This past weekend, I trotted off down to London for the fourth year running, to attend the UK’s biggest social media and blogging conference. BritMums Live has become as much a part of my year as my birthday and Christmas, and is something I look forward to greatly. Stepping into The Brewery feels like coming home, and seeing old friends again is like having a family reunion… we are, as a community, one great big family that I am so proud and honoured to be a part of.

Why I'm to be part of a Blogging Community #britmumslive

But, as with all families, it isn’t always perfect. As Tim from Slouching Towards Thatcham so wisely wrote today, the men in our community are incredibly under-represented at these events. Dad bloggers may naturally be outnumbered by mum bloggers at the moment, but the disparity between mum and dad bloggers is even more pronounced when it comes to gatherings such as these. Are we doing enough to make dad bloggers feel as comfortable attending these events as the mums are?

And then, of course, we mustn’t forget that many bloggers are introverts, feeling much more comfortable expressing their hearts on the internet than they do in a room full of their peers. Let’s face it, hundreds of people meeting in one place can be pretty overwhelming for anyone, but especially so for those feeling unsure of themselves or star-struck by some of their favourite bloggers.

But here’s where we come to the thing I love most about this blogging community I’m so proud of – we are all working to make things better, for ourselves and for others. Over the years I have seen bloggers reach out to those they barely know to offer a hug and support when it all gets a bit too much. I’ve watched as those who have had a difficult time at the conference receive comment after comment from others saying “if only we had known…” and “next year, we’ll make it better”. And I’ve been stunned by the absolute generosity and grace of the biggest bloggers in our community, reaching out a hand of encouragement to others, sharing their own fears and concerns, and showing that they are just like the rest of us.

We all have our moments when we feel like small fish in a very large pond. It is so easy to see this year’s key bloggers, the ones who are up for awards or speaking at the conference, and convince ourselves that we will never be as good as they are. But you know what? Ours is a community of sharing, a family of support, and when you take that chance and step out there, you find that you do belong, you are worthy, and you’re just as important as anyone else. Your voice is valid, your voice is strong, your voice is heard.

A couple of years ago I came close to giving up blogging altogether. I couldn’t see where I fit in and I didn’t know what I was doing any more. And then I went to BritMums Live. I was surprised when somebody recognised me, told me how much they loved my writing, for I thought nobody was listening. And I was honoured when a blogger I admired so much asked me not to give up, because that meant she had read my post and cared enough to reach out and encourage me to continue. I left that year with a sense of belonging which I’d never felt before, and it is that feeling which now defines the reason behind my blog. I am part of a community, and what an amazing community it is too.

This year I stood on stage to read out a poem as part of the Bloggers’ Keynote, something I could never have imagined doing until very recently. This little fish in that very large pond finally found her voice. But as proud as I was of this opportunity, nothing could surpass how humbled I was by the entire thing. As I looked out upon the room full of bloggers, I knew each and every one had a story to tell that was just as important as mine, just as worthy of being on that stage. And I realised that, far from being little fish in a big pond, we are a formidable force when we all come together.

It is my greatest hope that every single person who attended BritMums Live this year, as well as all those who were unable to come, recognises just how strong and powerful the words and images they share are. The tagline on the back of my business cards this year was “together we can achieve great things” and this is exactly what I took away from the weekend. Every single time we post something to our blog or social media, we add to a growing collective of voices that are slowly changing the world, making it a better place for ourselves and our families. The post we write or the image we share is as equal and valid whether it touches 1 person or 10,000. We each touch the lives of others, and that is what makes this community so great.

So thank you, all of you, for everything you do. Never underestimate your worth, never forget your strength, and never feel like you don’t belong.

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13 thoughts on “Why I’m Proud to be Part of a Blogging Community (#britmumslive)”

  1. Very well put, Amanda, and I can only agree wholeheartedly with every word you’ve written.

    I’m sure many will empathise. but I cannot begin to express the dread that started to flow through my veins on the train in to London and then when I got off the tube at Moorgate. I honestly thought about turning round and going home at least three times. And then, as I was walking past All Bar One, I saw Tony (Papa_Tont) waving at me from inside with a huge smile on his face, and I knew everything was going to be okay.

    As you say, I was blown away by the number of people, such as yourself, who went out of their way to say hello to me. It did wonders for my confidence and made me much bolder in going and talking to others myself. It was most unlike how I normally am, so often the loneliest person in a crowded room. I am amazed by the generosity of so many people in the room, especially the ‘big’ names who are constantly in demand from everyone.

