Monday, 29 May 2017

Blog On Conference: My Thoughts!

Last weekend, I attended my first ever Blog On conference at the Manchester Museum Of Science & Industry - or MOSI as its better known.

I had wanted to attend a Blog On conference for years but for various reasons had never made it happen until now.

I have attended blog conferences before - Britmums back in 2014, and then Blogfest in November last year - I had enjoyed both conferences for the social aspect but had never really felt I'd learnt that much but I had always heard good things about Blog On, so a few months ago I decided to buy a ticket on a whim.

I didn't really know anybody else going which was a HUGE thing for me - when I went to Britmums I had it all arranged with a group of friends and I spent the entire time with them, with Blogfest I met up with my blog bestie Alex and stuck with her for most of the day.

This time, it felt different.

There were lots of people going who I knew from online but nobody that I had really spent a lot of time with in person before, and so I felt as though I was going in to it alone - which made my social anxiety go into over drive!

Launch Party

The evening before, there was a launch party held at the Village Hotels and I decided to go along - first I met up with a group of lovely bloggers at Prezzo for dinner, and I'm really glad I did as the meal was good fun and a nice chance to chat with people before going to the party (plus thanks to Laura from Dear Bear & Beanys amazing complaining skills it ended up being basically free, I mean....we did wait over 2 hours for a meal to be fair!)

The party itself wasn't quite what I expected if I'm honest, I thought there would maybe be a dancefloor and that it would be more of a traditional party but it was more of a quiet gathering really - there was food laid on which I hadn't realised beforehand, and drinks were provided too which was really kind considering the party was free to attend.  Don't get me wrong - it was a pleasant evening, I just hadn't quite known what to expect and I did find it quite difficult to mingle and get chatting with people but I'm aware this is probably much more down to my own personal anxieties than anything else.

On The Day

The next day it was time for the event, and after a bit of hassle finding somewhere to park and a hard time finding the venue - I arrived about 30 minutes late. The opening keynote had already started and I didn't want to disturb anyone, so I milled around the brand area for a little while and waited for everyone to emerge from the keynote.

When they did, I was pleased to spot some familiar faces - and I found that for the rest of the day there was always somebody to chat to which was really nice!

Of all the conferences I've been to, I certainly found Blog On to be the most friendly and relaxed of them all which was a HUGE positive for me.

The day was fun and seemed to tick over at a nice pace, with a steady stream of sessions and lots of brand tables to go around - I was DELIGHTED to see the lovely Lianne from Bertelli Communications there as I have worked with her for YEARS now and so it was lovely to meet her in person.

I also loved getting to say Hi to Alison from Playtime PR although I promised her I would go and find her later on, and then never managed to actually figure out where she was!

As for the sessions, I attended Colette's YouTube Before Editing session first which I enjoyed - I liked the interactive element as it encouraged the people on our table to talk which was great, and I got speaking to a really interesting guy who worked in public speaking which was nice as well as his lovely step daughter who, it turned out, runs the blog MamaMei which I am a fan of so it was lovely to meet her.

I skipped the second session for a bit of chill out time, and for the third session I made sure I got a spot in Harriet from Toby & Roo's Instagram session - to be honest this was one of my main reasons for going and I was so excited to hear what Harriet had to say.

She did NOT disappoint, this was honestly the most interesting and informative session I've ever attended at any blog conference - I could have listened to her for another hour at least!

I managed to accidentally skip the fourth session, I had intended to go to the Facebook session but I accidentally missed the start and I hate walking in to a room when a talk has already begun so I just hung around the brand area again.

I finished the day with my 3 (yes THREE!) goody bags in hand, and my lovely little Raffle win too and headed off home with my head full of knowledge and inspiration.

I have to say that Laura and the team did an amazing job, and my favourite part of the day was the chance to have some lovely chats and spend time with my fellow bloggers - I had so much fun talking to everybody that I had a chance to chat with! These events can be a real struggle with social anxiety and you do always worry that you come across either too shy or too in your face, but everybody I spoke with made me feel so relaxed and at ease - so fingers crossed I didn't come off like too much of a weirdo!

I thoroughly enjoyed Blog On and would love to go back in September if I can bag a wait list ticket!

Thoughts On Attending As A Newbie Or Anxious Person

I've had some people ask what I thought of Blog On for newbie bloggers or those who are a bit anxious, and I have to say I think it would be the IDEAL first conference to go to.

It is much smaller and more intimate than the other conferences, I felt there was a good mix of more in depth talks and talks which would be perfect for beginner bloggers, and the brand section was warm and friendly too.

I would advise still trying to make some connections online first if you can and perhaps arranging to meet up with some other new or anxious bloggers at the event so you can walk in together, as no matter how friendly the event it is always a bit unnerving to go into places alone if you're not a super confident person. There is usually a pre-event Facebook group set up for this and other conferences which are the perfect place to try to find people to connect with!

Did you attend this year too? What were your highlights? If not, will you be attending in future?

If you'd like to have a nosey at the contents of the infamous Blog On goody bags, take a look at my unboxing video below!

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