When I started blogging three years ago, I didn't anticipate that I'd be sat in a conference venue in London, surrounded by people who are batting off PR requests, being quoted in the national newspapers and being provided with numerous freebies by companies keen to get bloggers to review their products favourably.
I felt a little like a fish out of water... to say the least!
Britmums Live 2012
|It's Katy Hill!|
The highlights for me, other than the fun of checking out if my mental images of folk I'd never met were accurate (Click here for more on First Impressions), were the Brilliance in Blogging Awards, and the Bloggers' Keynote. I hadn't expected the showcase of bloggers and posts respectively to be quite so emotional. I laughed, snorted, giggled, wept and was moved by the content. Note to self: take tissues next time.
Unfortunately I noticed very quickly that the advertised 'titles' of many of the other Agenda items were, once you got there, not as advertised on the tin.
Not as advertised on the tin
Ruby's Prevailing through adversity: how I bear the tsunami of all depressions didn't technically tell you how she bears the tsunami of all depressions. She talked a lot about her new website and about whether we needed anonymity to discuss mental illness. It was an interesting discussion; just not quite what I'd expected.
|Crossing the Chasm|
The most useful practical tips that I scribbled down furiously came from Melinda Fargo who blogs at HerMelness Speaks. She helpfully listed a set of things to think about; a checklist (and I love lists!). She has helpfully reproduced it on her blog here, which is good because my scribbled notes only add up to 9 things; not 10. Ooops.
Of the other workshops I attended among the many on offer I found that the social media ones didn't meet expectations; I didn't get the 'manageable plan' I was promised in Creating a social media plan that works, I was just told to make one. I wanted more. I wanted nitty gritty.
But I did get a lot of useful information from SEO tips and Legal Essentials; 55 minutes could have been doubled; and from Perks and Pounds by Erica Douglas; clear, concise, and delivered what it promised. It was unfortunately in the minority.
And so, overall, I was left with a distinct feeling of not quite having got what I expected. What I did get was fun, informative and in some instances incredibly useful; but it hadn't been what was advertised on the tin.
Newbie and Professional?
I was also struck by the way the speakers assumed we were all experts - even in Beginners Blogging sessions.
Even Erica Douglas amusingly asked for 'hands up' those that are batting off the PR requests at the moment, as apparently she's being inundated. That's lovely, for her. But for us newbie bloggers who dream of being approached by a PR department, it's a little patronising and depressing. Er no; I felt like saying. Not so much. Can you bat some of yours my way?
On another occassion a speaker said "Even if you've only got a 1000 page views a day". Again I say; er no. Still dreaming of that very big number and you are making it sound like it's pitifully small.
I just think the bloggers that have been doing it a while need to remember that their audience includes people who do know the lingo and have been around the block; but ALSO includes those that know nothing other than how to write a few elequent words on a blog post and hopefully entertain their readers.
I was also starving at the end of the Friday, to the point of feeling slightly nauseous as no food, other than the odd cake that we were too busy to spot and grab, was provided between 2pm and 8pm.
It seems like I've been on a downer on the event there. Maybe it's the adrenalin that's finally ran out.
Maybe it's the realisation that the goodies I came home with were all for my children, and 'my' loot consisted of a TKMax compact, some anti-bacterial hand-gel, a paperback novel I'm not sure I'll read and 6 various packets of baby wipes. You just can't please some people eh?
My ideas for an improved event next year include the following:
Feed the bloggers on the first day; between the workshops and the wine and awards. Many of us have travelled down before the start of the conference, not necessarily having time to eat much before registration at 2pm. We are also mums, and so many are used to eating at 5pm before starting the whole bath, story, teeth, bed routine. Instead, we were given the smallest nibbles I've ever seen at 6pm alongside free flowing champagne. It was a recipe for many sore heads. In our case, we hotfooted it back to the hotel after the awards and finally tucked into a delicious steak and chips at around 9pm.
Have some workshops that are more informal discussions, and other's that are very technical - maybe calling it 'The Lab', where tools like Facebook, Google+, PInterest, can be gone through in greater detail, maybe even trouble shooting user problems there and then.
Newbie / Professional
Include some absolute beginners 'newbie' sessions, where subjects like SEO can be gone through in greater detail and a more basic pace for the newbies. Similarly, faster paced advanced sessions for the pro's.
Say what it says...
Be careful that the speakers know what question they are being asked to answer in their presentation.
And that's it. My review. If you have any questions about the event, I am happy to delve into my scribbles to see if I can decipher my notes! The official Britmums Live site for more information and advance notice of next year's event is here.
Feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit my facebook page here, or follow me on Twitter here at @ymummyreally.