#BritMumsLive 2014 – My Experience! (Day 2)

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After telling you about day 1 of BritMums Live 2014 a couple of days ago, it’s time to put my experience of day 2 down on my blog.I described day 2 of the event to those first timers that I spoke to, as the getting down to business day – the day is rammed with sessions, and it’s time to get learning and get motivated! Looking back on the event a couple of days later, I kick myself for not ducking out into the hub to talk to the brands, and I also kick myself for not going to a couple of different sessions which, with hindsight, I would have got more out of. But you live and learn don’t you?!

My day started off pretty early, as day two begins at around 8.30am – so I was up at stupid o’clock with an intravenous drip of coffee, and trying to style my hair and put on makeup, all whilst wanting to crawl back into bed! Hubs dropped me to the station, and once I was out, I was actually raring to go and excited for day 2.

I Instagrammed a few photos along my journey, including the gorgeous bright sunshine at the station, a selfie (of course!) and a photo of the Olympic Stadium. I walked the quiet streets of London to The Brewery, quiet until a couple of drunks decided that pushing themselves along in a shopping cart with traffic cones on their heads was a good thing >_>

I found myself to be the first person there, so I sat in the conservatory area which was just so pretty, and eventually a few more bloggers turned up – forgive me, the names I cannot remember now, but we did have a good natter! I do remember Ginger Warrior – and she even got me involved in the video she was making about her experience – do check it out, it’s pretty awesome!

The doors soon opened, and a lot of bleary eyed bloggers – went inside to grab coffee (lots of it!) and some pastries for breakfast. There was also some delicious pots of yoghurt – I had one of those for my breakfast, and I stood around chatting to bloggers, both old (in that we’ve met before) and new (in that we hadn’t!).

Before long, I was seated upstairs in BritMums 1 for the keynote – Ben Brooks Dutton, a widower who lost his wife tragically in a car crash and has been left behind to raise their young son. It was very moving to hear him speak about keeping his wife’s memory alive for both him and their son. Death is still a taboo subject for many, we often don’t know what to say, or how to react, and in all honesty, I don’t know how to document his talk here on my blog. All I know is that we should live everyday to fullest and tell those around us that we love them…

I decided to attend the session about Podcasting – I have recently started making some videos for my blog, and thought this might be an interesting one to find out about other broadcasting opportunities. We sat and watched the Love All Dads Podcast being recorded, and with hindsight, I should have gone down into the Hands-On Video Session, Part 1…I’m not even sure why I didn’t to be honest. But I learned that you can create a podcast with minimal equipment – a microphone (the brand Snowball was mentioned, which is reasonably priced), you can upload and host your podcast to Libsyn, which then feeds it out to iTunes (have to look into these things really) and that there is free music you can use for podcasts available online. Will I podcast? Who knows – I quite like doing videos at the moment though, so yup, should have gone to that sesh!

I stayed to listen to the Pinterest session with Lizzie Sibley who is the UK Marketing Manager for Pinterest. I’ve been using this social media outlet for a number of years now – somehow, I’ve managed to grow my followers, and I love pinning from blogs I read, and re-pinning on Pinterest itself. I find it a great source of ideas and inspiration, and 90% of my social media referrals comes from Pinterest, so if you’re a blogger, it can be a valuable resource.

If you don’t know what Pinterest is, the best way I can describe it is like a giant pinboard or scrapbook where you pin all of your favourite things. It’s a visual bookmarking tool, and the half-life of a pin (if you’re a blogger this is important to you) is longer than Twitter or a blog post. It always amazes me when I see my own pins pop back up as having been re-pinned months, even years later.

If you’re a blogger reading this, here are some stats and tips from Lizzie that will help you with Pinterest…

  • Food is the most pinned thing, with 65M pins, followed by DIY (60M pins) and Fashion (50M pins)
  • Pinterest drives more traffic than Twitter, Google+ and YouTube
  • Hashtags do not work on Pinterest – Pinterest want authentic behaviour
  • Investigate about a business account (free) and rich pins
  • Make sure your blog/images are pin friendly and can easily be pinned – install a Pin It button
  • Curate good content from around the web and inspire your content to be pinnable

My three most popular boards for followers, pins, repins and virality are Party Time, Halloween & Organise This!

Follow The Purple Pumpkin Blog’s board Party Time! on Pinterest.

Follow The Purple Pumpkin Blog’s board Halloween on Pinterest.

Follow The Purple Pumpkin Blog’s board Organise This! on Pinterest.

