Blog On conference: A view from a newbies perspective.

Blog on Conference:

This year I attended my first ever Blogging Conference, last year when I was completely wrapped up in the blogging world I told myself that in 2017 I would go to Blog On and that I would find a sponsor to do so.

A lot happened between then and actually attending the event last Sunday, regardless of being totally disillusioned with the whole sometimes cliquey blogging world I pulled on my big girl pants and went alone (well with Danny to help with the driving, he ended up doing all the driving, though I did offer). I’m so glad that I went and was extremely proud that I had managed to get sponsored for a large part of the day.

I wanted to write this post to help any other conference virgins makers the decision whether attending an event like Blog On is for them.

If you search for Blog On conference reviews via Google then I think that you will struggle to find one that doesn’t rave about it, there right it was a very good conference but from a first-time perspective, I think I may have some unbiased views. Here were my thoughts on the day.

 

Price of a ticket was very affordable at £50.00 with the option to cancel up to 2 weeks before the event. Living in the South meant taking an 8 hour round trip to Manchester. Britmums which is London based was probably the better option for me but I had heard great things about Blog On and wanted to see what all the fuss was about for myself.

I originally pitched for Travel and Ticket expenses which came to around £160.00 , my sponsor paid £90.00 of that which helped to take some of the financial pressure somewhat. In hindsight, I think I undersold myself the potential in sponsoring a blogger for this type of event is huge.

I would recommend going in for sponsorship, especially if the event is not local.

 

 

I pitched to a few brands for my Blog On sponsorship and when Emily from Nibbling UK replied saying that she would love to sponsor us, I was over the moon. We love emilys brand, having already reviewed some of the fabulous teething products last year (Nibbling UK Review).

 

Here is a little info on what Emily and the Nibbling brand have been up to:

I am doing a Made in the UK line with natural wood and silicone. 7 rattles, 4 necklaces and 5 prom mobiles as well as offering personalisation on prom mobiles ordered at the Baby Show and baby to toddler show. 

I also have now signed distribution for nibbling in Scandinavia, Benelux and Italy so Nibbling truly will be the market leader for Teething Jewellery and Dummy Clips. I have also seen a lot of copies on Amazon from Chinese manufacturers.

Hotel Football was, as you would imagine a very swanky venue for the conference.

We found parking to be difficult despite having a list of places to park from the organisers. Most car parks will cost around £10.00 for the day. We found a residential side street to park, however, because my husband came with me he headed into town and still had to pay the parking fee. We originally tried to park in Old Trafford but the security guys were not having any of it.

The event was held over a number of floors, this meant lots of going up and down in the lift, not really ideal if you are on crutches or heavily pregnant (which I noticed a fair few attendees were).

I knew from the moment I booked my ticket that my main reason for going wasn’t really all about the sessions. I had done all I could to put the idea of the day to the back of my mind, I jotted down sessions I might like to attend the night before, with a view that even if nobody spoke to me then I could just engross myself in the class like sessions.

As it happens I did make friends and didn’t really attend any of the sessions. I found the sessions quite hard to locate, I think for the future better signage would be beneficial.

There was a large number of different sessions during the day, the few I did attend I didn’t really feel like I learnt anything I didn’t already know.

This was where I spent most of my day, chin-wagging with the PRs and brands. At the beginning of the day when I was totally on my todd, I befriended a few PRS explaining that I had come alone and was feeling a bit of a billy no mates. You always get this image of Prs being a lightly cutthroat and mean but at Blog On this wasn’t the case.

I didn’t really talk my blog up (probably missed a trick there), instead, I spoke to them like a mum looking at toys for her children. I felt much more comfortable chatting like this, it certainly set my nerves at ease.

If I were to have any criticism of the brand market, I would like to have seen more brands/PRS with a wider range of age group for the products. The tent setup was also not the best, being black it meant they were all pretty much in darkness. From a blogger perspective, this doesn’t lead to many great images to be snapped and posted on social media during the day.

My top tip, if you are looking to speak with brands and PR’S, would be to try and do this while the sessions are going on.I found it far easy to have a conversation without having to queue up behind a gaggle of bloggers.

Blog on was very well catered with a hot breakfast available in the morning (I was far too antsy to eat) and a nice lunch. Tea, coffee and water were available all day. I also saw some people with wine at some point, I’m not much of a drinker so that didn’t really appeal to me.

