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Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Popping my Cybher Cherry #Cybher2013

Well, despite all the nerves I have been feeling over the last couple of weeks, I have managed to have an amazing weekend at Cybher.

Friday night I dropped my kids off to their grandparents, kissed them goodbye and went home to pack.  Dave was at a gig in Llanelli, part of the Hate Gauge tour.  He came home just as I was leaving to catch the Megabus in Pembroke Dock.  Yes, we were like ships that pass in the night...

It felt so wrong leaving my warm, cosy house and Dave, to go outside into the cold, dark, lonely night.  I quickly added one of Danny’s torches to my already over packed ruck sack as I remembered the car park and the walk to the Ferry Terminal were very dark last time.  It didn’t feel as scary with Mum by my side, but I knew it would feel very different this time all on my own.

The Journey

I drove through a dark,  dead ghost town to arrive at a light, bright Ferry Terminal full of hustle and bustle.  

I quickly bought a hot chocolate before the cafe closed then went outside to wait for the bus to open up and let us nocturnal passengers on.  I wanted to make sure I got the best seat!

At 2.45 am, the Megabus departed.  I managed to sleep for an hour of the journey, but after that it was just too light too sleep.  However, shortly after this time the #Cybher hashtag sprang to life with other delegates getting up for a "far too early" morning of travelling so I felt on line camaraderie with the other early risers. I was pleased that the bus arrived earlier than planned and I got to London, Victoria Coach Station at 9.00 am.  

After over six hours on a coach we were all in need of the “services” (to be polite!) so I had to join a very long and (ahem) fragrant queue.  Luckily, I made sure I had the thirty pence ironically needed to spend a penny!

Leaving the Coach Station, I made a wrong turn and started heading in the opposite direction for Victoria Tube Station.  I was distracted by the Horse Guard Parade down Buckingham Palace road.  Every time I travel to London, by chance I witness a special event like this. There is always something going on somewhere.

I backtracked and found my station.  I had a short Tube ride from Victoria to the Embankment.  This made me very happy. I can't explain it but I love the sights, sounds and smells of the London Underground. I love the breeze of fumes that engulf me as the carriage takes off and storms through the tunnel.

Arriving at the Embankment, I had a complete loss of my sense of direction. Where would I find 8 Northumberland Avenue?  Using the many maps dotted around the streets of London I soon worked out the way to Northumberland Avenue. I arrived at number 8.

Cool Cybher - The Warm Welcome

I was still late, so bang went any idea of getting there early, making friends and grabbing a coffee. So hot, stressed and sweaty, I barged into the venue for Cool Cybher.   Luckily, there was a welcoming, friendly atmosphere from the start.  The staff at the venue directed me where to go and the Cybher organisers reassured me when I apologised for arriving late and handed me my name badge, goody bag AND my Cybher Leather Satchel Co Pod Bag.  As I arrived late there were only two colours left Day-Glo Green or Orange, I went for the Green, not normally the colour I would have chosen but it was a free Leather Satchel Co Pod Bag so I am in no way complaining! I will write a post about the bag soon. I am a very lucky girl!

Cybher founder and organiser, Sian To was just finishing her “Welcome” to us all as I stumbled into the room.  I found the first empty seat, which happened to be next to a lovely mummy blogger and her cute baby.  I think I remember Sian saying that she wanted everyone to feel happy and relaxed which put me at ease. I poured myself a water, popped a mint into my mouth, grabbed a notepad and pencil and so began Cybher...

Session 1 - Girl with a One Track Mind

It was really interesting to hear Zoe Margolis, aka Abby Lee, talk about her  experience of being "outed" as the writer of Girl with a One Track Mind.

What I learnt most from Zoe, was to keep embracing the Blogging Community.  Her strong, London Blogging community really supported her during this difficult time.  They taught her how to take revenge by "google bombing" the enemy but most importantly got her to believe in herself and start writing again.

When asked if she thought bloggers should write anonomously, she answered a very well informed, very strong, "No."

