BritMums Live – what I took away
Before I start, just a heads up for my non-blogging readers, this is all about blogging conference, BritMums Live, and may not appeal, so feel free to click away now. I won’t take it the wrong way 😉 For everyone else it is a mammoth post, so grab yourselves a drink and get comfy.
Sooooo, BritMums Live 2013. I’m slowly getting my head round everything I took in and I’m going to attempt to share what I took away from it with you here.
So day one saw me getting there earlier than most as I was in the Voodoo focus group at 2pm, which saw 6 of us chatting informally about our views and opinions on various things. This was a lovely way to start the conference off for me as it banished any newbie nerves, due to the friendliness of my fellow panelists. I’d like to thank them for the great discussions, smiles and putting up with Baby C’s gurgling away in the corner, so thanks Swazi from Chocolate is not the only fruit, Emma from My little 3 and me, Rachel from An Exeter Mum, Sonya from The ramblings of a former rock’n’roll mum and Rachel from Vintage Folly. It was a delight to meet you all.
Once we’d finished our focus group it was time to head to the start of the event, I missed the start of Kirstie Allsopp’s speech as the focus group over-ran a bit, and then I was faffing with feeding Baby C, so wasn’t really in a place to take it in, from what I heard though it was funny.
Munchies and Munchkins and I had swapped phone numbers via Twitter beforehand, so with some to-ing and fro-ing texting we managed to meet up for the first time. Funnily enough we had both starred the same sessions that we wanted to attend so that saw us attending the brand panel debate: What do bloggers and brands really want from each other?
What I took away from the brand panel debate:
- Be prepared from the outset with what you’re prepared to do – for example be clear on money and time.
- Build up the relationship and the conversation with brands.
- Put together a media kit to share with agencies and brands.
- Approach the brands you like if you’ve got something to offer, look for their press office on their websites.
- Be aware of the legal ramifications if you are being paid in any way.
After a break we moved downstairs to the putting your best foot forward session, this was about how to present your blog to brands along with media kit tips.
What I took away from the putting your best foot forward session:
- Be business-like and professional, having a media kit helps.
- Start at a realistic price point as you can work your way up as you gain experience and readership.
- Share the features and benefits of your blog with brands.
- Tweet brands or contact them via their customer relations or marketing departments.
- If you do sponsored posts, don’t do just that, try and balance them out, so there is a non-sponsored post for every sponsored post.
- Try and make each sponsored post as interesting and relevant and true to your blog as your own, non-sponsored posts.
Next up was the getting paid session: innovative ideas for making money and understanding what you’re worth.
What I took away from the getting paid session:
- Consider affiliate marketing, so when someone clicks on links for products that you talk about or recommend on your blog you get a percentage of any sales.
- Consider creating training courses that you can sell.
- Sponsored posts can be limiting financially.
- Consider writing a book (I’m sure there are quite a few bloggers out there with this idea).
- Approach the brands you want to work with and see how you can work together.
That took us to the end of the first day’s sessions, and it was time for wine, canapés and the BiB award ceremony. I can tell you that the steak and chip canapés were to die for and I’m yet to find anyone who contradicts me on that one!
The ceremony itself made me laugh, cry and burst with pride at being part of such an amazingly talented, caring group of individuals. Ben from Life as a widower‘s award acceptance speech completely tore me up, I didn’t know much about his story but hearing that his wife died 7 months ago as I bounced my 7 month old baby on my lap made me realise how recently he’d gone through such incredible hurt. I cannot begin to imagine how I would even try to cope in a similar situation.
There were so many whoops and cheers, along with thundering applause during the ceremony, that when I was feeding Baby C she kept pulling away to look around, whilst sinking her teeth into my nipple to hold her place (I guess)!
Unfortunately Baby C and I were pretty wiped out after all the excitement that we headed home after the ceremony, so no crazy tales of late night drinking or dancing on tables here. Next year maybe?
Day 2 started off with me bumping into Katy from Modern Mummy and Hannah from Make do and push, and we headed upstairs together for the Katie Piper keynote speech. Katy took this great group selfie of the three of us and Jenny from Confessions of a mumpreneur:
Katie Piper’s keynote was incredible, I didn’t know most of her story (probably as it happened whilst I was still living in France), so hearing it first-hand from her directly was so emotional. One of the messages she passed on to us was this, “You are creating your life right now, make it outstanding.” I think that’s a pretty good mantra to live by. As she ended her speech with the serenity prayer I couldn’t stop the tears from falling, as I looked around I realised I was far from alone.
After such an emotional start to the day it was quite good to go to a practical session next, and I headed to the blogging foundations: good blog design and SEO tips.
What I took away from the blogging foundations session:
- Your blog should be functional as well as beautiful, so each fancy button should have a job.
- On blogs you should be able to find your way around, find what you want and it should be clear.
- Photos should be of the best quality that you have and whether portrait or landscape should be the width of the column.
- Self-hosted blogs are better for SEO but make sure your plug-ins and themes are up to date.
- Keep the navigation simple.
- Change your WordPress settings to improve SEO, i.e. change tags to topics.
- You need these pages on your blog:
Contact page with your social media contacts too
Terms and conditions
- Alison also gave us a whole list of plug-ins to help improve SEO but I need to get them from her website.
- Mix up the content – written, video, audio, images etc.
The break time saw me heading over to Panasonic and tasting their delicious bread, as a keen bread-maker I loved the kick of chilli that it had. Then it was over to the legal and accounting session.
What I took away from the legal and accounting session:
- You don’t need to put “copyright” on your website as it is copyrighted automatically.
- In product reviews don’t over-exaggerate the product.
- Let readers know you received the product for review.
- Make sure comparative reviews are not misleading.
- If you are paid to do the review, state that too.
- If you earn income you need to register as self-employed with HMRC.
- It is not classed as a hobby if you intend to make money through blogging.
- There are tax deductible expenses linked to your blog such as conferences, but childcare does not enter into this category.
- You need to declare any income you receive, however for payment in kind you only need to declare anything that you sell, not things you are given for personal use.
Next up was How I did it: success stories from the blogging front line, including transitioning your blog and using Facebook.
What I took away from How I did it:
- Write what you want and write from the heart.
- Stand out – write a blog post that only you can write.
- Transatlantic Blonde gave us so much information about Facebook that I can’t share it all here, maybe she’ll put that in a blog post for everyone…??
- The biggest shocker that she shared though was that if you write “twitter” in a Facebook udpate it negatively affects your edge rank as they’re such competitors!
The final session I went to was writing reviews and sponsored posts readers love and brands like too.
What I took away from writing reviews and sponsored posts readers love and brands like too:
- If everyone is writing about an event or a product at the same time, wait a while to avoid saturation.
- Be honest, even if it is negative.
- If asked “what’s your rate?” reply with “what’s your budget?”.
- If you link to another site you are sharing your page rank with the other site if you are higher than them.
- Give the price of the item in your review. Would you pay that for it? Is it good value for money?
After this session I took a break and wandered around the brands, including a quick style and purchase of a fab pair of new jeans from TK Maxx and a visit to the Warner Bros lounge where I was taught how to wave a magic wand (Harry Potter’s no less):
I desperately wanted to stay until the end but with a breast fed baby at home and no breast pump with me I was feeling the need to get home and release some tension in that area!
All in all it was an amazing experience and all I can say is bring on 2014!