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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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?