Way back in May this year I stumbled across the BlogOn hashtag on Twitter and found myself creepily stalking it throughout the day and into the evening. As I read about everyone’s experience with attending BlogOn Conference, I knew that I had to go next time! I’m usually someone who never takes the plunge to go to anything where I don’t know anyone, but I did and I’m glad I did.
About a week before I was due to head off on the 6.5 hour journey to Manchester, I started convincing myself that I shouldn’t be going. I’m not a ‘real’ blogger, I don’t have enough followers, I’m crap in social situations with new people… you name it, I found all the reasons why I shouldn’t go. But in the mix of all of that, I was also really excited too. I was looking forward to learning some excellent stuff from all of the amazing bloggers who run the sessions and meeting some of the bloggers I’ve ‘met’ online.
Eventually, the morning came. I was heading off to Manchester and leaving my bubba (okay, 3 year old toddler!) at home with my partner for the first time ever. As soon as I stepped on the train, I missed him and when I stepped out of the station at Piccadilly I had an overwhelming feeling of being ‘lost’. In that moment if I could have transported myself back to Joshua, I would have! But I pushed through it and found my way to my hotel. I rang my partner, spoke to Joshua for a little bit and then it was time to get ready for the launch party. Before I knew it, it was the morning of the conference and I headed off sporting my Star Wars Christmas t-shirt.
Here are some of my highlights from the weekend:
As it was such a long journey for me, the only way I was going to manage it was to stay for a couple of nights. I hadn’t originally planned on going to the launch party but I’m so glad I did!
I turned up to the party on my own, got a drink and sat on my own in the corner tucked away from everybody else. Laura came up and introduced me to a few people (some I recognised, some I didn’t). Before I knew it, I was in a group chatting, drinking and having a few laughs. I even ended up playing Mario on the Wii Switch at one point! (Yep – the party had the Wii Switch, beer pong and a range of other party games too!)
Everyone Is Lovely!
A few weeks before the conference I mentioned online a few times how nervous I was and I had so many people reassure me that it was such a friendly atmosphere and I’d never be alone and it was all true! Everyone there was approachable and I ended up speaking with almost everyone there who I recognised as well as meeting new people.
James kickstarted the day with an hilarious keynote speech, talking about using social media as a blogger. The entire room was in hysterics throughout because it was all fucking true… too true!!
Now, the sessions were definitely the thing I was looking forward to the most. I attended sessions on photography, Instagram, photo styling and SEO. Every single one taught me things I never knew as well as brushing up on existing knowledge that I hadn’t put to practice in a while. I did photography years ago and used to be quite a good little photographer, but since having Joshua (who is now 3 years old) I haven’t got my camera out so had forgotten a lot of things! So I’m looking forward to putting all the information I learnt to the test.
Throughout the day there was a brand area downstairs where you could go and meet with brands & PRs to talk about their products and perhaps even potentially working with them. I’m definitely not a natural when it comes to networking, I felt so rude taking samples, so much so that I went round once and came away with just one thing. Whereas there were other bloggers who were straightaway approaching brands, giving out their business cards and asking if they could take that amazing product in front of them home to review. I then realised if I wanted to network, I had to do it properly and so I headed back round again and came away with a bunch of contacts (wooo!).
The Photography Sessions
I attended about three different photography sessions (Photographing Kids, Festive Photos & Styling) because photography is one of the areas that I need more practice in and would love to get better at. During Lucy’s session, we all had the task of taking a photograph that sums up our blog. I had a bit of a panic, how the hell was I going to do that? But after browsing through all of the props I think I got it!
What I Gained from BlogOn
Honestly, the best part of attending the conference has been the impact it’s had on the social side of my blog. I’ve now got so many more blogger friends than I had before and so much more engagement on all of my posts. While it is true that ‘dad’ bloggers are a minority at the conference, it wasn’t a big deal at all. I spent most of the weekend hanging around with such lovely people and come away with friends!
The Goody Bag & Raffle
Now, you can’t talk about BlogOn without mentioning the goody bags! While they cut down on the goody bags (apparently!) this time around, it definitely didn’t feel like it. They are so awesome that I’m doing a whole separate post about it very soon, so keep your eyes peeled! I also came away with two brilliant prizes from the raffle – a Playmobil set and MeliBlocks.
I’m now very much looking forward to the next one in May next year. Will I be as nervous as I was? Most definitely!! It’ll take me a long time to stop feeling nervous about it as it takes me a long time to ‘get chatty’ around people I’ve just met. But… bring it on!