I recently went to my very first blogging conference, BlogOn at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).
I had absolutely no idea what to expect and was terrified about going. Of course, I had a fantastic day and needn’t have worried at all, but in case you’re contemplating your first blogging conference, here’s 5 things I learned to help you!
1. Get involved
I only found the Facebook group late in the day, but when I joined everyone was really friendly and helpful, and I felt a little less nervous about attending, having seen a lot of other people were new to blogging conferences and also going on their own. I also picked up lots of information that would totally have passed me by otherwise, such as the fact we should dress casually because there would be a ball pool (there really was), and we should take a wheely suitcase because the goodie bags were way too huge to carry (they absolutely were)! I felt a little bit more prepared for the day thanks to the group and I even chatted to a couple of people at the conference thanks to recognising them from it. It’s been a great way to expand my circle of blogger friends which is always great.
2. Take business cards – lots!
Not only was it great to be able to dole out my Moo cards (as if anyone gets their blog business cards anywhere else?) to fellow bloggers when I was chatting with them, but there were lots of brands and PRs there who wanted contact details and having a card was by far the easiest way to give them. In fact, there were quite a few competitions with some amazing prizes based on putting your card in a jar on some of the stands. Actually, that reminds me, I need to get some more for Blogtacular! (Yep, I’m going to a second blogging conference already!)
3. Go hungry
Thanks to following the amazing organiser, Laura, on Instagram, I knew that there was going to be a lot of food, so rather than having a hasty bowl of muesli before leaving home in the morning, I saved myself, and I am so glad I did. We were greeted with boards groaning with pastries and buckets of fresh coffee and juice in the morning, lunch was some delicious sandwiches and crisps, followed by brownies and flapjacks, and in the afternoon the most epic cake ever was dished out, whilst another table was full of flavoured marshmallows to melt into hot chocolate. And then there was wine! So much wine. I ate a lot, basically, and it was all amazing. It might not be true that all blogging conferences are also culinary feasts, but I think it quite likely – I mean, hey, we need something yummy to Instagram right?
4. Everyone gets you
They do. There is a patient queue to take pictures of the stunning cake. Nobody bats an eyelid at you re-arranging the table and nabbing their coffee cup as a prop for a perfect flatlay. You can make comments like ‘I was going to work with X once, but they wanted a do-follow link’, and they understand. I found my tribe, and they are all bloggers! Having only ever met a few other bloggers IRL, it was so great to finally be part of a group that totally understands you, and what it is to blog. It was almost like going on holiday to a foreign country but finding everyone speaks your language – so much that you would usually have to explain to non-bloggers (who still wouldn’t get it) was already understood, and I loved it! I must seek out other bloggers to hang out with more – they are a brilliant bunch!
5. You’ll want to go again, and again
Aside from point 4 above, I haven’t even mentioned how incredibly useful and informative the sessions were (though perhaps not the Scummy Mummy session at the end – I am mentally scarred from having to change a doll’s nappy whilst blindfolded to discover a sticky substance and my hands covered in something brown (which turned out to be Nutella!), and I am not sure their recommendation re wine consumption and babies is medically sound, but I am certain mothers will find their brand of advice hilarious, such as this post to Jamie Oliver about breastfeeding (read it, really)). I learnt a lot about the dreaded SEO, had some fantastic photography advice from John Arnold on a walkabout where I took a lot of pictures of the steam train conveniently idling outside the museum, and got to grips with some of the more advanced points of Pinterest. I learned how to approach brands, and got the chance to try it out in person on some of the many brands there. I even learnt to knit in the Black Sheep Craft Room, which I’ve been wanting to do forever, but I’m too scared of YouTube tutorials!
Oh, and did I tell you how much fun I had? I collapsed in front of the fire when I got home, so exhausted from such a fantastic day (and I may have had a mini bottle of wine on the train home that I won for the nappy-changing (I beat a mother of two, having had no children of my own – pretty chuffed with that! I can now say it with conviction when I tell friends with babies that I am pretty good at nappy changing)), but keen to Instagram it all and reminisce with everyone in the Facebook group over what great day it was. And there’s another BlogOn in September…count me in! If you fancy attending a blogging conference too you can register here.
Thank you to Laura and all her fantastic helpers for making my first blogging conference so memorable – I even won £150 towards a Canvas Holiday (by jamming the most items into a suitcase in 60 seconds – knew my previous vagabond life living all over the place would come in useful!) which I will be spending on a few days on their site in Tuscany in 2017! I had such a brilliant time, I can’t wait to do it all again very soon.