As you may have already read in past posts I travelled down early on Sunday morning to Old Trafford in Manchester to take part in one of the UK’s biggest Blogger/ Vlogger events ‘Blog On Xmas‘.
The Hotel Football
Having arrived early I found parking on a nearby street and hauled my oversized suitcase into The Hotel Football where I was given a pre-printed name badge, stickers and a canvas bag in which to collect brand samples throughout the day. After becoming accustomed to the layout of the Hotel I found somewhere to stick my luggage then made my way down to the main lounge where other bloggers, vloggers and brands were beginning to gather.
There was a vast array of refreshments to choose from however following an early get up and a two-hour drive I required caffeine in a cold form and as there was no ‘Coke’ to be seen I found myself heading towards the cafeteria in search of a hit. Having bagged myself an overpriced bottle of Coke (priced at £2.50 for a small, glass bottle which was daylight bleeding robbery but hey ho!) and a sausage sarny I headed back towards the bloggers area where I chatted with Angela, Donna, Stephanie, Zoe and a few other blogger friends.
The Brand Stands
Having stuffed my face with sausages I felt the need to walk off some calories so made my way downstairs towards the brand area where Angela and I were greeted I say greeted but I technically mean deafened by the Grinch. We strolled around the stalls, handed our Secret Santa gifts into the StarKidz stand and collected a few samples along the way.
Welcome Key Note
It was then time to gather into the main conference suite for the welcome speeches which I can only describe as a ‘Tena Lady’ moment as I literally almost wet myself laughing thanks to James‘s social media comedy sketch.
Session One – Photographing Kids
Prior to the conference I had already planned which sessions to attend and having stolen a screenshot of the timetable for the day I gathered my belongings and made my way towards the first session of the day ‘Photographing Kids’ with Sara-Jayne Jones.
Sara seemed nice enough and whilst I’m pretty sure that the majority of the room understood what it was that she was saying, I on the other hand felt as if the tumble weed was blowing by. I may own a DLSR camera but I sure as hell have no idea about the technical jargon photographers seem to spout and quite frankly gave up trying once numbers came into the equation midway through the session. I placed my pencil firmly back into my bag and sat back to enjoy Sara’s snaps before heading towards Heaven (the top floor of the hotel building) for the following session.
Laughter In A Lift
Whilst squeezed into the lift with almost ten other bloggers I found myself face to face with a twenty-something year old lad who informed me that I smelt delicious. Presuming that he too was there for the same reason as myself I asked him whether he was a blogger, apparently not and having heard a sharp intake of breath from a lady close by I wondered what it was that I seemed to be missing.
Our fragrance based elevator conversation continued although I wasn’t particularly in the mood for being flirted with and so I sharply but sweetly snubbed the random lad in the lift and headed out towards the Astroturf football suite for Grace Hall’s Content Planning session where I was then informed that I had just snubbed ‘Thomas Turgoose‘, an apparently well-known celebrity who according to my good friend Angela had starred in films including ‘This Is England’.
Session Two – Content Planning
Still completely clueless I got my head back into the game and put focus into discussing blog content planning using spreadsheets, spider diagrams and visual aids. Grace had some fantastic festive based ideas and although I’ve been to a similar session last year I felt this workshop was really beneficial to me as it gave me ‘the blogging bug’ all over again.
Having spent the past six months skipping breakfast due to dieting the sausage sandwich had filled me for the day which was lucky as due to my nut allergy and menu requirements lunch seemed to take quite some time to arrive. This gave me time to chat to Alice, to admire and to feel up her rather swish ‘Hotter Boots‘ then to randomly crowd surf across the miles of suitcases to fetch Angela’s so that we could ditch some weight before heading back to the brand stands for further perusal.
Mince Pie Madness
It was at some point during this time that I became aware that mince pies had been served and somehow or other I had missed the memo and missed the sodding pies! Being a glutenous pig for festive food I spent quite some time hunting out said pies until eventually giving in and heading back to the bar for yet another coke fix.
Upon arriving at the bar and asking for yet another bottle of the black stuff I was reminded of the health issues regarding Cola by some random guy. He narrowly avoided being given the finger but was certainly aware that I was unimpressed by his efforts to guide my choice of drinks beverage. I was later told by the bar lady that said man was actually a well-known footballer who plays for Manchester United. I wasn’t sure whether to ask his name or simply to do as I did and to run for the hills.
After making a tit of myself not once but twice in one day I decided it may be best to top up my nicotine levels whilst catching a breath of fresh air and admiring the canal side views. The Hotel and its surroundings (Old Trafford aka Manchester United Football Ground) was stunning, I couldn’t have asked for a better location at which to attend a conference!
