Going to the BritMums Live conference last year changed everything for me. It solidified my blogging. I met people I had no idea existed, who wrote blogs I’d never heard of and with whom I have since become friends who I meet in ‘real life.’
In the beginning, there is a myth that there is your ‘on line’ life vs. your ‘real life’ but, for me, this is where they merged. There is still a defining line between between old and new friends, non-blogging and blogging related ones, but they are both ‘real’ and, gradually, they, too, might merge.
The funniest thing that struck me immediately was feeling quite alarmed and embarrassed about how many hundreds of blogs I’d never seen or read. This is the first thing you have to get used to.
The next is the sheer size of The Brewery. Even though it is situated in my old stomping ground in the City, nothing had prepared me for it being such a huge, albeit knock out, venue, easily able to house at least 500 other excited delegates, most of whom are friendly and personable, but distracted with so much going on. Take a virtual tour now
There’s a great camaraderie because you all have to stare at each others boobs to work out who you’re standing next to / speaking to / being overlooked by, as this happens to be where we all pin our name badges.[It was a shame that, by the second day, a lot of people didn’t wear them. It’s not so easy to talk to a stranger when you can’t see the name of their blog, even if it’s one you wouldn’t recognise anyhow – they’re a great conversation opener either way].
Susanna Scott, BritMums founder and co-host of this glorious event was in jeans – so don’t be worrying too much about what to wear. This fab post by Hello itGemma gives you the low-down on what not to:- ”While hot pants and 8 inch heels will make an impact and undeniable wow factor first impression, it’s a long day and if chaffing could be a factor, think again. Aim for comfort.”
She also gives some other properly marvellous tips, one of which is about buddying up with somebody before you actually arrive at the event, so my blogging ally Older Mum and I did, indeed, do just that.
We went to a coffee shop an hour before the start and met up with some other people attending who were trying to do the same thing and it helped us all. In fact, I would go so far as to say sticking with each other throughout some of the sessions and aiming to find one another between them made all the difference in the world, even when we’d found our way around.
This brings me to the actual Agenda, which is where my biggest regret lies. Having glanced at it when booking, I should have kept an eye on events, because even though childcare issues meant me leaving before the end anyhow, there was at least one other presentation I would have liked to have been able to catch, so some real preparation would not have gone amiss. Plus, I was also sad to miss what, by all accounts, was the highlight of the entire conference – the Bloggers’ Keynote – where certain bloggers are asked to read out their own particularly strong posts to everyone present. People still talk about this today!
It was fantastic fun and easy to forget why we were there with so much enjoyment to be had inter-acting, yet there was a ton of technical expertise on hand, more established bloggers offering advice galore to take advantage of and an impressive amount of information for anyone who wants to take their blog further.
Realising the call for more informal face to face ‘just chatting’ time as the blogosphere evolves, BritMums now arrange ‘social meet ups’ purely for this purpose! Rumour has it that Prosecco *might* be involved.
It was very professional in its approach, slickly run and classy, with an abundance of teas, coffee and beautiful cake, but there was nowhere to take a breather from all the hectic activity so, once or twice, I ducked out of going to each and every session and wandered around a bit when things were quieter. This gave me a chance to catch up with some of the big name brands that sponsor the event and make our ticket price such good value. This is something I didn’t really get as a newbie, but Parent Blogging is becoming a serious business and certain companies like to use ‘Blogger Outreach’ for target marketing. Even if it’s not your thing, it’s worth taking business cards, not least because some of them offer amazing prizes in raffles. I came home with a huge hamper full of incredibly brilliant ‘Bananagrams’ games and I hadn’t heard of them previously either!
Again, BritMums have taken this on board, so this year, there will an area to take time out, which is also where their ‘Butterflies’ will be – some friendly faces (including mine) to help quell any nerves or ‘butterflies’ of our own. This concept was a little bit hit and miss before, but it is better organized now with a special Facebook Group and a Twitter list already in place to help other newbies ‘buddy up.’
All things considered, it was quite hard work if you were serious, but I think most of us were 50/50%, appreciating each others’ company as much as anything else. Sometimes you just click with people, even when you’ve never encountered their existence before, adding a whole new dimension to your ‘real life’ as well as your ‘on-line one’ and they really do (blessedly) merge.