Monday, 25 June 2012
Five hundred bloggers, star-studded speakers, babies in arms and a glamorous venue in the heart of the City. BritMums Live promised all that, and delivered all that. Where else could you have your nails painted, learn the ins and outs of Google+, pick up some great tips on blogging and hear a speech by the hilarious Ruby Wax – all within the space of a few hours?
The two-day event kicked off at The Brewery, a five-minute walk from Moorgate tube station, on Friday with an introduction by founders Jennifer Howse and Susanna Scott. Susanna gave a sense of the power of BritMums when she told us that it boasts 4,000 members, 7,000 blogs and a staggering 20 million page views a month.
Then it was on with the first speaker – the incomparable Ruby Wax, author, comedian and founder of Black Dog Tribe, her website for people affected by mental illness. “I have become the poster girl for mental illness,” she declared, before launching into a brave, funny and very honest session entitled Prevailing Through Adversity – How I Beat the Tsunami of All Depressions. One blogger spoke for the whole audience when she stood up and said: “I applaud you for speaking out. It’s a big help to everyone.” Quick as a flash, the spiky Ruby shot back: “I had to. They outed me. Depression loves everyone.”
A panel of five high-flying journalists and bloggers then led a session entitled British Blogging Now. With Carla Buzasi, editor-in-chief of Huffington Post UK and 2012 online editor of the year, chairing the 50-minute debate, the stand-out discussion for me covered what the panel look for in a blog.
Steve Keenan, co-founder of Travel Perspective and an expert in travel social media, told us: “My current passion is video. It’s become more mainstream for bloggers – if you have video on your site, people stay on the page for much longer.”
Jeanne Horak-Druiff of Cook Sister said she wanted to see “good writing,” while Dan Elton of political blog Left Foot Forward said he looked for blogs that grabbed his attention. When a member of the audience suggested that younger people don’t see the point of blogs and asked if “blogging is a bit 2009,” Sarah Ebner, who writes The Times's School Gate blog, gave a spirited defence. She also mentioned the 100 Word Challenge, a brilliant idea where children write a creative piece of exactly 100 words and then post it to their school blog.
The day ended with bloggers gathering for the Brilliance in Blogging party, where we were treated to a glass or two of prosecco, some chic-looking canapés and a toast to blogging. I’m still mulling over the question of whether blogging is “a bit 2009” though. Is blogging really over? Is Twitter the new blogosphere? I’d love to hear what you think…