The Good and the Not So Good About BML 17

Another BritMums Live has been and gone. This was my second rodeo…was BML 17 better or  worse than my experience last year?

 

Well I attended a blogger conference that (for me) wasn’t worth its ticket value, attended an awards ‘party’ (I didn’t win by the way) that consisted of us riding down the Thames on a boat which was basically a revolting pub that took me right back to the parties of uni days – EXCEPT the music was not the 80’s tunes of that era but the worst elevator music that made me think I’d somehow fast forwarded to living in a nursing home. And then…THEN lost my fave shoes in All Bar One. On the PLUS side, I got to spend time with some of the loveliest friends a girl could have, thanks to my Absolutely Prabulous world. ❤️ [thank you to @justsayingmum for taking the pic] – – – – #bloglife #bloggingconference #saturdaynightinthecity #saturdaynightinlondon #mumsout #ukbloggers #maltabloggers #stylishmama #instamums #bloggingmum #dressedtothenines #mumstyle #blogawards #backtoblighty #workitgirl

A post shared by Absolutely Prabulous (@absolutelyprabulous) on

Although mainly a humorous synopsis (written by a Prabs who was concerned with the shoes she left in All Bar One more than anything else!), this IG post I guess nevertheless pointed out a couple of serious truths about the BML 17 event (as I saw them).

 

So I thought I’d write up an actual post that highlights what for me was the good and the not so good about BML17.

This is MY perception/experience/analysis of BML 17. Whilst I know these opinions weren’t unique to me, after chatting to other attendees, I nevertheless can’t speak on behalf of others and I’m sure there are plenty of other BML summaries around.

FYI BritMums have sent out an event survey welcoming attendees’ feedback so that is a good thing.

Also, one of the things you can’t put a price on is the opportunity to meet up with one’s blogging friends and meet new people, which simply would not happen if it weren’t for events like the annual BML ones. It was a real shame that many of the bloggers I saw last year didn’t make it this year such as Muma on the Edge, Island Living 365Pink Pear Bear and Maflingo to name a few.

group shot of absolutely prabulous, motherhood the real deal and others for BML 17

[Image courtesy of Motherhood the Real Deal]

Agenda

Before I go into this bit, I just want to emphasise I KNOW event management ain’t easy! Anyone who’s worked in this arena will tell you it’s challenging and exhausting.

I know this first hand as I used to be a conference producer, researching my assigned subject, devising the structure and content, recruiting speakers, managing those relationships  and all on-the-day logistics.

I knew the stress of finalising a brilliant programme only to have last minute speaker cancellations leaving me scrambling round trying to replace them or having to restructure the agenda so it still fitted with the other sessions and didn’t let down the registered attendees. I can still remember breaking into a nervous sweat due to the embarrassment of a speaker not actually delivering the fantastic information-packed session in the dynamic manner they had promised or the venue messing up lunches etc!

The Good

    • For me and where I am with my blogging, from looking at the BML 17 event agenda beforehand, I thought the planned sessions this year were much better as their topics seemed more specific with more tangible/applicable themes.  Then on the actual day, the delivered content felt more substantial (for the most part)* than last year’s.  The ones I attended were: YouTube Deep Dive, How to be a Great Influencer, Who’s Making Money Now, The Not So Secret Life of YouTube Mums and Pinterest: Creative Content That Drives Traffic.
    • I personally probably got the most out of the YouTube and Pinterest sessions as I’m rubbish in those arenas and felt there was a fair bit of meaty content I could get my teeth into and apply. I won’t go into the actual content in this post as it will get too long so I may do a round up of my notes in a separate post.

The Not So Good

As I said, I know from experience how hard it is to write conference programmes. I also think that:

Depending on how long you’ve been blogging and what your objectives are, the fact is sessions are going to be too advanced, not advanced enough or just right!

BUT

    • an agenda with a one size fits all approach, that assumes each session can meet the needs of every blogger in the room, just doesn’t work.  I think BML – and its attendees! – could probably benefit from the effective multi stream approach with individual streams for beginner, intermediate and advanced bloggers. We were in fact asked about our stage of blogging in the email bumpf sent shortly before the event. Maybe the organisers just needed this info for admin reasons but perhaps this it could be constructively used to steer bloggers towards certain sessions in the future.
    • A BIG issue for myself and several others was missing out – it would seem unnecessarily – on sessions we wanted to attend. I desperately wanted to attend the Facebook for Bloggers: Business Savvy Strategies for Visibility & Making Money and amazeballs Harriet’s Instagram and IG Stories: How to Maximise, What to Avoid & Top-Notch Storytelling talks but had to miss them to attend other sessions.The frustrating thing is that there was no need  because there was a whopping hour and fifty minutes to spare between the end of lunch and the start of the afternoon sessions! The morning’s Facebook and IG sessions were a total of 80 minutes; even leaving a ten minute buffer, this means there was ample time to place these sessions one after the other after lunch meaning  nobody had to miss them. Instead, there were presentations by brands none of whom were relevant to my blog and an unusually long coffee break barely an hour after lunch had finished, leaving many of us waiting around waiting for the next session.

