MFM special report from the BritMums Live! conference

500 mummy bloggers converged for what was a supportive, inspirational and sometimes emotional weekend

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Around 500 mummy bloggers gathered in central London last weekend for the BritMums Live! conference… They came clutching iPads, tweeting live updates on their iPhones, but with surprisingly few babies in tow.

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The mood was upbeat, friendly and occasionally emotional as bloggers swapped technology tips and personal journeys. Highlights included an opening talk by comedian Ruby Wax on depression and a speech from Sarah Brown, founder of Piggy Bank Kids [piggybankkids.org <http://piggybankkids.org>] and wife of ex-PM Gordon. There was also a panel appearance by Camila Batmanghelidjh of Kids Company [www.kidsco.org.uk <http://www.kidsco.org.uk>], who tirelessly campaigns for vulnerable children.

The weekend proved without doubt that the vast majority of mummy bloggers are as savvy as any geeky guy, and proud of it. Many of the talks and workshops were geared towards boosting technology or social networking skills. BBC3 presenter Cherry Healey addressed the crowd on how to combine use of Twitter, Facebook, TV and blogging.

One or two key trends stood out: mummy bloggers are being taken seriously by big brands. Sponsors trying to woo delegates included Lego, Panasonic, Butlins and Disney; goody bags were in abundance. Clearly, modern companies regard mums who review products as an important channel for promoting their wares.

Mothers are also using their online influence for the greater good. Many already promote charitable causes, others are using their blogs to discuss serious issues, whether raising a child with special needs or autism. Vicky Hubbard from charity Tommy’s [www.tommys.org <http://www.tommys.org>], which funds research into miscarriage and stillbirth, said: ‘We’ve had a really interesting and exciting journey working with some key bloggers who feel passionate about our cause.’

In among the “mumpreneurs”, with their handbags, heels and highlights, were a smattering of daddy bloggers – a band who are slowly but surely growing. Tim Atkinson, who blogs as Bringing Up Charlie [www.tommys.org <http://www.tommys.org>], attributed it to the fact that “there’s been a rise in the number of stay-at-home dads over the past three years.”

BritMums [www.tommys.org <http://www.tommys.org>], a blogging forum with 4,000 members covering around 7,000 blogs, was created by Jennifer Howze and Susanna Scott. The live event is only in its second year, but judging by the enthusiasm of the mums present, looks set to grow.

The weekend ended on a high as several award-winning bloggers addressed the audience. Hayley Goleniowska of Downs Side Up [www.downssideup.com <http://www.downssideup.com>] moved many of the audience to tears with her heartfelt address on what not to say to a new mum with a Down’s baby. Claire Smith, of Ministry of Mum [ministryofmum.blogspot.co.uk <http://ministryofmum.blogspot.co.uk>], gave her very funny take on how to improve your sex life after having kids.

As Dorky Mum, Mummy From The Heart and other rising stars of the blogosphere rubbed shoulders and swapped Twitter names, the breadth and intelligence of the voices present was truly inspiring.

An overwhelmingly supportive atmosphere reflected the fact that the blogging community is often a lifeline for isolated mums or those simply in need of a friendly word. And it brings mums from every walk of life together. Annie Spratt, of Mammasaurus [mammasaurus.co.uk <http://mammasaurus.co.uk>], said her blogging circle included everyone from filmmakers to cleaners: “In any other world, we would never meet.”

One thing’s for certain, mummy bloggers are here to stay.

Do you read mummy blogs, and are you a fan?

Cheryl Freedman blogs at www.stuffmummieslike.wordpress.com <http://www.stuffmummieslike.wordpress.com>

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