BritMums Live — aka #BML16 — is the UK’s biggest, buzziest blogging and social media conference and it’s where you’ll find technical workshops, creative juice, social media leaders sharing their secrets, panels that will leave you enlightened, conversations that will inspire and friendships that will last all year long.
And let me tell you, BML16 didn’t disappoint. The day started bright and early with a train to London at 05:58. Three hours later and I arrived at The Brewery, the venue for BML16, in the heart of London. I was full of excitement, nerves and if I’m honest, one too many coffee’s. My hands were literally shaking as I met up with my linky co-host Claire, who writes at The Pramshed. Meeting someone who you have been chatting to online for months is a bit reminiscent of a dodgy blind date. “What are you wearing?” was a phrase I saw a lot online in the lead up to BML16 by people wanting to meet up. I needn’t have worried though. Claire is as lovely in the real world as she is in the virtual one. This proved to be true for many people I met that day.
BML16 First Impressions
Throngs of (mainly) women were gathered in the courtyard at the entrance all hugging, pointing, laughing, chatting and sharing in the excitement of the day. The whole place was alive and buzzing as people spotted other bloggers that they knew and every so often the buzz would be broken by an excited squeal as someone (probably me) spotted a “pro-blogger” that they admired. For us, this is the equivalent of mingling with celebrities – sad but true!
I heard many bloggers say it would be fine to turn up alone as everyone is so friendly and I really think that this is true. People were just getting stuck in and introducing themselves and each other. The whole atmosphere was really inclusive, warm and welcoming.
The day started with a welcome speech from the BML16 founders, Susanna Scott and Jennifer Howze.
Kirstie Pelling then got up and bravely read her poem; BritMums we are live! It’s hard to get the attention of a crowd of bloggers who are all surgically attached to Twitter so I felt a bit sorry for her to be honest. It was a good effort though.
Following on from Kirstie was a lady called Anne-Marie Cockburn. Anne-Marie is a campaigner and an author of a new book called 5,742 Days, a mother’s journey through loss. Most importantly she is a Mother to her daughter Martha, who died three years ago at the age of 15 after taking an ecstacy pill. As she read an extract from her book I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room. What an incredibly brave woman to stand up and stoically read her story to us. It must still be so raw and painful – unimaginable for those of us who haven’t suffered loss like that.
BritMums Live was celebrating its 5th birthday so to lift the mood and celebrate the occasion there was a game of pass the parcel. Yes really. Each table at it’s own parcel and in true party spirit there was a little edible prize in each layer of wrapping and a gorgeous piece of jewellery as the final prize.
Coffee and cake in the hub followed. The hub was filled with brands who had come to meet and speak with bloggers. There were loads of big brands in there such as Johnson and Johnson, Coca-Cola, Touchnote and many more. We particularly enjoyed the Soltan stand in a strictly professional capacity obviously…
Back to work after all that pitching and
fun professionalism! There were loads of different workshops to choose from at this point but I ended up plumping for:
- Travel Blogging: What leading coverage & travel social media looks like now. Interesting session with a panel of leading travel bloggers and an emphasis on utilising Pinterest as well as some of the newer social platforms like Facebook Live and Periscope.
- Up Your Game: Innovative ways to make money. This was one of my favourite sessions led by a panel of three experts including Vicki from Honest Mum . It was a Q&A session so we all got the opportunity to ask something relevant. A really inspiring session that has given me lots of ideas for the future of A Mum Track Mind! I also got a chance to have a little chat with Vicki and thank her for the support she has shown me recently.
Lunch was another chance for gossip, chat, networking and of course sampling the amazing food laid out by The Brewery. I’m lactose intolerant and had forgotten to let the venue know so it was really limiting for me – that’s my own fault though! Still, who needs food when there’s prosecco?!
The next workshop that I went to was Up Your Game: How to work smart with PRs and this was a really useful collaboration between a successful travel journalist, Susan.L.Schwartz and Alexandra Delf from Ophir PR agency. For a new blogger like myself, this was a really helpful session to hear what worked from both the blogger and the PR perspective. I was able to grab a coffee with Alexandra afterwards and try some of that all important networking. Practice makes perfect right?!
One of my highights of the day was meeting Cherry Healey. She was there as the keynote speaker for the end of the day but I’ve been watching and loving her BBC Three Documentaries for ages now. To be honest she is a bit of a girl crush so I just had to say hello! She is as funny and nice in real life I’m glad to report!
After Cherry’s talk I had to leave and get home to Sophie. This was the first day apart and I was really missing her by this point. It was a shame to miss the BIBS Awards but this Mama had a three hour journey ahead of her so had to call it a day. Congratulations to all the well-deserved winners!
The train journey home was spent writing out all the things that I want to do with my blog. I have a new upload schedule on the way and a clear focus for the future of A Mum Track Mind. BritMums Live is a conference that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to someone who wants to get serious about blogging. Blogging is fast becoming a powerful medium and one that I am really excited to be a part of. I cannot wait to go again next year – hopefully with an overnight stay so I can join in the after party!
Thanks once again to my lovely sponsor Holiday-Sitters and to all you lovely bloggers who made the day so warm and welcoming.