Tag Archives: mumsnet blogfest

Time to Drop Kick my Confidence

I’m not normally an indecisive person.  In fact, amongst my friends, I am usually the spontaneous one, suggesting nights out/weekends away/themed parties.  But for some reason, when an event arises which is solely for my purpose, I will often happily drag my feet and make up a plethora of excuses not to do it.

A perfect example of my ‘folding washing instead of doing something more creative’ current trend of thinking is the upcoming bloggers event Blogfest, organised by Mumsnet.  For any readers who are not aware of this event, despite the use of ‘fest’ in the title it isn’t in a field, I won’t have to wear wellies or use a chemical toilet, unless I want to of course. I attended Blogfest last year on its launch and it was a fantastic day, full of interesting speakers from Caitlin Moran to Prof. Tanya Byron and many more, all there to lend advice or opinion on the world of blogging.  When the email pinged up in my inbox recently suggesting I book my ticket for this years event, I scan read it (it’s an awful habit of mine) and moved onto something else. But, I kept having that nagging feeling that I was missing out on something.

Don’t get me wrong,  I am fairly ambitious in what I do or I wouldn’t be a blogger at all. Earlier this year I attended an intensive writing course on how to write my first novel, unfortunately the said novel is also filed in the ‘dragging my feet’ pile of things to do for myself.  I have told friends and family that I have lots of ideas and that I’m making lots of notes, what I’m actually thinking is I need to rent a cottage in a remote setting where my creative juices will flow in an inspirational environment, these things can’t be rushed!

But the Blogfest email was still burning a hole in my inbox and I needed to make a decision. I glanced back on my musings of last years fest in my post Bloggers Day Out and realised that actually I did enjoy myself. I do remember worrying too much about what to wear on the morning of the event, faced with a room full of fellow bloggers many of whom are very successful in their blogging and not just writing for their friends, family and bizarrely a few followers in Brazil like me. I guessed I should look a little literary, bit trendy, not Mumsy and definitely not ‘trying too hard’. I was fairy satisfied I looked more Lois Lane then Marge Simpson by the end of my wardrobe evacuation and trotted (bad choice of heeled boots) to Millbank for the event. I had also selected a pretty handbag which was completely impractical, as even though it looked like a satchel it didn’t actually fit much in it or could I fit the straps over my shoulder so had to hoop it over my arm a bit like Her Madge.  On arrival at the venue, The Guardian with a zillion supplements was thrust in my direction as the first freebie of the day. (Note to self – politely decline newspaper this year, not necessary to have it, will not use/read it at any point and cannot dump it anywhere).

I think my indecision stems from that new kid at school feeling I sometimes get in a room full of strangers. Last year, after I had finished wrestling with my Guardian newspaper and entered the room full of bloggers who were quietly sipping their complimentary coffee, I couldn’t help feeling that everyone knew each other. I tried to smile at a few people, whilst pretending that I was looking for someone in a bid to feel less conspicuous. I grabbed a coffee and croissant which I literally had to balance on my bag and hoped that someone would approach me but alas no-one did. I tried my Bridget Jones tactic of sidling up to a conversation in full flow and laughing along until I was included but then wimped out and headed for the loo’s instead. The day improved and I ended up making friends with a lovely blogger and author of http://survivingteenagers.co.uk/ who was as much a fish out of water as I was.

I must remember how much I really enjoyed Blogfest last year and what useful information I gained, although I still have lots to learn this year.  Most importantly, I really desperately need to understand what the heck SEO is all about and how to achieve more ‘traffic’.  I also really want to hear the very funny Viv Groskop (at blog session – In it for the LOLZ: writing funnier stuff), as well as Jack Monroe (at blog session – in Shaping the debate: how blogging and social media can change our world), and attempting to slightly stalk the superb author of We Need To Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver.

So, as an early Crimbo present, my endlessly supportive parents have bought me a Willy Wonka style ticket. And now I am quite excited really.  I am determined to make the most of this years event and I have a uber talented writer friend who is the blogger author of http://kidsgowild.wordpress.com/ attending so at least I won’t be completely Billy No Mates again.

Bloggers Day Out

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’.

Funny lady

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.