In the weeks running up to Cybher, I was so excited by the schedule as more and more speakers were being announced. I struggled to decide which sessions to attend beforehand simply because I wanted to attend them all! In the end, I actually chose on the day and I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed with any of my choices. I felt like I achieved a really good balance that managed to cover lots of areas that were of interest to me. And of course I am now enjoying reading about what other people thought and of course learnt, in the sessions that I couldn’t make!
The day started out with a very warm welcome from Sian To who of course founded Cybher then there was the keynote with Zoe Margolis. I heard Zoe speak last year too and she was just as amazing this year. Her hugely successful and once anonymous blog Girl With A One Track Mind went on to be made into a book of course and she has since gone on to write a further book about her life post being ‘outed’. It was such a great start to what would be a truly inspiring day.
The first session I chose was Living the Lifestyle Dream with Rachelle Blondel, Natasha Denness and Caroline Taylor. I might not write a lifestyle blog but I do like to visit them and it was interesting to hear the three of them all speak with such passion about what they do. Much of what they covered could of course be put into effect on anyone’s blog and I think there is a lot to be said for going back to basics and objectively looking at your blog to see if it is all that it could be. Things like how important it is to find your own style and voice to make your blog become a destination. How we should look to others for inspiration but always make your blog your own. Also basics like making sure that your site is user-friendly and asking for non-blogger feedback as well as the obvious things like always choosing quality over quantity and making sure that you utilise social media effectively. It was a really interesting session.
Next I chose the Keeping It Legal session with Emma Scott now this really was fascinating, especially in light of so many high profile legal cases of late. The biggest message I took away from this was simply that not knowing is not an excuse! Emma did an amazing job to cover so much in a short space of time – from free speech to respecting other people’s rights, from incitement of hatred to contempt of court. In brief, we should never comment on pending cases and should avoid tweeting gossip unless we know it to be fact. The same even applies to retweeting gossip as this amounts to further publication. Despite what some might think, there isn’t safety in numbers and you should avoid jumping on the bandwagon. I suspect that about half my Twitter timeline could learn from this! She also touched on copyright infringement and how sharing content can mean that you are inadvertently allowing permission.
Next up for me was Sh*t You Didn’t Know That Will Make You Blog Better with Sian To and Claire Archbold. This session was maybe aimed at beginners but it was actually my favourite session of the day and I ended up taking almost a whole pad of notes! Proof indeed that even after three and half years of blogging there is still so much to learn. Sian is all knowing when it comes to Blogger where Claire is the WordPress whizz so between the two of them they had it all covered. I mean literally all. I have a list as long as my arm of changes and general housekeeping that I need to put into place! They also spoke about how the Google Penguin updates will affect us and what changes we need to put into place to avoid losing page rank. With new algorithm updates, your page rank can literally disappear overnight so you do need to keep on top of these things. This is definitely something that I can learn from!
The next session I chose was The Art of Modern Storytelling with Donal Macintyre and he was brilliant! He was funny and engaging but most of all spoke with such passion when it came to the whole citizen journalism thing. Absolutely fascinating man, I could have listened to him all day long!
Now next I chose The Art of Plus Size: Google+ with Maggy Woodley. I have to admit that Google+ just goes over my head. I signed up right at the start but have hardly been back since. Every couple of months, I will sign in, have a look around, think WTF then sign back out basically. Google + is already bigger than Twitter and part of me thinks that it’s about time that I really got my head around it all but I can’t help but still think that actually, it shouldn’t be this hard. I think of myself as an early adopter and if I can’t get it then I can’t help but think that I’m not the only one. I have never been taught to use any other channel of social media and I’m not sure if I have the patience to actually learn how to use Google+, it just feels too much like hard work. That said, Maggy was fab and I took lots of notes so that I might one day have another crack at it. We’ll see.
For my next session I chose How To Make Your Blog Pay with Doug Richard and Medeia Cohan. I must confess that I see my blog very much as being a hobby and have no plans to actually make money from it but I was interested to hear Doug Richard speak. Obviously coming at it from a business point of view is so very different to other ‘monetize your blog’ type things I’ve heard spouted before from people who tend to be just within blogging circles so it was a completely different angle and a really interesting one at that. He also spoke about his own business experience and his current work with School for Creative Startups. My only tiny gripe was over something he mentioned about affiliate links and that you don’t have to give disclosure of these relationships. Now of course any blogger worth their salt knows that here in the UK, disclosure is not optional! It also made me smile that one of the bloggers that he held up as ‘having made it big’ got into a very public spat recently when her integrity was questioned when it came to disclosure on her blog. Hmmm. Just a coincidence? Interesting none the less. And that aside, it was a really interesting session!
The last session of the day was Why Don’t You Like Me with Ben Stockman. Such a lovely guy but I’m still trying to figure out what this was about and I don’t think that I’m the only one. He was talking about how our activity online can affect our relationships and I’ll be honest here, I do wonder where some of his facts and figures were taken from. A case of being able to manipulate statistics to whatever you want them to say maybe? I don’t know. But basically he was telling a ballroom full of bloggers to get off the internet and get a life. Okayyyyy. I’m still trying to work out if his tongue was firmly in his cheek or not. Answers on a postcard fellow delegates!
We ended the day with a goodbye speech from the lovely Sian To before we headed to Boyd’s Bar for cocktails and nibbles. It was such a lovely end to a truly inspiring day. Did I mention that there were cocktails?! It was so lovely to have the time to chat to friends that I hadn’t seen throughout the day. And start my Sonny Angel collection. Don’t ask.
I learnt so much at Cybher. More than I have learnt at all the other blogging conferences that I have ever been to put together in fact! I can’t possibly write this without saying a huge thank you to Sian and all of her incredible team for putting together such a truly inspiring day. Here’s to next year…!
(You can click here to read more of my Cybher posts)