9 November 2014

Newbie to a blogging conference: My first Blogfest 2014

Right. So I've had this blog for about three months and I attended my first ever blogging event. I went to a Mumsnet Blogfest, which is sort of a  one-day learning-oriented event about all things blogging and writing and connecting with audiences. I thought I'd write a quick tally of the good, the bad, and the interesting through the eyes of a newbie blogger that has just attended their first conference - because I was quite unsure what it is all about and would have found something like this pretty useful.

mumsnet blogfest 2014


To my very fresh eyes the conference seemed to be a lot about learning key blogging skills, about how to make your blog bigger and better, how to get money out of it, and discussing about phenomena surrounding blogging. I also thought the event was mainly pitched to budding bloggers, freelance journalists, and people that possibly have their half-finished novels sat in their bedside table drawer (ahem...). Very learning focused.

There were keynotes, break out sessions to choose from, some free time to socialise, and some sponsor stands to visit. Pretty standard conference lay out really. I went to all the keynotes, and my break-out sessions were "How to make money from your blog", "Advanced social media" and "Food blogging – where’s the beef?". I also wrote a post about the session "How to make money from your blog" - read it here


mumsnet blogfest 2014 coca cola


The good:
  • Plenty of inspirational speakers - I was especially blown by the Think Bombs. Camila Batmangelidh (founder of Kids Company) spoke about the cultural shift on how many of us seek to distance ourselves away from those more unfortunate by describing them lazy or unworthy. Francesca Martinez, a comedienne with cerebral palsy, told us about her journey to self acceptance, and Suzanne Moore, a journalist, told us that truth sets us free (but first it will piss us off).
  • I enjoyed the keynotes - it was interesting to listen to the panel discussion about technology and how it is affecting us, and the final keynote about writing and how "real writers" do it. 
  • The masterclass about how to make money from your blog was quite eye-opening - I didn't know much anything about it, and it certainly had good tips.
  • I did talk to most of the sponsors, and they were really interesting. I liked hearing about their charity initiatives, and got a lot of tips for blogging from Affilinet and Skimlinks. 
  • Food blogging panel discussion was also interesting, and hearing about how bloggers have gotten their cooking books published and what contracts they had was interesting. Apparently, writing a cooking book is not as lucrative as you'd think.
  • Food was delicious, there was a coffee bar (thanks for the constant supply of caffeine to one of the sponsors, Affilinet), and lots of free Coke, thanks to Coca-Cola. Nice cakes too, and the day ended in a free bar. There was a nail bar, sadly I didn't get one as I didn't want to queue to get a manicure.
  • Oh yes, and a fabulous gift bag, with some lovely beauty items, useful cooking ingredients, scarf, bag, a book, magazine and chocolate. I especially enjoyed the beauty products.

mumsnet blogfest 2014 crowd



The bad:
  •  I am being really honest here, but going as a new blogger, knowing hardly anyone, was a bit of a pain. The lunch time was painfully long. It of course would have been different had I actually gone to the conference with someone. As it stands, I ate my food, spoke to a few lovely bloggers, and tried to while away my time by walking around all the sponsor stands, entering competitions, eating macarons and Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. 
  • Advanced social media session - perhaps I just wasn't advanced enough, but the session seemed quite rushed and I was left thinking how on earth would anyone have the time (or inclination) to do all of this if they were not full-time, professional bloggers with their own media helpers. 
  • Because I didn't really know anyone, I left pretty quickly after the event was finished, so to me it wasn't a very sociable event. I grabbed a glass of champers, walked around the bar to see if I did spot anyone, didn't, downed it, grabbed my gift bag and ran to the train. Which was alright to be honest, since it had been a long day, and all those cooing babies (during the conference, not the bar) were making me miss my own baby even more.
  • Let's face it, the tickets are expensive. Were they worth it - I guess so. Generally speaking, conferences do tend to be expensive, that's just how it goes. It is easier for me as I live in London, so at least I didn't have the added expense of train tickets or accommodation. 

mumsnet blogfest 2014 think bombs


As a whole, I thought it was a nice experience. Not amazing, but I had fun and I learned a lot. Would I go again? Yes, I probably would. Maybe it will be more enjoyable if next year I will actually know someone at the conference!

