Blogtacular Spectacular 2014
There's a funny saying "post wedding blues" that I have heard a lot from friends over the years and even experienced myself 8 years ago. That strange post event lull, that the roller coaster build up leading up to an important celebration is balanced by the come down immediately after all the planning has come to fruition.
I felt a strange sort of creative exhaustion after spending the weekend in London for the very first Blogtacular. I had joined in with the Wednesday night Twitter chats leading up to the main event and had whipped myself into a mini frenzy of excitement and nervousness, knowing I would be in the same room as a number of bloggers I worship.
For 36 hours I became a sponge, soaking up every bit of inspiration and advice on offer and by the time my head hit the pillow on Saturday evening, I felt like I had been hit by a bus. Because Blogtacular was made for me, made for the kind of blogger I aspire to be.
A pink seated venue packed with architecture that instantly makes you reach for your camera and crane your neck backwards to capture the magnificent ceilings, and 200 odd bloggers who believe it is absolutely socially acceptable to create little Instagram vignettes of flowers and honeycomb balls on a daily basis.
Heaven. I felt like I had walked into my creative home.
It's difficult to know what is best at conferences, to frantically scribble notes, photograph every slide or just listen. I found a little bit of each was perfect for me. I learnt some key lessons about my love of blogging at Blogtacular.
For once in my life I was early. Seriously early. I stepped off the train at Waterloo to a sea of people. A wall of noise hit me with the high pitched whistling of the train guards and the thunderous clip clap like horses, of the hundreds of pairs of feet rushing through the platform. So for an hour I was lost in London, with my camera and no shame whatsoever snapping away like an over enthusiastic tourist.
But I wasn't alone for long as I bumped into Xanthe, a fellow I Heart Snapping contributor and we bustled into a Pret a Manger on the corner of Piccadilly to wait for the other ladies who were checking into their hotel. Unfortunately as is the way in London, they headed to another branch and we only managed to meet in the queue outside the venue!
For an hour we gassed about photography and blogging over tea and edamame beans! I felt terribly lucky having time with a professional photographer and videographer whose time capsule videos have just been featured on the Canon website! I don't often take video on my Canon but I feel inspired to change that over this Summer.
Blogtacular is about being the best you, that you can be. Appreciating the value and contribution you make and about growing your blog to fulfil your aspirations.
The venue had such presence, the perfect backdrop for a weekend of learning.
The Friday evening was an informal get together, a chance to mingle, pick up the goody bags and browse the stacks of gorgeous books, meet some authors and make new acquaintances and friends. I was thrilled to meet Ellie, the author of one of my favourite interiors books, Design Bloggers at Home, whose humble nature made me adore her even more.
The highlight of the weekend happened very early for me! The keynote speaker for Friday evening was Joy Cho. The number one Pinner with over 13 million followers on Pinterest with an epic blog empire.
My brother very kindly walked me up and down the aisles of Target in America on FaceTime recently and bought a number of party items from her successful accessories line! It felt so surreal to be in the presence of a blogging goddess, who at the same time couldn't have been more approachable and friendly. It's easy to build up an image of someone in your mind, a blogger who you follow on a daily basis, who you feel you know, despite never having actually met them.
And that weight of expectation can so easily lead to disappointment but not with Joy! For almost 2 hours, and pregnant, she stood and spoke with the rouse of professional motivator and the humility of a mother, doing her best to juggle every aspect of her life.
I left the venue feeling like part of Robin Hood's gang of merry men. Inspired and delighted to have an evening free to talk blogging all night!
Saturday was a whirlwind. From waking up at my Mum's house in Ashford at 6.30am with Ollie in bed with me, who had suffered from a bad dream at 3am and wriggled for the rest of the night, to catching the train back into London with a minute to spare, to arriving slightly flustered from a stuffy tube journey.
And then it started.
Speaker after speaker with something different, but equally uplifting, to share with the finale given by an incredibly talented and driven woman Natalie. I don't want to spoil any surprises because if you missed out on the conference you can register for a virtual ticket!
These are my over riding thoughts from the weekend.
I loved being in a room of people who understood me. Understood my motivation for setting up little Instagram vignettes, endlessly playing with flowers and finding time amongst the mayhem of family life to be creative.
There were bloggers from all blogging circles, parent bloggers, craft bloggers, food bloggers, design bloggers, stylists and more. But with a common and collective theme of fulfilling your creative potential.
I giggled like a school girl as I asked for a photo with Joy. I stood almost open mouthed and wide eyed like Sammy on the first day of pre school, as a wave on inspiration came over me talking to Cathy, put the blogging world to rights with Heather and Gemma and felt so proud when Rich met me at a restaurant and sat down to chat with the bloggers who had carried on the conference at Cha Cha Moon. Well done to Emily for organising it! I wanted him to see what it all means to me.
And I wish I could have met everyone one. Because I have found in blogging, that one connection leads to another and another. And like minded people will lead you to more wonderfully like minded people!
I learnt so many lessons, here are a few:
- Kat Goldin has a hypnotic American accent and without hesitation I would fly to Scotland to have a cup of tea with her. Just to listen. 10 minutes with Kat and I felt like a new blogger, ready to take on the world!
- Kat Molesworth makes me want to exclusively wear colour and throw away all the block colour black items in my wardrobe, and never give up on something I believe in.
- White space is your friend. Cue the delete button on my "jazzy" background.
- Don't play it safe. It's your space on the internet!
- Don't give up. Keep trying to open doors until one stays open.
- Every blog can add value and that value should be recognised.
- Reward your loyal readers in creative ways.
- Set a friendly out of office if you feel overwhelmed with opportunities and enquiries.
- Always take the goody bags. Always!
- It's perfectly acceptable to walk through the streets of a city with a handful of helium balloons and take an endless amount of photos.
- My daily requirement of tea far outweighs the amount of ml little hotel cups and saucers can hold. Next year I may have to bring my own mug.
- Bring blog cards and don't keep them in your bag!
- Instagram can build a social media community in minutes.
- Your love for blogging will explode when you spend 36 hours with people who share your creative ambition.
- I'm not just a blogger. I am a writer, photographer, published author and entrepreneur.
I bored Rich senseless on our night together in London! In fact over the most delicious sea food I have ever had in Randall and Aubin I don't think I paused for breath!
I woke up on Sunday morning with a new feeling of confidence and calmness. You have to blog your way because there is no other way! Be yourself.
After a quick scoot into a charity shop (Only in London could there be a charity shop open on a Sunday!) we went home to 2 excited boys, who screamed out of Granny's car windows from the second they saw our train pull into the station to the moment we kissed them through the open windows, and a nice surprise from John Lewis - which looked rather lovely propped with my bargain charity shop £2.50 milk glass vase!
Until next time Blogtacular, I had a blast!