One bloggers guide to blogging conferences

The conferences are planned, tickets are purchased, sponsorship madly sought. Meet and greets posted. The hysteria excitement is building. What to wear? What to take? It’s a Wurlitzer of choices and things to think about. I’ve been reading meet and greets and one word comes up again and again ‘nervous’. Therefore, for those who have not experienced a blogging conference, I share with you: “one bloggers guide to blogging conferences” (less than everything you need to know).

What to wear.
What to wear?!! This is THE is a big question. Trust me. Wear whatever you want. People will be in jeans, people will be in outfits that would not be out of place at a society wedding. Aim to feel good. While hot pants and 8 inch heels will make an impact and undeniable wow factor first impression. It’s a long day and if chaffing could to be a factor, think again. Aim for comfort.

What to carry.
There is a strong possibility that you will leave with so much ‘stuff’ passed onto by various brands that walking even a short distance with it is not an option. Anything you bring only becomes a cursed additional burden combined with the swag. Bringing a Tesco’s trolley is not practical, but could be useful. Instead, the less is more when packing, be that handbag or suitcase. It seems a good idea to bring your laptop or even a tripod and video camera to blog and vlog your way through the day. The workshops are informative the speakers interesting but mostly it’s about women (and men) squealing and hugging each other. Do you really want to put yourself under that pressure and carry that equipment around? Frankly, it’s easier to hug someone holding a smart phone than it is an ipad.

Swag

Some swag


Deodorant.
There is a lot of hugging. The rooms are hot. The rooms are cold. It’s crowded. You rush from one workshop to another. You may drink wine too early. The whole experience makes a person flustered. A deodorant in your bag can be a useful item.

On meeting bloggers.
Those people who’ve blogs you’ve followed, the details of their lives you’ve read are suddenly transposed from a tiny avatar to a full sized walking and talking person. It is a touch overwhelming.
You realise you are standing next to Northernmum you know all sorts of details about her life/libido. Instead of speaking to her you tweet furiously: ‘O.M.G am standing next to @Northernmum1’.
Just at that point your favorite tweeter from the North East reads your name-badge and says hello. You hug. She introduces you to her new friend the cake blogger from Bournemouth. O.M.G you have made some of her cakes. You hug. O.M.G she read your post about your mother in law slapping you and canceling Christmas.
The three of you head of to the next workshop: ‘Crisis Management, the consequences of bad-mouthing your family on social media’.
By the time Northernmum reads your tweet you are on different floors. She RT’s your tweet adding ‘<< where? we must meet’.
Eventually, you find her in the bar. Eventually you find everyone in the bar.

The toilets.
After Cybermummy there was post after post about that mentioned the toilets. Many many people found it all a bit overwhelming and sought comfort in the toilets. So much so that this year, I considered bringing a picnic table, tea urn, gin and lavender scented tissues and setting up in the toilets. A sort of ‘overwhelmed bloggers support service’. Traveling on East Midlands trains with a tea urn and a picnic table does not appeal and as such I am unable to offer this service. Instead I suggest deep breathing exercises the type they teach you in ante-natal classes; in for four out for eight. Remember you are not alone the woman in the next cubical is probably having a moment too.

Famous Bloggers.
You see a “famous blogger” in the toilet. It’s like seeing George Michael on Hampstead Heath, you read in the paper he lives in Hampstead. Why wouldn’t he be on the Heath? Yet still it’s unexpected. Obviously, George has no idea who you are and so you try not to stare. It’s a similar experience with the “famous blogger” you try not to stare and probably don’t say hello, assuming they have no idea who you are. Actually, you read their blog and comment often, you tweet with them, you may have even exchanged emails. Why wouldn’t they know who you are? Get over it and say hello (do let them finish their wee first).

Communicating at a blogging conference.
Conversations happen in triplicate (at least). For example, You meet IamWitWitWoo and tell her it’s great to meet her and she is amazing.
You tweet: ‘great to finally meet @IamWitWitWoo she is amazing’.
She RT’s that with added ‘>> good to meet you too :)’.

Despite the fact that you are at a conference and finally have the opportunity to meet all your internet friends in person, you will spend a good portion of the day head bowed over twitter. Therefore, bring your charger.

A word about Lunch.
Ever had that experience where you see an outfit in Grazia on some Catwalk feature and think ‘weird’? Then a few months later find yourself in Dorothy Perkins trying on a similar animal print jumpsuit and Day-Glo leg warmers combination?
Apply the same principal to lunch. This is swanky London and a social media event. Lunch is unidentifiable and in a box. Looks weird. Try it. Tastes good.
Boxed Lunch
Business cards.
You probably won’t need as many as you think. Business cards are for competitions and the odd PR. Otherwise follow your new acquaintance on twitter. Most people had a stack left. Unless you are the clever blogger who slipped her business cards into all the goodie bags and went home with none (don’t try that, it’s so last year).

On meeting those special people.
There will be people that you simply HAVE to meet. Make a list and a plan in advance.

A buddy.
I suggest a buddy. I am so very glad that I arranged to meet Aresidence at the tube last year and we arrived together and I had someone to stand with initially instead of feeling like Billy No Mates drowning in the deep end. Through the day it was good to have an anchor/buddy, someone to link back up with when feeling a bit lost.

Top tip.
Be brave and just say hello, to anyone and everyone. As the famous book says: “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.

Blogging conferences are the best fun. Enjoy.

The obvious disclaimer.
Swag is not guaranteed.
Lunch maybe clearly identifiable cheese sandwiches.

