Attending a mega blogging conference has been one of the things on my blogging bucket list, and last weekend I ticked that one off. I attended BlogOnX in Manchester – one of UK'S biggest and most popular bloggers conference – and I'm so glad I did. Not only did I meet some amazing bloggers from across the country – many of whom I've 'known' online since years, and interact with almost daily through tweets, comments and the #itsok linky I co-host – but I also learned SO MUCH about so many aspects of blogging. And networked with some amazing brands. One of the best blog-related decisions I've made:)
So, if you're a newbie looking to attend your first blog conference, or aren't a newbie but just haven't had the courage to attend one yet (it's ok, so many of us get the jitters at these kind of things, but the folks at BlogOn are so wonderful and friendly), this post will give you a lowdown on what to expect.
The venue was, as has been in recent years, Hotel Football in Manchester, adjacent to the Manchester United stadium. Great views of the stadium and a lovely canal just outside – perfect to sip on the Pimms in the lovely summer sun!
Anything goes – except showing up stark naked! If you want to show up in sneakers and loose jeans, it's fine. If you feel like dressing up a bit (after all, it is a whole weekend away from your kid/s, and you have all morning to doll yourself up and enjoy a luxurious toy-free bath in your hotel room), go ahead. Either ways, you'll fit in.
Just remember to be comfortable in whatever you're wearing as you will be on your feet and scuttling around all day from the sessions to the Brand Den to the wine bar and then to the loo (unlimited wine on a child-free weekend does that to you…)
Meeting Other Bloggers
This is probably the toughest part of attending a bloggers conference, especially one as big and popular as BlogOnX – moreso if it's your first time and you don't know anyone.
It's not half as terrifying as it seems. For starters, on the day every blogger wears a name badge along with their blog name so it is easier to identify one another. Of course it leads to everyone staring at everyone's chest, but as one blogger joked: "Just wear a push-up bra and you'll be ok!"
But everyone (theincluded) is so warm and welcoming, that you feel at home within the first hour of being there. Fellow bloggers will flash you a smile, some will initiate a conversation and before you know it you're downing proseccos all afternoon with your new blogging bestie!
Three Tips to Break the Ice…
I was advised (by other bloggers) to do these three things to feel a bit more comfortable on the day – I'm so glad I did!
1. Join the BlogOn Attendees groups on Facebook and Twitter. It's a great place to start getting to know one another before the event. There is sharing of numbers, lots of advice and answers to any questions or concerns you might have, virtual hugs for those who are feeling the jitters and a lot of banter – you feel part of everything even before the event.
2. If it's your first time and you don't know anyone, or if you're shitting bricks at the thought of walking into a room full of blogging experts and strangers, then form a small group (through the above-mentioned Facebook and Twitter groups) and meet for dinner prior to the launch party (more on that in my next point). It's easier to make acquaintances with six or seven bloggers who are also new to the whole experience. That way, if you're feeling 'left out' or alone at any point (not that you will, as I said everyone is super friendly), you have someone you know!
3. The Night-Before Launch Party
There is no official after-party, but there is a launch party the night before that is usually hosted by one of the brands. Again, the dress code is as casual or formal as you want it to be, but a nice top with jeans is a safe bet. The point of the party is for attendees to get to know one another before the event, and there are fun interactive games that help break the ice. So if you can make it, do attend it. It's fun and you will already know some people before the conference.
There are loads of brands who attend BlogOnX so this is a perfect opportunity to network not only with other bloggers but with brands too. There is a dedicated Brand Den where each brand has a stall with samples of their products and often, goody bags too. Most of them have competitions throughout the day, so make sure you enter – there are some awesome prizes to be won!
Me at the Brand Den hoping to win a pair of Hotter Shoes…
Note: BlogOnX is primarily aimed at parenting/ family lifestyle bloggers, so there are lots of toy/ arts and crafts brands.
Useful tip: Make sure you have your business cards with your blog name/ social media details at the event. The brand representatives/ PRs won't have time to take down your details nor will they remember you when you get in touch with them later, so make sure you share your biz cards with them.
There are sessions on practically every aspect of blogging, so make sure you attend at least some of them. Most of them are by experts in that field or niche or bloggers themselves, whose blogs you've probably been following, so it just makes the sessions all the more valuable.
The Raffle and Tombola Prizes
The Raffle and Tombola tickets are available through the day, and boy are the Tombola prizes awesome! The winners are announced right at the end… you could be the lucky one walking away with that huge doll house for your daughter!
PS: The money collected goes towards the BlogOn Community Fund, so go ahead and try your luck!
The raffle prizes (and that's not even the half of them!!!)
And last but certainly not the least… (drumroll and all)
… The Much-Talked-About Goody Bags!!!
If you've heard about BlogOn, you have to have heard about their EPIC goody bags! The two are synonymous, and I'm told they only get bigger and better every year. You are ADVISED and PRE-WARNED and TOLD IN THE CLEAREST OF WORDS to bring an empty suitcase with you – however silly/ greedy you think you will look, believe me, YOU WILL NEED IT! Not just to put the massive BlogOnX goody bags you receive in the end, but also to put the little goodies and samples you collect throughout the day. Unless you want to walk around with bags and boxes hanging from every part of you! And fingers crossed you win that tombola or the raffle… more stuff to stuff into that suitcase!
There were lots of delicious goodies…
And lots of wine, courtesy Co-op
Some delicious sachets of food flavourings and rubs from Spice n Tice
And LOADS of toys in the mahusive goody bag – I managed to take a few pictures before my son got to them!
My Overall Thoughts and Some Useful Tips…
There's a lot to be gained from this one day, and a lot to take in – so have a plan.
- The schedule is usually on the BlogOn website/ social media channels weeks in advance, so read up and choose the ones you want to attend, so that you aren't scrolling your phone 5 minutes into the session to see what it's all about.
- If you want to attend all the sessions, the only time you'll get to visit the Brand Den and interact with the brands will be during the lunch hour and tea-break, so keep that in mind. Or you could walk around with prosecco and cake and have a chat with the brands. It's all informal and friendly down here!
- CARRY THAT SUITCASE!!! I repeat – CARRY THAT SUITCASE!
It's Not Over Even When It's Over…
The connections you make at BlogOnX are amazing; often, your online blogging friends become your blogging besties. Everyone knows everyone else a little better, and if you want to keep in touch there's always social media (plus the BlogOnX Facebook and Twitter accounts). Everyone shares what they learnt, the speakers usually summarise their talks in a blog post and there's a lot of #bloglove generally going around. It's a lovely feeling…
Till next time then…
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