I’m in London today for Blogfest – my first time attending. I’m not entirely sure what to expect except a lot of talking, the promise of cocktails, and an apparently legendary goody bag. But I’ll endeavour to blog about what I’m getting up to. Here goes…
4.15 I have woken up (because my brain is incapable of waiting for alarms) and am having the internal conversation about what to wear, how much the house needs tidying before our friend arrives to babysit, etc.
5.40 My alarm has gone off. My husband’s ability to sneeze loudly and remain asleep meant that I was very much still awake anyway. Prrrf.
6.50 Having got everyone up and dressed, the family all accompanied me to the station so they can have the car for their own adventures later.
7.05 I helped a nervous Eastern European lady (who is off to London for a job interview) buy her ticket from the machine and find the right platform. We had a nice chat. Seeing her nerves has made me feel confident by comparison.
7.15 And we’re off. I’m eating my breakfast banana (slightly under-ripe). I regret not bringing coffee.
7.45 Taking the wrapper off my new notebook. Exciting times.
8.30 That’s better.
8.40 London bus? Check. Rain? Check. Alllll the stereotypes. Let’s cram ’em in. I didn’t have enough hands for coffee, phone, card-to-scan-to-pay-for-bus and umbrella, so the umbrella lost. Am a bit soggy. But hey, I have coffee.
9.10 Made it. Fought the wet umbrella bag machine in the foyer (who knew such things existed?) and lost. But I’m here, I’ve eaten the world’s smallest croissant, and I’m ready. Let’s go.
9.35 Justine Roberts (Mumsnet CEO) is doing introductions and talking about the sponsors.
9.45 Fi Glover (@fifiglover) is chairing a conversation about women online and the importance of hearing from a diverse range of people. Shappi Khorsandi (@ShappiKhorsandi) talking about the need to stop talking and listen: ‘We live in a world where we have to go and seek alternative news sources.’
9.55 Victoria Smith (@glosswitch) talking about bringing feminism into parenting and the importance of women talking/blogging about our domestic lives, unpaid care work, etc.
10.00 Really interesting discussion about the way Google, Facebook, etc personalise content for users which reinforces our own perspective. If we want to hear diverse views we must go looking for them.
11.00 Chatted to one of the exhibitors about Detective Dot – a children’s detective book/game that looks fun and inclusive and empowering. I love what I’ve heard so far. Watch this space for a review once I give it to Joanna.
11.10 Off to a breakout session on blogging about SEN.
12.00 It’s a great discussion. Lots of talking about community and support and the cathartic nature of blogging.
12.20 Back in the main hall for a session called ‘Thinkbombs’. Bryony Gordon talking about writing about OCD, Ed Balls (prerecorded) plugging his book…
12.30 Lucy Porter: ‘I look at Donald Trump and the stream of hate and nonsense that comes out of his mouth, and as the mother of young children I think, “Is he just hungry?”‘
1.00 Lunch. Mini burritos. Pad Thai. Piña colada cake (hello). Fruit.
1.30 The Scummy Mummies (@scummymummies): ‘Hooray! We’re at Blogfest! We’re not with our children!’
‘A yummy mummy takes her children on a woodland walk to collect leaves for an autumnal collage. A scummy mummy takes her children to Lidl to help them discover the range of foreign crisps.’
1.45 I’m in the ‘Building a brand’ session, and Steph Douglas (@DBHFgifts) is talking about giving new parents gifts that encourage self-care rather than flowers (which need looking after).
Steph Douglas now talking about how helpful it is to have a business plan and to fill in a template because it helps you think about areas you need to cover. She also says 20,000 views per post (!) is a good number to have in order to work with brands.
2.40 Now a session on ‘Digital strategy for bloggers’ – about SEO and analytics.
2.50 Alison Perry (@iamalisonperry) talking about finding what keywords people search for in association with a given topic, and addressing that in blogs and SEO in order to reach readers. She recommends answerthepublic.com.
3.00 Alison is also discussing the advantages of naming images and using SEO keywords in blog headers to rank more highly in searches.
3.10 She’s recommending using Buffer to schedule posts when you have the highest Twitter traffic, and sharing one piece of new content, one piece of popular old content, and one piece of someone else’s content.
3.15 Alison says to treat each social media platform differently, and not to try to save time by linking them together e.g. posting tweets on Facebook.
Richard Miranda recommends signing up for a Google Adwords account and pausing it so you’re not paying for ads, so that you can use their analytics.
3.40 Coffee break cake verdict: lemon cake excellent, strawberry muffins not so much.
3.50 Having such a good time with people I met in this morning’s SEN session. We’re now in the ‘Know your voice’ session. Stella Duffy saying that we use different voices depending on the topic we’re discussing. Others on panel questioning whether that applies to nonfiction or only fiction.
4.15 Miranda Sawyer talking about society’s need for women to represent themselves as ‘happy’, regardless of the reality.
4.25 Panel answering questions about whether we should filter out certain topics and what they do if they’re having a day where they don’t feel like writing/don’t feel they have anything to say. Their answers: generally no unless it’s a matter of your children’s privacy, for example, and keep writing and have a fake deadline or be accountable to someone else.
4.40 Davina McCall is giving the keynote on resilience.
4. 50 Davina now talking about self care. Hurrah.
5.00 Time for the 2016 blogging awards…
Best Comic Writer: Fran Taylor
Best Campaigner: Catriona Ogilvy
Best Vlogger: Rebecca Meldrum
Best Writer: Abi Oborne
6.00 Two cocktails later and I am off home with a goody bag and a slightly spinny head (#lightweight).
6.15 Quick nip to platform 9¾ to take a photo for Joanna, my little Potterhead. Think I’m going to have to come back with her and her Christmas money.
6.50 After waiting in the rain for half an hour I am finally on a bus.
7.20 …and now a train. Rummaging through the goody bag. Among vast amounts of shampoo and conditioner (I mean MASSES), deodorant, Coke, noodles and vitamins, I found these, my favourite of the contents: