him talking about how he is keeping his wife’s memory alive and talking openly to their son Jackson about his mummy and what she was like. Ben has written a book out which I am keen to read; It’s Not Raining Daddy, it’s Happy but what I most took away from his keynote speech was that we should appreciate more what we have and we should talk to our children at the end of each day and ask them what their best moment of the day was. It’s so easy to get pulled down when things go wrong and life doesn’t go the way we anticipate but by looking for the good stuff in every day life, can really help your outlook on life.
The day was filled with a variety of sessions and I enjoyed Di Coke’s session on holding giveaways, the travel blogging session with travel guru Simon Calder and new ways to monetize my blog. I had initially thought of going to the social media session but figured that aside from Google+, I was pretty socially active anyway and didn’t think my hubby would appreciate me spending even more time on my phone! I’m keen to find some notes from the photography session with Julia Boggio as she is a fantastic photographer and I would like to read the notes on Google+ as I would like to at least understand what i’m doing when I’m on there. I felt the rooms could have been shifted round as a lot of the popular sessions were in the smaller rooms and a lot of people were turned away as there was no where to stand which was a shame.
I made time to mingle with familiar faces and catch up with friends. It’s really hard trying to catch up with all the people you want to see as everyone has their own agenda full of other friends they want to see too, brands to meet and sessions to attend. I know I didn’t see or speak to everyone I had intended to but I hope they understand why.
This years BritMumsLive was different for me. I enjoyed myself and felt comfortable (once the nerves had died down) I’m really sad to read on Twitter and Facebook that some people didn’t enjoy it. It’s a huge conference with a lot of people and quite a bit to take in and for some, that can be too much. It’s a busy couple of days and I certainly felt shattered after the event and I didn’t sit in all of the sessions.
The conference ended with the Bloggers Keynote which were brilliantly read by a selection of amazing bloggers. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling after hearing blog posts about miscarriage, childhood illnesses and cancer. The posts were so raw and struck a chord with so many of us. Next year the Bloggers keynote should be sponsored by Kleenex. To round up the event, we were treated to an exclusive preview of The Good Enough Mums Club, a musical performance which was brilliant. I could totally relate to it and now can’t quite remember the words to Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes!
The Saturday evening was spent drinking Prosecco with a small group of friends chatting about the weekend, our blogs and our families. It was the perfect wind down to such a busy weekend and I do believe I have found my drink of choice!
It was a brilliant weekend, I came away with firm friendships, fond memories and a head full of ideas and inspiration. Just what MrsShilts needed..x
Thanks to Koo-di for sponsoring my travel, ticket for BritMumsLive and my accommodation.