Did you go and what did you think?

Linking with Brilliant blog postsThe List / PocoLo)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Follow this blog through BloggerBloglovin or Twitter.


45 comments:

  1. I'm sad that I didn't know you were there, would have been lovely to meet you. I'm glad that, on the whole, you enjoyed your day. I know what you mean about the cooing babies, it made me miss my girl lots.

    Jenna at Tinyfootsteps xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Would have been lovely to meet you too :) And aww, those cooing babies, they made me want to run straight back home to my own little cooer :)

      Delete
  2. I too went on my own, shame I didn't spot you! I'd love to know what happened at the how to make money session, I missed that one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is so difficult to spot anyone isn't it! I will be writing a summary of the making money session later this week (or weekend) so if you are interested check back here next week :)

      Delete
  3. I was also awkwardly shuffling around making copius loo breaks to make time go faster. Maybe next year there needs to be a lonely blogger meeting point! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hah hah, I was doing exactly the same! Every break time, even if I didn't really need to :) You know, just in case, it would be terrible to be caught short in those sessions... :D

      Delete
  4. I went too and it was my first conference experience but the difference for me was that I have been blogging since July 2013 and in that time I've built up quite a lot of like minded friends and contacts and it really does make a difference going to something like this knowing that you will meet up with people you have been chatting to for months and months. I like the way you've done your pros and cons. I wasn't too critical in my round up but thinking about it, yes, I agree the advanced social media was delivered like a bullet train and I didn't feel like that session was for me at all, I also found the round table discussion a bit pointless because, with about 5 different discussions all going on in the same room the acoustics were awful and I barely heard a word of it. Hopefully next time you will have got to know a few people and be able to stay for the drinks bit - free G&Ts! (but I agree no one wants to be stood in corner drinking alone!). I must say I got a 'super early bird' ticket for £65 and I think it was a great bargain considering the venue, central London location, the amount of food and drink and of course the big names laid on to provide us with an entertaining and enlightening experience! Maybe meet you next time?! X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah definitely, meet next time :) It does make a difference if you already know people there - I've been to plenty of work conferences where I've known lots of people, and been often one of the last ones to leave...

      I actually got my ticket just a week ago, so by that time the round table discussions were all booked up. It was alright though, because all the sessions seemed quite good, so I didn't feel like I missed out or anything. Hopefully they will sort out the acoustics issue for next conference though.

      I'll have to come and check your round-up too, always interesting to know what other people think of the same event.

      Delete
  5. I wish I knew you were there. I was there with baba and we went to the same sessions (apart from the advanced social media - I changed my mind at the last minute). I would have joined you for the macarons (how did I miss them???).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You didn't miss much with the social media - but I guess it's just one of those things, every conference has one session that just doesn't suit you. Would have been nice to see you and your baby, definitely :)

      Delete
  6. It sounds like an interesting day with a wonderful list of speakers but yes probably would have been better if you knew more bloggers. I've just been blogging since September but I'll go with you next year! ;) www.ourseasidebaby.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds great - would be fun to go with a fellow newbie :) Except we won't be too much of newbies anymore in a year I guess :)

      Delete
  7. Sad I missed you!
    I was in a similar situation as you, with blogfest being my first ever blogging event. I had arranged to meet up with some other new bloggers before the event, and some others using Twitter when I got there. This really helped as I found it a really social event.
    Hopefully see you at another event soon x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am sure that would have really helped me too - maybe next year :) I did speak with some other people, sure, but I think it is slightly easier if you already go there with someone. It didn't put me off though from even attending a blogging conference :)

      Delete
  8. I think that I would have felt the same after 3 months of blogging if I'd have been to BF then too. Back then I hardly knew anyone on-line, let alone enough to chat to them all day at a conference. However 7 months in and I feel a bit different now; I have a good group of friends. How? well I read and comment regularly on their posts, chat to them on twitter and FB and share their posts/tweets. It is hard work the networking/social media side of things however it will come over time. A lot of bloggers have been around for years. Good luck you seem to be doing really well! #brilliantblogposts Jess xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks :) I do love the social side of blogging, but sure, it takes time. I do find it hard to find time to do much commenting though - I do read quite a lot of blogs but as time is pressed I rarely get the chance to comment. But yes, little by little, and maybe come next Blogfest I'll know lots of people :)

