Last weekend I went to my first blogging conference. It was exciting, enlightening, slightly terrifying and very overwhelming.
For those who haven’t heard of it, BritMums Live (BML) is the UK’s biggest two-day social media conference and blogger event. You can read more about it here. This year it was bigger than ever with around 700 bloggers attending over the Friday and Saturday. That’s 700. Yes, it’s a lot. Hence feeling overwhelmed – I still feel a little overwhelmed now, over a week later. That’s part of the reason it has taken me so long to write this post. I started off writing about everything in the order I did it… It was too much and frankly, pretty boring. So, several attempts later I’ve decided to go right back to the beginning…
How did I end up at BritMums Live 2014?
To be honest, although I was a member of BritMums, I didn’t know too much about BML this time last year. It was something that other bloggers talked about but I never felt a part of the conversation and wasn’t sure about going along to such a large scale event by myself so I did nothing about it. However, I was lucky enough to be offered sponsorship by Ade at Maximum Inheritance Specialists. I reviewed Ade’s will writing service last summer and was impressed by the service – his personal touch made what could be a rather morbid conversation feel more like a pleasant chat. If you’re thinking about writing a will – or even if you’re not, but you don’t yet have one, do get in touch with him for a no obligation consultation.
So, once I had my ticket I looked into it a little more. The sheer scale of it still terrified me, so I stopped looking and tried not to think about it too much.
Fast forward to May 2014 and I join a virtual open mic night (hosted by the lovely Stephanie Arsoka, who was shortlisted for a Brilliance in Blogging (BiB) award in the Fresh Voice category this year), at which I share some poetry in a public forum for the first time in… Well, a long time, and everyone is talking about BritMums. Two of those reading mention that they are reading poems at the Bloggers keynote (Helen Braid and Sarah Miles) and I start to think perhaps I should think about reading the agenda. I do. It’s still pretty scary. I put it away until two weeks before the conference when I go crazy with a highlighter and make notes of things I want to do. I panic a little.
What was it like?
Well, I arrived early and still nearly ran away before bumping into the lovely Ellie Stoneley, who was very reassuring. Then… Well, it was a bit like this:
Hands shaking / heart jumping / adrenaline pumping / amusing inspiring exciting confusing / slightly annoying / connecting embracing / exhausting
Moving / motivating / Connecting Fearing Trusting/ Breathing / enlightening / Terrifying / Nuturing / Emotional / Uplifting / Reassuring
What did I learn?
I learned many things I didn’t know and some that I needed reminding of. On the more practical side, I especially loved the inspiring panel discussion on advocacy and charity campaigns and the workshops on finding a literary agent/writing a book pitch and Google+.
I was reassured by the number of successful bloggers who stressed the importance of being yourself and not comparing what you do to what others do – we all have our place. I was reminded of the importance of connecting with like-minded people and how this feeds my creativity and connects me back to my authentic self. This was most apparent when I fell into an easy discussion with Pippa from Story of Mum (who I have only met once before) about possible future collaborations and found myself agreeing to read a poem as part of her Mama Me-time ‘mini retreat’ on Saturday afternoon. I felt the fear… but, with shaking hands, did it anyway…. And found it slightly less terrifying the second time I shared it… And when Liska asked me to recite it a third time so that she could film it, I really listened to myself and remembered why I wrote the poem in the first place…
As many have already said, Pippa’s session was just what I needed to ground me after the hectic pace over the two days and although it was no longer than any of the other sessions, time did seem to stretch out… Which renewed my energy for the bloggers keynote speeches – many of which made my eyes water a little, so the hilarious performance from the Good Enough Mums Club (go see!) was just right to balance out all that emotion at the end.
The most important reminder for me from the whole weekend was to just remember to Breathe… I don’t think I took quite enough time for this during the weekend and as a result I am still catching my breath a little.
So, with this in mind I am going to take a bit of a blogging break. I need to put my focus elsewhere for a bit so I am not sure when I will be back but when I do I will be doing something else exciting and slightly terrifying! I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.