britmums live

Apologies to anyone who was not at Britmums Live this weekend/has no idea what Britmums Live is, for this post is completely focused on the event.

I have spent the past two days at a conference specifically for parent bloggers. Rory and I had a great time bumbling around together (this is the 3rd occasion where it’s been just us two on our own since he was born). My tip for any nervous bloggers: Bring a 4 week old with you, it makes for an excellent icebreaker.

My opinion of Britmums Live seems to follow the majority; the keynote speakers were fab, the social aspect was great, but not much was taken away from the sessions.

Some sessions involved bloggers mainly talking about their story – their blogs and how they got started. Which, although interesting, is something that could easily be found out by looking at their blogs and about pages.

Some talks were quickly derailed by topics that have been previously discussed to death, despite the bloggers leading the sessions trying their best to skim over the subjects and move on. (Follow VS No follow, I’m looking at you).

Some talks didn’t really seem to follow their titles much at all.

I guess that maybe, when there is a mix of newer and ‘older’ bloggers, and a mix of prior knowledge amongst an audience, the safest thing is to just to be general. It is going to be difficult to please everyone. Because there are so many parent bloggers at different ‘stages’ of blogging and with varying amounts of knowledge on a particular subject matter.

Billed at advanced, for me, the WordPress session was nothing that can’t be learned from clicking around the WordPress dashboard, or googling ‘best wordpress plugins’. But from the general murmurs around the room, I could tell that for a lot of people, google fonts was brand new information (ala Pheobe from Friends). That session seemed to be very useful to the majority.

My favourite of the sessions was Julia Boggio’s photography workshop. Although I didn’t expect to learn anything new from a photography session, I went along because I was interested to see what sort of things would be discussed in a photography session aimed at bloggers.

Julia had clearly put a lot of thought and planning into her session. Prior to the conference, she had surveyed bloggers who would be attending and asked them about the subjects they would most like to talk about, and therefore her talk was very concise and targeted. She covered a lot of ground in under an hour, including a run-through of post production on Picmonkey (thoughtfully chosen because the majority of bloggers surveyed said they used Picmonkey for editing) As someone who clearly does not use Picmonkey for editing, Julia had explored the program purely in interests of advising her audience, even the paid for version – and was therefore able to helpfully tell everyone that the paid version did not include any features that would enhance your images more than the free version.

Julia talked in very technical terms about topics such as lighting, DPI and resolution without fear that the subject matter would go over anyone’s heads. (I’m sure some bloggers had never heard of these terms before, but you learn a hell of a lot more by googling a term after the session than if the subjects aren’t broached at all because of fear of alienating half your audience).

In two days, I wrote three things down. I would have loved to have come away with whole pages of relevant notes. And so, my tips for more targeted sessions are: Get to know your audience beforehand, find out exactly what they want to learn from you as a speaker. Don’t be afraid that you will alienate your audience by getting too specific. Offer something more than information I can easily get by reading your ‘about’ page.

And is it possible to just outright ban the words ‘follow/no follow’ from the next blogging event??

27 comments

    1. Thanks Amanda. It seems a lot of us are of the same opinion – there were a few very good sessions and quite a few not-so-relevent sessions.

  1. Glad you enjoyed my talk! It’s always difficult to make sure the content is pertinent to the majority of the audience. Thank heavens for SurveyMonkey!! I enjoyed Paul Armstrong’s Social Media talk. He is clearly a real expert on the subject and had some interesting processes for mapping out social media campaigns. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see any other talks. Jx

    1. Thanks Julia, it was such a well thought through talk. The social media talk was another one that I really wanted to see but it clashed with something else, it sounds like it was very interesting.

