Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd of June 2013 was Brit Mums Live:
BritMums Live! is the UK’s biggest, two-day social media conference and blogger event, where lifestyle bloggers and social influencers gather to meet and socialise, network with brands, improve their skills, and fire their creativity.
I can’t quite remember how I learned about the Brit Mums network, I may have been perusing some blogs, seen a badge and then took myself off in that direction. At that time, I didn’t even realise that the UK had such a big bloggers network. Having read primarily American blogs, I felt like a little fish in a huge [American] sea of blogs when I started The Purple Pumpkin Blog in November 2011.
Having then discovered that there were Brit bloggers, I started following a few of them on Twitter and subscribed to their blogs…I then stumbled upon another badge for nominations for the Brit Mum’s Brilliance in Blogging Awards, so I read up on the BiBs, created a post, and asked if people would like to nominate me, maybe?
To my surprise, some time later, I received an email to let me know that I had been shortlisted in the lifestyle category – I was over the moon! I didn’t expect anything to come from that initial post to my readers, so was giddy with excitement! It was at that point that I thought, maybe I should go to Brit Mums Live (I was too nervous before to even contemplate it), and immerse myself into the world of bloggers. I have always found blogging to be a rewarding (in terms of writing and creative) experience, but also a lonely one as well, and I figured, even if I don’t make the finals, to get shortlisted was a fab thing to happen to me, and I should embrace it all.
I emailed my local newspaper to tell them about myself, and they published a couple of small articles in the press which was quite surreal, as I didn’t think anything would come of that email either! And I waited to see if my blog would make it through to the finals. I have to admit to feeling deflated to see my blog wasn’t in the final few, but reminded myself, that I exceeded my initial expectation of even being shortlisted and I was excited for the main event – Brit Mums Live!
As the final weeks closed in, and BML was a reality, I started to feel nervous at the prospect of going to a conference, filled with 500+ bloggers, workshops/sessions and brands, all by myself and not knowing a soul. I got myself, (ever so slightly) more involved in Twitter and joined a Facebook group:
A group for bloggers attending Britmums Live 2013. Feeling nervous? Not sure if you will know anyone? This is a group to get to know other bloggers who are attending the event. Introduce yourself and make some connections.
Through that group, I met a fellow blogger and as we live fairly close to each other, arranged to meet at the station and travel to Brit Mums Live together. A few texts later we’d arranged times and meeting points and were soon boarding a train from leafy Essex to the big smoke that is London.
I took a shameless selfie whilst waiting for Sam (from Dreaming of WDW) and filled myself with nerves worrying what we would talk about and if we would get along! I needn’t have worried as we found we had a lot in common. The 30 minute or so train journey to Liverpool Street whizzed by as we chatted.
One of the FB group’s members, Liska from New Mum Online had arranged a pre-meet at Starbucks for those of us who didn’t know anyone, and Sam and I wandered into the coffee shop to say hello and maybe break the ice with a couple more bloggers. I personally find it hard with people I don’t know. I live my life in constant fear of being judged for my size, and always pray that people won’t laugh in my face at me. But, I talked, well, kinda listened more than anything, to a couple of bloggers – a lot of whom seemed to know each other, and then Sam and I took a stroll down to The Brewery – the location of 2013’s Brit Mums Live. I’m sorry now, if we chatted and I didn’t remember your name here on my blog – I am useless with names, I really am – I’m good with faces, and will remember a face for years and years, but names…not so good!
On entering, we grabbed our conference badge and went into The Hub to wander round, grab a coffee and talk to some of the brands there. At this point, in a room full of people and a bag with way too much crap in it I was getting pretty hot and flustered as I weaved in and out of the crowd, trying to take everything in and not really knowing what to say to brands. It’s even worse when you look clearly hot and someone says “are you hot?” Le sigh, to the bloke from the brand I won’t mention, you made me feel like crap. However, lesson learned for next years BML – don’t take so much crap in my bag!
