This may be my 48th post but I still regard myself as a relative newcomer to the world of blogging. So, when the opportunity came to attend the Mumsnet Blogfest last Saturday, I happily filled out my credit card details hoping this event would benefit my future prose! I emerged out of Westminster station and headed to the Millbank Tower where the event was taking place. As I wrestled with my broken umbrella amongst the tourists lining up to have their picture taken by Big Ben, I cursed at my unruly tear ducts that tend to stream tears at the mere suggestion of a gust of wind. When I arrived at Millbank Tower there was a huge throng of women with a few sparse men and as we made our way inside I desperately tried to remove the Alice Cooper look that I was now sporting.
A posh version of the Eastenders credits
I was, I suppose, a tad naive at how tough the competition is on ‘Mum’ style blogs, but when I entered into the ground floor lounge of the Tower I was quite startled by the enormous crowd of ladies that were gathered round sipping their complimentary coffee. I smiled at a few unable to catch a friendly eye, everyone did seem ‘on alert’ at the competition but there was a still a buzzy atmosphere. We were led through to an auditorium for our first round of speakers. First up was Mrs Nick Clegg, the über glam Miriam Gonzalez. With her soothing Penelope Cruz sounding voice, she talked about her own ‘normal Mum existence’ which was very engaging. She told us about her charity work and how our role as bloggers was an essential one. This ‘blogging is an essential role’ comment was used over the course of the day by various speakers, some fellow bloggers, authors and columnists, all championing our role in the literary hemisphere. However, there were other literary experts such as Publishers, Newspaper Editors and Liz Jones, who were less than supportive at our blogging commitment, who were a little bit patronising and quite sneery in places. We were told to pursue our blogging ambitions on one hand and then also assured not to get our hopes up if wanting to publish a book as 50 Shades Of Grey was a bit lucky really. I personally think 3,000 bloggers (Mumsnet blogger numbers alone) can’t be wrong and that some bloggers seem to make quite a healthy living from it.
The Mumsnet organisers went above and beyond with the venue and catering and they were on hand with their cheery approachable manner. Whilst we sashayed around the sky high bar, there were a number of sponsors bidding for our attention. The impressive line-up included Google, Skoda, Boden and even The Portland Hospital, all keen to pass on a bit of merchandise in return for a bit of a chat. The one sponsor that caught my eye were the discount shopping people Savoo.co.uk and not just because of the man-sized glass cube with real notes inside it, but because they seemed a good opportunity for bloggers. This online savings website have created a community of bloggers called DealPro’s who have become their own Del-Boys of the discount voucher website world. By promoting money-off scoops on their blogs, Savoo will promote their blog on their website in a win-win situation, exposure for Savoo, bit more traffic for your blog and certain perks to be gained along the way.
A room with a view
Following a packed day of interesting panel discussions and a packed itinerary of different lectures I found myself in the lecture for Blogging Beautiful. I suppose the clue was in the title but this was later in the day so was on a sugar low from my earlier 3 complimentary cupcakes. Anyway, as most people would suspect Blogging Beautiful is aimed at bloggers who cover the subject of beauty. And although it was interesting to hear a different slant on blogs, I decided to nip out discreetly and head back to the bar with the sponsors to take advantage of The Blog Clinic and a bit of one-to-one expert advice. I waited until the panel were in deep discussion and conducted a pathetic bit of sign language to the ladies sat next to me, motioning that I needed to leave. I then proceeded to do that walking bent over to avoid blocking the view of people behind thing, but instead managed to block the view of everyone in my row. The loud floor tiles were another thing to combat so had to do this sort of walking on toes like an ostrich to avoid my heels clunking loudly as I left.
In The Blog Clinic, things were a lot more relaxed. I met a fab creative team from Digital Bungalow who gave me some much needed advice on the appearance of my blog, ahem, please notice my ‘clean lines’ and use of images. I was also extremely eager to meet with Commando Dad, Neil Sinclair, the blogger Dad, ex-army/house husband who turned his blog into a bestselling book. I found him casually sipping a coffee by the bar till I slightly stalked him asking ‘If I could possibly bend his ear on his book publishing experiences’. Despite his initial look of fear, he was very obliging and gave me some excellent advice on my upcoming novel, which is currently an empty box file titled ‘My Novel’.
The day came to a close with the always funny and massively entertaining Caitlin Moran who gave us her unique take and sought after advice on being a writer. Basically cheeky afternoon whisky in your cuppa, be joyful, don’t over describe and if in doubt cut and paste your second paragraph to give your piece a better ending.