The write up – Blog camp Birmingham 2014

Me at lunch time! Photo taken by the lovely Amrita from Drfiting Traveller
Me at lunch time! Photo taken by the lovely Amrita from Drifting Traveller

I have been looking forward to this since I booked my ticket. I went to Blog Camp Bristol in 2011 so I half knew what to expect. The format had changed since then which was a changed that really worked.

Instead of getting in outsiders for Blog Camp this year with their wisdom, all the sessions were by bloggers except maybe the photography one’s, which sadly clashed with my other choices so I did not go to them. This to me made it all the more inspiring, yes these fantastic people are way above my league but they spoke our language. They boosted our confidence and at lunch time and break times chats reflected I was not the only one who came out of the sessions, thinking you know what, I can do this!

That for me is what this is sort of thing is all about learning new things to take you further, inspiring you to getting there and not forgetting the most important meeting new people some who you have chatted to online for years. Some you have never heard of too! The blogging community is huge, shamefully I looked at name tags usually placed on breasts it seemed (!) and didn’t recognise the blogs but then to balance it out they didn’t know me either.

I think at Tots100 there is over 7000 on the list and well lets be honest we won’t know all of them! Some of the ‘big stars’ of course you recognise and let’s not beat about the bush they are star’s aren’t they? I would have loved to say hi to Jen from Mum in the Madhouse but she was usually busy chatting and when I swung by I quickly scurried away, rather like a fan to shy to ask for an autograph!

I managed two lovely hugs and all too quick chats with Carol from Lipstick and Lace and Penny from A Residence. Both I have spoken to online for over three years but have never met before. It was lovely to finally meet them and I hope we will meet again soon and for a little longer!

New people I met and we stuck together during breaks and similar sessions, seeking each other out (Or was that just me?) were Karen from Lets Kids Be Kids Helen from Witty Hoots Amrita from Drifting Traveller who also provided me with three of the photos, thank you SO much Amrita and Angela from Garden, Tea, Cake and me it was lovely to meet them all or different blogs but the two things in common, we wanted to meet new blogging faces and learn new things to improve and gain confidence.

Blog camp was the place for that for sure. So here are a few notes from my sessions. apologies for my many non blogging readers you may want to leave now or be inspired yourself to start a blog!

My first session was ‘How to be a freelance writer’ this is something I am really interested in doing and gradually sowing the seeds for taking the step from writing here to writing for someone else.

The session was taken by four amazing people. Alison Perry magazine editor and award-winning blogger, Molly Forbes journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogs at  Mother’s Always Right  Fi who has just me signed for a 7 book publishing deal from Childcare is Fun and Rachel Lucas blogger and Author carrying her fresh off the press book Sealed with a Kiss available to the public in May I believe after, successfully having had 130,000 downloads on the Kindle version. All so willing to share their wisdom and experience.

Key points I learnt were:

  • When approaching editors to pitch an idea know the magazine or site inside out.
  • Know what kind of things they do already publish and work around what you are able to offer that fits the bill.
  • Look to see what reactions they want from their readers and again fit what you are going to offer them around this.
  • A great idea is a great idea, if it your first pitch ever or your 100th.
  • 1 in 7 may get a yes. Expect lots of no’s but that doesn’t mean you need to stop. Keep going until you get the yes you need.
  • Ask about writing on other people’s blogs or brand blog’s for free. The experience and knock on opportunities will be worth it!
  • Writing for blogs and writing for magazines need different angles and need different formats.
  • Keep idea’s for blogs or freelance writing.
  • Editors job is to create good content. If you have it they will love you!
  • You need to be a chameleon for different writing. (This bit worry’s me as my voice in writing is a constant me voice so this will need work on this!)
  • Expert content for example adding a experts comment into your feature will add huge value. The blogging world is full of plenty of experts who are happy to share information as this gets their name out there too.
  • Think about pitching to copywriters.
  • Have at the very least a ‘Work with me’ page on your blog. If they don’t know your there and willing they won’t ask you.
  • Blog is a good place to showcase your idea’s.
  • Don’t assume that the rest of the world know how the blogging world works, they don’t!
  • When P.R’s contact you let them know what else you can do.
  • NUJ gives you an idea of rates for jobs you can expect. Be realistic but equally don’t get trodden on! Rates for sponsored posts are different from rates for articles. They are different services which means expect different rates.
  • What are you an expert in? For me food and nutrition is something I have more knowledge on that I realise. Teenage depression and associated area’s including emotional support (trying to think of a term for it!) and CBT are area’s I now feel a level of confidence in my knowledge. These are the places I am going to work on to become more of an ‘expert’ in these fields.
  • Believe in yourself and your idea’.



I and many others left the session fully charged with enthusiasm and so much more self belief than when we walked in there with.


A BIG thank you to the ladies who took this session!

Break time & cupcakes! Photo credit Drifting Traveller
Break time & cupcakes! Photo credit Drifting Traveller


Next up was ‘How to be a food blogger’ this session was taken by Jacqueline from Tinned Tomatoes

who I was very impressed to see her strong branding by wearing a gorgeous red cardigan which unlike me she was able to carrying off perfectly! Sarah from Maison Cupcake and finally Choclette who I am sure that is not her real name but as she always signs off as that then…and she blog at The Chocolate Log Blog all have years of experience as food bloggers I think they said 18 years between them!

