Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Highs and lows of BritMums Live 2012

At 1pm on Friday 22 June, I shut down my computer, cheerily waved goodbye to my colleagues, skipped out of the office (in my head) and hurried along to one of the most anticipated events of my year; BritMums Live!

A massive conference (there were 500 people there), it had a busy schedule of workshops and discussions, stalls to look over, style advice to take, goodie bags to claim, competitions to enter, PR people to speak to and other bloggers to meet.  It was a day and a half long, intense and immense!

BritMums Live Agenda Header

I turned up on my own and felt like the new kid at school on my first day.  It was very daunting to be confronted by such a huge crowd of people and I suddenly felt like a very small, insignificant fish in a very large pond.  If you're not a natural social butterfly (and I can be shy at the best of times) it can be hard to break the ice with strangers and jump into conversations.  Thankfully, I got talking to a couple of people who were also there for the first time (one coming all the way from Edinburgh - now that's dedication!), which helped to calm my nerves a little.  Once inside, I was fortunate to spot a few bloggers whom I had met before, I got talking to a few more and before I knew it, it was a whirlwind of speakers, networking, drinks and nibbles.  And that was just the Friday!

So, what did I learn whilst at BritMums Live?  Let me share...

The highs:
  • Meeting people, old and new.  I met a veritable array of bloggers at this conference.  Some I’ve met and chatted to before like Helen (Actually Mummy), Annie (AKA Mammasaurus), Lucy (Dear Beautiful Boy), Kerry (Multiple Mummy) and Otilia (Romanian Mum).  It was so nice seeing people that I’d had the pleasure of meeting before but, even more than that, it was great to meet people who I’ve not met but spent many an hour reading their blogs (and even meeting some people whose blogs I hadn’t come across but are now on my list) like Alice (An Essex Wife), Katie (Mummy Daddy and Me Makes Three), Fi (Childcare is Fun), Kate of Kate on Thin Ice fame, Cathey who writes the hilarious My Funny Mummy, Jenny (Cheetahs in my Shoes) and Renata who writes Just Bring the Chocolate, to name but a few.  As I've mentioned, it did help to know someone and if you're going to go to something like this, I'd definitely recommend arranging to meet someone beforehand so you can walk in together.  You may not stick by each other’s side once you're there, but it will give you a bit of confidence and will help to avoid that dreaded feeling of intimidation when you go to these bustling events. 
  • Using twitter to arrange meet ups with other attendees.  Because the conference was so big, I realised I didn't stand a chance of accidentally bumping into people I really wanted to speak to.  So, I experimented with the power of twitter to see if I could arrange to meet a couple of bloggers.  I was surprised by how well this worked and will definitely be doing this again next time I'm at a conference to make sure I see all of those 'must meet' people on my list.  You have been warned!
  • Inspiring speakers.  I enjoyed listening to Ruby Wax kick off the conference, although surprised when she started asking the audience for tips on how to connect with people through her website and on Facebook!  Sarah Brown was inspiring to listen to.  It was refreshing to see a more personal side to her too.
  • Leaving with some great ideas and tips.  The sessions were varied and interesting.  I learnt lots of technical things to improve my blog (especially photography; that session was like a breath of fresh air!), but even more so than that, it gave me ideas for my new, more commercial website venture.  I can’t wait to put those into practice.
  • People actually read my blog.  One of the surprises for me was having people see my blog name and actually recognise it!
  • People wanted to talk to me.  And not just because they felt sorry for me - phew!
  • Being called 'high profile'!  Yes, someone did.  No, I can’t believe it either.  I’m sure it was all the Prosecco talking (it was during the ‘wine buffs’ party on the Friday night before the Brilliance in Blogging awards).  Either that, or she was talking to someone tall who was stood just behind me – Jenny from Cheetahs in my Shoes or Daddacool, perhaps?  (They are both very, very tall...and from St Albans.  Maybe there’s something in the water?!)
  • The swag.  There were heaps of goodies to take home.  And, because it’d have been just plain rude to ignore it all (the words ‘gift’ ‘horse’ and ‘mouth’ spring to mind), I felt compelled to take as much home as I could possibly carry.  Just doing my duty.  You're welcome.

The lows:

