Cybher: Geek is the new chic
In October last year, the lovely Siân To asked me to speak at a conference she was organising. The first inclusive event for female bloggers in the UK, Cybher was going to be full of interesting speakers covering all sorts of topics relevant to women and so I was delighted to be asked to take part. As I said earlier this year, I didn’t really think of myself as a sex blogger back then but, inspired by being asked to speak about sex blogging at Cybher, I decided to introduce more sex content to Rarely Wears Lipstick. Siân probably didn’t know quite what she was starting with that email!
So, fast forward to Saturday 12th May and I was arriving at the impressive 8 Northumberland Avenue in central London to find myself greeted by crowds of women buzzing with excitement about the conference. Babies were welcome and so the fast-moving queue for registration contained a fair few mums as well as groups of friends busily planning what sessions they were going to attend. I was scheduled to speak with erotica author and organiser of Eroticon 2012 Ruby Kiddell about sex blogging in the breakout first session, so I was a little nervous as well as excited. As I’d arrived on my own, I spend the queue time checking the Twitter hashtag and discovered that the delegate goodie bags were beautiful leather satchels!
The Leather Satchel Company proved themselves to be rather spectacular sponsors, providing each of us with an iPad sized leather bag embossed with the Cybher logo. I hadn’t really considered a satchel as a suitable handbag before now, but my lovely blue and black bag will certainly get lots of use. Once I’d picked up my conference badge and bag, I headed downstairs to locate coffee, breakfast and friends. Dotted around this room were stands from all the other event sponsors, including lingerie brand Freya and the extremely generous folk at Palmer’s who produce far more products than just the cocoa butter body lotion I love so much. Fellow BitchBuzz contributor Alexandra Goldstein made a bee line for me as I arrived and it was wonderful to see a friendly face in such a packed room – Cybher turned out to be so much bigger than I thought! After coffee, a chat and a quick bite to eat, it was time to head upstairs to the ballroom where I took a seat with the fabulous High Tea Cast ladies ready for the first session to begin.
After Siân welcomed us all, we had a panel session on the future of blogging where someone asked the audience how many of us had sponsored posts on our blogs. I was amazed when half of the room put their hands up, because I’d never met a blogger whose primary motivation wasn’t that they had something to say and/or loved writing. Although I get the occasional freebie to give away or review on this site, I have never been paid to write a post or take advertising (the banners in my sidebar are affiliate links for brands I love, so I only get money if you buy something!). Still, it was nice that Cybher appealed to a wide variety of bloggers. Even though there wasn’t much for me in the panel session, the next talk was by Zoe Margolis on her experiences of anonymous blogging and being outed by the press and it was very fascinating indeed. A hush descended on the room as everyone listened with interest.
After a quick coffee break, I headed to the annex for my session on ‘The Ins and Outs of Erotic Blogging’. Ruby and I got a lovely audience of interested people who engaged with our talk and asked lots of questions so, before long, our time had run out. I realised then that I could have talked about sex blogging all day! Next I headed to the Victoria room for The High Tea Cast‘s talk on podcasting. I’d not really considered trying this before but, with Sam and Lea’s guidance, it actually looks pretty straightforward. They told us the benefits of podcasting, how we can go about it, and even recorded and edited a quick interview on the spot to show us how it’s done. This was my favourite session of the day – really engaging and informative. They even gave us all handouts with step-by-step instructions!
After lunch, I headed to a session on ‘Blogging for Good’ with Christine Mosler, Jennifer Begg and Liz Scarff and Siân To. Jennifer told us about how she raised money to build a school in memory of her mum, and explained that every person who bought cake at a fund raising event had done something wonderful. It really brought it home to me that the small things really do matter in efforts to change the world. We don’t all have to be actively campaigning, but it helps to do something and encourage others to do the same. These amazing women told us about how reading the book Half the Sky had inspired them to change the world. After watching the trailer for the documentary, and video about The Girl Effect, the audience was keen to get involved too. I wonder how many projects will be started as a result of that session? Cathy Presland‘s session on ‘How To Always Get What You Want’ was similarly inspirational, with one audience member finally sharing her secret desire to set up a social enterprise! I really hope this dream now becomes a reality.
In the final session, before the closing keynotes, I sat on a panel with Cat Turner and Ryan Wenstrup-Moore to discuss feminism. This was a last minute schedule change due to another speaker’s illness and so we’d only had a day or so to think about what to discuss. As you might expect, we could have done with much more time (both beforehand and on the day) as there were some fascinating points raised by members of the audience right at the end of our timeslot. I shall blog more on this subject one Friday to try and pick up where we left off. My day at Cybher certainly gave me a lot to think about and I’m sure it will be inspiring blog posts for a long time to come. I’m looking forward to reading everyone else’s experiences of the day, and hearing about the fantastic sessions I missed. Such a shame it wasn’t possible to go to everything!