During the wander around The Hub, I saw Kirstie Allsopp (Kirstie’s Homemade Home, Location Location Location) doing a book signing – she was to be the first keynote speaker at BML. Knowing that carrying a heavy book around on top of the already too much junk in my bag, I didn’t buy her book, but managed a sneaky couple of snaps! Then made my (our, since Sam and I hung out for pretty much all of BML) way up to BritMums1 – the huge function room where a lot of the action was taking place.
A lot of bloggers had already started filling up the tables, so we grabbed one towards the back and sat down with a few other ladies, including Emma from Bubbablue and Me. We all swapped business cards and chatted about our blogs until Brit Mums founders, Susanna Scott and Jennifer Howze, took to the stage to give an introduction to the weekend’s events and then introduced Kirstie Allsopp to the stage.
Kirstie, (who had tweeted about her nerves – so good to know I (we!) wasn’t the only one!), gave a Q&A after her speech and then it was time to get down to the sessions.
Staying in this function room it was the Brand Panel Debate – what do bloggers and brands really want from each other? I listened, I made a couple of notes (in the freebie notepads on the tables *note to self, don’t worry about a huge notepad next time!*), and realised that my mum brain isn’t trained for note taking any more!
A break for coffee and another wander in The Hub, before going down into BritMums3 (another function room!) for a session entitled: Putting Your Best Foot Forward – how to present your blog to brands along with media kit tips. More note taking, and me trying to concentrate on and remember everything that was being discussed! Looking back at my notes, I realise I am super crap at note taking!
For the next session, Sam and I parted ways, as there were four sessions going on at the same time. I feel it was a shame that this happened as I missed out on several sessions I would loved to have attended, but they clashed with others I also wanted to attend…we arranged to meet later on and swap notes. But with so much to cram in, there probably isn’t any other way to do it.
I sat in on the Is Your Blog Camera-Ready? – making it look gorgeous, thinking it was about photography and really should have read the description a little bit better! As a website designer, I like to think I’ve got a pretty looking blog – well, I love how my blog looks!! – so I didn’t get as much out of this particular session as I thought I was going to!
By now it was early evening and time for the BiB Awards Party and Ceremony. A text to Sam to find out where she was sitting – down the front which was pretty cool so we could see all the award action up close, and got chatting to a couple of other bloggers – Jaime from The Olivers Madhouse and Maddie from Gammon & Chips. By now, some wine was flowing, canapes were being served (the tiny pieces of steak on a giant chip was lush!) and by now I’d relaxed some more and was having a good old giggle – having some ‘new friends’ made the experience a whole lot more fun.
The BiB Awards Ceremony was compered by writer and comedian, Viv Groskop, who had me in stitches, and then it was down to some serious business of award giving.
It was lovely to see bloggers gaining recognition for their blogs – a lot were overwhelmed by their win, and rightly so, as it was deserved. The bloggers received such huge cheers, and it made me realise what a close knit community bloggers are. Perhaps by this time next year, I’ll know more bloggers and be able to join in more with those celebrations! The table behind us had a couple of award winners sat at it, (I’m crap with remembering names, remember?) one of whom was Annie from Mammasaurus and the other MummyBarrow. I found the ceremony so uplifting – loved it :)
With the awards given out, and the wine knocked back, it was time to say goodbyes and head back home…making arrangements to meet the next day (bright and early – day 2 was starting at 8:30 am!)
Hubby picked me up from the station and in the car, I excitedly told him about my day, who I met, what I learned and how my nerves were not quite as bad as I thought they would be – a lot of it owing to meeting Sam and getting along with her so well. If she hadn’t been there, it is quite likely I would have shied into a corner for a lot of the day and kept myself to myself. Damn my fear of the judgement of others.
Back home, by now maybe 10ish, I fell into bed shattered, groaning at the thought of being up at 6am to get ready to be at the station for 7:30am…I tipped everything out of my handbag (or rather, the school bag I borrowed from my teenage son!) and declared I would NOT being taking all this junk with me tomorrow!
Here’s my report of Brit Mums Live 2013, Day 2
I’ve shared this post over at I was there linky at BritMums.com