  • Not meeting enough people!  As I've mentioned, I met a veritable array of bloggers at this event but there were so many more people I wanted to meet.
  • Leaving the conference still feeling confused about Google+.  I went to a session about this and thought it would be useful.  It wasn’t particularly.  Not because it wasn’t good, but because I just don’t get it.  And no-one could tell me why I’ve managed to end up with two personal profiles on the damned thing!
  • A lack of comfy seats to chill-out in, away from PRs and brands.  The event would definitely have benefited from some comfy seating, away from the hustle and bustle of the stands.  Somewhere for bloggers to sit down in peace and chat.  The need for seating was most evident at lunch when most of us ended up sitting on the floor.
  • Getting the "hard sell" from a charity of all things!  I was surprised by this.  I know it was a charity and they rely on donations to function but I didn’t expect what I received.  I may as well name them because it’ll be obvious which one I’m talking about.  Piggy Bank Kids was holding a piggy bank painting competition.  Neat, I thought so enquired about taking part.  I was told that in return for a donation, I could pain a piggy and enter it to win a prize.  I didn’t see a problem with that.  Then, the guy on the stand told me it was £5 per pig.  “That’s not a donation, you’re trying to sell me something,” I thought but didn’t voice that as I didn’t want to appear uncharitable.  I didn’t have that amount of money in my purse (I wanted to paint two, one each for my children) so the man on the stand leaned over me, told me I could text me money to them, gave me the instructions and practically typed out the text for me all while standing over me.  I felt uncomfortable, a little intimidated.  It felt like a pressurised sales pitch rather than something charitable but maybe it was just me.
  • Having to leave early.  Despite knowing that I would be at this conference all day on the Saturday, my husband booked some work for himself on that day without checking whether anyone could look after the children.  Typical! It meant I had to rush home mid-afternoon and miss the last part of the conference, which meant...
  • Pulling out of the bloggers keynote session.  I was chosen to be part of the very last session where a number of bloggers read out one of their posts to the rest of the audience.  I was supposed to present my One Fine Day video but couldn’t (a technical hiccup also meant I couldn’t do it so it wasn’t all my husband’s fault).
  • Not winning a Brilliance in Blogging award.  Despite promising to make a stupendous video if I won my category at the BiBs (which was video if you were wondering, I know I haven’t gone on about it much...), I didn’t win.  So now you’ll never know how amazing that video would have been.  I was chuffed to bits to be a finalist though, I am only eight months old after all (in blog terms obviously!)
But the best bit of all?  Despite finding the conference really useful, my highlight of the whole event was going home on Saturday afternoon and seeing the look of pure delight on the faces of my children when I walked through the door.  I had missed them and they had missed me.  Those cuddles I had that afternoon and evening were amazing.


  1. Wonderful post Madame! Great suggestions on the "lows"...we'll definitely take them into consideration. My family was pretty happy to see me too on Saturday night. We're just sad you couldn't stay until the end. Next year! ;)
    Karin x

  2. Lots of great advice - next time I will try using twitter to meet up with some on my "wanted" list which I didn't quite manage to bump into.

    I loved the photography workshop too.

    Unfortunately I was greatly restricted on my goody bag haul as I was flying back to Belfast with only handluggage. The many packets of wipes didn't make the cut!

    Sorry you missed the Bloggers Keynotes - they were my highlight!

    Maybe we will meet next year - do you think you'll go again?

  3. Katie @mummydaddyme26 June 2012 at 22:00

    It was lovely to meet you- here is to next year! X

  4. I agree on the lack of comfy chairs and a chill out zone. Loved your post and loved meeting you. Speak very soon. x

  5. Was lovely to meet you.  I would ensure if you have not already done so that you give feedback to @piggybankkids.  A quiet space would be good.  I used the courtyard.

  6. It was lovely to meet you although I did not recognise you at first.  You have a lovely smile.  Sorry you had to leave early, that is such a shame.

  7. Laura it was nice to meet you at the weekend - we only chatted briefly but I have been checking out your blog nd enjoying the read. I found that Warner lounge where we chatted best for down time but it was quite small compared to the number of delegates!

  8. That's a great summary! I avoided the Piggy Banks and I'm glad I did now - I'm surprised they were like that though - lesson to learn there maybe.
    I'd forgotten you were in the keynote speeches - how frustrating that you didn't get to do it!
    I was new last year, with no iPhone, so no twitter, and I walked in alone - you can imagine how terrified I was! Much different this year - I loved it all!

  9. Sounds like you had an amazing time! So wish I could have been there but havin read everyone's posts about into am definitely going next year!

  10. maggy, red ted art28 June 2012 at 20:51

    I think Piggy Bank kids would be MORTIFIED to hear that you felt like that. I have worked with Charlie (the guy on the stand) in the past. And I suspect that he thought he was being helpful if a little ahem enthusiastic.. :-(

  11. It was so nice to see you there but far too brief a meeting. We must make sure we get some proper time to chat next time x

  12. I was gutted to miss the keynotes at the end. I've got it in my diary for next year too so will be making sure I can stay for the full thing next time. I also want to go to the Cybher conference to see what that's like so may have to find a sponsor!

  13. Great to meet you too. I'm looking forward to next year already x

  14. I know there was the Warner Bros lounge which had some sofas but I think people were a little worried that they would get approached by PRs when all they wanted was some quiet time without any of that going on around them. It was good to meet you too

  15. I didn't even think about the courtyard - doh! I think someone has already fed back my experience to the charity. I do think it's a good charity and it sounds like it does good work, I think my experience was just unfortunate

  16. Really great to meet you too. I really enjoyed our chat on the Friday night with Hayley (Downs Side Up) and Renata (Just Bring the Chocolate) - thank so much for being so friendly!

  17. Very nice to meet you too, even if it was only for five minutes right at the end! Yes, the Warner lounge was good for sitting down but I think it would have been good to have another space away from the stands to give people a bit of 'time out'

  18. In fairness to Piggy Bank Kids, it does seem like a good charity but I think the guy's enthusiasm probably got the better of him. I understand that every penny counts (I've worked for a few charities in the past) but there's a line of encouraging people to donate and making them feel like they're being forced into it.

    On another note, it was great to see you again x

  19. It was a very good conference. I know not everyone had an amazingly positive experience but I did find it very interesting. Will hopefully see you next year

  20. Hi Maggie, thanks for commenting. For me, one of the issues was the whole texting money 'thing'; being able to access bank accounts so easily makes me very wary because I think it means that it makes things easier for crooks to get hold of your money. I would have much preferred to have gone to the cashpoint and gotten the money out that way (a bit old fashioned, I know!) but I didn't feel like I was able to say this because they were so obviously eager for donations. However, I want to be fair to them and say that it does seem like a good charity that does good work and I am glad I donated, I just didn't like feeling forced into it


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