I’ve already blogged about Day 1 of Britmums, so thought I better carry on and write about the subsequent day.
Saturday saw me sitting on a tube train at 8am, in order to get to The Brewery in time for cake and coffee. I had left behind 4 kids howling and banging on the windows to say good bye. I definitely don’t go away without them enough.
I didn’t make it to the venue in time for Blogercise first thing in the morning. Shame, but was pleased I had arrived in time to hear the lovely Sarah Brown speak again.
Sarah has a natural, relaxed way about her and is such an inspiring speaker. She talked about how important it is to find a voice for your blog, something I’m still working on. Sarah has been on Twitter for years but she has now started blogging. You can check out her blog here; it’s well worth a read. But Sarah, if you or your web developer reads this, please give us some options for following your blog!
Sarah was a great choice for so early in the morning, as she got us all fired up and ready to go out there and Learn Something.
The first workshop I attended was a photography workshop with Julia Boggio. I had never heard of her until the day before, when a fellow Britmummer pointed me in the direction of this video. A little more research threw up the fact that she was also a wedding photographer, so I was prepared to be annoyed by her, but hoped I’d learn something from the session.
At first it seemed my fears were going to be realised as we had 5 minutes of name dropping and credentials foisted on us, but eventually Julia got going and talked to us about using light in photography. She illustrated this by ‘building’ a couple of photos- one a still life of lemons, and one a portrait, by adding in various light sources. The photos went from flat and staid with the first light source, to dynamic with varied textures by the time she showed us the finished product.
This was an interesting and useful session. I have to confess I’m the world laziest photographer, so will probably never feel the urge to knock up a lightbox, use a mirror to reflect a source of light or set up any sort of arrangement involving a Little Black Dress and false wall of polystyrene. But it’s nice to know that should the mood to do any of these things over come me, I could. And I did learn about key lighting, fill lighting and accent lighting, as well as how to tell where the best light is coming from on a grey day and as the difference between narrow and broad lighting of a subject.
These are all things I can use to improve my photography when I’m out and about with my little shoot and point. I’ve always thought no one could be a really good photographer without an SLR, but Julia put paid to this when she revealed that she had used her iPhone to take all the photos used in her lighting examples. This was such a clever twist that I quite forgave her when she finished up by showing us the video of her dancing with Patrick Swayze on Oprah.
After a quick coffee break, I moved on to a workshop on The Advanced Features of Facebook pages. This was taken by Janis Curry from Really Kid Friendly. It was quite a technical session and could easily have been overwhelming,but Janis explained things clearly and I now have two pages of things to play around with on my blog’s Facebook page. I need to find a unique image for my little square photo- am in the middle of sorting out a logo, which I hope to use here- and think I’ll probably use whatever shot I’m using for my blog header for the larger photo.
Janis also talked to us about how to use our Facebook pages. We learnt about what you are and aren’t allowed to do when running competitions on FB, and why you should attempt to engage with your audience. I’m guilty of only posting new posts on my page when I need to add other interesting things too. She also told us to imagine we always had a Parent On our Shoulder when we are posting stuff on any of the Social Media sites. If you wouldn’t want a respected older adult to read or see anything, then you probably shouldn’t post it.
Just in case that wasn’t enough Social Media information for one day, next up I decided to attend workshop on Google+. I have to say I’m still kind of confused about this but came away determined to learn more about it and use it to its full advantage, not just for its SEO advantages. I have plans to spend some time trawling through this tutorial in an effort to get to grips with it. I’ve also started a Travel With Kids circle, so if anyone wants to be added to this, let me know.
Next up came lunch. Unlike last years Cybermummy, where there hadn’t been enough food, this year there was definitely enough. I went veggie and had the pie and mash, followed by a huge trifle (now someone will tell me they were meant for two…). I did a few laps of the sponsors area, talked to the Vitamix people ( oh how I wanted to win that machine), had a mocktail ( gingerbeer and grape juice-yum!) and decorated a cup cake in what I imagined was a duplo effect. It looked like crap but tasted just fine when I ate it!
After lunch I went along to Erica Douglas‘s talk on How To Make Money From Your Blog. Erica may be a wee young thing but she knows her stuff. She talked about how we could use advertising, affiliated marketing or selling our Special Thing (whatever that might be) to monetise our blogs, and how to tell which method would be most successful for the website and readers we have. Because she’s been there and done that, she was able to tell us what was and wasn’t going to work, so we left the session without any unrealistic ideas of making our fortunes from a few banner adverts on a 4 month old blog. This wasn’t depressing session though, Erica managed to keep the topic light and informal in room packed with bloggers eager for financial remuneration.
My final workshop was on creating a social media plan that works, with Claire Burdett. I think I expected too much out of this session. I wanted to come away with a plan that said ‘tweet for 10 minutes every day at these times, then go on Google+ for 10 minutes at this time, do 10 minutes right now on Facebook and you are done.’ Of course this was never going to happen, but Claire did give us some ideas of how to work out what would work well for our individual blogs.
She did give some useful across the board advice, such as we should make at least 8-10 conversational tweets for every blog link we share, and talked about doing some blind tests of timings to see at what times the uptake of our tweets is highest. I may not have walked out of the room with a rock solid social media plan, but I do have some idea of what to do, and where to go, next.
Afternoon tea followed (more cake!) then we filed into the main room to drink wine and to listen to a short talk by Cherry Healey. I’m such a media dunce, I had no idea who she was but she was pretty entertaining.
And then it was on to the best part of the evening; The Keynotes Speakers. I love this part of the evening, it’s the perfect way to end such a wonderful conference. If you had to leave before this final session, I’m afraid you really missed out.
Along with everyone else in the room I gasped and laughed at the daring of the woman who decided to have sex with her husband for 7 nights straight, nodded in agreement with beautifully written explanation of What Twitter Is Like and bawled my eyes out while listening to a mum of two beautiful girls give advice on What To Say When A Baby Is Born With Downs Syndrome. If you have a moment, you need to read this for yourself. When this mum finished she received a standing ovation, as was deserved.
After that I chatted to someone ( was it you? If so, I apologise- I’m not used to drinking 2 glasses of white wine in 60 minutes these days), said goodbye to various people (including one very special friend who I didn’t even know was a blogger!) and went home on the Metropolitan line which was a bit broken. At one point I felt quite nauseous and was worried I might throw up, but I soon perked up when I got home.
I’d had a wonderful day-and-a-half in ‘blogging world’. If I was to be picky, I’d ask for a mobile phone charger to be available in each room, instead of in just the main one. It would have been good if there had been some more chairs available for those sessions that were unexpectedly popular and I’m not sure where the organisers got the information about the speaker from, but I did notice some verbal corrections being made before whoever was next on the podium got up to speak.
But all in all, Britmums Live 2012 was a fantastic conference with great content. The WiFi worked well, there was enough food and drink, the sponsors and organisers were friendly and the goody bags contained plenty of stuff to keep my kids happy, although WW3 did break out over the single soft toy.
I can’t wait to do it all again next year.