I think I must be living in a parallel universe!

I attended Cybermummy (a mummy blogging conference) this weekend, which was billed as The UK’s premier Blogging Conference and I have to say that I really did wonder if I had taken a wrong turn and turned up somewhere else!

I have put off writing this post for a few days to see if my opinions changed after some time to assess and disseminate the things that had been going through my mind, but they haven’t and I have to say I was really underwhelmed with the event.

  • I thought the venue was not particularly suited, one session room was inaccessible if you had a buggy and yes this is marketed as an event for mummy bloggers. Some poor soul got locked in the loo and it would have been nice to have a map and maybe even agenda’s on the wall somewhere.
  • Don’t get me started on the fact that it is all about the mummy!
  • There weren’t enough places to sit and eat, plus the portion sizes of the food left something to be desired.
  • You were only allowed tea and coffee during official break times and one fellow blogger asked for some juice only to be told to drink either the free wine (from the wine tasting table) or drink water as it was better for her.
  • I found it particularly condescending that you had to prove that you had spoken to all the sponsors and get them to sign your passport to be entered in to the prize draw.  This was even more annoying when many of them had no particular interest to me or were not even relevant.  I fear that we are all silver haired mums with new borns or very young children!
  • There were technical issues, plus the main room was quite large and I was at the rear and it was very hard to see the person speaking, perhaps a large screen would have helped and also it would have been great for the bloggers asking the questions to have been encouraged to introduce themselves.
  • It was really hard to see the name badges if people were wearing them, not everyone had one, some were hand written, some had twitter id’s on some just blog names.
  • I am also not a fan of lanyards as it meant that you were looking at peoples chests and tummy’s, perhaps pin on badges would have made life easier.
  • The most disappointing aspect for me was the content or that should be lack of it.  I think that it was very light and focussed on the inexperienced blogger, which is such a shame, as I invested my time and someone else’s money in attending.  I also have to say that I really find it offending to be labelled as part of the masses which seems to be the term used for attendees a lot of the time.
  • I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people there.
  • Goodie bags.  Again this seemed particularly targeted to people with younger children.  Mine had three packs of baby wipes in, no wonder it was so heavy.  it also had in it two packs of pasta (which is remarkably heavy)!  I am glad that I didn’t have to lug it back home via the train.
  • It was a conference for bloggers, many of whom had travelled to attend and there was nowhere to recharge your devises, although the free wifi was great.

The one thing that redeemed it for me was the people.  There is something amazing about the diversity and sheer bloody wonderfulness of a lot bloggers.  Many of whom I am proud and delighted to be able to call my friends.  It was great to be able to meet some women that I really admire and I may have even shed the odd tear.

I also loved the fact that I could play match maker to some of the bloggers that I know would just get on so well with others and to finally get to meet with some people I have tweeted with forever!

Another positive for me was meeting with my wonderful sponsor Lego Duplo and I had a great chat with Kerry from Digital Outlook and Not Supermum and also educated a fellow blogger that Duplo and Lego are compatible and you can use them together (yes they actually connect), which makes Lego Duplo a fab brand to be sponsored by.

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41 Responses

I did not know that Lego and Duplo were compatible! Off to try that now. I am sorry you were disappointed, for me as a new blogger with very young children it was mostly a great experience.

I hope you had a great time in Legoland with Mini though. xx

Julie | 06.28.11

I tend to agree with most of your comments (especially the criticism of food!), and I decided pretty early on (with a heavy heart, it has to be said) that I won’t be attending next year, despite the fact that overall I enjoyed the experience.

Having been last year, when I was relatively new to blogging, I got quite a lot out of the sessions, and I probably wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to someone who was just starting out. A year on, however, I did feel that some of the content of the sessions was similar to that last year and it did not tell me anything new.

Having said this, for me this year was always more about catching up with some fellow bloggers. At the end of the day though, £100 is a lot of money, and I’d probably rather spend that money on arranging a tweet-up with a smaller group!

Ellen Arnison | 06.28.11

Interesting post. I think many of your comments are fair – especially about needing somewhere to recharge things!

