I went to my first blogging conference back in 2014, just a year after I started blogging properly and it was an amazing experience. But, since then, that same conference I went to has changed beyond all recognition and so, back in April 2016 I decided to try something new and ventured up north for my first visit to Manchester and my very first Blog On conference.
The thing I remember most about that Blog On was saying to Colette ‘Well, they definitely do things differently up north’, and there has never been a truer word spoken. I was grieving for the loss of Britmums Live in the format I had come to know and love yet, all along, Blog On had been there, just a little further from home. I have no idea why it took me two years to actually go to it for the first time but as soon as I’d been I knew I would never miss another one.
The thing about Blog On is that it is so community focused. I remember proceeds being donated to the Cowley family towards a prosthetic leg and other proceeds being donated to Jenny and Gary, the stray cat who had decided that they were the family for him – and his massive vets bills to boot. But, since then Blog On have created an actual community fund where they help the blogging community at times of need and I know so many bloggers who have already benefitted from the fund. Blog On is in no way a commercial event and where other conferences can seem all about the money and the income brand appearances and blogger tickets generate, Blog On is just about making sure that ticket sales cover the cost of the venue and anything on top – raffle etc – goes right back into the blogging community.
But aside from the feel good nature of the Blog On ethos, each event is also packed with sessions that are relevant to all bloggers, regardless of niche, and sessions geared towards different levels of blogger to suit people at all stages of their blogging journey. There are things like social media sessions, SEO, photography and videography, confidence on camera, working with brands and creative, hands on sessions too. They’re a great mix and spread out through the day with plenty of breaks for socialising and chatting to brands.
And speaking of brands, there are always so many. I am at the point now where I chat to the brands to catch up or meet them face to face as I have worked with so many already. But, there are always new faces, they are always happy to chat and they are always a mix of niches too. It’s a great opportunity to network.
But, my main reason for going to Blog On each and every time is the great mix of people. At Blog On there are no cliques that I’ve noticed, just loads of bloggers all chatting, catching up and hanging out. You can skip a session and no-one minds, you can hang out in the brand den or you can just find somewhere to sit with a nice cup of tea and chat to your friends. It’s as much about the social side as it is about networking and learning for me. And everyone is just so damn nice.
There are always so many people at Blog On who didn’t have the time, money or inclination to go all the way to London and stay over for 2 nights to make other conferences possible for them and when I realised that all these lovely people were instead hanging out in Manchester it made sense for me to drive four hours north and spend a weekend with them instead.
Blog On starts the evening before, with a launch party full of games, music, alcohol and great company. The next day is a blur of sessions, good food, wine, more great company, a raffle, the toy awards and goodie bags. And yes – the goodie bags do easily fill a suitcase!
Blog On always goes by so quickly. It’s an event I love going to every six months and it’s one that comes round so quickly – and is over in the blink of an eye. But I always come away feeling inspired and a real part of the blogging community.
When you do the job that we do you find yourself spending most days talking to people online but being physically by yourself. Going to Blog On every 6 months makes me feel invigorated and ready to start afresh. It gives me that dose of inspiration and that feeling of having actual real life colleagues that I miss from being in a working environment. Plus, it gives me a chance to be me for a weekend rather than a Mummy and wife. It gives me time out which is so needed as a parent but time out that is worthwhile, constructive and so much fun.
So in four short weeks I will be driving up to Manchester, checking in to Hotel Football and spending a couple of nights surrounded by lovely people. I’ll take money for the raffle, knowing it will go back into the blogging community, I’ll eat mince pies, wear a Santa hat and celebrate Christmas three whole months early. I’ll go to sessions, learn something new and come home with a shopping list of props and blogging equipment that I’ll need in my life as soon as possible. I’ll smile constantly, chat to people I haven’t seen in months and carry on conversations we started at the last Blog On six months ago. I’ll drive home after it with so many ideas, so much going around in my head and so many plans, already looking forward to the next time. Blog On really is a highlight of my blogging calendar and you can find out more about it here.