       At over £100 a ticket, not to mention the cost of travel to get there, nobody should have to be missing sessions.

Logistics

The Good

    • The location of the venue felt more accessible this year as it was near Waterloo. Moreover, with it being right next to the river with an amazing view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and just a stone’s throw from the London Eye, it was a far nicer place to be than the business like financial district where the previous venue Brewery, lovely as it is, was located.
    • Lunch (yes I have to mention the food!) was significantly better this year. The ‘take away’ card boxes last year were cute but left many of us hungry not to mention struggling to eat out of them. The buffet food (dished out by servers) this year was in my opinion much tastier and the bento/tali trays easier to eat out of for those unable to find seating. The County Hall suites tea and coffee was also more upscale (very important!).
    • Badges that went around the neck were a better touch this year as you didn’t have to stick a pin your nice clothing and more importantly, one didn’t have to stare at someone’s boobs to read their blog name. (I’m so short people were instead staring at a different body part on me given where the badge was level with but hey ho.)

The Not so Good

    • The actual entrance to the venue was not exactly obvious and the wait for the lifts at the bottom rather long, long enough that this was a problem for those of us arriving later than desired. Once up at the top, there was a fair walk from the cloakroom to the actual location of the day’s events (unlike the Brewery where access to the event is quicker and easier to figure out). I don’t know whether it was my past life as an events manager that made me so aware of ithis or my tight fitting boots!
    • BML 17 could have done with some helpful signage. Perhaps signs were not allowed at the entrance to the building by the site’s management but had it not been for some other bloggers arriving at the same time, I’d never have known if I was at the right place. Even my blog wife Motherhood the Real Deal spent ages wandering around the block trying to get in. The only sign indicating the event (as far as I could tell) was actually once you got out of the lifts at the top, walked away from the cloakroom all the way down the corridor and turned left and were by this stage, just metres away from the event’s location.
    • Although attendees were given a lovely map showing the location of the rooms, it actually wasn’t the most user-friendly system. Standard individual metal stands with the name of the room are more obvious and avoid the issue of people wandering around trying to find the room they are meant to be in, poking their heads into rooms only to find they are in the wrong one etc.
    • The brand experiences were not my cup of tea at all as none of them lit my fire but I’m sure there are many bloggers who were happy with them so again, this is subjective.

 

Sadly there was one aspect about BML 17 that I felt was just bad

I feel the need to mention this as several people were as taken aback by this as I was. At the end of the day, a handful of bloggers read out their post that won the keynote vote. This year these were (in order) a comedy post from Life, Love and Dirty Dishes about DIY, deeply emotional ones from Mummy Tries on autism and Little Ladies Big World on Baby Loss, rounding off with hilarious posts by Rhyming With Wine about pregnancy and Man vs Baby about  baby’s first holiday

All were brilliant examples of good writing that grab the audience’s attention from the start. However I’ve been trying to understand how the running order of the posts was decided. Maybe the idea was to start and end with comedy and put sad emotional ones in the middle?  Unfortunately the end result lacked thought and empathy for the speakers (and in fact the audience). Featuring Laura’s utterly devastating account of baby loss directly before Dawn’s hilarious post about pregnancy was insensitive and as hard on the audience – who were in absolute bits wiping away tears of sympathy and sadness one minute before being expected to laugh out loud the next  – as it was on the writers of those incredible posts who were placed in this really difficult position.

I’ll be honest, this will stay with me for a while.

All in all, just through the fact of attending sessions, talking to other bloggers and being immersed in that environment…

I came away from BML 17 feeling a bit more energised about blogging (after the lost mojo following the long Summer break).

Coupled with my ‘free mini masterclass’ over brunch the following day with my blog wife Talya, it wasn’t a bad way to spend the weekend.

And I got my shoes back!

 


That’s alright then!

DID YOU ATTEND BML 17? WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE?

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Thanks Muchly!