I’d also agree that the passport scheme was a bit unweildy – although I can see why it was done.

That said, my Cybermummy experience was very postitive and it was fantastic to meet so many people.

I’m with you all the way on the goody bags. I DID carry them to the train, and they nearly killed me – to find them full of baby wipes (I never bought baby wipes when my children were in nappies!) was frustrating to say the least.

(Let’s not start me off ranting about the ‘Stop Waste by recycling your empty packets’ baby wipes thing again. I cannot believe that there wasn’t a group of women standing round the stall howling with derision.)

I do agree that it was all about the ‘mummy’, and not the ‘mum’ – there was very little there for my children, especially the 10 year old.

Digital Outlook made the day for me, most certainly. The other information I could have got from asking friends. I loved talking to people, but – this is going to make me sound old now – I wished I could have had somewhere to go and sit down.

And, yes, the passport thing was annoying. I’m sure there were people there who doggedly wandered around all the stalls. I would have felt I was wasting half the people’s time, not to mention mine, pretending to be interested in dummies and innoculations.

Emma | 06.28.11

I agree with a lot of your comments Jen. The refreshments certainly left a lot to be desired and having nowhere to sit was literally a pain in the ass. Apart from Jay’s photography session, the content was aimed, I felt, at newer bloggers and not those of us who have been around for a while. It will be interesting to speak to my sponsor and see how the day went from their point of view. I will think long and hard about whether or not to go again next year but I certainly wouldn’t pay out from my own pocket!!!!!

Etali | 06.28.11

I’m not a mummy blogger, and I didn’t attend Cyber Mummy, but it’s interesting to read your comments. Aside from the bit about goodie bags with baby wipes, they mirror a lot of what’s coming out of the tech blogger conferences these days (poorly organized, content almost exclusively aimed at newbies…).

I suspect that now that anyone can throw up a blog with no technical skill required, and now that it’s so easy to network because Twitter / Facebook are mainstream, conference organizers are trying to cater to far too broad an audience – which means that the more experienced / professionally focused bloggers feel like the conferences are a waste of time, and the sponsors are probably getting less return than they should on the events because they’re scatter-spraying a huge audience of people when only a small percentage of them are remotely right for them.

Luschka | 06.28.11

Very interesting comments Jen. I must admit, we felt that there should be beginner and intermediate and advanced sessions. I actually attended the first two, then skipped the next few and only went to the last one again – i just felt it was a bit of a waste and I’d rather be chatting to the sponsors. Which I ended up not really doing anyway, because I felt most of the stalls to not really appeal. It felt a lot more corporate and medical this time round – Calpol. Detol. Savlon. A hospital. Immunisations. I wasn’t really impressed with all that.

The food – I had two boxes, so thought it was okay, and I just plugged my charger into one of the floor charger things in the recharge room so I didn’t have problems there. In fact, there were plenty plug points all over the recharge room, but perhaps people who weren’t used to an office environment might not have been aware of that?

I would go again, next year, because I loved meeting up with bloggers and getting to know people in person, but same as this year, I didn’t go for the education of it.

Mel Moody | 06.28.11

Mmmm. Interesting. I didn’t attend, but I was considering going next year. Thanks for sharing your honest review.

I am thrilled to know that Duplo and Lego can combine – I was resisting large amounts of Duplo as I htought they would become obsolete when we progressed to Lego.
Sorry I can’t comment on Cybermummy as I wasn’t there but I sympathise with your frustration. Good comment from Etali – I expect a whole new approach will have to figured out as people become more tech savvy (or the need to be so diminishes).

Crikey, I’m really glad that I didn’t go now! I’m not a parenting blogger (I’m a parent who blogs about other stuff) and although people kept telling me that ‘Oh no, ignore the name, it’s not just for mummy bloggers!’ I had my doubts and decided not to attend.

Sounds like I did the right thing! I’m still speechless at the reports I’ve read about the talk given by a certain chick lit writer – there’s no way I could have stood for such condescending nonsense. Also as a caffeine intolerant non drinker, I wouldn’t be very thrilled by the prospect of a day of nothing but water to drink – especially if I’d paid for the privilege!