  2. I’ve heard a few people say the same thing as you, but as I went for the communiry aspect this year and not for growing my blog I Didn’t really notice. In retrospect I can say I made a lot more notes in sessions last year and my favourite session was Are We Really Addicted To The Internet as I found the neuroscience stuff fascinating. The other sessions I enjoyed just sitting and listening but know if I had wanted to learn useful tips I would probably have been a bit put out. Perhaps a balance between tutor style sessions (real how to stuff) and social sessions (like the dens) would be a good mix to try and suit everyone’s needs? Next year I may want the more technical stuff I didn’t care for this year 😉

    All that said, I had a blast socialising this year and don’t know if that was just because I was less nervous than last year or because it was set up well for making connections. It will be interesting to see how next year differs…

    1. I would have liked to go to the ‘Are we Really Addicted to the Internet’ session but it clashed with another session I wanted to go to. I think that was part of my disappointment – having to make a decision between two or more talks that clashed and then realising I’d probably made the wrong choice after it was too late – that’s completely my own fault though and not something that can be helped. This was the first of the big blogging conferences that I’ve attended, so I didn’t really know what to expect from the sessions.

      1. Oh yes, that is a difficult thing! I intended to skip a couple of sessions and just “chill out” in the hub but didn’t do that in the end. And there were several sessions that I really had to think hard about which to go to (and made the wrong choice on one!) and then times when I really didn’t care for any of the sessions. I guess it’s hard to suit everybody, right? I do think that I was less disappointed by making a “wrong choice” this year though than I was last year, because I still got so much out of it and know I am likely to go again next year so there will be another chance 🙂

  3. Chloe, I felt the same. I was a newbie there and would have liked to have got more hands down information, more visuals – probably a slide show etc to explain things more. Some of the discussions were not targeted to the audience.
    I did also go for the social aspect and did meet a few bloggers I wanted to. However, for the vast majority, I could not find many I wanted to meet as it was a sea of faces. I did interact more with brands I think. Everyone seemed to know everyone so it was a bit difficult to butt in when two people were deep in conversation.
    But it was a good experience and I shall soon be posting about it too.

  4. I had a great time and went to some really great sessions, namely the Are We Addicted To The Internet session and The New Feminism session. I was unable to attend Julia’s session sadly but the fact that there were so many interesting sessions which clashed is a good thing. I think the content this year was better than last year and I’m sure this will continue into next year. I’m already looking forward to Britmums 2014. 🙂

    1. Yes I definitely take it as a good sign that more often than not there were clashes between sessions I wanted to go to. Hopefully next year will have even better content.

  5. I did go to a few sessions where I felt “I know all that” but to me it was just reaffirming that I was doing it right. It seems I missed a really good social media session which I didn’t think there’d be things for me to learn in it – but it turns out there were. I again, loved the Are we addicted to the internet and the chance to meet Baroness Susan Greenfield.

  6. I did feel like how you describe two years ago, after Cybermummy, and got way more out of the social aspect. But last year I had lots of notes to type up. I am too hungover and tired to know if I have many notes to type up this year, but hopefully you will read them and let me know if I have included something useful from a session you did not get to. Overall as an event it rocked this year!
    Liska x

  7. I’ve definitely come home with fewer notes than last year but I’m not sure whether that’s because my technical knowledge has improved, or having fewer hands to spare to write with! I think I was in the same session where the google follow/no follow came up and I agree it was just horribly awkward, it’s turning into the blogging equivalent of sleep training vs attachment parenting.

    What I really loved was the chance to get to meet so many people, and I loved seeing you and your gorgeous boy!

  8. It did worry me that someone had never even heard of follow/no follow, I think as we chatted on twitter there is a need to make the advance sessions really advanced and not be afraid to do it.

  9. Aw, I felt sorry for the person who asked about follow/no follow as the question prompted groans around the room. And also slightly sorry for myself as I was holding the microphone and had to then attempt to explain it. As a panel we had decided beforehand not to bring up the subject, but only address it if a question was asked, which it was. The session was billed as being for beginners and I don’t think it’s an unreasonable question from a beginner. We were all beginners once, and in life we are all beginners every day, one of life’s lovely challenges!

    Have you thought about putting yourself forward as a speaker for next year?

