This weekend I attended the Blog On blogging conference in Manchester. I was really apprehensive after my experience at Brit Mums, but I really didn’t need to be because Blog On was an entirely different kettle of fish and I absolutely loved it.
Because Blog On MSI is much more local to me than Brit Mums, I went along to a dinner and drinks thing the night before with a group of really lovely bloggers. It was a really relaxed evening, with good food, lots of chatting and a very enthusiastic waiter. Blogging is obviously very virtual, so it was really nice to meet up with people in the flesh and get to know the people behind the blogs.
Blog on MSI was hosted at The Manchester Science and Industry museum, so if you saw a lot of #blogonmsi on your feeds, that’s why. It actually started a little later than Brit Mums, which was really nice because after a late evening the night before, the last thing I wanted to do was be up at the crack of dawn. It was recommended to bring a suitcase along because the goody bags are really big and thankfully on my arrival with my suitcase I realised this wasn’t a prank, because everyone had one. At the end of the day when the goody bags were handed out, I could see why the suitcase was needed.
Even in the queue to get into Blog On I could tell the atmosphere was completely different to Brit Mums. People were talking away to one another, asking each other about their blogs and how far they had travelled, which lightened everything up from the off.
On arrival, it was a bit of a rush to get everyone through the door and into the first session, the morning tea and cake seemed to only be available to people who got through the door first. So if you were at the back of the queue like me, you had no hope.
I wasn’t sent an itinerary, so I sort of bumbled along when it came to choosing sessions. My first session was about falling in love with your blog again with Michelle Reeves from The Joy Chaser. I had made the decision to let my blog evolve with me before I attended this session, but Michelle solidified that for me. This was one of my favourite talks of the day, because I’ve felt in a bit of a blogging slump, so this session got me excited about getting home and blogging again. It also made me realise that it’s okay for my blog to evolve as I do and that if certain people stop reading it because it stops being relevant to them, that’s okay because it will start becoming relevant to other people instead. It was such a great session and really started the day well.
If I’m honest, the two middle sessions weren’t really my cup of tea. One was about how to get creative, which talked a lot about spider diagrams and Pinterest. It just wasn’t really a productive session for me and I had to leave during the ‘creative’ part where you had to make something from bowls of food on the table. I have OCD so to have everyone rummaging around in bowls of food, just wasn’t for me, so I ducked out at that point.
For the third session I decided to nip into the coding session. I’m not actually self-hosted so it wasn’t overly relevant to me, but I wanted to make some notes for if I ever do. However, I did gain a lot from it and that speaks volumes considering it wasn’t even relevant.
For the final session I went to the talk on branding, I always love these kinds of talks because it reminds me of why I started blogging. Blogging is a huge industry now and it is easy to get swept up in the statistics, views, visitors and followers, so talks like this really strip everything back to basics. This session in particular was taken by Tim from Slouching towards Thatcham, who made it really engaging and actually quite personalised. He was very passionate about making your voice an authentic one, which made me think about my core values and re-centred my thought process in terms of my blog. Tim also made the session very entertaining, which kept it interesting and less formal.
I personally felt the sessions at Brit Mums were a bit more focused on those who had already made it to the big leagues and missed out the main information on how to actually get there. However the sessions at Blog On, were hugely devoted to bloggers with smaller followings and that meant I took a lot more away from it. I also loved the fact that the speakers weren’t very egotistical either and the talks weren’t a platform for the speaker to brag about their successes, which made the day a lot more inspiring opposed to demotivating.
In terms of branding at Blog On there was a varied choice for different ages, which I thought was amazing. Instead of lots of specific brands, there were a few PR companies, which I personally found a lot more relevant. One thing I will say is, I was a disappointed how certain PRs reacted to me when I said I had boys, I was immediately guided away from pink and stereotypically ‘girls toys’. Now I’ve a huge bugbear about gender specific marketing, so I was actually quite insulted at having to explain that no toys are off limits to my boys, because they are boys. If that could be rectified next year, that would be great!
The individual brands that were at Blog On were really relevant, so that was lovely. I absolutely loved that there were clothes brands there, although I would have liked to have actually been able to buy things. Rockin Baby particularly caught my eye, because their message is incredible. For every item of clothing they sell, they donate an item of clothing to children who need them in less developed countries, so I loved learning a lot about this brand in particular.
Although I’m still not sold on the whole Elf on the Shelf idea, I love Christmas and so I spent lot of time at the Portable North Pole Stand, where I won a magic key. As fireplaces are phased out, these keys are a modern tradition and are said to open a magic portal to the North Pole. This means Father Christmas can come to your house and deliver presents without needing a chimney or fireplace. I was actually planning on buying one of these this year, so I was really happy about winning one of these.
I was really lucky and won some fabulous prizes at Blog On ( – Rex dinosaur projector in particular). The goody bags were also amazing, so when I walked through the door Mr. C was hot on my tail asking what sweets were in the bag, while the boys were trying to pull out the boxes of toys.
After such an awful experience at Brit Mums, I was tempted to throw in the towel and not attend a blogging conference again, but I’m so glad I chose to go to Blog On. It’s a great conference if you want to mix with other bloggers, be in a nice atmosphere, meet some brands, learn some handy tips and help you get back on track when it comes to blogging. I will be making Blog On an event to mark in my calendar year on year. Thanks Blog On MSI! See you next year.