Tuesday, 28 June 2016

My thoughts on #BML16 - a blogging conference

It was an interesting day which involved me getting poo on my top (downside of baby wearing), screaming in the toilet (they were very narrow and the tissue holder attacked me) and telling Carol Smillie that there was no way I was going to jump on a trampoline (she was promoting DiaryDoll pants). I also spoke to the Johnson's European Head of R&D, made an oiled up man pose for me and ate lots of cake. 

(For anyone who hasn’t been to Britmums Live it is an annual conference for bloggers which combines the opportunity to chat with brands with how to improve your blogging, meeting other bloggers and generally providing inspiration.)

This was my second time at the event and my first time with a baby. I went with Little which meant that I always had someone to talk to and having a baby on my chest was a great ice breaker, but it did mean that I left one of the sessions as she was starting to get noisy. 

So what did I think of my day? Let’s start with the low points:

There were a number of bloggers who I’m not entirely sure why they were there. At an event where a lot of people go on their own most people are open and friendly and will talk to anyone, but there were a number of people who only seemed interested in speaking to and supporting their friends. In the first session which included an ice breaker I sat at a table on my own, 4 ladies joined me at the table, all people who I follow on Twitter. I made several attempts to talk to them, but they didn’t make any effort to talk back even though I was on my own (other than the baby). One of them also held on to the pass the parcel on the final layer so she could win, meaning that I missed out on the prize. It was all a great joke, but it still felt rude that they had joined me at the table, weren’t interested in talking to me and then didn’t even apologise for grabbing a rather nice necklace by Merci Maman.

I was also really disappointed that during the awards not everyone showed the support for the finalists. Yes it was the end of a long day, but everyone in that room should have been clapping for every single name which was read out. 

The new one day format meant that it was a full on and very busy day where you had to choose whether you wanted to miss out on developing your skills, socialising or talking to brands in detail. I remember feeling the same when the format was a day and a half though. There is just too much to cram in to the event however long it is.

So there were some disappointments, but overall I had a fantastic day. Here are 10 great things about the event:

Meeting people that I have only previously met online. There are lots of bloggers that I regularly interact with on Twitter or Instagram, some of them for years. It was lovely to meet some of these lovelies face to face such as Donna, Liska, Sharon and Sarah.

Meeting new people. There are 100s of bloggers at BML each year (about 500 apparently) and there is no way you are going to know everyone who is there. This makes it a great opportunity to meet new people and find new blogs. People I met for the first time include Ann from Rainbows are too beautiful, Clarina from Clarina's Contemplations  and Rachel from Vintage Folly whose youngest daughter was born the same day as mine. Apologies to anyone I have currently forgotten.

Freebies. I’ll admit it I love getting things for free. I also love discovering and playing with new things, if I can do this with no cost to me so much the better (I am more than happy to then buy if they are worth it). I’m not alone in loving freebies and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who waited all of 2.5 seconds before going through the goody bag.

The food. From the birthday cake by Konditor & Cook (my all time favourite cake and brownie makers) to ice cream to cup cakes and biscuits and lunch and pastries and breakfast muffins to tapas to crepes, you could easily eat your way through the day. There was also smoothies, cordial, prosecco, coffee, squash’d, iced latte and spritzers to wash the food down with.

Brands. When I am talking to a brand I want to know about them, what makes them special and what new products they have. I also want to know what they want from bloggers and how we can work together. I really enjoyed chatting with some of the companies especially: Mam, Munchkin, Fellowes, DC Thomson, Bollox, Johnson's, Touchnote, Sultan and Coca-cola who all took time to talk to me in depth. 

Photo opportunities. These included in a tent with the Big Little Tent Festival (after reversing into it minus dignity), with an inflated Clanger, the new Noddy and a super sized Mim mim (from Kate and Mim mim). Oh and with actual people!

The break out sessions. I chose to not attend talks in every session because I wanted to spend more time chatting with people, but I picked up some useful tips in the sessions on Understanding SEO (by the VERY knowledgeable Judith Lewis), How to work smart with PRs and the Instagram session.

The talks. From the moving Keynote session by Anne-Marie Cockburn who tragically lost her 15 year old daughter, to Julie Creffield’s Inspirational talk on big fat stupid goals and the typical blogger over sharing as encouraged by Cherry Healey. The talks by these strong women this year encouraged us to find our voice.

The Blogger’s Keynote. While the majority of the blogger attendees are mum’s and an ever growing Dad contingent the style of post and topics are very different. The Blogger’s keynote each year provides an opportunity to hear examples of some of the most amusing and poignant posts. Awards for bravery should go to Tim of Slouching Towards Thatcham for singing his post and Oana from Mama’s Haven for reading her post on What really happens when you lose a child. Most entertaining for me was the incredibly cute video where Al from The Dad Network was interviewed by his son for the position of stay at home Dad.

The awards. With so many amazing bloggers around and so many people achieving great things through their blogging it is great that there are a number of awards ceremonies which aim to recognise some of the best. The Brilliance in Blogging Awards by BritMums use both voting and judges to decide the best of the best and it was lovely that so many of the winners were shocked and humble at their well deserved achievement. Well done to everyone.
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3 comments

  1. It was so so lovely to finally meet you and Sophie. This is a great roundup post. I love your use of subheadings which makes it really readable. Good on ya though for baby wearing all day. I really struggled negotiating the buggy through the crowds in the hub so that was a great idea of yours. I don't think I could have done it though as as much as I am an avid baby wearer and advocate of it, me and Lottie make each other so so hot. But then again it was very air conditioned there so perhaps we could have done it. I have lots and lots of lovely pics of the two of our babies xxx

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  2. I should have also said that stinks about the 4 people at your table and the jewellery. Bloggers can be a friendly bunch.... and also ... not so much. I had an embarassing moment yesterday where I said to someone on IG that I did not even know who on my table won, as I was distracted, only to be told that she herself was on my table. I then watched the video I took of pass the parcel only to realise yes, she was, and only 2 seats away from me. It's all so overwhelming and when you have a baby to mind too BUT I did speak to everyone on my table so I wasn't rude :-) xxxxxxxx

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  3. Really good to hear your perspective, it must have been quite an interesting day with a baby as well...as you say a real ice breaker too! I loved the day and felt that there was a lot of positivity but I just had to comment...I completely agree about the awards part. The inbalance of support was really surprising to me, as were the fact that some applauses almost died out before the person had got to the stage. Maybe it was just where I was sat in particular, but I really felt like I saw a bit of a political side to the blogging world that I didn't know existed and I didn't like. I have completely filed it in my mind I realised until I read this and have instead focused on the kindness I did see throughout the day! Glad you had a fantastic day overall. Found your post on the 'I was there' BML linky xx Lucy at occupation: (m)other

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