Thursday 28 June 2012

Britmums Live 2012: A review

Apparently "mummy bloggers" have power and influence.  This is supported by the 2 million people that the #britmumlive hashtag reached on Twitter over the weekend.  The Britmums Live 2012 conference played host to 500 attendees, but it's reach was far, far wider.

When I started blogging three years ago, I didn't anticipate that I'd be sat in a conference venue in London, surrounded by people who are batting off PR requests, being quoted in the national newspapers and being provided with numerous freebies by companies keen to get bloggers to review their products favourably. 

I felt a little like a fish out of water... to say the least!

Britmums Live 2012

It's Katy Hill!
The 2 day Britmums Live conference was incredibly well organised and the Agenda comprehensive.  An eclectic group of speakers had been booked, including Ruby Wax, Sarah Brown, Katy Hill and Cherry Healy.  According to the paperwork, top bloggers and experts were going to provide expert opinion and tips and techniques to enable us all to improve our blogs.

The highlights for me, other than the fun of checking out if my mental images of folk I'd never met were accurate (Click here for more on First Impressions), were the Brilliance in Blogging Awards, and the  Bloggers' Keynote.  I hadn't expected the showcase of bloggers and posts respectively to be quite so emotional.  I laughed, snorted, giggled, wept and was moved by the content.  Note to self: take tissues next time.

Unfortunately I noticed very quickly that the advertised 'titles' of many of the other Agenda items were, once you got there, not as advertised on the tin.  

Not as advertised on the tin

Ruby's Prevailing through adversity: how I bear the tsunami of all depressions didn't technically tell you how she bears the tsunami of all depressions.  She talked a lot about her new website and about whether we needed anonymity to discuss mental illness.  It was an interesting discussion; just not quite what I'd expected.

Roundtable: British Blogging now - this was one of the best discussions I saw over the weekend.  Carla Busazi, editor-in-chief of Huffington Post UK, was elequent in her questioning and control of the discussion. The bloggers on the sofa; from Danial Elton, Managing Director of blog Left Foot Forward, to Steve Keenan, online travel editor for The Sunday Times, gave a varied and frank opinion, which they didn't always agree on (refreshing).  The consensus appeared to be that bloggers were breaking down the traditional journalistic boundaries and opening up discussions that may not otherwise be had.  There was also an indication that the panel felt that many newspapers would very quickly move to digital only formats.

Crossing the Chasm
I was a little disappointed in the Blogger's studio: Crossing the Chasm, how to bring your blog up to the next level.  I think because no-one knew what they meant by 'next level'.  For me, it would be improving content so that readers were ejoying it and sharing with friends.  For many of the bloggers there, it was something different and so the discussion was at best a little vague.

The most useful practical tips that I scribbled down furiously came from Melinda Fargo who blogs at HerMelness Speaks.  She helpfully listed a set of things to think about; a checklist (and I love lists!). She has helpfully reproduced it on her blog here, which is good because my scribbled notes only add up to 9 things; not 10.  Ooops.

Of the other workshops I attended among the many on offer I found that the social media ones didn't meet expectations; I didn't get the 'manageable plan' I was promised in Creating a social media plan that works, I was just told to make one.  I wanted more.  I wanted nitty gritty. 

But I did get a lot of useful information from SEO tips and Legal Essentials; 55 minutes could have been doubled; and from Perks and Pounds by Erica Douglas; clear, concise, and delivered what it promised.  It was unfortunately in the minority.

And so, overall, I was left with a distinct feeling of not quite having got what I expected.  What I did get was fun, informative and in some instances incredibly useful; but it hadn't been what was advertised on the tin.

Newbie and Professional? 


I was also struck by the way the speakers assumed we were all experts - even in Beginners Blogging sessions.

Even Erica Douglas amusingly asked for 'hands up' those that are batting off the PR requests at the moment, as apparently she's being inundated.  That's lovely, for her.  But for us newbie bloggers who dream of being approached by a PR department, it's a little patronising and depressing.  Er no; I felt like saying. Not so much. Can you bat some of yours my way?

On another occassion a speaker said "Even if you've only got a 1000 page views a day".  Again I say; er no.  Still dreaming of that very big number and you are making it sound like it's pitifully small.

I just think the bloggers that have been doing it a while need to remember that their audience includes people who do know the lingo and have been around the block; but ALSO includes those that know nothing other than how to write a few elequent words on a blog post and hopefully entertain their readers.


I was also starving at the end of the Friday, to the point of feeling slightly nauseous as no food, other than the odd cake that we were too busy to spot and grab, was provided between 2pm and 8pm.

In summary

It seems like I've been on a downer on the event there.  Maybe it's the adrenalin that's finally ran out.

Maybe it's the realisation that the goodies I came home with were all for my children, and 'my' loot consisted of a TKMax compact, some anti-bacterial hand-gel, a paperback novel I'm not sure I'll read and 6 various packets of baby wipes.  You just can't please some people eh?


