Mumsnet Blogfest 16 – Thoughts & Tips

I didn’t go to Blogfest last year and I had no intention of going to Blogfest 16. How wrong was I?

In 2013, as I was about to start blogging, I found out about Blogfest by chance and I could hardly believe there was such a thing as a ‘blogging conference’ going on in London. What do you mean there are other ‘real’ people who write blogs? I knew no one. I had not read one single UK blog. Ever. I had no idea how to get started. The day left me buzzing, inspired, overwhelmed (in a good way!). I spent the day chatting to friendly bloggers and learning a bit about what I should do to get started.

Blogfest 2014 was not so upbeat for me. Friends and family members were going through a really tough time, it felt like I was going nowhere with my blog and I was struggling with PND. I found the event cliquey and too highbrow for my liking. I did not enjoy it one bit and vowed not to attend Blogfest again.

When the schedule for the 2016 conference was released, its fresh new format appealed to me. I was rather pleased when the Coca-Cola Great-Britain team invited me to attend as there was a range of sessions I was desperate to attend. In fact, the schedule for Blogfest 16 was so good there were often two sessions I wanted to attend simultaneously.

Blogfest 16 starting in 3…2…1….0!

The day kicked off with a lively discussion about women online, current affairs and Donald Trump’s election.

Fi Glover, who chaired the first discussion quite rightly pointed out that at the moment, the mainstream media was not always reaching out to people.

MP Jess Phillips, although she described herself as a smart kick-ass feminist cynic, reassured us that it would all be OK.

Justine Roberts, Mumsnet CEO, made quite a few valid points that really resonated with me:

– The more our feeds are targeted by algorithms, the more concentrated our opinions become.

– People are consuming news through social media. Platforms like Facebook are heavily filtered and show us what it thinks we want to see rather than being exposed to every opinion out there.

blogfest16

 

detective DOT

I had a bit of a break and a chat with the lovely people at detective DOT. Check out their first book; it is brilliant and I am pretty sure Crevette will love the story that challenges stereotypes, focuses on coding, sustainability and mystery.

blogfest-16-detective-dot

 

I was ridiculously excited about the next session with photographer Emily Quinton. Makelight is an online learning platform for creative entrepreneurs, with photography at the heart of it, and although I have been part of it for six months or so, I have not yet engaged with the community. I am more of a face-to-face kind of person (I know, I am an odd blogger) and I immediately loved Emily’s passion for images.

blogfest16-emily-quinton

Why are images so important for bloggers?

Images are the way you are going to attract people’s attention. In such a fast-paced industry, you need to find ways to grab people’s attention and make them stop scrolling. When you see something you like, you are likely to stop and start reading or engaging, aren’t you?

If you have a consistent style, you will be recognised and people will engage with you wherever you put your images.

Natural Light is the Key!

  • Work with the light
  • Natural light is a must
  • Make sure you take your photos by a window
  • Learn to make good use of good light
  • Different windows will work at different times of the day

You can take great photos with your phone!

– Take the photos with the camera app.

– On an iPhone, after you have taken a photo, you can tap to get a square with the sun to appear. Swipe up or down to improve the light.

– Keep the phone straight so that things are not distorted. Same when taking a photo of a flatlay.

A good background is like a canvas

You can use

– Wooden tabletops (painted and distressed wood)

– Linen

– Marble

– Card

– Wrapping paper

– Old gates, old doors when you are outside

Fit photography into your life

Each week, spend at least 10 minutes to plan the images you are going to need for the week. Batching saves time.

Consistency

The consistency of your images is key, so is establishing a style that is recognisable.

Is there a colour palette? A dominant tone?

Use prop boxes to gather things in colours / seasons

 

Less Sugar for Coca-Cola 

As a guest of Coca-Cola, I had one-on-one time with the Coca-Cola expert team during the event. It was an insightful meeting, finding out about their work to reduce sugar and the community projects they support.

The range of drinks by Coca-Cola is a lot wider than I expected, and all drinks sold in the UK are made here. They have just launched an Organic tea drink (Honest). They are also behind Smart Water (distilled water from Northumberland), Oasis and Sprite, to name just a few.

Reducing sugar has been a focus for Coca-Cola for a while. It all started in 1983 with Diet Coke. Since then, Coke Zero was launched in 2006, and Coke Zero Sugar, which tastes more like Coke but without the sugar, was launched in June 2016.

I did a taste test at BritMums Live in June, and other than bubbles feeling slightly different, I found it tasted exactly the same as regular Coke. I have since switched from Coke to Coke Zero Sugar when I fancy a fizzy treat.

blogfest16-coca-cola

ParkLives 

ParkLives is a long-term community involvement initiative Coca-Cola started 3 years ago. The programme offers free, family-friendly activities, in partnership with local authorities. It helps brings charity Street Games to people in disadvantaged areas.

Parks are amazing places in our communities. Encouraging people to go to their local parks, enjoying the benefits that being in green spaces can have to your health.

