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Blogging Inspiration from BlogFest

Last Saturday I attended my second BlogFest, the annual blogging conference organised by Mumsnet.  I love blogging conferences, not least for the opportunity to catch up with my friends and meet new bloggers.

After a bleary (5am!) start we arrived at the wonderful venue of Kings Place, near Kings Cross and were all so pleased for the chance to warm up; it’s safe to say that winter has definitely arrived.


The first session focused on Motherhood and creativity.  The panel of Bryony Gordon, Margaret Atwood, Meera Syal CBE, Bridget Christie, Polly Vernon, Catherine Mann discussed whether ‘motherhood is a curse or a catalyst’ when it comes to creativity.  Although it is interesting to hear that even successful people struggle with finding the time to be creative and write, I can’t identify with a lot of what was said.  The conversation did steer itself to discussing men in a negative way and, with a hubby that does so much around the house (and for our family), it is not something I could empathise with.  I know some male bloggers in the room were a little offended and rightly so.

I was then involved in a roundtable which discussed and explored self esteem and blogging.  This session was wonderful and I will share all the details tomorrow in a separate post.

My wonderful friend Hannah went to ‘Ten things we can learn from Buzzfeed’ and I will attempt to summarise the main points, of what she said, was a fabulous session taken by digital whizz Kathryn Tyler.

  • Make shareable content


  • Include a call to action to follow you


  • Lists help people to read easily and quickly, so use that format


  • Understand your audience – create a user persona – Who are you targetting? What are their personalities? What are they interested in? What are they motivated by?


  • Target their emotions – Funny, heart warming, controversial, sad/tragic


  • Try using these types of content – Inspiring/heart warming, surprising, nostalgic, funny, controversial.


  • Examples of campaigns that worked – #Dogdaysofsummer #Itstartedwithabook


  • Make it useful – Informative, useful, actionable


  • Think about the format – For example, They made the ‘which city should you live in’ topic into a quiz which went viral


  • Formats – List, quiz, infographic, photo, video – match the format to your audience


  • Be topical, but subtle – Keep on top of what’s coming up.  Stay ahead of the trends


  • Analyse – what’s working?  What’s not?


  • Measure key metrics so you can adjust your content


  • Do Facebook polls to help you define your audience


  • Find out which networks work better for you


  • Find out who influences your audience and make friends with them


  • you can follow followers.  Crowdfire can be useful as can Social Bro


  • Use social sprout for data analysis


  • Iconosquare fab for Instagram analysis


  • Spend 5 hour per week per platform


  • Use Klout to find who the infuencers are


Building Your Brand

This session was taken by Jude Brooks who explained why bloggers should see themselves and their blogs as brands, and then act as marketers.

  • Content should illicit a emotional response – Anger/fear/happiness/disgust/surprise/sadness


  • Essentials of a sticky story – Simple, unexpected/different, concrete, credible, emotional/resonant


  • Who we trust is changing – There is a declining trust in Banks, NHS, legal system, police, politicians, church, media and celebrities.  Resulting in us trusting each other more – site such a reevoo, trust pilot, tripadvisor are testiment to this.


  • We trust our networks.  People live in networks for small connected groups.  150 is the maximum number of connections we can maintain effectively.  We turn to friends to help us make decisions.  We are disproportionately influenced by our strongest ties.


  • How brands communicate their message has changed.  In the past they used campaigns which would interrupt people lives with their message, for example an advert in the break of a major soap.  Now they have to focus on programmes that focus on engagement, adding value and keeping the fans with content of all types.

What does this mean for bloggers?

Your blog is a brand, so you need to start acting like one.

  • Focus on telling engaging & credible stories


  • Continue to build trust & enduring relationships


  • Seek to provide more value to your audience


  • Be purposeful


People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it

Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek – Golden Circle

  • What? Products and Services


  • How? Differentiation/USP


  • Why? Purpose/cause/belief

The Why? is always at the heart of your purpose led business.

What’s your why?

You can find your why, by thinking of what the world needs, what you are passionate about? and what you are good at?

Identify content themes

Work with organisations to understand the value exchange between their offer and your audience.  There is a sweet spot between the customer interests and needs and the unique brand expertise and value.