My ideas for an improved event next year include the following:

Feed the bloggers on the first day; between the workshops and the wine and awards.  Many of us have travelled down before the start of the conference, not necessarily having time to eat much before registration at 2pm.  We are also mums, and so many are used to eating at 5pm before starting the whole bath, story, teeth, bed routine.  Instead, we were given the smallest nibbles I've ever seen at 6pm alongside free flowing champagne.  It was a recipe for many sore heads.  In our case, we hotfooted it back to the hotel after the awards and finally tucked into a delicious steak and chips at around 9pm.

The Lab
Have some workshops that are more informal discussions, and other's that are very technical - maybe calling it 'The Lab', where tools like Facebook, Google+, PInterest, can be gone through in greater detail, maybe even trouble shooting user problems there and then.

Newbie / Professional
Include some absolute beginners 'newbie' sessions, where subjects like SEO can be gone through in greater detail and a more basic pace for the newbies.  Similarly, faster paced advanced sessions for the pro's.

Say what it says...
Be careful that the speakers know what question they are being asked to answer in their presentation.  

And that's it.  My review.  If you have any questions about the event, I am happy to delve into my scribbles to see if I can decipher my notes!  The official Britmums Live site for more information and advance notice of next year's event is here.

Feel free to drop me a line at, visit my facebook page here, or follow me on Twitter here at @ymummyreally. 


  1. I found this very interesting. As a lone parent living in Ireland I haven't managed to get to any of these conferences. But I'd live to! I'd also love regular meals and specific advice - and like you I enjoyed Her Melness' post . As for the 1000 views a day quote,,that surely shows someone who is completely out of touch! And while I do get approaches from PRs, I don't get many, even though I was in the top 100 blogs for 2011 in the Tots 100.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time. Your comment really helps put it in perspective. The problem for me is that I always think if one person has something then everyone does!

      I am such a stats freak though. It's the accountant in me! :-)

  2. I think this is a really fair review. Its nice not to just read something that says "it's great!!". I actually agree with a lot of what you've said. But I've still booked out the weekend next year in my diary ;)

    1. Oh absolutely! Will probably see you there! Thanks. :-)

  3. 1000 views a day. Nope, never had that much!
    So glad you came up to say hello. I had been admiring your shoes earlier in the day and had no idea they belonged to you!

    1. Ah yes, the shoes. My best pair! There may be a post coming soon on those!

      Thanks Trish. It was lovely to meet you. :-)

  4. I am pleased that I got 100 pageviews for the last few days - can't imagine getting 1000 - would have felt somewhat out of my depth! Thanks for an honest review x

    1. My pleasure! It would appear that writing this post has been quite good for the stats ironically! :-)

  5. Great seeing your perspective. Really refreshing tbh :) Love the idea of a LAB and perhaps different tracks- writing, tech track, etc

    1. Definitely like the different tracks idea. It will be interesting to see how the event evolves over the next couple of years. Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to wander around. :-)

  6. Confession time...It wasn't you, it was me. I inadvertently missed out one of the points! Glad you caught the full list on the blog, though.

    This is my favourite type of feedback. Not just point out what you didn't really connect with, but suggestions as to how else things could be done.

    Great post. Thank you.

    1. You're very welcome and thank you!

      Glad it wasn't just me! :-)

  7. Good review - agree needs more food, more downtime and one on one technical stuff

    Also some of the panels had people who weren't so relevant for the actual people in the room which I felt made them a bit well flat

    And 1000 page views - my best ever was only about 800 and I am awesome ;-)

    1. Absolutely awesome of course! Yes, I was a little shocked at that. Glad the consensus here appears to be that 1000 is huge!

      Thanks for commenting. :-)

  8. 1000 page views in a day. I'm sorry... ONLY a 1000 page views in a day. Oh I'd love to be in a position to feel down about only having a 1000 page views in a day!!!! Fab review, hopefully it will lead to bigger and better things for next year, I'm really impressed at how Jen and Susanna are taking notice of all the feedback.

    1. It's really funny how everyone is focusing on the statistics!

      Yes, I agree. It was really well organised, and they are focussing on improving it even further for next year, so I can't wait to see what they come up with!

      Lovely to meet you!

  9. I completely agree with your entire assessment of the conference. I had a great time, got some good pointers and met some lovely people. But, there is always room for improvement and you've made some very valid points.

    I'd be happy to get 100 views in a day!! And I still don't know what SEO is and how the hell do you metatag?

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Selena. I still have no clue about metatags and I have a vague understanding of the principle of SEO, but don't really do anything to maximise it.

      The original version of this post was twice as long (hence it's delay in publishing) but I found I was waffling loads about the same points, so tried to slim it down. I'm glad the result appears to be a fair assessment.

      Thanks for popping in. Feel free to stick around for a cuppa. :-)

  10. Love your assessment - definitely a bit more differentiation between beginner and more technical geeky stuff.

    More food (other than cake, which was delicious!)- those wee nibbles just weren't enough!

    I would also have preferred somewhere to relax that wasn't in the brand-packed Hub.

    The goody bags - yes - TOO many wipes!!! And very child-orientated, and young kids too - my teen daughters nabbed my TK Max mirror and tissues!! Having to fly back to Belfast with only hand luggage, I had to really be picky about what came back with me.