A coffee/mingling/networking break was taken, before I went to the Collaboration session, which was about working together for bigger traffic and larger impact. I’ve got a few ideas in my mind about things I’d like to do, but know that I can’t do it all on my own. I need to organise, approach, not be afraid, and have confidence. Watch this space is all I can say at the moment!
The next session I attended was one I was looking forward to the most, and the one which I think has been my favourite out of all the sessions I’ve attended at BritMums – because it was hands on, because I like taking photographs, and because I like taking photographs of food!

Before we got the opportunity to play about with food and props and style some dishes, we were given a talk about food photography with MsMarmiteLover and CookSister, there was a wealth of knowledge shared, and I’ll cover the main points here…

  • Pay attention to aperture, ISO and white balance
  • Pay attention to the quality of light – time of day, seasons, the reflectors, the light source
  • Play around with the direction of the light
  • Play around with camera angles, shoot a dish from 3 different angles: overhead, 45 degrees (as if sitting at a table) and eye-level
  • Think about styling with colour, and how to make the food ‘pop’
  • Think about styling with texture, add it with other foods such as croutons in a soup
  • Think about styling with props, different plates, cutlery, tea-towels, wallpaper
  • Composition: landscape v portrait, cropping, rule of thirds
  • Styling Tips
    • Shoot small portions
    • Wipe plates/bowls etc clean around the rims
    • Undercooked veg will hold their colour and shape better
  • Know the limits of Photoshop – you can fix the exposure, and erase splotches of food, but you can’t fix the blur from lack of focus, harsh shadows or burnt out highlights – always try and fix ‘in camera’ if possible

With the know-how out of the way, we then grouped up, grabbed some props and food and got styling! Our group picked out some fruit and cheese, as well as some rustic wooden props and knives. We also picked some enamel mugs and plates, but decided that they just wouldn’t fit. We also tried using various light angles, backgrounds (white and black) and different camera angles.

We initially thought a light background would suit the food best, but then, when switching to black – wow what a difference, which I hope you’ll see yourself in the photos that I took…I used my iPhone5 to take photos in this class, because, like a dimwit, I didn’t bring my Panasonic Lumix with me >_< The large images are my favourites of the light and dark backgrounds.

I also sat in two more sessions – New Ways to Monetise your blog, which was a valuable and interesting session as I do earn from writing my blog, and am looking to making it a full time gig in the future. And also Building Your Food Brand, mainly because, I didn’t fancy the other ones, but looking and learning since, I wish I’d gone to the Mama Me-Time to escape the hubbub!

Another break followed before the highlight of the day – The Bloggers’ Keynote, where bloggers are invited to read one of their blog posts to us all… some are very moving, some are thought provoking, some are funny. They’re all very different, and hit us all in different ways. The one that did it for me was read out by Keynko, entitled I Overheard What You Said which I encourage you to go over and read. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of judgment, then you will no doubt be able to relate.

The grand finale of BritMums Live 2014 was a couple of numbers from the new musical Good Enough Mums Club which is a hilarious show, written by a mum, about mums and performed by mums. At the end of the appearance (I need to see the whole show!) we all stood up and took the Good Enough Pledge. Then it was all over for another year, and my ticket is already bought for 2015!

I’m closing out this post with a photo of me, and my Good Enough Mums Club badge, which we received in our swag bags (as I like to call them!). There are so many times in my life where I have thought “I’m not good enough” be it at school, at work, as a mum, as a wife, as a friend, as a daughter, as a sister, as a person. These two posts were about my experience of BritMums Live, what I took away from it, and what I learned. I couldn’t get it all down, because, quite frankly, I can’t always put my thoughts and words down on screen. I’m useless with remembering names, and if we chatted, or you came up to me – thank you – I appreciate that you did, I’m actually rubbish at approaching people for fear of judgement.

The Purple Pumpkin Blog is my space on the interwebz. A place where I share the things in my head, where I can be creative and hopefully as an inspiration for others. I have changes to come for my blog – a design change being the main one. I also want to start recording more videos, and have a few ideas for that too! There is a couple of other collaborative things I have in mind, again, watch this space!

I blog about so many different things it’s always been hard to define to others what I blog about. I shared a tweet a while ago, and I’ll share it again, because it has to be my mantra!

I’m not a food blog, or a craft blog or a travel blog or a photo blog – I’m The Purple Pumpkin Blog! http://t.co/xcl2iJKHVG
— Purple Pumpkin Blog (@MsPurplePumpkin) April 26, 2014

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