Cybermummy for me

brand n. 1 a a particular make of goods. b an identifying trademark, label, etc. 2 (usu. foll. by of) a special or characteristic kind (brand of humour). 3 an identifying mark burned on livestock or (formerly) prisoners etc. with a hot iron. 4 an iron used for this. 5 a piece of burning, smouldering, or charred wood. 6 a stigma; a mark of disgrace 7 poet. a a torch. b a sword. 8 a kind of blight. 1 mark with a hot iron. 2 stigmatize; mark with disgrace. 3 impress unforgettably on one’s mind. 4 assign a trademark or label to. brander leader the leading or best-selling product of its type. brand name 1 a trade or proprietary name. 2 a product with a brand name. brand-new completely or obviously new.
The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, 1996

‘Brand’ was a word used an awful lot at Saturday’s Cybermummy conference. Cybermummy The Brand has certainly come into its own. Over doubling in size from last year’s event, the event was slicker, more impressive, featuring companies and speakers with greater clout. But from the moment I entered the conference, when I was approached by three brands all at once, each trying to draw me to their stand and to hand me their branded goodie bag, I felt a sense of unease. I couldn’t put my finger on why. Sure, the concept of being in a room with 400 odd people I don’t know was pretty daunting, but I was sure there was something else behind those nerves.

It wasn’t until the next day, reading this very positive article in The Independent, that I realised what it was. In it, Susanna, said that “you would turn to blogging if you want to create your own online brand.” Was that really why I was at Cybermummy? Is that what my blog is all about?

So, the question that has been at the back of my mind, bugging me for months, and which was brought right to the forefront at Cybermummy is – why do I blog and what do I hope to achieve? As Bumbling pointed out in her session, ‘Keeping it legal‘, we’re publishing, not journalling. As soon as we hit ‘publish’, we’re looking for an audience, otherwise we’d keep our writing to ourselves.

When I started blogging at the end of 2009 it was with the aim of keeping Ez and Fonz’s grandparents up north involved with the babies. I really had no idea what ‘blogging’ was until I discovered British Mummy Bloggers, joined up, and started getting comments from people who weren’t personal friends or family.

Since then I’ve discovered this amazing community. And I found that people actually enjoy what I write. And then, as my blog grew, I started getting approached by companies to review products, or attend events. I was offered some fantastic opportunities, the best of which was becoming a Huggies mum. Working with Huggies has been a pleasure – I’ve never been under pressure to do anything I’m not comfortable doing, I’ve been to some great events, and met some amazing people, some of whom I hope will be friends for life.

And so I’m back to the question: why do I blog? If I’m building up my online brand, what am I building it up for? What’s my end goal? Book deal? Blogger trips to exotic places? Free stuff? To be top of the tree?

I’m not a natural salesperson, and I don’t enjoy selling myself. I once sold door to door in a village north of Newcastle and it was by far the worst job I’ve ever done (I lasted a day). And I think this is at the root of my anxiety at Cybermummy. I felt this immense pressure to go out there and sell my blog. Sell myself.

But actually, that wasn’t why I was there. I was there to meet some fantastic people that, without blogging and Cybermummy, I never would have met. I was there to witness the courage of everyone who turned up at Cybermummy without knowing another soul. I was there to be inspired by other people’s talents and enthusiasm. I was there to find new blogs to read, to reignite my creativity, to soak up the buzz. I was there to be myself for the day, without the constant demands of two 21-month-olds.

Maybe I’m naive, and I missed an incredible opportunity to build my online brand, but I think I was probably having too much fun.

20 comments to Cybermummy for me

  • Well said! I’m not into creating a brand with my blog. Unless I AM the brand (but somehow that doesn’t seem very marketable). But I love blogging, and I loved CyberMummy. I echo what you say in this post – but that’s the beauty of blogging. Everyone can do it their own way. Those who want to be brands can aim for that. Those who don’t, don’t have to. Space for all.

  • A very good question lovely! You’ve made me think, actually. Maybe there needs to be more content related sessions in the future & a different track for the “marketing/moneymaking” side of blogging. Well questioned sweetie. Good luck in your pondering!

  • I am half way through writing a very similar post. I have pondered my blog for some time. In fact I worry that my blog will HINDER my writing career. I am a well established journo and don’t want my blog to be a portfolio of my work – its too personal. BUT I enjoy it. I went to cybermummy to reignite the fun behind blogging and remind me that if I don’t share my experiences with great online friends like you, I may just forget, and that would be my biggest regret.

  • I’m not a brand either, which is why I loved meeting people and having a chat, but all the technical moneystuff just sort of passed me by.

