Last weekend, I attended #BML17 along with about 250 other bloggers. This year was my third Britmums and was quite a different experience to my previous two Britmums conferences. It was in a new venue – County Hall – and was more focused on brands, SEO and social media. This year was also my first year of being sponsored to attend, thanks to the fab Fantastic Services.
Do you need a redesign? Jo Amos – Geek Fairy
To be honest, this session probably would have been more useful to me a few months ago before I had a redesign of my blog! Much of what Jo talked about in this session, I’d already learned from experience. However, the information about how to reduce the risk of being hacked and what to do if you are hacked was very useful.
Facebook for bloggers
Most of this session focused on how to create “thumb-stopping” content – content that makes people stop scrolling to take a closer look. Moving images, video and good quality images are key for this. Engagement as your page on Facebook can also help to boost page views.
The session also covered boosted posts – what to boost, how to target boosted posts and how to make boosted posts as effective as possible. I learned that high budgets (£20+) are better as lower budgets tend to be targeted at low-quality users (and spambots) and are therefore less likely to lead to click-throughs. Boosting posts that are already organically resonating is also much better than trying to boost a post that is not being responded to.
One thing I did take from this session is the realisation of just how much personal data is harvested by Facebook and can be used by brands to target very specific audiences. I knew that Facebook harvested a lot of data to target ads but I didn’t realise quite how targeted those ads can be. It left me with a feeling that we’ve all sold our souls to Facebook for them to use how they see fit!
Smash your goals with focussed blogging – Aby Moore, You Baby, Me Mummy
This was the most useful of all the sessions I attended. Aby’s session discussed why multi-tasking is less productive than focusing on task. She was funny, and informative, and showed us why it is better to focus on one thing at a time, complete each task and set manageable goals. The session covered 90-day goal setting, task blocking, batching tasks and shared a few hacks which can also help.
Creation Inspiration: Fresh ideas from the front line of creativity
This session featured Jennie Maizels from Sketchbook Club, Rich McCor from Paperboyo and Sean Byrne from Byrne Photography. Each of them talked about the things that had inspired them to be creative. #SketchbookClub is all about using tracing images as a starting point for drawing and creativity. It’s something that I enjoyed doing at Britmums last year and I’ve done more drawing as a result of it. I loved Paperboyo’s photos featuring various papercuts to bring a new perspective to well-known landmarks. Sean Byrne talked about 360 photography which sounded interesting. I have to say the videos made me feel a bit giddy though!
Pinterest: creating great content that drives traffic
The Pinterest session discussed how to make your boards stand out; when to pin seasonal content (2-3 months in advance with Christmas content being pinned as early as August). One new thing I did learn is that hashtags can now be used on Pinterest. They only appear on new content being pinned by the original pin creator though so there’s no point trying to go back over old pins and hashtagging them.
I also learned more about the Tried It button where you can see if any followers have tried ideas and commented on them. I also learned that you can click on the white circle on a pin and see related ideas. With some pins you can also do this with specific images within the pin.
What I enjoyed
Meeting up with other bloggers
For me, one of the best things about blogging conferences is meeting up with other bloggers, getting to know them and learning from each other. It’s always lovely to put a face to a blog and I’ve always found everyone to be very friendly.
I particularly enjoyed catching up with Mel from Le Coin de Mel, Ann from Rainbows are too Beautiful, Reneé from Mummy Tries, Vicky from Verily Victoria Vocalises, Dawn from Dear Mummy Blog, Emma from Bubba Blue and Me, Fiona from Coombe Mill and Tim from Slouching towards Thatcham. It was also nice to bump into Mum Muddling Through, Sarah from Extraordinary Chaos and Talya from Motherhood: the Real Deal and to meet Oreos and Gin, and Danielle from Someone’s Mum. There were lots of other bloggers that I also chatted to throughout the day – apologies if I haven’t mentioned you!
I spent most of the afternoon in Jennie Maizel’s #SketchbookClub area. Jennie’ session at last year’s Britmums reignited my love of drawing and has been a big influence on me over the last year. This time I had fun drawing birds and using watercolours which i haven’t tried using since I was at school. I’m looking forward to experimenting more with paint as a result.
The Bloggers’ Keynote posts were fabulous, as always. Some were emotional and moving (Mummy Tries and Little Ladies, Big World) and others made me laugh out loud (Life, Love and Dirty Dishes; Rhyming with Wine and Man vs Baby). It was the perfect way to end the conference.
What I wasn’t so keen on
While County Hall was very nice inside, finding the correct entrance was a challenge! There were so many entrances into the building and none of them seemed to be the one I needed. I wasn’t the only one who was confused about where to go in. There were a few other groups of bloggers wandering around trying to find the entrance too. Thankfully, the lovely Michelle from Mummy from the Heart posted a picture of the door we were looking for on social media and we finally got in. I have to say I preferred The Brewery as a venue overall.
There were fewer brands than I’ve previously encountered at Britmums, and they were predominantly travel focused. That’s great if you’re a travel blogger, but not if you’re a parenting blogger who just doesn’t really go travelling at all. There was very little focus on parenting brands which I would have thought would have been more suited to Britmums target audience.
The middle part of the day between lunch and the afternoon coffee break was completely focused on brands sessions. Given that none of the brands were of interest to me, this was two hours’ worth of sessions that were wasted on me. I would have liked to have seen a much wider variety of brands attending.
Overall, I enjoyed #BML17 and took away some useful blogging tips as a result. I’ll be putting these on the back burner while I focus on Jessica’s heart surgery but hopefully I can implement some of them at the beginning of next year. I did miss the fun elements that had been present at previous Britmums though. I was eager to get back to my babies after #BML17 finished so decided not to go to the BiBs City Cruise. Had the BiBs awards been held in the same venue, I would probably have stayed but the trouble with a boat party is that you can’t leave partway through and I didn’t want to get home too late.
And finally… a thank you to my sponsor
I was lucky enough to be sponsored to attend #BML17 by Fantastic Services this year. I’ve been working as a brand ambassador for them this year and they provide a fantastic range of home and garden services. I’ve reviewed a few of the services on offer so far – oven cleaning, garden clearance and window cleaning. They describe themselves as a “one-stop shop for 25+ professional home cleaning and maintenance services, provided within London and the UK.” Services available include handyman services, gardening services, cleaning services, builders, removals and pest control.