Cybher 2012 – blogging tips and lessons learned

Being a geek really is a bit cool these days. No, really. Did Glee teach you nothing? Other than how not to mime, that is. Anyway, being a stationery-loving, web-savvy, bloggerati type is actually the in-thing in my world, and so some great women decided to throw a special event for other women who blog, to celebrate all things geek and chic – and so, Cybher was born.
As I said in my ‘meet and greet‘ post, my ticket to the all day event was courtesy of the lovely Emma Cossey who won free passes through The High Tea Cast. I have to say, venue-wise this was the best event I’ve been to – held at 8 Northumberland Avenue, just off Trafalgar Square, it had the right amount of space, great staff and gorgeous decor, and it’s easy to get to for Londoners and out of towners alike. Plus the lights were pink in the main corridor we started in. Awesome, no?
The good stuff
Without sounding like a total freebie slut, I have to say the goodies at the event really were fantastic and quite the highlight for me (other than the fab people obviously, which I’ll share more about below). A leather satchel – we could choose the colour, so naturally I went for neon pink – greeted us all as we registered and I think everyone was suitably impressed; it really was a nice touch considering the audience. Of course, it was filled with stationery which never fails to please me, and then we went through to downstairs for a quick drinks reception where various stalls were set up. 
The ones I took a quick look at were Freya’s lingerie (gorgeous, but usual spin of ‘you’re wearing the wrong size bra’ – actually, pretty sure I’m not, but glad they were offering measuring) and Palmer’s, the well-known cocoa butter brand who actually have a huge range of products – I had no idea! They gave away a very generous goody bag – again, not bragging, just think it really was brilliant and very much worth a mention (I’ll blog the products later).

The geek stuff
You can see a full list of the Cybher schedule here. I found the start quite interesting as I prefer panel-style talks, and they covered the neverending debate of sponsored posts, general thoughts on being a blogger and working with PRs. Of all the talks we attended, I found A Thrifty Mrs most inspiring, as it was useful info, it all made sense but wasn’t necessarily stuff I already knew, and it was good to know the journey of her blog and its development. Wow that sounds cheesy, but it’s true.
I also enjoyed the Ask a Blogger session at the end of the day with Big Fashionista and co because there were plenty of laughs, and thought that Zoe, of Girl With a One Track Mind fame, was fantastically honest about her terrible experiences of the media – I didn’t know the whole back story and having followed her tweets for a long time, now think even more of her for it.
Anyhoo, I’ve put together a few of the tips and learnings that I took away from the day:
  • Now that Picnik has left us (booo. It’s how I used to create Polaroid-stylee images), Picmonkey is an even better replacement. Ok, this tip technically came from Emma, but hey she’ll probably be on the Cybher panel in years to come so I think it’s allowed. I used it for this post and love it.
  • Not everyone can blog well. I was so pleased to hear this from Aigua lady Jess who pointed out what a lot of bloggers don’t like to hear: you need to be able to write, and you need good content. Sure, anyone can set up a blog but quality is important.
  • Even in this day and age, a woman can’t be completely open about sex without being called names or losing respect. @GirlOneTrack’s talk was really shocking in that sense and showed, I think, that you can never really be anonymous online.
  • Be careful how you word your ‘competitions’. A ‘competition’ requires some kind of skill to enter; a ‘prize draw’ or ‘giveaway’ is more likely to be what you’re doing, where people just leave a comment etc.
  • You can get fined for not disclosing that a post is sponsored. Plus bloggers might dislike you a bit if you’re not open – honesty is the best policy!
  • The general feeling (and mine too) on sponsored posts was that it’s each to their own – surely it depends on your blog style. If you only ever write personal posts about your life, I wouldn’t expect a random sponsored beauty post – it’s fine if you do (we all need to eat, and it’s your site!) but to keep your blog’s identity or ‘brand’ intact you might prefer to set up a new one for more generic content. I think it’s unfair to condemn those who hope to make money out of blogging – so long as that’s not the main reason for doing it (that would be a shame I think, given the community feeling behind blogging) then why not make it a success? I’d love to afford to blog for a living, and I know plenty who do.
  • Point out that a subscription to your blog is ‘free’ – people associate the word subscription with paying (as for magazines etc).
  • Set Google alerts for the topics you like to write about so you can stay on top of them and be newsworthy – I hadn’t thought of doing this but it’s so obvious!
  • To be cool, you must have an iPad. I mean really, I stood out like a sore thumb without one.
The got-to-do stuff
I wanted another word that began with G, couldn’t think of one, sorry. So, some of the talks went right over my head as I felt like they were a bit too much about common sense rather than inspiration, but others got me thinking. There was a lot of talk about  having a niche, and being an authority on the subject you blog about. That’s a problem for me, as you can probably see that I like to write about different things from week to week – I cover health and beauty, film, TV, media, personal life, dating and lifestyle – and I can’t choose between them.
I also know that I want to move from Blogger to WordPress. Everyone agreed that it was better, cleaner and simpler (and far less bug-gy). Once I’ve worked out where I want the site to go content-wise, I’ll be shifting it over – a painful process but hopefully worth it in the end…
Oh, and buy an iPad. Seriously. 
So, big thanks to Cybher for an interesting event – and to Emma for taking me along! Here are a few Twitter names of the people I met/listened to on the day, I highly recommend you follow them: SallyToddPR, JessOSOYOU, GailDoggett, SOTMario, AThriftyMrsUK, BigFashionista, JoanneMallon, Rosalilium_, TheHighTeaCast, PoppyD, GirlOneTrack. Also, follow the #Cybher hashtag for more.
What do you think on the above topics – should I choose a niche? Is doing sponsored posts selling out? Were you there and did you love or hate it?
It's good to share:

8 thoughts on “Cybher 2012 – blogging tips and lessons learned

  • No point in having a niche if it not what you really want to do. I have got around it by having a menu bar with the different categories I blog about. Defo recommend WordPress. Blogger is a PITA to comment on. I never likes my iPhone & often refuses my WP credentials. Puts me off commenting on certain blogs.

    Anyway, sounds like a great event. I’m v jealous. Hope it’s on again next year.

  • Lovely summary of the day Judy, thanks for sharing. It was a fab day! And I share your pain re a niche, I generally have too much to say and struggle to hone it down to just one subject. Let’s hope our personalities can be our USP :0) I also recommend WordPress, it’s an absolute pleasure to use.

  • On the niche thing, it wasn’t so much that you ‘should’ but I got the impression of an assumption that that’s what every blogger does, and a lot of people talked about being an authority in what you’re saying in order to get readers (which makes sense).

    I don’t think I can fit myself into a niche, especially as I’m a writer for my day job – I feel like my freelance work is where I develop a niche whereas my blog here is where I get to write about anything I like. I just hope it’s in a way that people enjoy enough to come back ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I think you dont need a niche perse unless you’re seriously considering writing a book … but need a voice that’s strong and you. Being you makes the sponsored post thing okay, as long as you’re you and not writing what you think prs want to read…. and that’s okay.

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