On Sunday I attended my first ever blogging conference with Blogon in Manchester and to say I was a nervous wreck would be an understatement. I booked it on a whim a few months ago after a couple of glasses wine, a shot of courage and chaser of inspiration and then shut it from my ever anxious mind until the day itself.
Well, that day was yesterday and I survived, just!
I left with plenty of time to spare, my sat nav and the maps on my phone all geared up but I still managed to get lost and couldn’t find anywhere to park, which meant I arrived 10 minutes late, sweaty, nervous and on edge, not a great start. When I joined the queue I realised the people in front of me where all chatting like old friends and the people coming in behind me where greeting each other with open arms. I was all alone and felt like a dick! I contemplated leaving there and then only to realise that the exit was now blocked with the huggers and their suitcases and I was well and truly trapped. I was regretting ever going and should have known better than to try and socialise on my own, I was out of my depth and I knew it. As we headed to the lift I knew I couldn’t face a cramped space full of people who all knew each other, that would be one step to far, so I took the steps and half way up I was literally saved from my own self destructive thoughts. A random women, fellow blogger, started talking to me. She was so friendly and asked if this was my first conference. I am pretty sure that the beads of sweat, pure white face and look of absolute terror on my face gave it away but still she took the time to ask about me and The Strawberry Fountain and told me all about herself too.
This was enough to help me start relaxing. Emma from Our Fairytale Adventure then introduced me to some other people and gave me her business card in case I needed her throughout the day. This kind gesture was all I needed to get me going and I am very thankful.
The rest of the day was less frightening and much more fun and informative. I attended 3 seminars, Working with brands, Facebook, and photographing people, where I learnt a ton of things. I particularly liked the photo editing section and am now eyeing up a few props and gadgets on various websites. As well as the seminars I chatted with numerous brands, yep that’s right, I eventually plucked up enough courage to go and speak to these people, to find out about who they represented and tell them about me and my blog. These guys were all super friendly too and not once did I feel like my small, newish blog, was any less important than some of the huge pro’s I was sharing the space with. They even gave away some awesome freebies, my favourite being the Julian Charles candle. Some of the brands were also running competitions on the day and I was lucky enough to win a tin man teddy, some sweets, a hex bug and a teeth whitening session, which I am really looking forward to cashing in on in time for summer.
As if meeting all these awesome people, creating links with top brands, eating cake and drinking wine wasn’t enough we then received our goody bags. Now, before the event I was a little paranoid that I was being set up. It had been recommended that we take a suitcase for these goody bags and not just a hand luggage type suitcase, a full blown family of four style case but this seemed ridiculous to me and I assumed it must be a joke that I just wasn’t in on. But these comments kept being made and then I received an email reminding me to bring the suitcase, at which point I was convinced I was going to be the but of a joke. Like when one guest at a party is told it is fancy dress but everyone else arrives in appropriate attire. Well in this scenario it featured me with a huge suitcase and the word MUG written across my forehead. In the end I threw the suitcase in the car and hoped for the best and thankfully I spotted a few people pulling suitcases with great ease, assumed they must be empty too, around the streets of Manchester whilst I drove round in circles for 20 minutes before caving in and taking it in with me.
Boy was I glad I did take a suitcase. I left Blogon with three bags full of goodies, plus my prizes, all crammed into my huge suitcase. There is no way I could have carried all that home any other way.
The loot is now hidden in my office and will be dripped to the boys as and when they deserve a little treat. Although they did get a magazine and a toy each last night. No sweets though, they are all for me.
If you are unsure whether you should attend a blogging conference because you are nervous, or are worried about the cost, or think your blog is too small, I say GO FOR IT. I am so glad I went, I gained so much knowledge about the world of blogging, made some great contacts and have loads of goodies too.
I loved it so much I have already booked my ticket for the September event.
Hope to see you there.