The key points I learnt from this session were:

  • It is all about visual now. Now wishing the food photography had not clashed!
  • Use Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ as great way’s to get your images out there. Images added to twitter get far more interaction than ones without, information I saw tweeted by Sally from another session.
  • Add recipes to Yummly.
  • Interact with others in your food blogging community. Via comments, and chatting over social media.
  • Photo’s must grab interest especially when using for the first keypoint above. Mouth-watering, tempting and as Choclette suggested nostalgic! Nostalgia can reel them in!
  • Knowing your end want. What do you want to get out of this?
  • Food challenges, really good to take part. To grow your community of like-minded people and also what we all want to approve our stats!
  • Check out food trends.
  • Negotiate with P.R’s.
  • If you do competition don’t give them social media boosts for free. Set your price and ask. If they say no that is all fine, grow yours then but not there’s.
  • Use Linkedin for use with P.R’s.
  • Add P.R’s to a business Google+ circle can be really useful when you want a particular thing or advice for an article.
  • Have business cards and give them out!
  • If This That Then to check out

 A big thank you to these ladies for their great information.

Lunch time! Photo Credit Drifting Traveller
Lunch time! Photo Credit Drifting Traveller


My next session was ‘Fundraising Fun’ hosted by a fantastic trio who obviously are meant to be working together. Penny from A Residence, Mummy Barrow and Mammasurus. I am sure you know this trio by TeamHonk who raised up until now £31K this year for Comic relief. Pretty amazing huh?

I was listening to their every word, after seeing the goosebump causing and very inspiring video Penny had put together.  No notes were taken which did not mean I did not learn anything.

Here are the key points I mentally took from this session:

  • It is hard work but it is heavily outweighed by the rewards.
  • You need a good support network, which also includes having your family behind you. Family, friends, networks like other bloggers make the best support network. Get them behind you as you will need their support.
  • It is time consuming.
  • Get what you want to achieve clear before you pitch the idea to the charity.
  • Lots of red tape, find out what it is and what is possible to help your plan work.
  • Amazing how many people want to help out if asked. But they also like to be told where, when and how.
  • When you have got your plan and got the go ahead, spread the news especially with photo’s. Meaning more people want to get involved or help out. Especially if it is something you are going to repeat again. TeamHonk inspired me to next time join in more than just a social media helper. Yes I have said it now so I will do it!
  • Ask for help, dig deep to think of contacts who would love to be seen supporting you and your chosen charity. Team Honk would be great sounding boards for idea’s and are happy to offer advice too. Sorry ladies if I just made that up!!!
  • Tots100 have good contacts so ask them, thank you Sally for that information.

Bex and I have a seedling of a project which I feel in a better place to grow.

Again a big thank you to these great ladies for that and congratulations on all you have achieved.


Are you still awake? Well finally my last session was ‘Making Awesome Video’s’ with the lovely Ruth from Geek Mummy. Video is something I have not done, mainly due to the fact of I get the giggles (not helpful!), editing kind of overwhelms me though my husband would happily do it but…and well it is one of those slightly out of my comfort zone things but after the session I felt, yeah I should have a go.

Ruth, someone after my own heart had done a slide show. Great help for people like me with busy brains especially as it was the last session. I copied down most of Ruth points but not the ones using Apple products as not relevant to me.

The key points I learnt  from this session:

Video is great for coming up in search engines, I did not write down the statistics but basically as we know you put something in the search box on Google and Youtube comes up. The answer is there for you, video is loved!

Video with its visuals and sounds makes the message  so much stronger than just the written word.

Equipement that will make a difference:

Tripod – A gorilla Pod is great

Lapel mike (check input before buying) great for talking to camera

Clip on mike for camera (check camera is compatible)

If using a phone film in landscape mode otherwise you get the black area’s both side. Think of a shape of a television!


As the old saying goes practise makes perfect. Have fun, playing around and do some that are not planned to go anywhere as practise!

Video is great for:

Product reviews

Instructional video’s

Slides with voice over

Ways to make your video look better

Good lighting, natural lighting is possible.

Face the light source or to be side on.

extra light on face if indoors.

Daylight bulbs are the best.

Check out light panels, used to help S.A.D sydrome.


Speak clearly, you may need to speak slower than your usual talking voice!

Speak louder if further away from the microphone

Minimise background noise

Lapel mic

Making the video

Bullet point things you want to cover in the video and what you want to achieve.

Free desktop editors are Windows Live Movie Maker, Youtube

Make video 2-3 minutes otherwise it probably won’t get watched all the way through!

Edit tight, cut before you think you need to!

Use cut away shots to cover edits. For example in a review video do shots of the product you are reviewing to cover edits.

Boost sound volume if quiet.

Use Levelator to edit sound and tidy up.


Have a new style for your channel so create a shop window.

Use you avatar on the header to follow through your blog branding (my branding needs work!)

Link up all your social media channels to your Youtube channel

Have a welcome video trailer

Add other featured channels you like and that may be of interest others.

SEO for Youtube is the same as doing a blog post.  Add a title, description and tags all using your keyword (s). If it is for a review add a product number or part number which will boost you in the search engines.

Youtube Creator Academy will be a big help.

Alternatives to Youtube



Vine for short ones

Check out Google+ Autoawesome for adding effects for your photo’s to make them into a short animation or mini movie, sounds good!

A BIG thank you to Ruth, I think you will be seeing a lot more people giving video a go, I will for sure!


Home & notes, badge, pen & all!
Home & notes, badge, pen & all!

So there you go, that is what my brain left a lot fuller of information and raring to go with a positive outlook!

But none of this would be possible without the great Sally Whittle the person behind all the Tots100, Foodies100, HIBS100 and the creator of Blog camp providing a free conference with so much great help, people to meet, endless hot drinks, gorgeous food and even cupcakes is quite frankly amazing! Which leads me on to a BIG thank you to TalkTalk for sponsoring this event and making it possible! Content Click for the cupcakes which being gluten-free I only got to look at but they were very pretty!

A big thank you to Sally, TalkTalk and Content click.

Now to put some of the things I learnt into action but after typing all this out I think it is time for a cuppa!

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