      Delete
  9. I went along this year too, the funny thing is I think all bloggers are open to chatting and meeting new ones but we just don't think that they want to talk to us. I always assume no one would want to talk to me, but that's just a silly mindset seeing as we all have things in common and meeting new bloggers is also what it's all about. I went by myself but knew a few faces but would have totally welcomed more into our little group.
    I didn't stay until the end because I went home for fireworks night, but it was all really interesting and I learnt loads too. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope I haven't come across as saying people were mean or unfriendly! I mean I get it, people go there and see their friends and they get in their groups. I do go to networking events and conferences as part of my job, and it is just one of those things, people gravitate towards people they already know, and that is just natural. I don't feel like I was excluded from anything, far from it.

      It is difficult to go to any groups though if you are there alone. Maybe there should be a lone blogger meeting point next year like Beth Twinderelmo suggested in one of the previous comments.

      Delete
  10. I have never attended a blogging conference here in America although I have considered it. I am definitely interested in the money making and social media aspects they taught you while there. Maybe I will find the courage to visit the next conference close by now that I know you survived it on your own! ( ; Thanks for linking up with #brilliantblogposts.
    xx
    Lysa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really enjoyed the sessions - I definitely learned a lot. I did think before going that even if I was sitting around like a lemon with all other bloggers ignoring me, at least I would gain something out of the day :) In the end, it wasn't that bad, people did talk to me, and I can testify it is not that horrible going alone :)

      Delete
  11. I would really really want to attend events like this but I am shy and poor. I live far from London too. You are really honest and this is a lovely read. #brillblogposts

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks :) I think lots of people are shy, it is not easy to talk to strangers, and if you remember that it is easier to talk to other people. If you can afford it in the future it is worth giving it a go! (But maybe do try to get some contacts there in advance, just to make it more worthwhile)

      Delete
  12. Good to read this, I was partying so didn't make it but love a blogging conference. Can understand it feeling strange not knowing anyone, if I go next year, would love to meet you and hang out. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, birthday party, congratulations :) And yes definitely, if I go next year I'll come say hi to you ;)

      Delete
  13. Mummy was going to go, but felt the cost, and the journey (from West Wales) was really too far. She has her ticket for Britmums though, and hopefully may see you there! #TheList

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is quite expensive... I live in London, so the only thing I have to do is pay for the conference ticket, so a bit easier for me. I am currently thinking of getting Britmums tickets, maybe see your mum there ;)

      Delete
  14. I went as a newbie to a conference five years ago and arranged to meet a few fellow bloggers I knew were going at the station beforehand so we had someone to wander around with and have lunch etc with. Definitely arrange a meet up before you go to another conference, it's definitely a lot less nerve wracking when you aren't on your own ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That probably would have made a huge difference - maybe come Britmums or next Blogfest I'll know some people to go there with :) That would make it a bit more fun as well.

      Delete
  15. These events can be so overwhelming, I felt the same at Britmums, which was my first conference. I hadn't been blogging long, and it seems like everyone else has friends except you! Mumsnet was better for me because I now know so many more people. Another blogger who had the same experience as you at Blogfest suggested a 'lost and found' area so people who arrive on their own can meet others and not feel alone. I hope they think about that for next year, and the acoustics for the round table. I found the round table good, but did strain to hear amongst all the bustle! xxx #brilliantblogposts

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lost and found, or a speed networking (you know, like a speed dating) area would have been great, I heard those ideas before the conference, and after attending, I think they would definitely made the conference a bit better for "lone bloggers". I am sure lots of people would have appreciated something like that. I wonder if MNetters read these blogposts for market research purposes.... On the offchance they do...

      DO A NEWBIE BLOGGER NETWORKING SESSION NEXT YEAR PLEASE! :D

      Delete
  16. I was there too, on my own - if only I'd known you were there and we could have enjoyed a gin or some bubbles together at the end! I am pretty shy at heart, so found it difficult to go up to people and introduce myself (which I forced myself to do) - even though everybody there was absolutely lovely. Next time - let's meet up first!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know what, lots of people have been saying the same thing, that they went alone, and it is difficult to introduce yourself to people. It is definitely the same for me, I just feel awkward about talking to other people as I assume they are there with friends and are not interested in new people.