  • So great to see you again Heather. I’ll let you know as soon as we schedule our next video session. -susanna

  • Great to see you again.

    I dont consider myself a brand at all. Whether people read it or not I will still write it. I spent more time meeting and chatting to other bloggers than I did in the actual sessions.

  • I have to admit that ‘the brand’ talk scared me. I was thinking….”help, I don’t have a brand, does that mean I’m rubbish?” I too love all the opportunities I’ve had via blogging etc and am so pleased that I have met so many new people that I now consider friends. Great post. xx

  • You aren’t the only one hun! I went with the intention of seeing my mates (and meeting some new ones!) and ended up doing just that, to the point I went to one session and Sarah Brown’s speech. I went to the keynote speeches because two of my group were speaking. Did I learn anything- which I thought was the fundamental purpose of the conference? No, not really. But I did enjoy myself immensely.

    I hate all this “brand” idea that seems to be the buzz word. I also would not like to see a Mum who is considering starting a blog, or just reads articles such as that, getting the impression that we are all rolling in cash from it! I’ve been blogging at my blog since June 2009, and have made very little money from it. I blog because I like to write. I encourage others to read it, but I don’t think it would become a brand. Can you imagine how many there would be if that was possible! I also thought the article made us sound like self obsessed know it alls, and from the comments underneath would think I wasn’t the only one who felt it was more a negative than a positive image of attendees.

  • Ali

    Hi Heather,
    I didn’t make it to Cyber Mummy, the twins and their big brother make it too difficult to get down to London. It would have been nice to speak to you in person. Although now that I’ve turned my blog into a brand – you might have given me a body swerve!
    Glad it was good fun and hopefully I will make it next year!

  • I’m constantly impressed by the women who make a reasonable amount of money from their blog alone! It must take a lot of work and perseverance. I’m not sure it’s for me, though. :)

  • Cybermummy really made me think about why I write my blog – I don’t do it for the fame or fortune, I do it to reach out and connect with likeminded people and to share my thoughts with people other than my friends and husband. The most powerful session at CM was the blogger to blogger inspiration, the others were all OK but left me a bit bored. I’d love for next year’s Cybermummy to focus on this a bit more, I think, and also to start the party and the wine a bit earlier… x

  • Interesting post – and much of this is stuff I’ve pondered myself recently. I didn’t go to Cybermummy so can’t comment on the event at all, but when I go next year I’ll be going with the intention of meeting other bloggers face-to-face and hearing some inspiring stories. Oh – and the free wine.

  • This was one of the reasons why I didn’t go to Cyber Mummy, the whole branding, pimping yourself, please read me etc. I blog when I can because its a creative outlet – not because I am after a publishing deal. I didn’t make it to the post-curry dinner :-( twins were both sick (actually heaving and spraying the home with vomit) Sorry for over-share. But at least you got to give Holly her 2010 MAD Award!!! xxx

  • Really interesting lovely. I find it is easy to lose sight of who I am with all that goes on in the blogging world.

    My day Saturday revolved around mmeeting people and enjoying myself and I did. I refused to get involved with the passport thing, too contrived for me.

    Mich x

  • So glad I got to say hello to you again. Hopefully we’ll get chance to chat properly sometime soon.
    Thank you for writing this post. Cybermummy has reinforced my reasons for blogging, the most important reason is connecting with like-minded friends old and new. I am not a brand either. I’m just a blogger and I’m happy with that.

  • My dabbles in blogging started just the same as yours and I didn’t know about the blogging world and all the noise that comes with it until I discovered BMB. And discovering this world has opened up a host of fab people and ideas….we all have our own reasons for blogging but for me it is very much about connecting with others, sharing ideas, creating a diary of this nuts period in my life and my writing. I just want to enjoy it and not lose sight of this purpose.

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  • Interesting post! You seem to have managed to put down in words what I haven’t been able to!

  • my brand is – I have no brand, which goes for my niche.
    Really interesting post, which I have seen echoed elsewhere but not quite so eloquently. Instead of inspiring, CM seems to have caused a lot of wondering why? and what’s the point?
    I think possibly in retrospect the branding was too heavy.
    What inspired me, is the power of blogging, less for consumerism but obviously the brands are well into that, but for change. I attended the activism session and was amazed what has been achieved. I would love to see more of blogging to raise issues and make positive change and less branding….

  • Lou

    Oh yes, I nodded all through that post. Really well put.

    I really enjoyed Cybermummy though I felt like a rabbit in headlights being my first!

    Great to meet you at the party too. Have you bought a Barbour yet to suit your new location? te he!


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