I was quite impressed with the goodies received at Blog On, it did feel quite girly which wasn’t really any good for my two boisterous boys. I also found a lot of the products were too old for my lads, I would have liked to of seen a few more age-appropriate products in the bag.

With help from Max, we filmed what was inside the goody bag and the bits collected from various stands during the day. You can find the videos over on my Facebook page (buttons at the bottom of the post!)

The raffle was a biggie this year with lots of prizes being up for grabs (as you would expect from an event named blog on at Xmas). There was a huge muck up with the selling of the tickets, the organiser did ask that the attendees who had received more tickets than they had paid for to come forward, from what I heard not many did. This damped the raffle because it meant it wasn’t really very fair.

The raffle (at the end of the day) went on for far too long, personally for the number of prizes on offer I would have staggered it during the day. There was a fair amount of downtime after lunch so that would have been perfect.unning of the raffle then had a knock-on effect for the collection of goody bags. Those with trains to catch or (like me) husbands waiting by the car would have found this frustrating.

The overrunning of the raffle then had a knock-on effect for the collection of goody bags. Those with trains to catch or (like me) husbands waiting by the car would have found this frustrating.

Saying that I did manage to win Kai a very cute talking baby teletubby which he adored so it wasnt all bad.

Ok so here is where I will totally divide opinion because naturally, people do not like to speak ill of blogging, or blogging events. As mentioned I went to the event totally on my larry (well with dan waiting for me in town as my backup in case it was unbearable). I really thought that if other people saw me alone that they would maybe try and befriend me, don’t get me wrong some of the bloggers were lovely, especially my blog on friend who basically let me tag along with her all day.

I found it quite cliquey, it was quite clear to me where the popular tables were. Maybe if I had a slightly more outgoing less anxious blogging personality I could have totally integrated myself, but I don’t and I didn’t.

This didn’t leave a stain on my day because the bloggers I did speak to were completely welcoming and really made my experience a good one.

One of my absolute favourite parts of the day was provided by a company called Star Kidz, they laid on The Grinch (just to keep us all in the festive spirit). I loved it I thought it was a really nice touch, the guy playing The Grinch was amazing totally spot on with his mannerisms.

 

For the time it took to drive to Manchester and back including the entire overall cost of the day, I’m not sure I would return next year.

If the organisers decided to move to event down south then I think I would be more inclined to return.

 

 

 

Photo credits: My Mummy's Pennies:  Nibbling UK  
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15 Comments

  1. October 2, 2017 / 1:23 pm

    Thanks for the honest post! I would like to attend but being an introvert with no real blogging friends / “tribe” to speak of, I’m not sure I could really get the most out of it despite really wanting to give the experience a go! It’s good to see this side of it. I think I would have an experience similar to yours – especially as I have a 6 hour drive to get there.

    • Kris
      October 2, 2017 / 12:39 pm

      I think when your travelling such a distance it’s important to get all the info. One thing I’ve learned lately is that blogging has nothing to do with tribes or pods or blogging friends. I’m so glad I went because I would have totally regretted it otherwise.

  2. October 2, 2017 / 7:05 pm

    It’s such a shame you didn’t get as much from the day as you could have. I’ve never found Blog On to be cliquey and I know, from when I started blogging, how cliquey some conferences can be and I always make a point of not staying with the same social group at conferences for this reason. I also think it really helps to find people in a similar situation beforehand so you have people to meet before the event and hang around with if you need to but, it’s not down to everyone else to approach you – you do have to make some of the effort yourself but I would always approach people who were by themselves if I was aware of it but I don’t think Blog On can be help accountable if someone felt ‘Billy No Mates’ during the day – they organise the event and can’t really hold people’s hands through it too although they do try their best with the Facebook group especially to help everyone feel as prepared for the event as they possibly can. The goodie bags also can’t please everyone – I put a lot of mine in a box for school raffles or give it to charity if it’s not appropriate. The raffle did go on a while but it was a new format and with 200 prizes it was really to be expected and I’m sure it’s something that they’ll look at changing next time. Personally, having been at both Britmums and Blog On over the last two weeks I would rather travel the 400+ mile round trip to Blog On every time. Britmums is so, so different and I think the niggles you raised here would be exacerbated at Britmums x

    • Kris
      October 2, 2017 / 7:15 pm

      I can only write things how I see them personally, I didn’t expect the organisers to “hold my hand”. This is merely my perspective of the day. If we all saw things the same it would be a very dull place to be and how would we learn?

