Extraordinary Women Fest
Blogfest 2016 was an amazing celebration and coming together of the UK’s sharpest and most dynamic women bloggers, vloggers, podcasters and digital thought leaders. There was something exceptionally nourishing about being in the midst of so many extraordinary switched on and inspiring female minds, but it felt strangely normal too.
Miranda Sawyer, Liv Little & Cash Carraway Sorting Out The World
Being in the very front row of the hall certainly engendered a sense of intimacy, as did the willingness of the speakers to be totally real, but the depth of the cut-through-the-crap questions from the audience just seemed to bond us as a group too.
So, it’s the next day and I’m still basking in the warm glow of the sisterhood and solidarity and I’m wide awake contemplating this new paradigm and unpacking it all in my head. I think that the overarching feeling that I have been left with is HOPE, and it’s a wonderful and unexpected feeling after recent political events.
Got Your Back, Sister
One of the themes to emerge from the event was the need for us to really get behind each other and support each other’s efforts. The message was loud and clear, that as we figure out how to turn our blogs into ways of making an income, and not just vanity projects, we need to collaborate with each other instead of competing. This is all brand new territory and we are all blazing trails here. It brought a sense of hope that perhaps collectively, women’s voices can make a difference if we choose to work together.
Finding Your Voice, Freeing Your Feet
One of the first things that I noticed about the event was that the vast majority of the women speakers and attendees at Blogfest16 had comfortable shoes on their feet. Now, I’m no fashionista and I’m also from the north of the country, so I’m certainly not up on the latest London styles. But uncomfortable footwear as a thing has always been something of an enigma to me, I’ve never really understood why we do it to ourselves. So I was very pleasantly surprised to see that nearly everyone was in trainers or flat boots, but I was left wondering if there was any connection between women kicking off (high heels), freeing our feet and liberating our voices. Oh Yeah!
Courage To Be Real & Really Evolving
Eloquent And Highly Sophisticated Change Agents Paris Lees & Ruth Hunt
I think that this theme was central to what made #BlogFest16 such a moving and incredible day for me. I was deeply touched by the integrity of women who are finding the courage to talk openly about raw issues such as rape, sexual identity and orientation, mastectomy, addiction, misogyny, mental health, assertiveness, and disenfranchisement.
Davina Spoke Candidly About Keeping It Real And Her Own Journey To Do So
I was introduced to the refreshing term ‘honest mummy bloggers’ which I’d never heard before. I guess that this term can be applied to any aspect of our lives that we are talking about, not just parenthood.
Just as women are abandoning their high heels in favour of flatties, we also want to consume honest, real and authentic stories, not the airbrushed and photo-shopped version of people’s lives. I loved meeting The Vegan Family, for this reason, it was great to chat with them about how staying true to your values and being clear about who you are and what you stand for helps to grow your brand and business quickly.
Prostitution & Brand Development
Brand prostitution is one of the issues that arose in many of the sessions. It’s a challenge to work out how to make money from a blog, and there is no one size fits all. Brands are keen to hook up with bloggers now and want to work with us in exchange for products and sometimes money. But if those brands are not a good fit or worse, not in line with our values it can water down and weaken your blog’s brand, making it less attractive. I think that the women who have grown their brands without much capital are the ones who have used courage and authenticity as the currency to back them up.
However, staying true to yourself is not the easy road. It may mean turning down financial gain, but it also involves sticking your head above the parapet.
The subject of protecting ourselves from criticism came up quite a bit too. There was some excellent advice about just stepping away from the screen, developing a thicker skin and even getting someone else to filter through the tweets and comments. It was a fascinating subject and one that is worthy of a whole blog post.
It wasn’t all serious, though, there was a LOT of laughter, and the Scummy Mummies were totally epic at reminding us not to take ourselves to seriously. They were hilarious!
Evolution-Moving Mummy Blogging Forward and ‘Parenting The Shit Out Of The Internet.’
Anna Whitehouse, AKA Mother Pukka also entertained us with talks about parenting the shit out of life. It dawned on me that although Mumsnet started out with blogs about parenting babies and children, that those little people grow up. Mumsnet has grown up. We, the women bloggers have grown too. We are always evolving, and we’re learning how to parent bigger people, and maybe, just maybe we’re learning how to parent the shit out of people in general. Maybe the world… it wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
Thanks, Mumsnet, what a amazing movement you are.
Oh, and I was able to get a #vegan meal!