This helped me a lot on my blogging journey as I often debate starting an anonymous blog so I can write with less caution.  However, I know deep down that I shouldn't.  There is no such thing as a truly anonymous blog.  Most people can find the truth with a little digging and a few clicks here and there.  It's better to be honest and open on your blog so you won't be stung when it all comes out.

Obviously, if you need to stay anonymous for political, career or family protection issues and your only choice is "Stay anonymous" or "Stop Blogging" then you will probably choose to keep blogging!

Zoe gave the best advice ever:  Go and talk to people at Cybher today!  That's what it's all about.

In "the ladies"!

The first "break" or "changeover" and I got to run to the ladies to finally brush my "bus bed" hair and wash my face.  On the way out, I ran into Claire from Ninja Killer Cat.  As you know, I was planning to stay with her that night, but we had not yet met in person.  I did worry that I would go all day without recognising her and end up stranded, homeless in London.  

I was so excited so I ran up to her and brusquely asked, "Are you "Needaphone"?" Why, in the moment, do I revert to calling people by their Twitter handles?!

Thankfully she was, or that would have been an even sillier question!  So I had found and made my first friend of the day!  Well, she prefers to call me her stalker, but I think it's just her affectionate pet name for me!

The night before I had e-mailed Sian and said that if there were spaces left, I would like to attend the Media Training Workshop with Michael Underwood.  I hadn't heard anything when I checked my phone and e-mail on the bus and now my phone battery had gone so I assumed my choices for the next session were "Ditch the Fugly" and "Living the lifestyle Dream".  I went with Living the Lifestyle ream.  I later found an e-mail from Sian telling me that I was booked on the Course!  Oops!  So sorry Sian if I fudged up the numbers!

Session 2 - Living the Dream

Natasha Denness, of Candy Pop Images spoke first.  Her vintage inspired images are beautiful and I am now a new follower.  She told us about a useful Twitter chat for lifestyle bloggers which takes place every 7pm on a Sunday using the hash tag #lbloggers.

Caroline Taylor of Patchwork Harmony has made some changes to her business recently and advised us to follow our gut and to do what is right for ourselves.  While you are forming your own business you can earn money by writing Editorial or Guest Posting for other businesses.  Caroline advised us to collaborate.  Look for others around you who do something similar or something that you admire and see if you could work together.  If there is a company that you would like to work with then approach them.  

Rachelle of Ted and Agnes  wrote a craft book with Dottie Angel, who she had only ever met on line.   That for me is the wonder of the Internet.  It connected two like minded women in Yorkshire and America and created Granny Chic.   I am kicking myself that I didn't buy a copy of this book on Saturday.  I am going to treat myself to one from the website for my own birthday present!

Rachelle had great advice for anyone wishing to publish a book.  When approaching publishers, remember to Keep Blogging:  your blog is as good as your CV.  It shows your writing, your content and your photographs. Your Uniqueness.  Your USP.  Write a sample chapter and give publishers an overview of what the book will be about.  Pitch ideas to people.  Never give up hope and hold on to Your Vision. 

Rachelle is self publishing her next book.  This can be done using Blurb, Lulu or by creating a PDF and uploading it to your Blog.


We went to grab a coffee.  I ended up grabbing a Diet Coke instead, as I admit  "My name is Claire and I am a diet coke addict".  We spotted Browhaus.  They were threading eyebrows, so we joined the queue.  I have always wanted my eyebrows threaded, but had no idea what to expect.  Well, it was amazing.  It tickled and didn't hurt a bit.  It was relaxing actually and my eyebrows looked great.  I am now meant to wait three weeks before getting them threaded again- no plucking in between.  I hope to visit them when I am next in London.  My consultant was lovely, very friendly, helpful and professional- thank you!  

We also spoke to the lovely ladies at Freya Lingerie.  They gave us a goodie bag with a lovely Kaftan- again I'll write about that in a future post.

Someone Once photographed Me!
All this chatting meant we were late for the much anticipated Mario Cacciottolo session.  Mario from Someone Once Told Me  gave us lots of tips for taking interesting photos.

Look for things around you to frame your subject - trees, a window, a door etc.

