Along with some 500 bloggers, I attended the BritMums Live conference at The Brewery in London, and what a fantastic weekend it was!
BritMums is the UK's largest network and collective for parent bloggers and was launched in 2009 by Susanna Scott and Jennifer Howze. It's a growing online community where parents can share their stories through blogging.
With my husband Mark (who's a stay at home dad to our 2 children), we both write separate family blogs on www.people.co.uk. We've been blogging for almost 4 years now, so I was interested to see what went on, and what I could learn.
I arrived on the Friday and checked into the luxurious Montcalm City hotel which was a stone throw from the venue. If ever you are looking to stay in London, I'd highly recommend the Montcalm.
After dropping my mini case (that was packed with enough clothes for a week's holiday) in my hotel room, it was time to register. There was a buzz outside The Brewery, where people gathered. As the doors opened, the anticipation grew. I gave my name to one of the very helpful ladies at the registration desk, and was given a badge with my name on. As I clipped on my badge, I had no idea what to expect.
I quickly realised that lots of other people were in the same situation as me.
As the reception filled up, it was nice to see many people hugging each other, some people meeting for the first time in the 'real' world as lots of friendships are built in the virtual world and for some it's a once a year opportunity to meet up. People come from all over the country and some from overseas.
There were so many people, and it was so well organised.
Everyone headed to the main room, there were 4 rooms differing in size that would hold the talks and seminars.
Susanna Scott and Jennifer Howze, founders of BritMums gave a lovely welcome speech.
They introduced Kirstie Allsopp, who was very entertaining talking about her career and answered questions from the audience.
I think Kirstie Allsopp is great, and she has inspired me to start making things again, she's made 'homemade' and 'upcycling' trendy. I have all her books but I hadn't taken any with me to BritMums, so I bought another one and she signed it for me. I also grabbed a picture with her, she was every bit as lovely in person as she seems on the TV.
The BritMums agenda was set for the day, and it was time to chose which ones interested you the most. Sometimes it was tricky to chose as I wanted to go into all of them!
Every room was equipped with notebooks, pens, and water, and there was plenty of time to get between one seminar and the next.
I met lots of new people, and it was great to take pictures and tweet during the talks.
I attended seminars on the first day which included a Brand Panel Debate about what do bloggers and brands really want from each other. On the panel were successful bloggers and people from the industry, who gave great advice.
There was plenty of tea and coffee, so you could chat to other people about the talks you had just been in, plus yummy cakes!
The lunch was very well organised too with a selection of food served in little boxes, very tasty food and something for everyone.
On the first day I learnt all about working with brands, how to present your blog to brands, how to do a media kit, and also how to get paid to blog which is one question everyone wants to know!
You could also learn about taking beautiful photographs to make your blog look gorgeous, to being a blog ambassador and getting your book published.
The buzz around the venue was incredible, everyone so friendly and helpers on hand to point you in the right direction if you needed help.
It was also great to see the BiB (Brilliance in Blogging) Awards Ceremony in the evening. So much talent in the ever growing blogosphere.
After a relaxing night at the Montcalm Hotel, I was up bright and early, ready to absorb what day two had to offer.
The morning started in The Brewery with a beautiful breakfast laid on with everything you need to start the day.
Then everyone headed for the main hall for the welcome talk from Jennifer Howze and Susanna Scott.
Saturday's keynote speaker was Katie Piper. 'Things Get Better' was a truly inspirational speech. Katie guided us through her journey to recovery following her horrific acid attack in 2008. Katie uses her experience to reach out to other burns survivors and, through her story, conveys the inspirational message that no matter what we face, things really do get better.
What a truly inspirational lady Katie Piper is. She really made us all stop and think. I went and said a quick hello to her before she gave her speech.
After Katie's speech, I wiped away my tears and deep in thought waited for the next seminar to begin.
Saturday was a full on day it was from 8.30am to 6.30pm. Lots of time to cram in yet more learning.
I enjoyed listening to other bloggers talk about discovering your own style, then after morning coffee break I headed to one of the other rooms where I listened to a seminar about Legal and Accounting. This was really interesting, because a blog usually starts out as something you just do for the fun of it, but the better you become at it, you soon realise that people are actually making money out of their blogs so it was great to hear about financial issues you may have.
Listening to success stories and to be able to ask the very people who's blogs you read was great to see. I read so many other family blogs so it was great to see the people in the real world instead of the virtual world.
I took so much away from the couple of days I had spent at BritMums Live.
The Keynote speech later on in the day was by ex Blue Peter presenter Katy Hill. She makes me laugh, as she talked about us all being in a room of oversharers, and basically that's what we are.
The evening ended very emotionally, as it was a time to remember the people who are sadly no longer with us. Everyone singing 'Firework' by Katy Perry was really emotional. I was honored to be in that room with so many inspirational family bloggers.
Tickets are available for BritMums Live 2014 here. Buy your Earlybird ticket for £65. What are you waiting for go buy your ticket now! Hopefully see you there next year!