I am going to be incredibly honest and say that my expectations for the event were really low… I have limited experience of the UK blogging scene as most of my blogging friends and the blogs I read are based in the US… I guess going into this event, being aware of major blogging events in the US such as ALT summit, I thought “hey, this probably isn’t going to be that great, maybe I might learn 1 or 2 little things, but at least I will have a chance to hang out with my friends for the weekend!”. I was open minded and hoping to be proven wrong… and I was!
So here is my Blogtacular journey!
We arrived at the event on Friday evening and on signing in we received these wonderful goody bags, hand printed by Zeena Shah and with lovely goodies including: a lightening bolt brooch from tigerlilly quinn; a camera necklace from ladybird likes; temporary tattoo from love it love it love it; decoration from the hambledon; a 100% recycled weekly planner from lollipop designs.
We started the evening with a bit of time for socialising with fellow bloggers… this photo shows Michelle in the centre with a bit of Laura’s head and I think you can just about make out part of my arm… this probably sums up how I felt that evening… little bit nervous and hanging back, not really knowing how to talk to anyone! Whilst there was an informal attendees group and a pinterest board for the blogs, it wasn’t really all encompassing and I think a more formal delegates list to allow for more thorough research before going to the event, would be really helpful next time. It might help to try and figure out who you would really hope to network with.
I was saved a bit by Tilly Walnes from Tilly and the buttons, who broke the ice by asking about my Organic Aubepine Dress and we chatted a while about our mutual love of Birch Fabrics and Deer and Doe patterns (two of my favourite things) as well as sewing in general, before somebody wanted her to sign a copy of her book! You can just about make me out in the photo above!
I was blown away by the opening keynote speech by Joy Cho of Oh Joy! I could really related to her as a woman/mum/creative and it really reinforced how much you need to go out and make things happen. One of the key points I took away from her speech, apart from that to be really successful it takes a really hard working ethic, was that change might be scary but embrace it, because this is usually when all the really amazing things happen…Joy was far more eloquent than me!
I arrived a little late after an early morning visit to Wholefoods Market Kensington, having discovered that SAF restaurant has closed down *cries*… to watch a video interview with Will Taylor. I love that his passion was colour, it is something that is a passion of mine too, and my biggest takeaway from his interview, was to stay true to who you are, stay with your niche, because at some point that will be your biggest selling feature. Next up was another amazing talk from Anne Ditmeyer. I love how honest she was about how she might be doing all this amazing work, but it wasn’t amazingly glamorous and showed us some diagrams and photos of her tiny apartments in Paris!
Anne definitely had one of the best slide decks and some really great slides about saying ‘no’ to working for free! I was really pleased to see this as a recurring theme throughout the event, as it is so important not to undervalue your time and skills! My friend Marigold has a great template email to send to those companies that approach you to work for free!
Anne, was another woman who clearly had worked very hard to acheive what she did and that was really great to see!
After morning break, we were into the parallel sessions, where you needed to choose, which session to attend. I started off with ‘blog to book’ with Tilly Walnes and Vicky Orchard (Editor at Kyle Books). Getting a book deal was quite high on the topic list in several of the sessions and I learnt quite a lot from this session including the importance of getting a literary agent!!
The last session before lunch was a “hands on styling” workshop with Freelance interiors journalist and stylist, Ellie Tennant. This was a great session, although I found that any of the rooms apart from the main lecture theatre, were a little tricky to really get a good view, although the venue, The Royal Institution of Great Britain, was lovely! I really felt like stylists, must just have a natural knack for knowing what to take away and add to a photo, or maybe it was just Ellie’s vast experience, making it seem so obvious! Some of the hints and tips she gave I already knew, thanks to the tabletop photography e-course that I took earlier this year. There was definitely plenty of information and behind the scenes reveals, to help you realise the reality of a photo shoot! The workshop finished with a hands on session, again it was a little tricky due to the space we were in, but I really liked having that extra element to put the skills in practice!
After lunch I chose to attend the blog business panel with Allison Sadler, Annabel Beeforth, Courtney Adamo, and Joy Cho. Each of the ladies brought a different element and perspective to the panel and whilst I didn’t ask any questions myself, there were plenty of really interesting questions being asked so it was a really great panel. It was really great to hear Joy talk again, but I absolutely loved Allison Sadler! It was really inspiring to see that she did what she did because it made her happy! Her bubbling personality and enthusiasm were really inspiring and she also holds a weekly get together on Instagram where people share what they are creating, called #makeitsewcial.
The last workshop that I attended was “social media with intention” with Cathy James of Nurture Store. I was lucky enough to hang out with Cathy during blogtacular as well, but her talk just revolutionised my approach to social media. There were some great takeaways about knowing who your audience is and where to find them, how to make social media more manageable. I am going to try my hardest to implement so many of her tips, so I can build up my audience and free up more time to so what I really love, which is “make stuff”!
The penultimate talk was another panel “secrets of the editors” with Caroline Rowland (91 Magazine), Heather Young (freelance interiors journalist and blogger), Kate Carter (Guardian: Life and Style) and Lara Watson (Mollie Makes). The women provided some really good insight into how they find their content and pitching to editors. It was really refreshing that they were transparent about the reimbursement that they provide for writers/bloggers.
The closing speech was from Natalie Lue (baggage reclaim and bambino goodies), another wonderfully inspiring woman who stuck to her own path!
Her slide pack, was again really wonderful, with her characteristic illustrations and some really great life ‘lessons’ as well as blog related stuff.
Kat Goldin and Kat Molesworth, are the brains behind blogtacular and I think they did a fantastic job and I was so impressed by the quality of speakers that they provided. Every time we finished a workshop, we heard people talking about another amazing workshop we went to, so I am really pleased that they are making the sessions available online as a virtual conference! I’m definitely going to sign up for that, as I completely spaced on making notes at most of the sessions, luckily as an attendee I do get access to a special rate!
I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with for next year!
The Sew Mama Sew Givaway Day Organic Fabric Giveaway has now ended and the winners have been picked!
Beth, who won the Ochre & Ocre prize
“My mother in law is so organized. I hope I can be that cool someday.”
Dana, who won the Coco Wawa Crafts prize
“WOW- my great inspiration is my mom- who I learned from everything- until today how to be a mom myself Thanks so much for this great giveaway!”
Sarah, who won the Lancaster & Cornish prize
“My mom inspires me — she was the one who taught me how to sew!”
“My daughter inspires me :)”
Congratulations ladies! Your prizes will be in the post shortly! I would love to see photos of your finished projects!
Thanks once more to the lovely sponsors who donated prizes for the giveaway!