Having gathered my thoughts and my dignity I then returned inside to complete my circle of the brand stands and to exchange business cards with a couple of companies which I hope to work with in the near future.
Session Three – Blog Life Balance
Angela and I then went upstairs to begin our third session of the day ‘Blog Life Balance’ with John Adams. There was something about John that reminded me very much of my own husband, I’m not sure whether it was the old school photographs of him sporting long hair and a ripped six-pack or whether it was his geeky nature, either way I felt at ease in his presence.
It’s when I feel at ease that I become ever so slightly dangerous as my mouth suddenly springs open and I find myself having verbal diarrhoea which is precisely what happened during this session and for those of you that attended I would like to apologise for my slight overshare regarding social media, YouTube and my entire career history… either way I enjoyed the session although perhaps should have kept my mouth firmly zipped!
Session Four- Camera Shy
Following my verbal explosion I made my way quickly and quietly to the neighbouring room for the fourth session of the day ‘Camera Shy’ with Emily Leary. I found it interesting listening to Emily especially considering that YouTube and Live Video were now at the forefront of my mind.
I have had the itch for many moons to return to Vlogging but up until attending Blog On I lacked the confidence and the ‘get go’ to give it another whirl. Hopefully with time and a little practice I might find myself getting back ‘out there’ beginning with Facebook Live short videos then hopefully returning to YouTube for monthly updates and such-like.
Break & Cake
Break and cake were much-needed by this time, although I’d been handed an oversized slab of chocolate covered, chocolate flavoured, chocolatey, chocolate cake I couldn’t help but to wish for a mince-pie instead! Having eaten as much as I could stomach I then headed back downstairs for a sneaky vape and low and behold whilst there I came across a plate filled with mince pies which I of course made room for.
Session Five – Getting Started With Live Video
Having stuffed myself like a pig I hopped into the elevator and headed back upstairs for the final session of the day ‘Getting Started With Live Video’ hosted by Michelle Reeves and Ceri Gillett.
Upon arriving at said session I found myself in a sweat of panic as I seemed to be ‘without phone’ and having travelled between almost four different floors and god knows how many rooms throughout the day I had absolutely no idea where the hell I’d left £600’s worth of an IPhone. I quietly explained my situation to a fellow blogger who very kindly phoned my phone revealing that I had indeed lost the plot as right there in my bag precisely where I had looked whilst in mid panic was my IPhone!
Not only did I now look like a total idiot but I was then asked to work alongside Sophie, the rather lovely girl who had rescued me from my non-existent issue to create my very first Live Video. Thankfully at this point all videos created were being saved into a secure group and whilst I had been raring to get going with Live Video I wasn’t entirely keen on being forced to do so. However, I’m really glad that Michelle and Ceri made us do this as it’s made a massive difference to how I feel about ‘Going Live’ (by which I am not referring to Phillip Schofield or Sarah Greens 90s children’s show) and over the next week or two I plan to do precisely this on my very own Facebook page so please do follow me or else I’ll be chatting crap to myself which isn’t entirely abnormal!
The Toy Awards & Raffle
Having completed a full day of workshops I collected my belongings and packed them into my case then headed to the players lounge for the Toy Awards, Raffle and Secret Santa which in all honesty was total bedlam. I’m not sure how else it could have been organised or managed but let’s just say I couldn’t hear a damn thing and even if I’d of had a winning ticket in my hand which I didn’t nor have ever had at Blog On I would have been none the wiser.
There were some amazing prizes handed out and having eventually located my Secret Santa gift after being falsely informed that there were none left I then went out to collect my goody bag before stuffing my case full to breaking point.
Having being out of the house for over twelve hours I was beginning to tire and after a short walk to the car I collapsed into the driver’s seat desperate to get home. By now it was dusk, the lighting was low and the motorway was much-like a car park. What should have been a two-hour drive turned into a three-hour hard slog with my Music on full whack, the windows wound right down all whilst being fuelled by copious amounts of caffeine.
Home Sweet Home
Upon arriving home I emptied the car and the contents of my case then headed straight for a hot bath and something to drink before collapsing into bed where I flicked through Facebook, Twitter and such-like to catch up with the bloggers, vloggers and brands from the day.
I may have been utterly exhausted for the following twenty-four hours but it was well worth it as I thoroughly enjoyed this years Blog On conference. I learnt loads and having been bitten once again by the blogging bug I am now ready to rock and roll with all things ‘blog based’.