I woke up on the morning of my first bloggers’ conference with the strongest desire to stay in bed – obviously that’s not an unfamiliar feeling.
Harry has reverted back to the nights of not sleeping and, on top of that, I’d had a challenging week with work. So, at that moment, my duvet was more for inviting than the thought of having to go out and catch a train.
I recently started working from home as a freelancer and have faced obstacles that have made it feel impossible (I’m sure I’ll talk about that more in another blog). I’ve found myself thinking I’m just not good enough and that I’m going to let people down – not least myself because I simply haven’t had the time to write for my blog.
As I lay there, head buried under my pillow, I was honestly considering not going – I’d been thinking about jacking it all in so, really, what was the point?
But I’m glad I dragged myself up and out. because the day seems to have waved a magic wand over me and my levels of enthusiasm.
As I walked into the conference room where the opening speech was being held I spotted some bloggers that I recognised from chatting online. It was a weird feeling being sat amongst writers I have looked up to, strange to know they too had come along because they felt they could learn from others.
Here are the things I learned on at my first blogging conference:
We are all a little bit insecure:
During the Confidence Building workshop, I realised I’m not alone in feeling like I’m not good enough to do this.
One blogger told who the group she questions her ability all the time, to which Lee Furness, who was running my first session, responded, ‘But you are getting the work, so you must be good enough’.
That really hit home, it’s something my partner has said to me often (sorry for not listening when you tried to tell me months ago Luke).
I’ve been given more projects by the people I work for, so they must like what I’m doing. Equally, people are reading my blog and giving me lovely feedback, so I must be doing okay at that too.
Since the conference, my mindset seems to have completely transformed from ‘I can’t do this’, to ‘I can… and I will’.
Top tip from that session: When you’re talking to a group of people, stand at the front of the ‘stage’ with your legs slightly apart, it looks strong and confident.
Instagram is so much better than I thought:
Okay, clearly part of the reason I felt this way after leaving Harriet Shearsmith’s talk in session two is because she is just. so. awesome. If I had to pick out my top five blogs there is no doubt in my mind that Toby and Roo would be in that list. She’s a Blogging Idol for me.
Not only was she just as down to earth as her honest writing suggests she will be, but the tips she shared on using Instagram were genuinely useful. I’ve already used some of her advice for work and have been creating a content plan for my blog’s account too.
The best thing she said? If you aren’t 100 per cent happy with a picture, don’t post it.
Bloggers are actually quite normal:
BlogOn is a great opportunity to meet some of the bloggers I’ve been following and chatting to online, that’s one of the things that made me want to go. But I think I used up all my bravery points when saying hello to Harriet, because I never quite plucked up the courage to speak to any others.
Aside from my lovely friend Sophie at Mama Mei, I spotted so many people I admire: at one point I was in a lift with Real Mum Reviews, Run Jump Scrap, Random Musings and more… I was a little bit in awe!
I did pluck up the courage to say ‘hello’ to Nigel Higgins though and thank him for taking part in my Father’s Day post in June.
He gave me some advice I’ve been trying to keep in mind: You’ve got to enjoy it
Brands do want to talk to you, even if you’re little:
I’m totally over excited about the fact I’ve put my name down for a Harry Potter Games Night with Paladone later this month. It’s a little off the topic of my blog (which goes totally against Harriet’s advice of keeping to my ‘brand’) but… well… it IS Potter!
James who ran their stall was friendly and approachable and, despite me saying my blog is relatively new, he was happy to chat through what they do. I’ve ordered a catalogue and have a few ideas for what I could pitch to them.
It’s about finding people you like and want to work with and having the confidence to take them through the visions you’ve got for your post.
They won’t mind your numbers if there is good, relevant content to share.
SEO is strangely fascinating…
I had been looking forward to Nicola Louise’s ‘How to help people find you’ session, because SEO is a skill I’ve not yet got my head around.
At the moment, I’m focusing on producing content that I’m proud of for my blog. That is, I believe, the most important thing about anyone’s site and the reason I write.
But blogging means far more than that, there is so much more to it than writing a post and pressing send – so where do you even start?
Nicola’s advice on SEO was valuable, simple and manageable. Things like: name your images, put longer descriptions in your YouTube videos and use Yoast to put key words in your titles.
The one I remember most? Use phrases, not single words as labels – chocolate fudge cake recipe will make you far more searchable than chocolate cake and take you to more people.
Facebook Live isn’t just for cute videos of my little boy trying to eat strawberries.
My day of learning ended with a session run by Michelle Reeves and Ceri Gillet, covering something I’ve always seen as fun – but not key to blogging.
I’ve used Live videos in the past: on Facebook so Harry’s Grandmas can see what we are up to and on Twitter to broadcast the teams coming onto the pitch at the football. I’ve done one for my blog page too, but got few viewers so hadn’t planned on doing another any time soon.
I have to say though, I love watching them, Tova Leigh is a favourite, but I didn’t think I would get enough viewers to make it a worthwhile exercise. But, of course, that doesn’t matter – because they’re posted to your timeline afterwards.
I’ve come home full of ideas on how to use them for my blog and my work.
Why? Because when you post Live videos they go to the top of people’s timelines 😊
Don’t take the tram to Hotel Football with a suitcase that doesn’t roll properly…
Because when it is filled to the brim with all the branded goodies you;re given, you’ll spend what is meant to be a short walk to the tram stop picking it up from the road after it has flipped over and rolled off the kerb.
Happy, rejuvenated Amy did temporarily revert back to sweary, pissed off Amy whilst dragging the thing past Old Trafford Cricket Ground. But felt well worth it, when I was munching my way through the packet of salted caramel popcorn on my journey home.
It does feel like there are lots of cliques and that’s somewhat daunting…
So, get there early and meet some blogging friends. When you enter each session, you can head over and sit with them. You can pair up when asked and you can head round the brand tables together.
Despite arriving literally moments before the opening speech, I was lucky to meet fellow new blogger Daisy May. We teamed up to spend the rest of the day together and it was nice to have someone to share my nerves with.
If I had my time again, I’d definitely try to talk to more people and that’s why I think it would get there much earlier for a coffee and a chat.
Remember everyone else is just as nervous as you, but, also, they are all lovely and hoping to meet more bloggers too.
The wonderful Blog On team have been talking about holding the next conference at Hotel Football again in May 2018… I’d definitely recommend following them on Twitter and Facebook so you can be in with a chance of getting hold of a ticket.