Use lines to lead the viewer's eye.

Look for shapes and use them in your photography.

Use a long lens so you can take more personal photos of somebody without making them feel uncomfortable.

Twist the camera for some energy.

Claire took this tip and used it in the photo of me below!

Photo:  Claire Toplis from Ninja Killer Cat

Mario gave us some pointers to think about:  Light, Composition, Background, Angles and Street Etiquette.


My belly was starting to remember that it hadn't eaten since dinner time the day before and if I waited any longer to feed it, it would have started grumbling at me!  Thankfully, it was time for dinner.  I had planned to collect a plate of food, a drink and then to carry it upstairs to eat in the ballroom.

The Servers started coming around with Ramekin sized portions of delicious looking food.  I wondered if they were a starter, but no.  We were told by one server that this was the main meal and we were only allowed one each.  My stomach did a sigh,  I took the vegetarian option, Feta Cheese Salad.  A few layers of salad with one cube of feta cheese.  It tasted lovely, but didn't touch the sides.  However, later I was also offered the vegetarian Dim Sum, so I gladly took a portion of that.  The mint mousse dessert was lovely.  I hope next year there is a buffet or a sit down meal.  I would gladly pay more to have a decent amount of food to fill me up after the long journey.  If I could get there earlier I'd have eaten before, but there just wasn't the time.

However, this was my favourite time of the day as I got to meet some more bloggers, JoPink Oddy, Julie, Kellie, Purple Ella, Erin, Ella and Lili. I admit that I didn't speak to lots of new people but I think that is very difficult on one day.  I met great friends, who I felt relaxed in their company and had a laugh with.  At my next event, I will have some familiar faces to look forward to seeing, and I'm sure I will add even more Bloggers, who I now think of as friends to my list.  It takes time to build true connections in the real World.  

Sh*t I didn't already know

When this talk started, it confirmed my fears.  Typecast Nickie was not at Cybher.  A family emergency came up and regretfully Nickie had to miss the day.  You were very missed, Nickie!

This session was aimed at beginners, Bloggers who had started less than a year ago.  I have been blogging for just over a year but there is always something new to learn!

Sian looked gorgeous in a Cybher Cobalt Blue dress.  It looked amazing against the pink background.  Claire looked like the most glamorous pregnant lady I have ever seen!  

If like me you were not a complete beginner then this session could have been called, Sh*t I do know but I forget to do!  

Oh yeah.

  • The brand thing.  I know I need to have a consistent image across all my social media platforms and blog.  I know I need to update my Google + Covers.  As soon as I do they will resize them again, I am sure.  

  • Keep up with housekeeping.  In real life as well as in Blogging, I am guilty of wanting to have fun, be creative and avoid the housekeeping.  No, don't do this- keep up with it!  Fix those broken links!

  • Don't have a Word Tag Cloud.

  • Have a search box on your blog.  (I do!  *Halo Beams*)

  • Put the blogs you love on their own page- not in the sidebar. I keep meaning to do this to tidy up my cluttered blog.

  • Make good use of pages to organise your blog.

  • Have white space.  I definitely prefer a clutter free white blog theme nowadays.

  • Make sure you have Share Buttons on site and for each post.

  • Have a Pinterest friendly button.

  • Have a Copyright notice in the footer.  Watermark your images.  

  • Personalise your blog style.  Make your handwriting into a font to use for Headings or Buttons on blog.

Storytelling with Donal Macintryre

I don't know if my hopes were too high for this session or I was just starting to wane after a busy day, but Donal did not grab my attention as  public speaker on this occasion. It was uncanny, how much he sounded like Dara O Briain in real life.  I found myself drifting off and though I admit he had a lovely relaxing speaking voice I was not gripped by the story he was telling.

I must say that other ladies came out mesmerised and loved this session though, so it was obviously just not the one for me.

Google Plus with Maggie Woodley

This was a great session.  Maggie gave brilliant advice to the beginners setting up their Google Plus for the first time and also how to optimise our use of it for the G+ Converts.