Create fat content

Fat content is;

  • Targeted and relevant to the audience – Consider your readers demographic, psychographic
  • Context aware – Geography, weather, news
  • Multi-dimensional – Words, images, audio-visual, games, tools
  • Always choose two from – Informative/ engaging / helpful

Co-operative content creation

  • Create content from scratch
  • Recycle existing content
  • Co-create with others – Consumers, employees/colleagues, at events, influencers/experts

Consider content consumption

  • Scheduled – Content you regularly make time to consume
  • Seeking – Recommended content you seek out as a direct result of a trigger or recommendation
  • Serendipity – Content you stumble across, but which captures your attention.

‘Brevity is the soul of wit’ – Big ideas in small spaces.

The panellists Sarah Crown, Esther Freud, Katy Wheatley, Tim Dowling, Helen Simpson offered guidance on how to distil big ideas into a few carefully crafted paragraphs, and how can these snippets of life can give people just as much as a lengthy text.  I think the main thing to come out of this session for me was the need to edit and be ruthless with your own work.  Make sure that everything in the piece needs to be there.

Amy and I

With one of the best people blogging has brought into my life, Amy.

I traded the closing session for the opportunity to chat to brands (Dove, Skimlinks to name two wonderful brands who had sponsored the event) and other bloggers. There is never enough time to do everything at these events and sadly I think I might have missed a few fabulous sessions, as I have had reports that a couple of the You Tube sessions were brilliant, as were the think bombs.  It is such a hard decision to make sometimes, as to which sessions to attend and invariably it is possible to choose the wrong sessions for you.

After the day finished the inaugural Mumsnet Blogging awards took place with wonderfully deserving finalists and winners, after which we all enjoyed cocktails and canapies.

Thanks Mumsnet for an amazing day and a big thanks to Skimlinks for gifting me a ticket to the event.

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Showing 15 comments
  • Amy

    Aw there I am! Absolutely ditto, even if it was the most rubbish event ever (it wasn’t!) I would still go to get to sit next to you (and giggle) for the day. I am glad you were paying attention and that I can swot up using your notes! Fab write-up xxxx

  • Katy

    Haha love Amy’s comment. Totally swotting up too. Shame about the first session but the rest sounds interesting. xx

  • Joanna

    I really want to go to a blog conference however I get so nervous around people i dont know and anxious which puts me off. It’s great that you can learn so much from going though so hopefully 2016 will be the year I will go to one.

  • Alexandra

    I love this write up, great pic of you and Amy. Was lovely to meet you in the flesh xx

  • Alex Lamb & Bear

    This is such a helpful post Aby – as always! Now I’m at home full time I’m blogging a lot more, and building my clothing brand with the same name, so I need to make sure I’m doing all of the right things to engage people and build my audience. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend next year once I’ve had this baby! xx

  • Katie

    It was a great day wasn’t it? I really enjoyed learning a couple of different bits about you tube I didn’t know, but obviously the main thing was hearing the inspiring speakers and also seeing friends. Was lovely to see you, never long enough though.Hopefully one day we will be at an intimate event one day together so we can chat lots. x

  • Ali

    thanks for this Abby, so much to take in. I feel quite lazy when thinking about looking at data and understanding it but will definately make it my goal next year. I’ll be coming back to this post a few times!

  • Cathy (MummyTravels)

    Love this post – I couldn’t make it along at the weekend and most of what I’ve read had focused on the first speakers/dad blogs. So it’s great to see some really useful tips. I know my list-y posts often do well, so the Buzzfeed suggestions are really useful. And to edit ruthlessly!

  • Miranda (Myrabev)

    Sounds like it was an awesome event to attend, shame about digging on the men. I love attending blogging events but these days I do not have the time, hopefully 2016 will be different.

  • Jolene monaghan

    sounds like a fantastic event… i went to the Irish equivalent on Sunday.. and learned loads

  • Mudpie Fridays

    Sounds like a brilliant conference, I really wanted to go but we had already a date booked with Father Christmas! Thanks for all the notes X

  • Ana De- Jesus

    Blogfest sounds like an exciting and informative event and I particularly found the tips about content helpful. We should always tailor the content to what readers want.

  • Mini Travellers

    Buzz feed summary is really useful! Think bombs were hilarious just loved Baddiel. Always tricky to decide what to go to!

  • Becky, Cuddle Fairy

    Wow, there’s always so much to be learned at these blogger conferences! Thank you for sharing all of these fab tips. I keep reading about finding your niche or your why – and having your “voice.” It’s hard to come up with that though. I had to stop thinking about it & just write as me, about my life & hope that’s good enough. x

  • Min

    I was there too. It was a fab day and thank you for summarising. I didn’t take any notes so I’m glad someone did! I have to say I really enjoyed the first session though!

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