The hour-long sessions are available in about 200 parks around the country. They are free, inter-generational and open to everyone. Typically, local people deliver the activities, from yoga, donkey grooming, rounders, Tai Chi, Pilates, den building, kayaking, Zumba and many more. Parents and children can join together for free. It all happens in parks and is all locally-driven. It makes local parks more accessible and turns then into sociable hubs. I just wish the programme was running near me!

YouTube

YouTube was a big focus for this year’s conference and wow, just wow!

I will not bore you with the details as the YouTube conferences were all filmed and will be available on Mumsnet’s YouTube channel in the next few days.

In the YouTube lounge, I had a chance to get my modest YouTube channel scrutinised by YouTube expert Kate Rushworth, who gave me practical support and tips I can implement straight away.

 

YouTube channels I will check out this weekend:

Sprinkle of Glitter

The Saccone-Jolys

Mother Pukka

Vegan Family TV

YouTube channels I watch already and enjoy:

Mrs Meldrum

Katie Ellison (MummyDaddyMe)

Brummy Mummy of 2

Sarah Barnes

 

Disclosure: Coca-Cola invited me to attend Blogfest 16 and paid for my transport. All photos and opinions are my own. 

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Comments

  1. Jodie says:

    I’m pretty new to blogging and started in July. The event sounds great! How do you hear about it?

  2. I was so sad to miss this but I expected to still be in my day job, finishing at 2pm today, and then booked a break away for Hubby’s Birthday – but then decided to leave work so could have come after all! I will be here next year! x

  3. Rachel says:

    I’ve used an old door for a photo before, when it caught the light it made for a perfect backdrop x

  4. Iza Abao, Two Monkeys Travel Group Writer says:

    I like blogs which are coherent with their brand and images. You get to feel who they are right away and understand them better. Images can be distracting and not helping your blog if they have poor quality.

  5. Claire'scomfycorner says:

    I bought a camera but I always tend to take photos with my phone. I agree a good background is important.

    • Emily was saying she takes most of her Instagram photos on her phone. I couldn’t believe it. Have you seen her feed? She’s amazing, and so inspiring.

  6. Helen Costello says:

    Fabulous write up Mel. I missed Blogfeat this year – I won a ticket to last year’s and completely loved it. Good tip to spend time planning batches of pics at the start of the week. I have so much to learn on YouTube – even sadder that I missed it now!

    • I would have loved to meet you, Helen! Next year maybe?
      As for YouTube, they filmed all the sessions, so you should be able to see them on Mumsnet’s YouTube channel soon. x

  7. jojo140883 says:

    Fab photography tips there, I’m really concentrating on my photography at the moment x

    • Although I wrote tips about photography, I do realise the photos on this post are absolutely atrocious, ha ha!

  8. Nayna Kanabar (@SIMPLYF00D) says:

    This sounds like a nice event to visit and the content was good too.

  9. WhatLauraLoves says:

    Wow this sounds absolutely fantastic and such a worthwhile thing to go to. I really focused on my photography this year and I think its paid off xxx

  10. melissa major says:

    Sounds like a brilliant event, totally agree natural light makes such a difference for blog photos

  11. Baby Isabella says:

    Sound like you had an eventful time! My mummy went in 2014 and had an awful time outside the talks trying to mingle with people, so it’s kinda put her off. The YouTube sessions sound fantastic, thanks for the tip to pop over to the channel xx

    • I remember reading your mummy’s post in 2014 actually and feeling pretty much the same then! Tell her to reconsider going as I loved it this year and would go again!

  12. Stephanie Merry says:

    I’ve never actually been to a blogging conference despite blogging for four years – but it’s great there are conferences out there for us bloggers!

    • It really is great to meet the people you chat to online. It makes them feel ‘real’ if that makes sense!

  13. I have been working on my photos recently although in the winter natural light isn’t always ready to play ball. I’ve never been to any events like this, I should but I’m a little cared to go on my own.

    • It can be a bit overwhelming when you go on your own, but even without formally arranging to meet anyone at a specific time, I saw lots of people I’d met before and conversation was flowing all day. I’m sure I would have been fine anyway since there were so many interesting sessions to go to.

      I agree with the lack of natural light in winter. If we’re lucky, the window to take photos is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the moment… The light is so dull today I wouldn’t even consider getting my camera out.

      • MELANIE EDJOURIAN says:

        sorry about the typo. Tell me about it. It’s not stopped raining in London today it’s horrible.

  14. laurahartleyy says:

    I’m interested that they started off by talking about current affairs and the mainstream media. I would have liked to have heard their thoughts on that!

    • A lot of the day was filmed. I guess there will be quite a few videos on their YouTube channel in the next few days.

  15. Hayley Mclean says:

    Ahh Im glad you enjoyed it more this year Mel! It was lovely to see you, I found it fun but a bit overwhelming..I had to go for a bit of a breather half way through, I was all talked out! It was lovely to see you again! x

  16. Cecilia Keinapel says:

    This is such an interesting post, I love the facebook one. It is so true, never thought about that 🙂

Thanks for taking the time to write a little message. Comments always make me smile! x Mel