12 Lessons from BritMums Live! 2012

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend BritMums Live! 2012 - a 2 day conference specifically for parent bloggers run by BritMums. It was an incredible weekend of making new friends and listening to some great speakers including Sarah Brown, Ruby Wax and Cherry Healey.

I also learned a great deal about blogging and about life which I have summarised here as my 12 Lessons from BritMums Live! 2012. Some of it is stuff I already knew, but it's just reminded me of the importance of it. I hope this inspires you as much as it has inspired me. Please excuse the photos which were taken on my phone.

1. Build your own brand

Several of the speakers highlighted the importance of 'Building your own Brand', which means deciding who you are, what your blog is about, and sticking to it. In other words, find yourself, and be yourself. For example, Gourmet Mum is a blog about easy, tasty, quick and healthy family meals on a budget. If I start posting complicated recipes for foie gras, please give me a slap.

2. Using the bad for good

Sarah Brown and Ruby Wax have both been through very tough times (if you google them you will see) yet incredibly, they are now using those tough times to bless other. Sarah Brown founded Piggy Bank Kids, a charity to help vulnerable babies and children, and Ruby Wax set up Black Dog Tribe, a website offering support to those with mental illness. So inspiring.

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Ruby Wax speaks on her battle with depression

3. Develop an attitude of gratitude

I was privileged to meet the lovely Michelle from Mummy from the Heart who started something called Reasons to be Cheerful (also known as #R2BC). She encourages other bloggers to write three reasons they can be cheerful at that point in time. Michelle says "The best medicine for a negative day is to remind yourself of what you are grateful for" and she is right. It's amazing how your perspective changes when you choose to count your blessings. Thank you Michelle!

4. Don't knock 'till you've tried

I tried some frozen yoghurt containing cabbage, carrot and courgette at the Vitamix stand (are they not the coolest blenders in the world?) and it was completely delicious. It's OK to dislike food, but make sure you have tasted it before you make your decision. Same goes for lots of things in life including jumpsuits (I will try one on at some point). Don't judge a book by it's cover!

5. Ask and you will receive

Cherry Healey said "be bold, be brave, be cheeky" in approaching those who can help you. Whether it's asking a famous person for a re-tweet, or approaching a big brand, just go for it as the worst they can do is say no. You will never know if a door is locked unless you try the handle. 

6. Don't be defined by criticism

Sarah Brown said 'However the world treats you, don't let it affect the way you treat the world'. People will always criticise you, so don't let those harsh words define you or change how you want to treat others. Choose to believe the true and positive words from those who know you and love you.

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Sarah Brown speaking on 'Finding your voice, making a difference'

7. Be generous

I heard this quote years ago: "Great men make other men feel small. Really great men make other men feel great" I was reminded of it when I listened to the Crossing the Chasm talk on Friday. The speakers encouraged you to be generous with your blog by mentioning other bloggers, helping to build up newer bloggers and building a community. They also said, if you want people to comment on your posts, comment on others posts (see point 9). And my favourite quote from the talk, you are a superior blogger if you help another blogger.

8. It's good to have some fun

I met Lara Crisp from Little Magic Bean on Friday and we explored some of the stands together. We stopped at the Piggy Bank Kids stand (see point 2) to paint and decorate a piggy bank. It was just so much fun, and for a good cause as well. The company was fabulous too and we shared some chuckles. I painted a bacon buttie on the side of my pig - not very PC but food related. Lara's pig was so cute, with little wings stuck on she named him 'Pigs can Fly'. 

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Lara and I with our painted pigs. I love bacon butties, hence I'm eating mine.

9. When you have a need, sow a seed

I didn't know anyone going to BritMums Live! (only those I know on twitter) but I was hoping to make some friends. Inside I was quite nervous but I was really brave, stepped out, and said 'hello' to new faces. I left on Saturday with pockets stuffed with cards and lots of new buddies. I was blessed to have met everyone I did.

10. Make the most of every opportunity

There was so many opportunities to make the most of at BritMums Live! Informative talks (some which made my brain hurt), brands to investigate and new friends to make (see point 9). On Saturday I saw an opportunity I could not miss and bravely stood up to ask Cherry Healey a question (see point 5) at the end of her talk. I just thought, I may never get this opportunity again, I must grab it.

11. What makes a good food blog

What makes a good food blog was my favourite talk of the conference. Katie from Feeding Boys and a Firefighter, Sarah from Maison Cupcake and Kerstin from The English Can Cook shared their valuable experience and advice. A couple of highlights from the talk for me were, not to sell yourself short, to take good photos and stick to your vision (see point 1).

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Kerstin, Katie and Sarah speaking at the 'What Makes a Good Food Blog' session

12. The importance of being excellent

The importance of being excellent came across in many of the talks - whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability. This means taking care over spelling and grammar (eeek!) taking time to write good content, and taking good quality photos. In this day and age where everything is 'instant' and people want things 'now' it can be tempting to compromise and cut corners. However, if you do that, you're simply selling yourself short as people will judge you by your blog. Hmmm. This has been a challenging but valuable lesson for me, and the reason why it has taken me a week to write this post, because I wanted it to be excellent. I think being excellent can also mean investing money in good equipment, making the best of yourself in  terms of your appearance and behaviour, and getting your priorities right so you don't spread yourself too thinly. Do you agree? Leave a comment and let me know.

Thanks for reading!

Love, Filipa x

P.S. Your first visit to Gourmet Mum? Check out some of my Easy Budget Recipes