      And yes, next year definitely :)

      Delete
  17. I wish I was brave enough to go to one of these events! We need a 'newbie' meet up point so we don't have to go alone haha xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, a newbie meeting point - that seems to be quite a popular idea and has been mentioned in other comments and other blogs too. Hope MNetter take this into account next year!

      Delete
  18. I've never been to blogfest, but I did go to my first blog conference earlier this year - Britmums. It was amazing! I learnt so much! Would definitely recommend it for next year. Thanks for linking up to the #binkylinky

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for hosting binkylinky, such a lovely linky I've found lots of nice other newbie bloggers from :) I have heard Britmums is very good as well, currently thinking about buying a ticket...

      Delete
  19. I'm yet to go to a blog conference but I'm so looking forward to - at some point - I definitely think it's great to check out who's going first and plan a few coffee's or exchange numbers... It's not easy either when you've only ever seen peoples blog pics but never met them ;-)
    Thanks for the sum up... Maybe I'm the newbie next time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A few times I saw people I thought I am sure I've chatted with them on Twitter, but it was difficult to actually be sure. And also, even if you've chatted on Tw or commented on their blogs, it does feel a bit funny to go up to people saying "hey, I talk to you online". Much better to agree a meet-up in advance so it doesn't feel so awkward.

      I do have to say though I did mostly enjoy it, the sessions were really good overall, and I learned a lot. Just the social aspect was missing.

      Delete
  20. I really like the honesty in this post! Maybe next time you'll spot a few more friendly faces :-) xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you and I hope so, especially if I go to Britmums! :)

      Delete
  21. Dude looking through all these comments I hope you know next time to just tweet a few people up!! I found the whole experience of going to Britmums this year, MY FIRST blogging conference ever (yes I've been blogging for almost 3 years in Janurary and this was my first), really daunting. If I hadn't met with the lovely Aby from You Baby Me Mummy (who then became co-host for The List), I wouldn't have had half as good a time - but I was a chicken, I didn't ask if they wanted to meet beforehand and I was stood NEXT to Helen from Actually Mummy and didn't say hello. Thankfully while there I met people like Honest Mum and Kate from Pouting in Heels and Zaz from Mama and More as well, it has had a huge impact on my blogging life. I learnt from the whole experience that I must reach out. People want to talk to me and I want to talk to them!!

    This isn't a rant at you BTW, I'm just reliving it with you! And feeling it.

    Love your write up as well - I didn't go, so it's been interesting learning from others.

    To think you've only be going for 3 months and you're this pro-active. You are definitely going places with your blog love. And if you dare go to another conf and not look me or Aby up, we will be having words ;) Much love xxx

    And thanks for linking up to #TheList xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does seem that I wasn't the only one feeling like this :) So definitely, next year, I will tweet people up. Anyway, I have only been blogging a few months, and it takes time to actually to get to know people. So hopefully come Britmums or next Blogfest I'll have some blogging friends :) And if not, I will reach out! :D

      And you know what - I actually did see Aby a couple of times, but didn't have the opportunity to say hi as she seemed busy. I think I recognised a couple of other bloggers too, but wasn't 100% sure of them. So yeah, if I do see you next year I'll come say hi ;)

      Delete
  22. Thanks for pointing me in this direction post-BritMums Live, Sanna. This sounds a little more technical in terms of the content than BML, so probably exactly what I need at this point (for reasons that will become more obvious when I post on my blog tomorrow). I originally said I was only going to do one big blogging conference this year but I am definitely leaning towards going to BlogFest 2015. Not least because I will know some people there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I am already planning to go to Blogfest - maybe I will like it a bit better this year, and maybe catch you there :) If I compare BML to BF, I'd say BML was much more about wine, socialising and brands, and BF was much more about learning and writing. And BF is just one day so not quite such an effort to do it.

      Delete

Thanks for commenting!

I love comments and I always try to reply within a couple of days. Do check back for my reply, especially if you wanted to know something specific. Or if you check the notify me box, you'll get follow-up comments to your inbox :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...