I really feel like I have not had a weekend and there is a bloody good reason for that!
Like 750 other bloggers I was at The Brewery in London on Friday and Saturday, no not to get completely drunk and drink the place dry (I left that to some other bloggers....allegedly!) but to attend BritMums a blogging conference!
I really wasn't sure what to expect, the agenda looked good, the chat on twitter before was amazing and a number of people I had been tweeting for a while were attending so when I had the offer of a ticket I thought why the hell not!
Day one was only in the afternoon, I met up with some great bloggers (sorry to many to mention) before hand for a quick drink, only one of which I had met previously in person, and that individual (Martyn) I had only met the week previously at The Dad Network Day of the Dad. It was good to initially meet these bloggers and get in some introductions before heading down the road for the big event!
It was interesting as we made our way down Chiswell Street and found the entrance to The Brewery, myself and a couple of the other Dad bloggers must have surprised the security team as they really were not expecting some blokes by the look on their faces and the way they suddenly took a keen interest in this motley crew, they soon relaxed when we said we where bloggers here for BritMums!
Registration was a doddle and it was clear we were out numbered (no surprise!). Following this the day went past in a flash and it was fantastic to meet some of those I had spoke to many a time over twitter but never met in person... and some where as nuts as they seem online (Yes Emma I am looking at you!)
The initial key note from Ella (of Deliciously Ella) was interesting to hear her journey to how she started blogging and becoming a massive hit, I guess things really do happen for a reason but a shame it took her being so ill to find that out. As well as Victoria Wright who has given a massive "Up Yours" to the haters out there and despite suffering from Cherubim, this is one story I have already relayed to both my daughters!! I wish her all the best with her daughter starting school and having to face the school playground once again!
Then we were onto the sessions for day 1. I have to admit there wasn't a great deal I was expecting out of these!
Session 1: Turning pitches into profit! This was with the lovely and very witty Emily Leary of A Mummy Too.
I have to admit I didn't get anything ground breaking but what I did get is a reality check, instead of just chucking posts out all over the place I need to plan more (I have started but this reinforced it)
I also need to think about a media kit.... because simply I don't have one! In the day job I work in account management and also have a new business target and can pitch about our business if somebody in the street walks up to me and asks who we are and what we do, but I would struggle at the minute to do this for my blog!
They key question I was asked in this session was
Can you sum your blog up in one sentence or strap line??
That is simple.... no not at the minute!
There were a few other bits that I took away too as I have yet to work with many brands on proper campaigns this was all useful to me!
Looking back at my notes now I realise I took away more than I thought!
Session 2 How successful bloggers do it - This was with Becky Wigging of English Mum who I think was one of the first people I followed on Instagram many moons ago, Vicki Psarias of Honest Mum and Helen McGinn of Knackered Mothers Wine Club.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this session, I certainly wasn't expecting to laugh so much, these 3 are hilarious together, each successful at what they do and more than happy to share with the room how they have got to where they are as well as some key lessons learned along the way!
I have to admit Becky sent me into a mild panic when she mentioned that following an approach from a major supermarket to appear in an add that they went through her complete online history.... how bloody scary is that! I hope I don't have any skeletons hidden back there! She was also not able to tell anybody, including her dad about the deal she had signed! I am not sure I would have been able to keep my mouth shut!
Vicki from Honest Mum is an out and out business women! A lovely lady who is not afraid (like the other two) to say what she is thinking, I actually feel sorry for a PR that approaches her thinking they could piggy back on her success for free, she is lady who knows what she is a good at, what she wants and by the sounds of it usually gets it! It was really good to see and thinks she will make a brilliant mentor to some bloggers should they be lucky enough!
Helen was honest enough to admit when she was out of her depth and need an agent to help out and it would be nice to eventually be in a position to need one! I am certainly going to point the good wife towards her blog as like Helen, Mel is a massive fan of wine!
The session was light hearted but serious at the same time and again I took a key point away, and that was
Don't let someone hijack your blog!
By this they meant always be yourself and regardless of how much somebody is willing to pay for you if its not something you believe in, think before saying yes!
Unfortunately after this sessions I had to make a run for it due to a prior engagement and was unable to attend the party or the awards, but from discussions the following day a good night was had by all!
Day 2 was an early start for me, getting the tube back into London from Epping, it was actually nice to be in London early on a Saturday morning for a change!
A quick pit stop for a Tea with Tony (Papa Tont) who was remarkably fresh after a night before and then back to The Brewery!
I can honestly say that I wasn't expecting to discuss some of the things we did (this will become clear), but this picture should have been a massive clue!
The Key Note for the second day was from Carol Smillie (yes her off the TV), it was interesting to hear how she had changed careers and moved into starting a business, Diary Doll, making the perfect pants..... yes pants as in knickers! They are designed at ladies to during periods, as well as to stop embarrassing accidents post maternity and believe it or not I found this interesting!
Ok you can close your mouth now and stop gasping, is that really a shock? I am the only man in my house, 2 of them get really moody with me every so often and one is probably going to follow suit soon, so this might not come as a surprise that periods are often a topic of discussion in our house! There is even a video of me somewhere (that may or may not become public) of me saying why I think they are a fantastic idea!!
Anyway enough about that I am not being paid to plug them (or anything else in this post!) I skipped the first sessions that morning and instead caught up with a number of bloggers and other creatives including Nigel Camp who kindly interviewed me about my experience of BritMums from a Dad's point of view, lets hope I don't end up on the cutting room floor!
My first session attended on day 2 was with Paul Armstrong of Here/Forth: Social Media for Advanced People!
This was an excellent session, not only to meet some interesting bloggers including Cat from NotSoSmugNow, Nat from Style Me Sunday! I also came away with a bit of a to do list from this session but a small summary of them is as follows:
How does my blog look on mobile
Ensure everything has a photo.... this drives more traffic, especially on Facebook a post with a picture means more timeline real estate!
Check out some apps, these included Fly, Layout and Nutshell
There were other points but this post will drag on (more than it already probably is)
I did sit in on another couple of sessions ..... but all I will say on this is they were the wrong ones for me!
In all the 2 days was worth my time, not just for the reasons mentioned above but mainly for the social aspect, it was great to meet so many like minded bloggers, and goes to show that the UK has a great blogging community.
So yes I am a Dad and a blogger... yes they can be the same thing! BritMums as it would suggest is (I guess) aimed at mums and always has in the past but I know from speaking to other dad bloggers they have attended in the past, perhaps a keynote speaker or 2 should be reminded that next year! This year a few more were attending, but still nowhere near enough! I know some others would love to have attended but were unable due to one reason or another, but I don't think the number will go up massively next year!
The Brands represented at the event are still massively aiming at Mum bloggers, which makes sense due to the demographic! I don't have any answers as to if this should or will change but I will throw these questions out there:
Dad's did you think about attending this year but decide not to? If so why not?
Mum's would you like to see more Dad bloggers represented at this event? or would you like to see less?
Regardless of the above I had a fantastic couple of days, meeting some fantastic people! It's a shame its only once a year as it would be good to meet a number of these bloggers more often!