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.