I wasn’ t there but I was thinking that maybe next year. However, the week before i was watching #blogcamp on twitter (somewhere in manchester) i think and was struck by how a smaller more local gathering would be of more benefit. So any bloggers within an hour of Peterborough/Stamford want to get together. Let me know!

At least you had Glee to look forward to on the night ;-D

I’m quite surprised that a lot of comments and posts that I’ve read mirror your thoughts on the day. After all, £100 is a lot for people to pay out for one day (I know a lot of people were sponsored), especially when you take into account travel expenses, food and drink and overnight stays. I’d be gutted if I’d spent that much money on an event and come away feeling as you (and others) do.

I decided against going because I’m quite shy in groups of people I don’t know and a room full of 400 women didn’t sound very appealing to me. We had a lovely family weekend in London instead and I met up with some of my favourite bloggy friends and had a fantastic night at Glee.

Alice | 06.28.11

I also agree with many of your points. A lot of it was very basic, and in some cases I felt the ‘expert’ sessions weren’t ran by ‘experts’ at all! I did however really enjoy the smaller blogger inspiration session and meeting such a wonderful bunch of women was fantastic.

I would go again, perhaps with slightly different expectations.

notSupermum | 06.28.11

It’s always lovely to see you Jen, and we did have an amusing – and strange – conversation with Kerry!

I agree with some of your points about Cybermummy, particularly the tiny food portions for lunch and no soft drinks. Also somewhere to charge my phone would have been great. But for me it was the first big event I’ve been to where I could meet a lot of the bloggers I’ve got to know over the past few years. It was a little overwhelming at first, but all in all I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It would be nice to think that the Cybermummy organisers are taking everyone’s feedback on board for next year’s conference.

Hey Jen, I wrote my CM post with very similar sentiments on Sunday. I have sent recommendations for different content next time and I have commented on other posts that in comparisos to Blog Camp the content stank. At BC I came away with a notebook full of things I was eager to try with CM I came away with arm ache from carrying crap I gave to other people and left for the maids!

Mich x

I’m still deciding what I thought. I left at lunchtime, a bit reluctantly but was glad when I got home and realised the chaos that me being away for half a day caused. Wish I had met you though. Sorry this is a bit of a fluffy comment!

AHLondon | 06.28.11

I did not attend, but I am not surprised by your comments. Did you see this article from the weekend about the new surge in mummy blogs?
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/move-over-mumsnet-meet-the-new-breed-of-cyber-mothers-2302856.html
I think too much can be read into the types/value of mummy blogs (we are mums. I find it very helpful if someone has reviewed a stroller I am looking at buying), but generally I think the article is right. Mummy blogs are moving into more than just blogs about being a mom and product reviews while the idea evoked by the term “mummy blogger” has not moved on. Mums have unpredictable pockets of time. Blogging offers us a way to engage in the outside world with maximum flexibility. We are returning to the 60’s style housewife who was a political/charitable force, (Prior to the 60’s, housework took more time.) Mummy blogs are changing from ‘blogs about mums’ into ‘blogs by people who happen to be mums.’ The CyberMummy people might do well to recognize that.

As I headed off quite early this year I didn’t get a full taste for the conference but I was struck by the disconnect between the presenter of the writing break out session I did attend and many of the bloggers in the room. Some interesting points about thinking about the unique angles/writing talents we each have to bring to the fore were lost in an almost insensitive push to write a blog with “instant appeal.” It was as though we were being told to sensationalize our blogs to make them more “fiction-like” to capture an audience and that got many backs up. Maybe the successful author giving the session didn’t really get blogging by and large?

I was also struck with how many lovely and talented people almost instantly seemed so overwhelmed by the experience….and the fact so many sessions were focused on marketing and stats etc rather on sessions like sharing our talents or creating platforms to connect with other bloggers by genres of interest….

I was sorry to not have time to catch up with some of the fab bloggers I have met online (you included!) but maybe for my own sanity it was a good thing I got out early!