    1. Eekk. That's a very good point. It was tricky enough lugging everything on the tube and then the train. I can't imagine getting it all on the plane!

      Having said that, I've just re-read that and realised we are moaning about getting free stuff! Oooopppss!

      A quiet relaxing zone, where you could, dare I say it, sit down, would have been good.

      Thanks for commenting. Cuppa?

  11. I will trY again,
    This is a brilliantly written and well thought out post.
    My enjoyed meeting bloggers and socialising and having a weekend off really. I agree that some of the sessions we're not suited to everyone. And a 1000 hits a day - bloody hell!! I have no idea what that is all about either!! Xx

    1. Thank you so much Jenny! I appreciate you trying again, and succeeding! It was great to meet people and be 'me' for a while, instead of 'mum' or 'wife'!

      I am blushing re your comment.... Thank you.

      I hope you had a good birthday! It would have been certainly memorable! Cake?

  12. Great to see an objective view. I was feeling sad about not being there, so pleased to see it wasn't all amazing! I'll be there next year - and I'll have plenty of chocolate to keep me going! Who knows, by then I may have hit a 1,000 views in a week!

    1. It would be great to meet you!

      And, from a follower of your blog, take it from me, you'll probably be up at that 1000 mark and leaving the rest of us behind. Don't forget us when you're famous will you.

      Now... Tea or coffee. There are so many people around today I've had to crack open another packet of biscuits! ;-)

  13. I think this is a good write up. I didn't go to a lot of the workshops, but I was in Erica's monetising one, which I really enjoyed.

    And I am with you, 1000 pageviews a day would be AMAZING. I am nowhere near that.

    1. By the sounds of it, no one is! I am beginning to doubt my own memory.... but no... she definitely said it. I wrote it down so it must be true!

      Erica's was really good. Still wondering what, if any, of her options to implement though!

      Hobnob or Digestive?

  14. I didn't get to go but delighted to read your honest review. I would love to join you all next year as newbie plus a bit!

    1. Would be great to see you!

      Not sure I'll be allowed to still call myself a newbie by then. I'll move onto "tweenbie" status... I'll think I know everything, will be moody and focused on being 'alternative' not 'popular', and may well appear in dodgy make-up.

      Yep... all sounds about right!

      Biscuit for you, dear?

  15. I think this is an honest and very personal account of the weekend. I too would have been thoroughly intimidated by the talk of 'only 1000 blog hits per day' when mine is only 3 months old and just hit the 5000 mark! I was too nervous to go this year, not having heard much about it but as the date got nearer, the hype got so much bigger and I was ever so slightly jealous! Good, informative post. Thanks :)

    1. Thanks Suzanne.

      Pop the same weekend in your diary for next year and go for it. Overall I still came back having learnt lots, having met lots of lovely people, and having had two days 'off'!

      Muffin? I am running out of biscuits again!

  16. Sorry you didn't enjoy our session as much as you thought you might have done (although Her Melness is AMAZING), however, I personally was trying to stress that there IS no next level - it's a myth. Blog because you want to, not because you're trying to reach a goal or a target. But, at the end of the day, we're bloggers, not experts. We were advising rather than telling.

    And whoever is "only" getting 1000 pageviews per day on a bad day needs a reality check (unless it's Maggie from Red Ted Art - her stats are UNREAL).

    A really balanced overview of the weekend. I found the SEO/Legal session a bit rushed and it could have easily been a good 2 hour session. There was no time for proper questions and I'm sure the SEO guy didn't get chance to finish his presentation.

    1. You are right. There isn't one. So it's important for the agenda titles to reflect whether they are discussions, or 'how to' sessions.

      Thanks for your comment. I completely agree about the SEO/Legal session. Both bits needed twice as long. I just couldn't keep up!

      I didn't get chance to say hello to you either! Shame. I will collar you next time!

      Coffee or tea for you?

  17. I love it that you are so honest, the best way. I have linked to you in my latest post. You make some really good suggestions for next time. I can't wait to see how things deveop.

    Mich x

    1. Thanks Michelle. I have commented on your blog.

      Just to reiterate here though, it's wasn't the content, per se, I was frustrated with, it was that it wasn't what was advertised in the title. In hind sight, it wouldn't be possible to meet the expectation of the title as, like you said, the next level is different for all. I guess I just think Britmums need to remember that the titles are a little like promises. If it says "how to", we'll expect "how to"!

      Now, back to fun stuff; cuppa and a bun?

  18. Good review. Yes the workshops were good but didn't cover what was stated in some cases and some where rushed. What was needed was some more 'Beginners' sessions showing you how to do stuff. I am no novice when it comes to technology, but sorting out blog pages links etc can even go over my head!!! They should have asked at the time of booking to let them know of anything you are struggling with and they could target the workshops. Something to think about for next time?

    1. Thanks Amanda,

      That's a good idea. Thanks for keeping me company!

      :-) Cuppa?

    2. No worries we are blogging buddies!;-)


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