Comments

Comments

30 Comments on The Good and the Not So Good About BML 17

  1. Pen
    October 5, 2017 at 10:25 pm (2 weeks ago)

    Prabs, please write a blog post about what happened to your shoes. How on earth did you manage to leave them in All Bar One? Pen x #coolmumclub

    Reply
    • prabs
      October 6, 2017 at 6:57 pm (2 weeks ago)

      That totally cracked me up!! It sounds scandalous doesn’t it?

      Reply
    • prabs
      October 6, 2017 at 6:57 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Welcome! Thanks for reading.

      Reply
  2. Kirsty
    October 6, 2017 at 9:42 am (2 weeks ago)

    I was hoping you would write a post about this and it doesn’t disappoint. I agree with you about all of it. The sessions clashing was such a shame. I too found youtube and Pinterest to be the best ones but would have loved to go to facebook too. I think there is much more they could have done. However, meeting everyone (you included) was priceless. I had the best day with people I enjoy interacting with online and love even more in real life. Having spoken to you I know how many bleeps you have had to remove from this post and I love it! I will go back next year. By the sounds of it each year Britmums are learning from the last and that is positive in itself.
    #coolmumclub

    Reply
    • prabs
      October 6, 2017 at 6:56 pm (2 weeks ago)

      awwww what a gorgeous comment from a gorgeous blogger! Thanks so much. Yes to give credit I do think they are learning in some ways. Lol to the bleeps!

      Reply
  3. Becky, Cuddle Fairy
    October 7, 2017 at 12:17 pm (2 weeks ago)

    Great synopsis Prabs. Those two sessions you missed sound amazing. What a shame. It’s great they are taking feedback, hopefully the issues you point out will be remedied for next years evebt. I missed being there with you & the girls this year xx

    Reply
    • prabs
      October 8, 2017 at 8:54 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Would have been so nice to see you again. Thanks for reading lovely.

      Reply
  4. Jane taylor
    October 7, 2017 at 5:09 pm (2 weeks ago)

    You know, I just couldn’t justify the cost this year but I felt torn because I was desperate to see all my blogging mates again. That’s what I loved about BML16…finally meeting loads of folks like you, Just saying mum, Bridie, Island Living Emma, etc. So I’be got a plan…Maflingo17…bloggers meet at my house, free tickets, real coffee, cake, a good natter, wine in the evening, a shoe locker…Jobs a good ‘un! 😉

    Reply
    • prabs
      October 8, 2017 at 8:53 pm (2 weeks ago)

      I’m there! Ha ha. Thanks for reading xx

      Reply
  5. Rhyming with Wine
    October 8, 2017 at 4:15 pm (2 weeks ago)

    This post made me ache to read as I loved the event as a whole, but have to agree with you on many of your points.

    I got a bit of a sick feeling reading your thoughts around the keynote as I think you’ve just said what I’m sensing a lot of people were feeling. It was an absolute privilege to read my post alongside such incredible writers, but as soon as I saw the agenda I was concerned that I would come across as insensitive and disrespectful. Following Laura’s heartbreaking and deeply personal post, which she delivered with such strength, didn’t feel appropriate. With hindsight I wish I’d approached it differently or said something to acknowledge the fact. In truth I was shaking with nerves and trying not to cry myself. Reading this in print hits home all the more and I truly hope that I didn’t cause offence or any more hurt for Laura or Renee in reading my post following both of their profound and highly emotive pieces.

    It’s actually been quite cathartic typing that “out loud” as it’s been churning around in my thoughts all week. I haven’t posted or promoted anything following my speech as it hasn’t felt comfortable for this very reason.

    That being said… one of the very best highlights of the day for me was meeting you at long last Prabs – and you were every bit as gorgeous as I knew you’d be.

    Virtual hugs. Dx

    Reply
    • prabs
      October 8, 2017 at 8:52 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Oh Dawn there is no way you would/could have caused offence. You didn’t write the programme and decide the running order. Hopefully reading this post helped with that catharsis. And thanks lovely..the feeling re meeting. Wish we could have chatted more. xx

      Reply
    • Claire - Life, Love and Dirty Dishes
      October 8, 2017 at 9:55 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Aww Dawn. You were not insensitive at all. To give it a positive spin I think something light was needed to lift the mood after Laura’s deeply moving story. That said it was an incredibly tough post to follow but I think you did it brilliantly and I loved hearing you read it.
      Sorry for hijacking Prabs!

      Reply
      • prabs
        October 8, 2017 at 11:00 pm (2 weeks ago)

        Not hijacking at all! Comments always welcome and your positive spin is a good way to look at it.