    Finally, I adored your keynote reading. As I’ve said elsewhere, one of the biggest gifts of meeting people in person is that I can now read posts and hear the author’s voice in my head. I’ll hear yours constantly until we meet up again! 🙂
    Tim recently posted…Should BritMums Live be doing more for dads?My Profile

    1. Hi Tim,

      thank you so much for your comment, I’m glad that this struck a chord with you! I’m also very glad that you didn’t let the nerves get the better of you and that you made it through the weekend (as exhausting as it was – I’m absolutely wiped out and I’m a real social butterfly, so I dread to think how much more exhausting it is if you’re out of your comfort zone!)

      Aren’t the Bloggers’ Keynotes so powerful? I must admit I was an emotional wreck by the end of them, I’m so glad I was near the beginning as I’m not sure I could have gone after some of the later ones, they were so incredible. As you say, it is so helpful to hear the words spoken in the bloggers’ natural voice, I’m sure it will make blog reading even more interesting for you now! Here’s hoping we all get to hear your voice next year 😉

    1. Welcome to the world of blogging, Nicky, and this wonderful community that continues to grow daily. I hope you enjoy every minute of it!

    1. Hi Claire,

      thanks for stopping by! Yes, it was a wonderful weekend this year, and I do think that this blogging community of ours is just so supportive 🙂 Aren’t we lucky?

  2. I’m so glad you had a fab time. I promise I’ll be there again next year. I’ve missed going so much these past few years. Hopefully next year the children will be more self sufficient, the house will be rebuilt and I’ll be able to waft away from my responsibilities for the weekend to see you again. Well done in your poem! Massive achievement xx
    Gem recently posted…Ssssshoes!My Profile

    1. Hi Gem,

      Oh I do so hope that things settle down for you soon and that we may see you next year… it has been too long!! xx

  3. I love this post. I have often said it feels like you can start all over again like on New Year’s Eve and used the term family reunion over and over this year. I see the changes in my confidence levels year and year whilst knowing I am that shy introvert too and that that is OK.
    I am not sure on the Dad point – how much effort have men over the year made to welcome women into their circles? If you come into a community freely where you know the majority are a different gender, perhaps it is up to you to find your way – not sure at all although I do know BritMums themselves are always keen to welcome everyone to BritMums Live and to make everyone as comfy and engaged as possible.
    Kate Holmes recently posted…My worst bits of BritMums LiveMy Profile

    1. Hi Kate,

      thanks for popping over. It’s great that your confidence levels grow year on year… it’s hard to imagine you as an introvert, but I guess that’s the whole point isn’t it, we can seem so much more confident than we maybe feel when we have this space online to share our thoughts and hearts more freely than we may do normally.

      I do agree with you that our community was first and foremost created for mums and that in joining the community dads need to make an effort to “fit in”. And I totally understand where everyone is coming from with the idea that women have had to do this in male-dominated arenas with little help and support… But I guess I just feel like maybe we could learn from that experience and make it easier for men to feel included rather than following the usual line of “we had to deal with it, so why shouldn’t you?” Does that make sense? I’m not saying we go out of our way to change anything specifically, but maybe we could focus on offering support and encouragement when they do try to integrate themselves more, reminding them how welcome they are (especially when they feel as outnumbered as they possibly did at the weekend). It’s just how I see it, I know that many others don’t see it this way (my husband included in this!!) I think it’s definitely an interesting conversation to be a part of, don’t you?

  4. I was at a conference yesterday for BASEES REEM (http://www.basees.org/study-group-for-russian-and-eastern-european-music-reem/), meeting people in a research group I will join in September. It was so fantastic to hear people who were as excited about their research as I am about mine, and I was listening to papers on things I wasn’t initially interested in and feeling engaged. They were all very excited about my research too, not dismissive at all (that tends to be the view among non-academics!). Some of them have blogs, Twitter feeds and Facebook advertised and I definitely felt part of a bigger thing, even though there were only a few of us there! One lady’s research is about recreating the first version of an opera, which might well become a globally-recognised piece one day: how awesome is that! And, best of all, any of us could become big stars in our field, and that was clear from the smiles and support. So, even though what I do is super-niche, I’ve found 20 other people super-excited about it and that’s what you’ve done, except with hundreds!

    Though I did avoid the picture ;P I know I’m no introvert, but I didn’t feel right being in the picture as nothing more than an interested member of the public!

  5. This was my first experience of #BritMumsLive and I expected to maybe just go once, to tick it off my list but actually I had a fabulous weekend and will definitely be returning next year. The sense of community is huge x

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