Blog On MSI 2016 was my first experience of a bloggers conference, I was extremely excited and ridiculously nervous about the whole affair.
Waking in the early hours I tiptoed around getting ready whilst trying not to wake the troops. I barely even managed a bowl of cornflakes due to nerves and after throwing my suitcase (which I was informed we would all require) into the boot and checking I had packed everything bar the kitchen sink I finally set off southwards praying my nerves would steady themselves.
I hate traveling alone and so had arranged to pickup a fellow blogger on the way to share the journey with. I arrived early at the pickup point and patiently waited for Karen from Two Tiny Hands. It was only seven-thirty in the morning, the cockerel was literally only just crowing quite loudly actually whilst also stamping its feet on my car bonnet as I sat waiting.
Karen arrived cool as a cucumber right on time, we then headed back out to the Motorway towards Manchester. Karen seemed lovely and I tried my hardest not to bore her with my random ramblings or worse, terrify her with my dodgy driving.
We arrived in Manchester almost an hour later and began searching for the venue car park. After getting rather lost, driving down a one way street the wrong way and hitting tram tracks we decided to go with the ‘any car park will do’ philosophy.
It’s Heating Up!
All my lighter, cooler spare clothes and shoes which I took with me should my Christmas apparel not suit somehow got left in the car. After a ten minute walk to the venue I realised that perhaps Ugg boots were a little too warm for a conference afterall but made do. I simply cannot cope when my feet are too hot or worse, too cold. I don’t know about you but my feet seem to be my bodies control centre for temperature.
Meeting & Greeting
I began spotting and meeting bloggers all of which were luckily carrying the aforementioned suitcases and were also sporting Christmas outfits. I no longer felt so nervous that I’d stand out like a sore thumb, I began to feel part of it. It was then that the fun began…
We were all escorted into the conference venue in groups of twenty or so and then asked to put our suitcases into a corner and line up for registration. After registering and making myself a name badge I began perusing the brand stands, picking up random merchandise and of course mingling with fellow bloggers.
The Key Note Speeches
After a quick look at the product stands we were all ushered into the main conference room for the keynote opening speeches. On each table was a selection of stationary freebies along with some competition crackers, badges and random accessories. I collected a few bits and pieces for the handbag whilst trying my hardest to hear Sarah minus the microphone.
As part of the opening speeches, Olivia Pennelle (Liv) from ‘Liv’s Recovery Kitchen‘ shared her Survival Story with us all. She was incredibly brave to stand and to share such an emotional ordeal with us, I was really taken aback.
Olivia’s story was inspiring, it has spurred me to continue sharing as an individual, a wife, a Mother, and as a blogger. I wish Olivia all the very best for her exciting future in America and hope that she continues to stay on the road to recovery.
Browsing The Brands
Following the key speeches we were given another chance to mingle with the bloggers and the brands networking for future business/ blogger opportunities.
Bumping Into Brilliant Bloggers
Whilst queuing to buy raffle tickets which I didn’t win a single thing on despite there being hundreds of prizes I bumped into Donna from What The Redhead Said.
Donna has been so helpful over the past year or so, it was great to put finally put a name to a face and of course to take an obligatory selfie!
I had already planned which sessions I wanted to attend and had made detailed notes of the topics, speakers and outline of the day in my trusty blogging notebook.
There were a number of sessions throughout the day led by well-known bloggers on a variety of topics. We could each choose four sessions to attend, I choose to attend the following:
- Session One – Making Money with Mel from ‘Le Coin de Mel‘.
- Session Two- Planning Creative Blog Content – Finding Inspiration from the Seasons with Grace from ‘Eats Amazing‘.
- Session Three- WordPress (How To Give Your Blog An MOT) with Zoe from ‘MamaGeek‘.
- Session Four- Instagram with Kate Ellison from Mummy Daddy Me and Colette from ‘Going On An Adventure‘
I will write a more detailed post upon these sessions at a later date.
At midday we were provided with a Christmas themed buffet, whilst I’ll be honest it didn’t totally live up to my expectations, it was still fairly tasty but didn’t really fill me.
Banter With The Bloggers
The main reason for attending the Blog On conference was so that I could meet other bloggers. I was rather overwhelmed when people began approaching me already aware of who I was. The red hair must be a give away either that or the eyeliner.
I really enjoyed getting to know bloggers new and known by which I mean those that I follow and read and those that were totally new to me.
I am not one for favourites but there were two bloggers that I really seemed to really warm to. Holly from Little Pickles Mom and Angela from Adventures In Websterland were so sweet, you know those people who you instantly hit it off with? They were so friendly, funny and fab, I hope we get to meet again soon!
What Did I Learn?
I learnt a great deal throughout the sessions and by meeting bloggers and brands. I wrote pages of notes in each session and have since started to use some of the information I’ve gathered to begin building my brand, improving my Instagram, promoting products, working with companies, developing my design and most importantly to begin believing in myself.
The Secret Sing Along
Before leaving the conference I took part in a secret sing-along and despite The Twelve Days Of Christmas being far too high-pitched for my voice I got up and I did it, I sang in front of hundreds of people fueled by the many mince pies and large amounts of cake I had consumed.
The Goody Bags
We were each given a goody bag filled with product samples and freebies to take home with us, I say goody bag I actually mean goody mountain. I had to apply brute force to my suitcase to shut it and still had to carry things over my shoulder! I really should have taken a large case, I know for next time at least.
Karen and I headed back to the car which was when I realised I had only gone and lost the sodding car parking ticket. We ended up paying over the odds but it was worth it looking back. After a rather long drive home how come it always feels faster on the way there than on the way home? I collapsed on my bed almost twenty hours after having left it that morning.
Back To Reality
It’s taken me a week or two to recover to be honest, Blog On was FULL ON and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. It was a blast, I met some amazing people, brands and bloggers all of which I hope to keep in touch with and to see again at future blogging events.