I didn’t write an ‘after’ post last year. I didn’t know what to say – and in situations like that I generally tend to think that it is better left unsaid. I sort of feel like that this year but I can’t not write one again! That would be rude. I wonder if it is a psychological thing as in not wanting to believe it is all over again? Or maybe it’s because everyone else has written their posts and already said pretty much everything I have wanted to say?
Anyway, I would like to give you my take on this year in comparison to last year. I consider myself a much more experienced blogger now whereas last year I was only 9 months in and still had lots to learn.
I would certainly say that this year was much easier. Partly because I knew what it was all about and what to expect and partly because I didn’t want to go to every single session under the sun and cram in as much as possible! I could be a lot more selective about what I needed and wanted to know and planned my sessions carefully in order to make sure I could network with the brands too (tip: DO make sure you try and do this when many others are in sessions – it makes it easier to talk to them ((damn, damn, damn, I’ve just given away a secret!!)).
The first keynote speaker, Emma Freud, was interesting and spoke about many things that were relevant to us bloggers including comic relief and fund raising. I know a few people have a problem with her speaking about sleeping her way to the top. I just looked at it as an amusing anecdote and took it the way it was meant – tongue in cheek.
There was a beautiful courtyard marquee outside this year that wasn’t there last year. It was a great place to hang out with others and eat your lunch and I really loved that there was somewhere outside to relax. Personally, I didn’t really like that it was used for the pre-awards BiBs party. There was just too many of us crowded into one space. I much preferred last year when we were on the balcony of the main room and able to spill down into the hall to our tables.
The awards ceremony itself all felt a bit rushed in comparison to last year. I preferred Katy Hill as a presenter and felt that she was engaging. I was disappointed for the finalists in that their blogs were not read out like last year. I remember feeling very proud when mine was read out in the finals of the Video category last year. I also felt there was a conflict of interest with the Fresh Voice winner. If Katy hadn’t have been the presenter as well as the winner, I don’t think that there would have been so many shocked faces on my table (let alone anywhere else).
Once the awards were over and we were all piling out of the Brewery, I noticed Sarah from the blog Grenglish. I went over for a chat as I knew that she was one of the bloggers delivering a keynote on Saturday afternoon. I also knew that she would be reading her post ‘We Need to Talk About the M-Word’. I discussed it with her and told her that I knew I would be in floods of tears. Then she hugged me and I went. I cried in front of all of the people in the Courtyard of the Brewery and, for one of the only times in my life, I found myself thinking that I was crying at a completely inappropriate time in an inappropriate place!
As with last year, I preferred the Saturday. By that point I had found my feet, knew what was where and knew what I did and didn’t want to do. The first keynote of the day was Benjamin Dutton-Brooks from Life As A Widower. He was an inviting speaker full of beautiful anecdotes about his life before and after losing his wife. The speech was heartfelt full of happy and sad moments.
I was approached by a number of bloggers during the weekend – it was FAB to be able to say hi to people I communicate with regularly. Lots of people who told me how wonderful PoCoLo was but, as I said to them, to my mind it is all the people who link up who make it wonderful – not me. One blogger even told me that because of SoFoLo, they had increased their Pinterest followers by 100! There were two who nearly made me cry – in a good way! – Kanchan from Intrepid Misadventurer and Amisha from Mish Mash Mamma – both of whom said that I had made a difference to them and their blogging.
I attended 4 sessions during the day:
- The Do’s and Don’ts of Blog Giveaways hosted by Di Coke. She was an engaging speaker full of great tips and advice. She has not only done a round-up on the competitions that are in our BritMums goody bag but has also given advice on how to use the new Gleam competition widget.
- Social Media for Advance People hosted by Paul Armstrong from Digital Orange. You can find all his slides from the talk here.
- Travel Blogging with Steve Keenan, Trish Burgess, Simon Calder and Emma Raphael. I am just starting to take more of an interest in the travel side and was keen to hear what they said.
- New Ways to Monetise hosted by Penny Alexander, Helen Neale and Sophie Tanner. An interesting and informative session.
Between sesssions, I spent time networking and taking part in the competitions. I also spent rather a lot of time in the Morrisons lounge eating most of the food on the tables – which was delicious!
At the end of the day we were treated to keynote speeches from Mad Mum of 7, My Two Mums, Chocolate is Not the Only Fruit, Grenglish (as predicted, made me cry), All At Sea (again, tears!), Older Mum in a Muddle, Diary of the Evans-Crittens, Tired Mummy of Two, Sandy from Baby, Baby, Keynko, Wife Mum Student Bum and Supper and Syntax.
Then, something right up my street! The performance from the Good Enough Mums Club. Totally and utterly brilliant! Especially when they had a room full of bloggers doing ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Boobs’!
All too soon it was time for goodbyes. The group I was with – The Olivers Madhouse, PODcast Grappling with a box of frogs, Wicked World of Lucas, Mum Turned Mom and Me and the Tiny 3, ventured back to our hotels, dropped off our goodie bags and made for All Bar One – staying up far later than we had anticipated and despite saying at 9.30pm ‘I’m going back to go to bed soon’ we stayed until closing time and carried on staying in the hotel (although I went to bed before all the others at gone midnight!).
This photo sums up a group of bloggers. Thank you to Charly from PODcast for letting me use it:
Thank you so much to Jennifer, Susanna and all the team at BritMums for all their hard work and fabulous organisation. Thank you too to my BritMums Live Sponsor Zita West who helped make it possible for me to get there.