I need to upload my new cover size for my Personal G+ Page and my Blog Page.  Maggie advises to use a different image for these accounts to keep them distinct from each other.  Maggie concentrated more on her Red Ted Art Google+ page but reminded us that you only get Google Authorship on your personal page.

She also suggested some other "Circles" to add.  My Circles are broad, one just consists of "Bloggers".  Maggie suggests adding circles, such as "Craft", "Food" etc to make your circles more relevant.

A briliant tip is to suggest to new followers which circles they should add you to.  

In the Google plus update box here are some edit tips.


 *text* to bold = text

_text_ to italic = text 

-text- to strike through = text

Google Plus have not rolled out named addresses yet which is a shame.  You can buy a vanity url and redirect it to your google plus page if you really want a neat Google Plus address.

Make the most of the new Google animations when you upload five photos taken successively to your page.  

Upload photos as well as just posts with a photo.

Upload three or four times a day.

Play.  Experiment.  Discover.

Maggie also signed our copy of her new book, Red Ted Art.  We love it!  I will blog about it soon.

How to Make Your Blog Pay

Doug Richard and Medeia from School For Start Ups, were very charismatic  and engaging in this session.  

There is a commercial difference between Audience Versus Community.

Communities make more money, they are stickier traffic and they keep on interacting whether you're there with them or not.

He told us the inspiring story of My Little Paris.  It started off a photo and some text e-mailed to friends.  Now it is a huge website with everyone wanting their own piece of Little Paris.

Affiliations with brands that work well with your blog can make good money.  

Approach brands that you think would be a good match to get the best deal.

The value is tied to it's attractiveness and accessibility.

There was a funny moment when Doug Richard told us that we didn't have to disclose that we are making money from a link.  Luckily, we had some bloggers in with us who had attended the "Keep it Legal" session to clear the matter up.  Always be honest and disclose.

The Last Session

I was disappointed that I didn't find time to crochet with Mollie Makes as I really love their magazine.  I also wanted to spend more time at Home Barn.  I wish I'd gone downstairs instead of attending "Why don't you like me?"by Ben Stockman.

The last session was a series of seemingly negative facts about our relationship with Social Media, ironic, as we were all together today as a positive outcome of Social Media.

Then after  a goodbye from Sian, it was time for the Collective Bias Cocktail Party.

Wine and Nibbles


It had been a long day, but it was so lovely to drink wine, cocktails and mocktails together and chat about our day.


I thought there was going to be free drinks until Eleven but thankfully for my head and reputation the free drinks came to a close early and at £6.50 for a drop of wine, I couldn't afford to get drunk.  The one thing I don't like about London!

We said our goodbyes to PinkOddy and Julie (who we had convinced to stay for the party!  :-) ).

Gentlemen, room intrudors and Nearly Naked Men

Claire and I went off looking for a taxi rank, when we didn't find one and had no idea which direction to head in, we asked some Door Men where the nearest Taxi Rank was.  One of them, being a gent, said, "Don't worry, I'll sort this out for you."  He left the door, immediately hailed a black cab, and opened the door for us both to enter.  What a lovely man!

We got back to the hotel and I looked through my wonderful goodie bag.  I will blog about it in more detail but here's a quick peek:

Then the adults in our adjoining room kept frantically trying the handle on our shared door trying to get through.  At first we put it down to kids, or drunk adults looking for the bathroom.  When it continued, Claire rang reception.  As soon as she hung up, we heared the phone ringing in the next room.  We had to stifle our giggles as we listened to that conversation.

I slept well and had a lovely breakfast at the Holiday Inn.

Then we walked and Tubed it into London.  I will write a post about my wonderful visit to Hamleys and Lush.

As I made my way back to the Tube all these Skaters on their weekly Sunday Stroll hollered past me! It was amazing!  What energy!  Shall we bring our skates to London, Jo and Ceri?!

So yes,I know Blogger Conferences and any events with lots of different people there can be intimidating, but relax, make a couple of friends and you will have a wonderful, inspiring time!  Thanks Cybher and all the lovely people who were so kind to me on the day!

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