On Saturday 25 June, I went to a blogger conference called BML16 in London.
This was my first Britmums Live conference and I was excited to learn new things, meet lovely people and see some fab brands. Okay, and to eat my own body weight in free food.
The day started off pretty well. I had my outfit sorted, my bag packed and decided on an earlier train to make sure I’d be there ready for registration to open.
The only thing I didn’t count on was being told at the train station before I bought my ticket that there was at least a three hour delay due to signalling errors. Fuuuudge.
I had to call hubby and demand that we hotfoot it over to a different train line. Luckily, it’s only a 20 minute journey to the next station which runs on a different line. But there was a problem.
The train from that station takes longer to get in, is further away from where I needed to be… AND I’d added an extra 20 minute delay from having to drive over already.
I knew then that I wouldn’t make it on time.
My heart sank but I was determined to get there as quickly as possible.
What was worse, was that I had to buy a single from that station and another single for the way back to my preferred station to be able to get a reasonably priced taxi home! What is usually quite an inexpensive trip to London at the weekend suddenly had the pound signs rolling around my head like a slot machine.
I finally arrived at about 10am – over an hour later than I’d planned on arriving.
The sessions had already started and I was left walking in circles near a large inflatable Clanger wondering which direction I needed to go to in reception. The Clanger was no help.
Luckily I was pointed in the right direction to the main hall 2 floors up. As I walked into the room, I needed to first have a drink.
It had been a long morning already and my throat was drier than a desert.
I think the tables were set up for people to serve as I first tried to get a cup of tea… to be faced with a number of large urns. Which one just had water in and where were the flippin’ teabags?
I quickly gave up on that. At this point I was given odd looks by people trying to watch who were obviously disturbed by my attempt to quench my thirst. I then spotted the water. AHA! Once that was sorted, I walked in a few more circles (because that’s what I do when I don’t know what to do) and eventually found where I was meant to be to sit down.
Phew. I’d made it, I was sat down and I’d found people.
I hadn’t learnt a single thing and I was already exhausted.
Anyway, for those who are more interested in the nitty gritty… here is what I learnt from the sessions:
In the writing session, I learnt how to use emotions to spark more life into stories and to find your voice. I hope to be able to use this a bit more in my writing although I hope you can already feel it!
We were asked to first write a paragraph on a story that had a strong emotion in it.
Next we had to change one thing about the story to fictionalise it. Whether it was a different person’s perspective, a different emotion or changing where it was.
Finally, we used the emotion we were writing about to convey the feeling into a completely different story.
From my point of view, this activity really helped me to show that if you think about the emotion behind a story, then it makes it stronger. It’s easier to write when you feel strongly about it!
Most importantly, it reaffirmed that I should just be myself. Not to try to be someone else and to keep discovering my own voice – not copy others!
Did you know I have a Youtube channel? Well, I do and I want to be a better vlogger. If you’ve not seen me jabber yet, you can take a look here.
I still struggle with talking to the camera and not feeling like a complete idiot in front of other people but I am working on it.
I picked up some great tips for growing my following about collaborations (the pic shows the top tips!)… but I think for the time being I need to find my voice as a vlogger first. Get some practice in and find out what sort of videos I like making and of course the sort of videos you like watching from me!
I also inadvertently learnt that I need to watch more Youtube videos.
So if there is anything you’d like me to chat about on Youtube… let me know.
Working with PRs
I’ve worked with a few PRs including the people being Miffy, but not many. I’m not very good at the minute at being proactive.
That is largely because I don’t think I’m good enough… Yet. But this session taught me that actually, I already have a lot to offer.
Sure, I’m not a pro-blogger. I don’t have huge pageviews and I don’t have a huge following (wait a min… I am getting to a positive!!). If we’re looking at stats alone, I’d largely be ignored. But that’s not to say that my stats are rubbish or that I am rubbish… they’re just not ‘mental’. I take great pictures, my writing is fab (I’d have to say that though right?) and you won’t find me lying about products being great. I’ve reviewed products where I’ve not been 100% happy, but that’s life and I’m honest about that and happy to give my honest feedback.
I’ve been selling myself short.
I’m sure a lot of other bloggers do and feel the same.
So, I’m going to try and change it up and contact a few PRs to see if they would like to work with me. The worst they could say is no right?
But… if I am going to contact them then I need to do it right. I learnt in this session that personalisation is key.
Blanket emails do not work…. well they may do but less so! They suggested these top tips:
- Personalise with their name. It just feels nicer doesn’t it?
- Find out their core values – do they match yours? There’s no point contacting them if they only work with companies that aren’t of interest or a match to you.
- Tell them who you’ve worked with – even if you’ve written reviews about things or places that you’ve been – they’ll be interested in seeing them for a comparison of what you can do for them.
To be honest, I didn’t learn too much in the Instagram session as I think it was more tailored for those with mass followings already, where I only have a mere 300 (which equally, I’m flippin’ impressed by – go me!). But, my good friend Katie (mummy in a tutu) told me about a handy app called Hashtags (available on app stores!), where you can search for the theme of your picture to be shown popular hashtags which you can copy and paste into Instagram. HALLELUJAH! Katie you legend.
I’m hoping this will help me to increase how many people see my lovely images.
There were quite a few brands to talk to, but it was less about brand collaborations and more about finding out more about them and taking part in their engaging stands. I won’t talk too much about that as I’ve agreed to write about brand engagement for my sponsor, which I’ll link to when I write it!
In a nutshell, the likes of Coca Cola, Clangers and Boots were exhibiting to raise awareness of their change in products and new releases with some great engagement techniques for bloggers… as you can see below!
Of course, there’s also a shed-load of freebies.
My favourite being my new necklace that I ‘won’ during pass the parcel. I say won…
We had an extra layer of wrapping paper at the end when other tables had already got to the bottom. So it got passed around and everybody on my table was being extremely polite and passing it on. It had already gone halfway round the table so I stopped it and opened it.
Equally, I was the only one not wearing a necklace on the table so… fate?
I feel a bit rude for taking it, but it was ‘last biscuit’ syndrome and somebody had to win it. Anyway, it’s gorgeous and I’m very lucky and thankful for my fellow tribe for letting me steal it.
If you love it as much as I do, it’s from Merci Maman and is worth £59. It’s engraved with Love what you do on the front, #bml16 on the back and the cheeky star you can see hiding is engraved with 5 – as it’s the conference’s 5th birthday (Yes there was cake).
On that poignant note of Love what you do, thank you for bearing with me till the bottom!
It was such a fun event and I have so much more to say… I met so many lovely, beautiful, friendly bloggers – too many to name, so I’ll just leave you with a few more pics from Instagram. Enjoy and I hope to see you at a future event if you’re a blogger.