My Biggest Blogtacular Takeaways

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my goals for this years Blogtacular, the biggest and best blogging conference in the country (and quite possibly the world.) This was going to be my second time at the conference, and I was really excited to be able to go to the pre-conference party at West Elm this year too.

As expected, Blogtacular was exactly the creative confidence boost I needed, and as well as catching up with some friends from last year and meeting some people I've got to know online in real life, I also met so many new people which is one of the best things about the event as a whole. I think working from home in any sense can be really lonely, so meeting people and having real life conversations is a huge thing, especially when everyone just gets it when you explain what you do!

For me, the weekend began on Friday evening at West Elm on Tottenham Court Road. I'm not always the most confident when it comes to introducing myself and talking about what I do in person, I could definitely be described as a webtrovert (reserved in real life and much more confident online!) Given that I've been feeling much more at ease with what it is I do and had my introduction nailed I found it so much easier this year to throw myself into talking to people (the wine may have helped a just a little.) The party was a great opportunity to catch up with people and also become familiar with new faces so that by Saturday morning when the main even kicked off I didn't feel like I'd arrived at school on the second day of term when everyone had already made friends the day before!

As well as the wine, window shopping and casual conversation, we also sat down for some round table discussions about various topics. I joined the instragram chat which was chaired by Katy English. It was so refreshing to sit amongst a group of people, some with 300 followers, some with over 15,000 and realise that everyone has the same issues - the algorithm, the lack of community, being followed fake accounts and online legging shops and above all, absolutely loving what we're all sharing but feeling a bit disillusioned with it all. The over riding feeling - and one that I totally agree with, was that all we can do is keep doing what we really love, only posting what is a true reflection of us and not what we think we get us more likes and followers because thats just not sustainable - or much fun! 

At eight o' clock the following morning, I set off for the main event. Over an amazing breakfast, I began to make final decisions about which workshops to attend. The day opened and closed with a keynote, with three workshop slots in between. I found it even tougher to decide this year, but in the end settled for Kayte Ferris of Simple and Seasons' Marketing Session, followed by a session on Finding Your Niche led my Mollie Makes editor Cath Dean, and finishing with a session on Self Doubt led by Sas Petherick.

You may remember that a few weeks ago I posted my entry for the competition Blogtacular and West Elm were running for conference attendees. Before the opening keynote, the winner of the most coveted £2000 prize was announced and I was beyond excited and grateful, and a little emotional to find I had won a runner up prize of £250 to spend in West Elm! The overall, and very deserving winner was Hester of Hester's Handmade Home who's miniature room entry was just inspired, and Shahira from Afro Glory also won a £250 runner up prize to make over her home studio space. This in itself totally squashed any feelings of self doubt that were still milling about in my head - to get a bit of recognition for something I love doing was the best feeling. Plus - £250!! I'm so excited to decide what to buy and to get going with our living room makeover!

I found both Kayte and Cath's workshops incredibly useful from a blogging and business perspective.
Lots of the topics that Kayte covered I had come across, and maybe even attempted to implement in the past but nobody had ever explained specific aspects of marketing so clearly before. Since the conference I've been able to really define my audience and have a much clearer idea of where I'm heading! Maybe it was all the sea related references but since thinking about the content I'm creating in terms of 'ports' and 'anchors' I'm finding it all so much more exciting. I've even started putting together an email newsletter as an extension to what I'm doing on the blog - so stay tuned for that in the next few weeks - there will be a sign-up form popping up soon.

