When I started my blog at the beginning of last year it was purely for me. I had thought about it for years, since my eldest was born, yet never had the courage. I would read other blogs and kick myself every time that I hadn’t captured our days and how the children were growing up too fast. Then came September 2015. Eva started school and was soon to be 5 and that tangible change was the kick up the bum I needed to start my own journey. Roma was just 11 months old then so even though I will always be sad that I lacked the confidence to capture Eva’s first few years I realised it wasn’t too late to learn, it felt like a now or never moment and I am so very glad that I decided now.
Right then at the beginning I never ever thought I would go to a conference, to an event, or to get to know people in this online world. To be honest I was quite happy sitting behind my computer screen at home where I could hide behind what I did and didn’t know (google is your friend when you are just starting out with no knowledge at all that is for sure) and that is where I sat comfortable for far too long really.
Yet as I have got more and more immersed into this world and this community, as I have learnt so much more and my confidence has grown, I have loved attending events. I have loved the chance to not only learn from inspiring people but also to chat and hang around with the others that get it, that even though you are spread all over the country and have only ever talked online you have so much in common with and feel like you know them despite never having met face to face.
That being said blogging events can feel intimidating, they can feel exclusive and often rather than empowering bloggers with knowledge they can leave people feeling like they didn’t really learn anything, like it was more of a social than anything else and sometimes like you are just not quite good enough. I have been there myself after my first conference experience, and it isn’t nice.
I am one to always push forward though, to do things out of my comfort zone because that is what life is about and you never know where something will lead. So when Mumsnet invited me to their new format influencer event at the weekend I of course said yes! I won’t lie I had some reservations as the last minute changes they had to make to the venue, the ‘groups’ we would be split into for the day and the lack of information beforehand had people talking and feeling nervous about how it would go. However I am so pleased to say that once we got there, and for me, this was the best blogging/vlogging event I have ever been to and this is why, from my opinion of course.
Like I said I am sure they had the most stressful time organising the event as they had to change the venue with just a few days notice. It was held at Huckletree West which is the most instagrammable place ever (you know if you have the kind of cool instagram filled with walls and colour. Here’s looking at you Alison Perry!) It was lovely to see so many people taking advantage of that and the fact that noone felt weird because we were all bloggers and we all get it. There was no shortage of photo taking offers either. The venue felt open and free flowing too and whilst the signage for the session could have been clearer it didn’t take more than a few minutes of wandering to find them.
This was the one part of the day I was most nervous about. I wondered why we needed to be split up, categorised, we were adults and could do that ourselves surely? But of course in the whole picture of the day it did make sense. Yes we were split into groups and it was disappointing that of course you cannot be with everyone you know, but what you got from that was brilliant. Each group was assigned an agenda and it meant that everyone knew where they needed to be at what time and who they were with. It put a stop to people wandering around by themselves not knowing and I guess rather than being exclusive it felt inclusive and was a great opportunity to speak to people you may not have done before. There were also breaks to catch up with others and a few big sessions to include everyone too.
The biggest plus of this event was that you didn’t choose your sessions, every single person got the chance to go to every session and every talk and so you were never having to choose from one or the other and possibly feeling disappointed when other people talked so highly of one you missed. This for me was huge.
Also what seemed to set it apart from other events is that you got to hear information from the horses mouth, so to speak. Whilst it is nice to hear other influencers stories and personal accounts of blogging, what in their opinion is working in this world and advice on maybe what you can do too, it isn’t always accurate for everyone, or even relevant anymore as this world moves so very fast. For example there was an instagram session…with someone from Instagram! It was a really engaging presentation, the speaker Whitney Rosenthal was so funny and the information she gave was real, relatable and totally invaluable. She took the time to answer questions on rumours and things that as influencers we take as gospel even though sometimes they don’t make sense and it was amazing to be able to ask outright. This is also where the groups worked out so well as different groups asked different things so when we all chatted and got together there was even more learning and sharing that knowledge first hand.