        Reply
      • Rhyming with Wine
        October 9, 2017 at 2:13 pm (2 weeks ago)

        Thank you Claire. That’s really kind of you to say! You know I loved your piece too and I just wish I could have recorded it for you as you did for me! Thanks again both of you xx

        Reply
  6. Tim
    October 8, 2017 at 10:11 pm (2 weeks ago)

    A fair and honest appraisal. While there were good parts to the day, there weren’t enough to justify the high ticket price (plus, London, y’know, not exactly cheap for hotels when you’re faced with an early start and a late finish). I found myself with nothing to do for most of the afternoon. I had lunch, decided I would skip the brand sessions (not relevant for me) and then we had the coffee break. With hardly anyone around to talk to during the brand sessions, I ended up writing a blog post in a quiet corner – not really what you want to be doing in the middle of a conference! I also thought the boat was ill-conceived. Lots of people went home, those of us who stayed waited for ages and the whole thing felt rushed – by the time things started going, we were turfed off the boat.

    And after all that, I barely spoke to you all day!

    I also agree with you about the keynotes. Dawn was put in a difficult position after Laura’s reading and it was tough on all concerned.

    I can see why people opted not to come to BML this year, especially as it had inserted itself into a narrow gap between BlogOn and BlogCamp. I still enjoyed my day because it’s the people who make the event for me, but the conference part of the day didn’t work for me.

    Reply
    • prabs
      October 8, 2017 at 11:03 pm (2 weeks ago)

      I stayed away from talking about the awards as I knew I’d let rip!! But thanks for saying it for me more diplomatically. I think they’ll need to rework things again next year for me to go. We’ll see!

      Reply
  7. Talya
    October 9, 2017 at 10:45 am (2 weeks ago)

    Fab recap darling and thanks for the mention wifey xxx

    Reply
  8. Natalie
    October 9, 2017 at 7:31 pm (2 weeks ago)

    Great post, I’ve heard so many mixed reviews about this event. I’ve yet to attend am event, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be this one! #coolmumclub

    Reply
    • prabs
      October 9, 2017 at 7:50 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Oh nooo I tried to mix the positive and the negative so I hope I’ve not steered you in that direction. But yes I hear there’s been some feedback.

      Reply
  9. MMT
    October 9, 2017 at 8:25 pm (2 weeks ago)

    So much on point observations so honestly put Prabs. I totally agree with all of your points and that massive gap in the middle killed the day for me to be honest. Plus however in awe of the speakers and their words I was, the keynote speeches were an emotional rollercoaster as was the rest of the evening for me as a result.
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub

    Reply
    • prabs
      October 9, 2017 at 8:58 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Ah Sarah I know it was very hard on you and I found that upsetting too, sitting right next to you knowing the post was probably bringing up old pain for you. xx

      Reply
      • MMT
        October 9, 2017 at 9:15 pm (2 weeks ago)

        It’s hard to really explain because I don’t want to make Laura or anyone ever feel bad about something so hard – and yet I guess I just wasn’t expecting that in that room at that time, so it kind of knocked the wind out of me. As I said, utmost respect to all the speakers, incredibly moving and powerful stuff. Thanks for the support lovely xx

        Reply
        • prabs
          October 9, 2017 at 11:36 pm (2 weeks ago)

          xxx

          Reply
  10. Turning Up In Devon
    October 10, 2017 at 12:35 pm (1 week ago)

    Thanks for sharing such an honest post about BML17, you’ve given some really constructive feedback too. I didn’t go this year so it’s really good to read different posts about the event. #dreamteam

    Reply
    • prabs
      October 10, 2017 at 1:07 pm (1 week ago)

      Ah did you go last year? Thanks for reading and for the comment

      Reply
  11. Random Musings
    October 13, 2017 at 3:16 pm (7 days ago)

    Really good to read an impartial post about this. I went to my first conference this year (BlogOn). I was totally put off going to Brit Mums because of all the negative posts I read about it last year and judging by this, I made the right choice going to BlogOn instead (and it’s only half of the price)
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK 🙂
    Debbie

    Reply
  12. Rhyming with Wine
    October 13, 2017 at 6:04 pm (7 days ago)

    Just popping by again through #DreamTeam Prabs. Such a well written reflection on the day. Thank you for linking up with us lovely x #DreamTeam

    Reply
    • prabs
      October 13, 2017 at 11:04 pm (7 days ago)

      Aww thanks Dawnie

      Reply

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