The insights gleaned from Sas' self doubt session have stayed with me in other areas of my life too. We talked a lot about why we procrastinate, why we're not as productive as we'd like to be and why we waste time scrolling and channel hopping and making endless cups of tea. It turns out that the reason was the same for pretty much everyone in the room - we revert to these behaviours because they're safe. Nobody can judge us based on what we look at on instagram, or if we choose to spend the afternoon watching The Pioneer Woman instead of putting ourselves out there online. As soon as we feel like there might be a risk, like we might be seen or judged - it's so much safer to run back to the 'island of self doubt' which is equipped with Netflix, blankets, comfy slippers, tea and chocolates. Sounds lovely doesn't it, but spending time here doesn't actually help us progress in the direction we want to be heading. Of course, sometimes tea and rubbish TV is exactly what we need - but a lot of the time we use these things to hide from putting ourselves out there. For me, I realised that I specifically avoid doing things because I don't feel they match up to other peoples expectations of what it means to be successful - so I'm likely to place more importance on mowing the lawn, hoovering, or some other household thing because from that looks productive from the outside; keeping up with those things is what I think means I'm doing ok! There will be more to come about Sas' session in the next few days - she set us all some homework and I'm going to be writing about how that went for me.

So, what were my biggest takeaways at the end of this beautiful day?

First - I like my coffee hot!

There was a lot of talk over the two days about capturing our lives on Instagram. One conversation in particular was about how often people drink cold coffee because it often comes before the food they've ordered and they can't drink it until they've taken the perfect cafe-table-flatly. Not me! Yes, I often have a quick rearrange of plates and glasses and take a couple of photos (my most recent post on Instagram is the perfect example) and as one of my husband's main hobbies is coffee (both making it at home and hunting out the best places) it features in my feed a lot because it features in my life a lot! However, it's not so important to me to get the perfect photo that I'm willing to drink it cold - my Instagram feed is dictated by my life, not the other way around!

Secondly - I need to write for my readers!

Both Kayte and Cath's sessions were heavily focused on finding your audience and both talked about coming up with 'reader personas.' This is something I've sort of done before but I've never actually been specific enough to give my 'readers' names and properly flesh out their personalities. I spent some time working on this the week after the conference and it's helped so much, not only in deciding what posts will work but how much detail to go into within each. So, when writing I can think - do all three of my readers know what 'reduce by a third' means? Have they all mastered backstitch already or do I need to go into more specific detail? Of course, the answers to the questions are all inside my head, but it's really helpful to have three different people of varying abilities in mind when writing rather than just thinking that I know what I mean so surely everyone else must do to?

Thirdly - Glasses are deceptive!

Apparently I look very different with my glasses on! In my profile picture across all the platforms I use, I'm wearing my glasses, but at the conference I didn't have them on and so many people commented on how they didn't recognise me. In fact, Jenny and Lucy from Two Crafty Brownies and I spent most of the day looking out for one another after never meeting in real life and it wasn't until Kat managed to round us all up that we managed it - and again the culprit was my lack of eyewear!  So, I either need a new headshot, or to actually wear my glasses at these events!

Lastly - I love doing this!

I had been feeling a bit weird and deflated about the whole online-life-thing in the weeks leading up to the conference. I had been wondering if it was the right place for me to be - when I read that unicorn smoothies were on the menu for the pre-party I must admit I had a bit of a cringe. I'm really not into the unicorn thing, my aesthetic isn't super colourful, and I wondered if that's what people want to see. But you know what - I don't think that's the case at all and even if it is (to borrow a quote from the awesome Allison who I met last year) I love 'doing me' - knowing what I'm not just reinforces what I am, what I'm aiming for and what I want to share. Sometimes that might be the insta-cliche, but if it is - it's because that's whats happening in my life at the moment and I'll continue to be unapologetic about it!

To use another cliche, if people don't like what you do, they're not your people - and I can safely say that in the Blogtacular community, I've definitely found my people!!

(Thank you so much to Amber-Rose Photography for the beautiful photos in this post)



  1. Definitely need to go next year!

  2. I absolutely love reading about your adventures x

  3. I'm so glad we finally found each other, lovely!! It was fab meeting you, and I've really enjoyed reading your round up. Hope to spend more time chatting next time we meet!! Jenny xxx

    1. I'm so glad we got to meet at last too! Would definitely like to spend more time getting to know you both next time - hopefully soon :) xxx