Livi | 06.28.11

Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy it as much as expected, I can see where you’re coming from though. I had a great time but was totally overwhelmed by it all!
I have to admit I did go with chargers for my netbook and phone and was surprised that there was no where to recharge them, especially as it meant I couldn’t tweet for the later part of the event or on the way home!

Deer Baby | 06.28.11

Very interesting and well balance post, Jen. Constructive criticism is always good I think for these sort of things. I was in two minds about going – I really wanted to see people that I’d met last year again, but in the end figured it was too expensive to just do that. The content of the sessions on the agenda felt a bit the same as last year to me. I think it will be a shame if it goes the same way as Blog’Her in the States has gone – far too big and unwieldy. The PR side of things need to catch up with the fact that we haven’t all got babies.

Anyway, having said that I was a bit jealous that you were all there!

diney | 06.28.11

Your Comments
as I wasn’t there I was interested to read this. I like to keep a little bit of anonymity in a way, so meeting up was never really my intention when I began blogging, but I can see it is a great idea for many. I hope the organisers take note of your, and other’s, comments for next year. I was in London too, at the O2 watching Glee – fab wasn’t it!

You know my feelings lovely. It was fabulous for me to meet so many lovely people and that is the memory I have brought home with me! (Cuddling you again was a highlight!)

Livi » I think that I just think that it was very commerical and I forgot that people dont do these things from the bottom of their heart!

Victoria (Mrs Scruff) » See that kinds of sums it up for me, no attendee list. I would have killed to meet you Mrs, I didnt even know you were attending. One day we will get to finally meet after tweeting and all that these long years

Five Go Blogging » I mutch prefered blog camp. I actually learned stuff there

Luschka » I really struggled with the corporate side of it and didnt even take the pasprt out of my bag. It was very baby orientated to me. I only had one box and should have gone back for a second. The vegitaian option was piss poor TNH.

diney » Glee was the highlight of the day for me. I would rather just have a blogger social than paying £100 for something that didnt hit any buttons for me

Michelle Twin Mum » I dumped all of the free stuff in the hotel, it just wasn’t relevant to me at all. I was very flat about the whole thing actually, I loved what barber boy did to your hair!

notSupermum » It is nice to meet people, but it is rather expensive for a social event! There will always be a market for this and it is all about the money!

Alice » I think that is the key, expectations. I have been to blogcamp which is free and it was fab, CM just fell flat

Cass@frugalfamily » I am glad I was sponsored, I wouldn’t go if I wasnt

Madame Guillotine » Indeed, the whole event was very condescending, from the water to the passport. I hate being told what I have to do

Midlife Singlemum » It is so cool that it connects, the boys love mixing it up! I guess that there it is all to do with the commercial market and there will always be new bloggers

Etali » I would rather have nothing in a goody bag than have crap TBH. Why all the paper, when a USB stick would have been fine and less cumbersome. I think that it all comes down to commercialism and making money and the baby brands are where it is at currently. The organisers don’t do it for the love of it!

Emma » You feelings totally echo mine, but I don’t see anything changing as the baby end is where the money is at

The Coffee Lady » I am sure that the baby end is where the money is at, which is wht it was the focus of the event and the organisers certainly don’t do it for the love! The maids got most of the goodie bag

Ellen Arnison » That was what I felt like last year, the social aspect was great, but this year it was just so large that I didn’t even see half the people I wanted too. It is expensive for just a bloggy get together

Julie » I am with you on the smaller group meets. It was just too commercial for me and too baby focused. I just expect better content for the price. It was lovely to meet you and I am so glad that you had a ball with the lovely Chris M

Emma @MummyMummyMum » Do let me know how you get on, we love mixing it up. Legoland was fab. I guess that it was pitched at the commercial end of the market, which is new bloggers with younger children.

Hi Jen,
I agree with a lot of what you’ve said here. The morning sessions were especially poor. I also felt weighed down with bags full of junk although I guess noone forced me to take them away. The most disappointing thing about the day is that I didn’t get to meet you! There were so many people there I felt swamped. Sarah x

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