    1. I could tell that you were all trying to move on from the subject as swiftly as possible whilst still answering the question (and I agree that it is a reasonable question to ask if you are a new blogger). I found it a shame that it sparked more questions and comments on the same topic, but that was nothing that you guys as speakers could have helped. It’s evidentally a subject that people like talking about, even though some of us have talked it over/read about it so much that we’re sick of it.

      I didn’t know that you could put yourself forward as a speaker, not sure I’m one for public speaking though!

  10. I enjoyed my experience majority – but did find some of the sessions not useful. And I am not an advanced blogger by any chance – but yes I felt some of the sessions were just oh this is what I did, not tips ideas and suggestions how better to broaden your own horizons.

  11. Although I absolutely loved my Britmums Live experience (as a newbie), I do agree with you on the content of the sessions. I was overall a little disappointed that they weren’t more in-depth. I found Friday’s sessions particularly basic and didn’t write anything other than “Nibbles Allcock” down, which I got from the ‘funny’ session…..which actually wasn’t at all funny! The ones I chose on Saturday were better and I agree with you about Julia’s session very informative and great that she had done her research first.

  12. Interesting to hear – one of the reasons I dithered about going this year (and then ended up double booked by family so couldn’t) was that I didn’t take much away last year… I think if you inhabit the inbetween world where you are fairly advanced and no longer new it can be hard to find things pitched at your level

    1. I think most people go for the social side of things and me being a conference newbie hadn’t quite worked that out beforehand. I did really enjoy it overall though, but would like to see more focused sessions next year to justify the more expensive ticket price.

  13. I went to Brit Mums Live as a complete n00b, not knowing anyone, or what to expect. I’ve been blogging for about 18mths or so, and am also a website designer, so when I mis-read, or didn’t quite understand the short write up for “Is your blog camera-ready?”, I felt that was a bit of a switch off moment for me as I didn’t take much away from that session.

    I found the discussion type sessions, on occasion a little on the going off on a tangent side, and again, didn’t take as much from them as I thought I would. I ended up leaving one session early because it just didn’t feel relevant to the topic title.

    I did, however love the ‘Are we really addicted to the Internet’ talk, which was very interesting and I could have happily carried on listening and making notes, for much longer than the allotted time. However, it would have also been useful to have been able to also sit in on two of the other concurrent sessions about social media and the legal/accounting side of things, but alas, that was not to be.

    I also loved the photography session with Julia Boggio – a well thought out and given talk about photography, with slides and examples which made the whole thing very enjoyable. Even though I knew a lot about what she was talking about, I was still able to take away knowledge and that is always a good thing.

    I was probably expecting more slides, perhaps even some sort of documentation perhaps, from the sessions in general.

    As a first timer it was quite overwhelming, and day 1 seemed more frantic than day 2, which I found a lot more enjoyable. I haven’t yet bought tickets for next year as would like to know what the agenda is, as it is quite a lot of money to part with.

    All that said, Katie Piper’s speech was inspiring and motivational, and I haven’t stopped talking about that to my friends and family, and the blogger’s keynote was also very moving.

    1. I was a first timer too (although I did attend the BiBs ceremony last year so that was a bit of a taster) and like you found the Saturday more relaxed. Combination of Friday being a shorter day and needing to find my bearings.

  14. Having read this and a couple of other posts saying similar things about the lack of advanced stuff, I can’t help but feel there’s a niche there for a blogging conference aimed at people who’ve been doing this for yonks. (Or perhaps there is one already and I’ve not heard of it?)

    1. Maybe, although I’ve been asking myself ‘What content would I actually want from a truely advanced session?’ I think part of the issue is that as bloggers we are by nature technologically savvy, and therefore what can a conference teach us that we can’t learn by googling a tutorial, etc?

  15. I was one of those that came to have a coo at Rory – as a new blogger I enjoyed meeting and chatting to people and didn’t go to many sessions. The ones I did I wrote about 2 words on a notepad and thought it was just me not paying attention properly as everyone else seemed to be scribbling away. xx

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