Thursday 4 June 2015

Keep Calm and Blog On - BritMums Live is Almost Here

I'm getting pretty long in the tooth now, I've definitely moved into the Grandmother realm of parent blogging and established myself as an old hat. Bloggers that I still think of as new have now been established for four years or more and when I look back I realise my first post went live in 2008 and that is seven years ago. In terms of blogging that is an awful long time now.

Early 2010 was when I really broke into the parent blogging community and started to be brave and share content, joining in with linkies like The Gallery and Dear So and So, commenting elsewhere and even joining twitter. I made some great friends, ones which are now real life buddies, I made lots of fabulous acquaintances that I can chit chat with and I also met a few nasties along the way, but not many, honestly the people I would rather never meet again can be counted on one hand. The parent blogging sphere is a great one; supportive and fun in the main.

As BritMums Live approaches (just three weeks to go, whoopie) I found myself thinking about the frenzy I got myself into in 2011 when I was due to attend my first big blogging conference - Cybermummy (which was the forerunner to BritMums Live) and my heart went out to all those who might be feeling anxious and worried about attending their first BritMums Live so I thought I should write this post and share the truths I have found out about parenting bloggers and the BritMums Live conference in the last seven years.

1.  We are all the same but completely different!
And that is the beauty of what we do, we have the bond of being parents but we all approach it in our own way and that makes our community really diverse and rich. In the same way we parent our children in the way that suits us we must too blog in the way that suits us. There are no rules but of course as we tell the children it is good to play nice and manners cost nothing.

2.  We will stick together and stand strong for a cause
I remember a time when 164 of us all posted to support our friend Chris of Thinly Spread and her trip to New York for the UN General Assembly with Save the Children. In just 48 hours those posts all went live and showed the strength of our collective voice.

I also vividly remember when our friend Kerry, Multiple Mummy died in December 2012 and the way our community came together to support her husband Nick and then how we all sang Katy Perry's Firework at BritMums Live the next June as a mark of respect and to remember the light and joy that Kerry was.

I could go on and on and tell you about the other heart wrenching and amazing ways that this community pulls together and supports its own but I imagine you get the picture.

3.  We love to celebrate success and know how to enjoy ourselves
At the BIB awards on the Friday evening of BritMums Live and at the MAD blog awards in September we celebrate those lucky blogs that have made it through to the finals of the national blogging competitions. I've never yet sat at a table and heard the nominees being gossiped about in a derogatory manner, all you ever see is the whoops, tweets, raised glasses and kisses as the winner is announced.

4.  You are not alone
It might seem as if everyone knows someone else but I promise you they do not. I met my best bloggy friend at a conference, I can't recall if she approached me or I approached her but we got chatting and found she joined in with a linky I ran and that was it, I now have my bestie for all things blogging but it is not like dating, we aren't exclusive. We are super happy to chat to others and welcome new bloggers into our little world, you just have to be brave enough to say hi or tweet us and then we can hook up.

There are so many parenting or UK blogger groups on FB now so if you are going to BML and you don't want to walk in alone, post to see if anyone else is in the same boat and I promise you there will be lots. There also nearly always seems to be a meet-up at All Bar One just down the road prior to the official doors open at 2pm. Then also this year I've seen the unofficial Instagram walk across London starting at 12 noon, which looks great fun.

5. Most people will not recall what you wear
There are of course a few people you might remember and if you wear a pink flamingo outfit then you might ensure a few more do but I'm assuming you want to fit in rather than stand-out and thus I'll tell you the best way to fit in.  Be you, wear what suits you and what you feel comfy in. Don't wear new shoes that might give you blisters but will look divine. If the shoes make you miserable and you wear a frown all day that will scare off far more people than the flaties that you chose not to wear as they were not stylish enough.

This year both days I am wearing jeans and I am even a speaker on the Saturday. I'll have a nice colourful top on, my hair puffed up and a big smile but my shoes will be flat and my make-up minimal. I won't be changing for the BIBs on the Friday night as I've done that before and wasted my energy on getting glam when actually I've found I prefer to be there early and enjoy an extra glass of wine!

6.  You may get overwhelmed and have information overload
But this is not a reason not to go to the best event of the year. Personally I never plan to attend all the sessions as I need downtime to process what I have learnt and I also love to sit in the brand area/ lounges and people watch with a cuppa and a slice of cake. The best time to chat to the brands is when 99.9% of the attendees are in sessions, let them have a scrummage at break times, you be smart and chat when there is a session on.

I hope this has been helpful, here are a few more tips from this seasoned blogging conference goer -

  • Check the program out in advance and decide which sessions you simply will not miss
  • If you like freebies, bring a bag/ case much bigger than you need as you will be taking loads home with you
  • Decide in advance who you must meet and tweet them to arrange. If you are intentional about this it will happen, the conference is too big to leave things to chance.
  • Bring some business cards to put in for free draws and to give to PR's but you won't need more than about 30-40 max.
  • Prior to the day think about who you are in respect of your blog. If you wanted to sum up your blog in one easy sentence, what would it be? For instance I could say (if I'm feeling particularly confident) that I write the number one Christian parenting blog in the UK.
  • Bring your phone charger or a charge pack. In BritMums One at the back there is normally a recharge point with loads of sockets
  • Of course don't forget your camera and depending on how you blog your phone may do but I assure you, you will want to capture those cheesy selfies with your new mates
Lastly and maybe most importantly keep an open mind  You have no idea what friendships or opportunities might come out of BML, so embrace the time you spend there and really go for it!

Do say hi if you see me, I really am a regular woman. I just happen to have been blogging for some time and have done pretty well in terms of opportunities and rankings but my feet are firmly on the ground.

Be blessed, Mich x

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