81 Comments

  1. Asturian Diary

    Brilliant post. On the one hand you make me wish desperately that I were going, on the other you describe it so vividly that I feel like I don’t even need to. Anyway, now I would only want to go if I knew you were setting up your blogger support stall in the loos…x

  2. Grenglish

    This is brilliant! I went to Cybermummy for the first time last year and felt completely overwhelmed by it all. Luckily I was glued to Richmond Mummy the entire time and we had a wonderful day, drank too much, ate too much and met some fab bloggers (Alice at More than Toast springs instantly to mind!). I did not meet WitWitWoo until some months later but yes, she’s alright too ;-) Laughed so much in recognition at some of those points but yes, all true!

  3. Rollercoaster Mum

    Great post. I so want to go to one. I have got a ticket for Britmums but may have to sell it because grumpy OH has vetoed it due to money (he doesn’t know I bought a ticket already!) I am now desperately trying to get a job so I can tell him to stuff it and that I’m going anyway. (don’t really want to go through the whole trying to get sponsorship thing really but may have to try). And if I do get to go I will be very nervous!!

  4. Narrowboat Wife

    Great description Gemma, it was exactly like that, I also couldn’t carry my swag and it was amazing to meet you there last year ;-) And although last year we wanted to hide in the toilets I reckon this year YOU may be one of those “famous bloggers” in the toilets! See you at Blog Camp in Birmingham soon. Peggy xx

  5. Allforaleyna

    This is brilliant brilliant! I had almost EXACTLY the same experience at CyberMummy last year and I also met that WitWitWoo and she felt up my left boob.
    I have been appointed Ambassador for BritMums this year because I was one of THE most nervous people at CyberMummy so what better than to fight fire with fire! For any nervous people I will hopefully be someone to run to when you are a bit wobbly. I spent a LARGE amount of time in the toilets at CM so perhaps that is where I shall station myself for BML and join you with your picnic.
    Sorry I seem to have hijacked your comments, nervous wittering I think.
    Can’t wait to meet you there
    xxx

  6. dichotomyof

    Genius! I am sniggering into my lunchtime crisp sandwich and wishing I could come :)
    I misread a bit as gin-scented tissues and I feel VERY strongly that you have hit upon something. I think gin scented tissues could change my life…

  7. Heidi (@Him_Me_Three)

    Excellent. I’m attending a conference for the first time this year and I’m crapping myself! These tips are great and this post is just what I’ve been looking for. Thank you

  8. Lucy at Dear Beautiful Boy

    So helpful. And I’m now feeling so excited about BritMums. Although I think I might need to buy a new phone before then. Clearly I won’t have room in my bag for the iPad, and my (quite frankly rubbish and ancient) phone doesn’t DO twitter. X

    1. helloitsgemma

      don’t be! really it is the best fun. you will meet lots of fab people, lots of people went on their own last year and made loads of friends. If you can grab a friend do – am sure near the event a quick shout on twitter will find you someone. I bet within 10 minutes you will be your own mouthpiece!!

  9. mutteringsofafool

    Great advice, can I also come and hang in the womens toilet or is that not advisable? I’m going to Britmums Live and to be honest more nervous about being surrounded by women hugging each other and screaching than the event itself. Still I guess at least it’ll be easy to figure out who I am…
    Oh and in case you wondered, I’m ok with the hugging, no need to offer me a manly hand instead, I’m not Sheldon

    1. helloitsgemma

      will find you and hug you! am absolutely sure you would be more than welcome in the ladies loos! last year we did take over some of the men toilets – it kind of made sense given the numbers – so either way the loos are where it’s at!

  10. older mum (in a muddle)

    I’ve been meaning to read this post all day and it was fabulous and humorous all in one go. Great tips. I am going to my first blogging conference this year; Brit Mums and I’m really looking forward to it, but apprehensive too. Tried not to use the word nervous!

  11. Notgoingblogger

    Having been to the previous cybermummies I made a decision not to go to either cypher or britmums this year and this post has just reminded me that although seeing all the hype I keep getting tempted I am bloody glad I’ve decided to give them both a miss!

  12. Tasha Goddard

    Astonishingly accurate. At both Cybermummies, I spent much time being shocked that people knew who I was and too shy to say hello to many people I actually know well. It’s an odd thing, indeed. And, my first year? I had to get a taxi back to my hotel with baby in sling and the taxi driver had to carry all my bags into the hotel and to the lift, there was so much. Last year, I triaged a tad and didn’t take absolutely everything on offer.

  13. Minty

    Loved reading this post – but is it wrong that it really puts me off going? :-/ (not that I am doing, but I find even all the blog and twiiter hype overwhelming: I’d probably have a melt down if I actually went!) x

  14. SAHMlovingit

    Oh this is just SOOOOOO bloody brilliant Gemma, I’m wiping away the tears of laughter.

    You forgot one vital thing though…tissues incase you attend any charity related conferences, I still remember you trying not to look at me as I blabbed way through the charity bit at Cybermummy last year!

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  19. liska

    Oh me oh my this post is fucking awesome <<< am I allowed to swear on here. LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT and am so not writing one now as there is nothing left to be said and you are darned right about EVERYTHING.

    AND you don't need to meet anyone in the loos now, cos girlfriend, YOU is a butterfly!!! Yeahhhhhh!!!

    Liska xx

  20. Everyone Else is Normal

    One word. Hysterical. This’ll be my first BML but not much of it is a surprise apart from the constant tweeting. REQUEST: anyone fancy joining me in NOT tweeting their way through the conference? For once in a whole year, we get to actually talk to each other, you know, using our mouths not fingers (sounds wierd, sorry!) and the thought of people tweeting about me (or not, more likely) is abit weird, and frankly, sad when our attention is on our phones, not the people….anyone agree?!

    1. helloitsgemma

      You won’t be alone in not tweeting your way through! I think there was less tweeting last year, than the year before (on which this post is based).
      Tweeting is handy to actually find people. Hope to meet you at the weekend!

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