  3. October 7, 2017 / 7:48 am

    Sounds awesome! Really hoping to be there next year.

  4. October 7, 2017 / 8:12 am

    Such an honest and personal post!

  5. October 7, 2017 / 9:01 am

    I have never been to one
    . Would like to looks like you had a wonderful time.

  6. October 7, 2017 / 9:20 am

    Sorry it didn’t work out 100% for you. I struggle at conferences because I’m an introvert, and find it extremely difficult to approach people, especially when they are already talking to other people. Plus I get overwhelmed quite quickly in big events!
    I think this is partly a downside of the ‘format’ rather than the conference itself – I’ve been to several tech conferences (for my day job), and it’s always been much much easier when I’ve had a couple of people I already knew and had either planned to meet up with, or when I just focused on the sessions I wanted to see and just didn’t worry about the ‘networking’ side of it.

  7. October 7, 2017 / 10:24 am

    Lovely photos, i wish i had the courage inside me to go to one of these events but sadly with this anxiety theres no chance

    • Kris
      October 8, 2017 / 7:16 pm

      You should just do it. I felt mega anxious before the day but knew I would regret it if I didn’t go.

  8. October 7, 2017 / 11:35 am

    This one was my first conference too and I really enjoyed it. I’m quite surprised you found it cliquey as I thought it was the exact opposite (but then I’m gobby enough to just talk to people lol).
    I found the brand den quite claustrophobic but I think I chose the wrong time to go round (lunch time and cake break). I really enjoyed the sessions I attended too and I’m looking forward to the May one.
    Would be great to chat to you in May!
    Debbie

    • Kris
      October 8, 2017 / 7:16 pm

      I think maybe if I had put myself out there more id of left less so, but who knows. The brand den was very dark which I felt didn’t help.We spent a fair bit of time down there while the sessions were going on so it was less crowded.

  9. October 7, 2017 / 12:35 pm

    Great to hear your thoughts as a newbie! I’m from the south too and so I stuck with Britmums this year as it felt too far for me to travel to Manchester for Blog On. A couple of years ago it was held in Winchester which was brilliant for me, I hope that it comes back down this way again because I thought it was a great conference. I’ve been to several blog conferences now and I still find it very difficult to chat to people, although now I can often spot a face I recognise. It is really difficult to go up to someone, and I’m very bad at it, but I’m always delighted if someone approaches me, especially if I’m on my own!

    • Kris
      October 8, 2017 / 7:14 pm

      If it was down south that would be amazing, although I suspect most bloggers are from the north. I think going to these events alone is always daunting, I did recognise a lot of faces but that fear of rejection always stops you from just walking up to someone and saying hi.I did have a great time, I’m definitely not knocking the conference or the effort the organisers had put in to put it on.

  10. October 8, 2017 / 12:39 am

    Of course, your experience and perception are your truth but I’d have to echo a lot of what Donna said as my experiences at BlogOn and other conferences are similar to hers. I have to say the cliquiness you perceived would certainly seem worse at BML, as it is a larger event with less time set aside for networking. I remember what it was like to go into my first conference without knowing anyone so I know exactly what you mean. I’d made a big effort to engage with people in the weeks before going, which helped as it meant I wasn’t going in completely cold as the world’s shyest person (which I am).

    I think it also helps if you can appreciate it from the other side of the fence. I can’t speak for other people but I’m not part of anytribe as such so I’ll pitch up at BlogOn with a mental checklist of 100+ people I want to speak to. I don’t do brand events so often this is the only chance I get to see people face-to-face in the year. So what may seem cliquey from the outside is often just people trying to say hi to as many people as they can and getting lost in conversation. Most of us older hands tend to be anything but cliquey – we spend most of the day flitting around trying to see as many different people as possible and we don’t hang around in one group very much. Even then, people get left out. I know Donna well but I think we managed to talk for about 20 seconds all day!

    Having said that, it’s a shame when people do feel excluded. Not that it helps, but you’re far from alone in that respect. There’s no real easy way to get around that, but at least you did manage to make some new friends, which is good. From your post, I guess you didn’t attend the launch party the evening before? That’s a good way to get to know people in a less pressurised setting – and it’s something that BlogOn does that none of the other conferences now do.

    I agree the raffle did go on too long and was a bit chaotic, but it was also all in a good cause raising money for the Community Fund so I think people understood that. There were a few other things that didn’t go as well on the day as happens with a move to a new venue, but I’d expect those will be ironed out by next time.

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