I could make this post so long with the things that I took from this session and all the rest, but I wont. I will just say that I love instagram, it is my happy place and it seems the reason why is they try to promote kindess, they want to be the happiest place on the internet and I tend to agree that of all the social media’s, it is the happiest place for me. One of the big learning points too was that instagram doesn’t care whether you are posting DSLR photos or phone photos, they cannot tell the ‘quality’ when the algorithm is choosing who to show your photos too so it isn’t detrimental to do all one, all the other or a mix of both. It is all about being real to yourself. Also that video is big, I am not sure anyone needs to be told that with the rise of Youtube and facebook videos we see in our timelines above anything else but instagram stories, instagram live and native video is a big thing. Oh and you can post a video and a photo in one post, that is something I thought was really useful
The session on vlogging skills run by Canon I would say for me was the least helpful one. The people from Canon were really lovely and part of me thinks that maybe if you were just starting out with vlogging they may have stepped in to show you how to use the cameras as they did have a tripod with them set up but as most of us in the room were already doing it there wasn’t much more they could offer in terms of skills than showing their products. That being said they also did a group talk later which was good.
Facebook was another session that was packed with information about what is up and coming, what facebook is rolling out (and therefore will prioritise to do well) however I will admit I am not facebooks biggest fan. The things they say will work isn’t things that really suit me and my blog at the moment so the take home for me was that you can’t do everything and whilst I will still post and try with my facebook page it just isn’t where my passion lies. Although the fact that Facebook basically hates YouTube and not to post a YouTube video link into a post (pop it in the comments) was confirmed, but also that a link to your blog won’t harm as Facebook shows it in Facebook itself rather than taking it away from the platform so that’s fine. Phew!
Amie from Mumsnet talked about working with brands and working with them and it was so refreshing hearing some common sense things but that they really do value these in their approaches when working with influencers and brands themselves. It got me even more excited about not only just working with brands but creating my own content with that in mind too, after all this blogging world is all about the creative aspects and the ideas are the exciting part.
The last group session (in a room hotter than the sun) was led by Hannah from Talented Ladies Club about Business. She is extremely successful and talked about all things business, because every blog that makes money is a business! She said to have resilience, be confident in your blog and following no matter how small and gave practical tips on how to have all your admin in order to be taken seriously. There was alot of practical take home especially for people who maybe have just made the transition to a blogging income.
Finally we all gathered in the main room for a Q&A with Sara Tasker from Me and Orla (who has the instagram of dreams and a fab podcast – which incidentally is a huge thing at the moment too) as much as it is nice to hear from experts it was inspiring to hear all about her success and just what hard work can do. She went on to say that she has worked so hard at this, like we all do and it was refreshing that it isn’t always just as easy as overnight success like it can seem. She also kept it real with her feeling of self doubt and how she deals with it by labelling it and moving on, something I have been channeling alot lately too. They opened the floor to questions and I even got to chat to her myself after, she was just super lovely and had some great advice for my instagram too.
The only thing that I feel was disappointing in the day was the food. This is always one of the topics of conversation with events and rightly so, for most people with travel it is a long day and learning needs fuel! When we arrived there were amazing pastries and coffee (I might have had three croissants for my breakfast but in my defense I had been up a loooong time already!) Lunch was sandwiches and little pots of salad. Whilst it sounds OK the sandwiches were slightly strange choices of flavours (aubergine or chipotle chicken with lots of avocado) and were very big served in ciabatta bread which lets be honest isn’t the easiest thing to eat especially in such a sociable environment. I have to admit to eating my sandwich with a fork, after taking the crazy spicy chicken out! That could have been a personal preference but the drinks reception also on the agenda stated Pizza yet it was more of the same sandwiches….needless to say I visited Leon at the station after! The cocktails were delicious though and the water stations dotted around were fab..
At the end of the day like I said above there was a quick chance for me to have a cocktail and a chat before rushing back to the station for my train…..and subsequently missing it and sitting for an hour and a half at Euston! It was, trains included, a crazy busy day and my head was spinning by the time I got home but in a really good way. It was lovely to see friends I have met along in this journey, some I have seen face to face before and some for the first time outside of our computer. As usual I would have loved to have chatted to more people or for longer but I was there to learn too and for once that is exactly what I did.
It was a great event, everyone was so positive, it had a lovely friendly vibe and is definitely one I won’t forget in a hurry. Now I just need to get a move on with implementing some of the advice, I’ll be better at some than others as usual!
After my train dramas Eddy though it was funny to send me this at the end of a long day…..always keeping it real!