Wow! What an incredible two days my first experience of Britmums Live was. I met so many amazing people, learned so much and have come back so inspired and raring to go.
I’ve only been blogging for 10 months or so, and while my career as a journalist has definitely helped me with the writing element, the technical side has been an incredible learning curve for me. I’ve had plenty of advice from more experienced bloggers, for which I am truly thankful – but BritMums Live, held at The Brewery in London, was like a crash course in all the things I feel I have been winging it in, with some of the country’s top bloggers and experts in social media sharing their expertise.
Here’s some of the best tips from the sessions I attended. You can see my photo round up of the weekend here.
Key note speech by Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella
Regular readers of my blog will know how much I love Ella and her amazing blog and book. Her story of how healthy eating transformed her life is so inspiring – so I was thrilled when I found out she was going to at Britmums Live.
I got to her key note speech ridiculously early, sat right at the front, made pages and pages of notes – and when I saw her stood by herself, went over and introduced myself to her.
Someone who gets over a million hits a month, and has had a best-selling book on both sides of the Atlantic, is definitely worth listening to. Here’s a few snippets of what she said:
“Staying authentic is the most important thing. No one else can be you.”
“Respond to everything. It’s about knowing what people want. My blog has definitely been tailored to everyone’s questions and comments and what they want to learn.”
On selfies: “Becoming a person people can relate to is part of your blog becoming a brand. But there’s a thin line between that and ‘here’s my face again’.”
Be consistent. Share at the same time every week and be consistent in tone, visually, and timing. It’s great for growing your audience.
Key note speech by Victoria Wright, disability and disfigurement rights campaigner
Victoria’s beautiful and heartfelt speech had me in tears. She was diagnosed with cherubism as a child, which has caused disfigurement to her face, and openly shared her experiences of being horribly bullied at school. She now worries what will happen when her own daughter starts full-time school and classmates start to ask questions. Victoria’s incredible positivity was so inspiring.
She says that one day she suddenly realised, “It was not my face that made me unhappy; it was other people’s reactions to my face.” As that old adage goes, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
And on blogging:
“I am inspired every day by the blogs I read. During times in my life when I really needed it, their stories have been of enormous help to me.”
Something to remember when you get those days when you wonder what you are blogging for. Your words could be just the inspiration someone else needs to hear to help them through a difficult time.
Advanced Google+ with James Dearsley, Digital Marketing Bureau
I can do Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and have just about got the hang of Pinterest. However, when it comes to Google+, I’m lagging behind. I’d like to understand it better and make the most of it and although this session was possibly a little too advanced for me, it really helped me understand its potential. James talked a lot about the different advantages of having a page or a profile, how to take apps out of GooglePlus to use on your blog, such as hangouts – which he has really inspired me to look into – so that you can divert traffic to your own site, and how different tools within Google+ can help make building a social network easier.
James shared this quote, which might be obvious, but is definitely worth remembering.
“Everyone starts out with nobody listening to them and nobody to listen to. How and who you add determines what will become for you.” @pistachio
Also, when sharing content, “Work on a 4 to 1 basis. For every one of your own posts, share four others.”
Lots of great nuggets of information here, as three top bloggers revealed the secrets of their success. There was lots of talk about what success actually means – and it’s not just about the money.
“Be tenacious. Reach out to brands. Don’t ever feel your blog is too small. Believe in yourself.” – Honest Mum
“Look outside your genre, not just other parent bloggers, see what they are doing and how it can inspire your blog.” – Honest Mum
“Put a value on what you do. If people are using you as a channel for communication, you should charge them.” – Honest Mum
“A real mark of the success of your blog is comments – if someone has read it and wants to comment on it.” – Knackered Mother’s Wine Club
“It’s important to be you and not change yourself to fit someone else.” – English Mum
“It’s so important to have a positive voice on social media. When I did an advertising campaign with Sainsbury’s, they went through all my social media to see if I fitted.” English Mum
Define Your Design by Lucy Heath of Capture By Lucy
I’ve always been all about the words. I’m not so good with photography and design – although I am certainly learning a lot and I hope I’m starting to improve. The photos on Lucy’s blog and social media are truly beautiful. Her session really helped me tap into my creativity and understand more about the visual elements of my blog.
“You need a plan of action. It’s really good to set goals – weekly, three monthly, six monthly, and think about how your design can help you do that.” For example, if you want to increase subscribers, how can you make that more obvious on your page.
“Lots of big bloggers are losing their sidebars because most people read blogs on phones. It’s all in the footer – although it needs to be cohesive.”
“When it comes to typography, the most important thing is to make it as easy as possible for your readers to read it. Standard fonts are not boring. There’s a reason millions of successful newspapers use standard fonts. They are easy to read. Keep funky fonts for your header’ and stick to three fonts only.”
“You can see every image that’s been pinned from your blog on www.pinterest.com/source/yourblogurl – it’s good for knowing what readers like.”
“No photo is better than a bad photo – I’m talking blurred, out of focus photos. Go back and correct bad photos in the same way you would correct a spelling mistake or a typo.
Bloggers and Brands – Claire Candler, Hill &Knowlton agency; Nadine Hill, Juggle Mum; Jennifer Howze, BritMums and Jenography.net; Susanna Scott, BritMums and A Modern Mother; Marianne Weekes, Mari’s World.
“We understand the power and influence you have on your readers.” Claire Candler
“Most PRs I spoke to have bigger budgets to work with bloggers than a year ago. We know how as we know how powerful and influential you are – you have the power to influence people’s purchases. Claire Candler
“I could encourage proactivity. Come up with an idea. Take the time and trouble to say how you might be attractive to one of my clients.” Claire Candler
“Your voice is unique. That’s your unique selling point. Spend time fostering and harnessing that.’ Susanna
“Help PRs understand if they’re being unreasonable in their expectations as otherwise they’ll never know” Claire Candler
“Work on your comments. Brands don’t want to go to a blog that looks like no one is there. Respond to comments; show you care about your audience. Susanna
Search Engine Optimisation is about making sure search engines pick up your blog through lots of clever tips and techniques, but without breaking any rules.
“Put posts in one category as otherwise Google gets confused by more than one URL – duplicate content gets punished by Google”.
“Write naturally, optimise later.”
“Image text descriptions help partially sighted or blind people’ (I’m embarrassed I’ve never thought about this before).
How to market yourself and your writing by Joanna Penn, The Creative Penn
“Do you want to earn a six figure salary from your blog and books?” is what Joanna – who does exactly that – asked us at the start of this session. Hmmm, now let me think about that… This wa s a fascinating session – and here are some of Joanna’s tips.
“Share what you love and you will attract the right people.”
“Blogging was the thing that enabled me to write books because I learned to relax away from corporate writing.”
“It’s not traffic; it’s people. Who are the people behind the social media avatars?”
“Be consistent with when you post. Get people to have habits.”
“Social karma works. Share content from others without expecting it to be returned. But it will happen.”
If you’ve been blogging and successfully running your own social media profile, it makes sense that this could become a freelance career for you – and all three of these bloggers work as social media managers around their children, at times to suit them.
“Softwear such as Hootsuite and Buffer mean you can do an hour’s work for a client but spread the links out over a week.” Kate
“Schedule posts – but there is nothing like being online and having a conversation in real time.” – Chelle
“Your rates have to be flexible, depending on the company’s budgets.” Chelle
“Team up with other social media managers so that if you have a day when your children are ill, one of them can step in to help.”
You can see my photo round up of BritMums Live here.
You might also like this one – my BritMums Live introductory meme.