My Cybermummy Adventure
On Saturday, me and 400 other mums-on-line attended the CyberMummy conference at the Brewery. My mission for the day was to meet other mummy bloggers and learn ways to improve my site. I also wanted to get information on how bloggers work with brands, to see if it’s something I want to do.
I have to admit I was a little jaded as I tromped out of Moorgate tube in boots that I shouldn’t have worn and with toenails that I should’ve cut before leaving the house. But it’s understandable that I wasn’t thinking clearly when I was getting ready. I had been up since 3am, alternating between feeding, burping, nappy changing, rocking to sleep, pumping breast milk, showering, applying make-up, doing my hair, then feeding and burping again.
Although babies were welcome at the conference and there were a few there, I decided not to bring my little screamer with me. James and I are working hard on getting her onto a routine and I think it would have been difficult for both Baby and me to get what we needed that day. So I expressed like a she-beast all week, so that James had enough to give her at least a couple ounces of breasty dumpling juice at every feed. That morning, it was with a heavy heart that I left Baby and James together in Daddy Daycare.
When I arrived at the conference, I checked my breast pump at the door, along with my coat, and made my way into the main hall. I knew nobody there, so I went as close to the main stage as I could get and invited myself to sit down at a table. I didn’t realise at the time, but one of the people at the table was the author of The Secret Diary of a New Mum, which is one of the books I read when pregnant. Like me, the author used to be a copywriter, so it’s well written and I really enjoyed it (which is more than I can say for some other mum-lit books).
The first speaker was Lord Richard Allan from Facebook, there to make sure we were all on side with the social media giant. You could tell from the way he talks about it that he loves working there, but that it also has its headaches; for example, every time they bring in new privacy settings. One thing he did clear up is the Facebook policy on images uploaded to the site. He assured us that they wouldn’t use the images and that we still own all copyright on them. Good to know. They’ve now included a function in Facebook that allows you to download all your content as well, so that you can keep a record of it.
Next up was Sarah Brown, wife to Gordon. She came across exceptionally down-to-earth and I liked how she described maintaining family life while living at Number 10 Downing Street. At the end of the day, motherhood is the great leveller; she opened the talk by telling us about her adventures with trying to get a birthday cake that she had won from a cake maker in London back to Scotland for her son’s birthday party that evening. What we do for love, eh?
I only managed to see two out of the four satellite sessions: one on marketing your blog and one about working with brands. Both were informative and I thought the speakers were well chosen. One of my favourites was Natalie Lue, whose site Bambino Goodies is a great place to find out about fashionable things for babies. She’s also an e-book writing and blogging advice whiz woman. I enjoyed hearing from Karen Cannard from The Rubbish Diet. It’s amazing how a eureka moment of deciding to try living without generating rubbish would lead to living a life full of, well, rubbish! She’s now a recycling activist and had some great advice on how to publicise your blog. I also liked what Erica Douglas from LittleMummy.com had to say about turning her blog into her business. What I loved even more was how her income from her blog now far exceeds her husband’s salary. Now he’s started a blog, too.
Going back to my objectives for the day, I definitely achieved learning how to market my site. Regarding working with brands, there were plenty in attendance, including Disney, Hyundai, Pampers, 3, Boots and Crocs, among others. It’s abundantly clear that big brands are capitalising on working with blogs to promote their products. Is that a good thing or not? Personally, I would like to work with brands that we’ve approached and that I think my readers would appreciate, but I’m not keen on being inundated with free swag in exchange for a mention. I already have a couple brands that have sent me products to review, but they are brands that I’m happy to be involved with. One complaint I’ve heard from other mummy bloggers is that they get tired of being sent products to review that they wouldn’t normally use. I don’t want to be in that situation and, in fact, would happily send the product back if I weren’t comfortable talking about it.
One thing I decided is that, at the moment, I’m not interested in selling advertising space on my blog. There are a number of reasons for this: 1) I think it would affect the design adversely, 2) I wouldn’t want my voice to be compromised by enforced brand loyalty and 3) I just don’t have the time to chase advertisers. So that’s my decision for now, but a lady always reserves the right to change her mind.
Finally, my last goal was to meet other mummy bloggers. I have to report that I failed miserably on that count, partially due to my complete exhaustion and partially because, during all the social coffee breaks, I had to slope off to the toilet to express milk. I did meet another mummy who I’d befriended on Twitter who was worried about expressing at the conference. The difference between us is that I was expressing to save the milk for my Baby to glug later. I get so little out that every drop is like gold to me. On the other hand, she was expressing and dumping because her breasts became painfully engorged if she didn’t. She expressed 8 ounces and threw them out in one session. I never thought I would get jealous over breast milk quantities.
A nice touch at the end of the conference was an hour of readings of past posts by their bloggers, so we could hear the words in their writers’ voices. This would be followed by a cocktail session, which I was looking forward to. The first reader performed a light-hearted piece on “A Beginner’s Guide to Blogging”. The second reader told the story of how her daughter was diagnosed with cancer at 18 months old. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.
Maybe it was my exhaustion or maybe it was separation anxiety, but after Nickie’s heartfelt reading, I had to get home and see Baby. I grabbed my breastpump, my expressed milk, my bag with the most swag I have ever received at a conference, and the heaviest goody bag, and made my way back to SW19 on a very crowded Northern Line. Where’s that pregnant stomach when you need it? I should have worn a button that says, “I’ve just been to CyberMummy and I gave birth 5 weeks ago. Give me your effing seat.”
So all in all, a mostly successful day. I’d like to go back next year, but I’d also like to know more mummy bloggers before I do. Although I’m far from an introvert, it turns out that exhaustion makes me a bit shy.
Oh, and don’t expect any great pictures from me at the conference. James, who was in charge of prepping his Lumix for me to bring along, put in a duff SD card. I only took a couple snaps on my iPhone.
Speaking of James, in tomorrow’s post you’ll see what he got up to with Baby in our first v-log. You really won’t want to miss it.