If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may have spotted that I went to Blogtacular last weekend, a conference for bloggers and creatives in London. I wasn’t actually planning on going… I joined the Facebook group and Twitter chats after discovering Blogtacular’s podcast, but thought I would attend next year, when Blue Jay of Happiness was a bit more established.
Then people started saying “looking forward to seeing you there!” online, assuming I was going. So, after seeing there were some last minute tickets still up for grabs I had to ask myself…
“Why aren’t I going?”
The short answer was because I was scared. Terrified to walk into a room full of people I didn’t know. It was at this point I realised, if fear is the only thing stopping me – I HAVE to go. So I did.
And I am so thankful I had that realisation because it really was a fantastic day. I was of course riddled with anxiety in the days leading up to it (you can read how I coped in my last blog on overwhelm) but once I stepped into the room and saw someone I “knew” (the lovely Lizzy from Song of the Stitch – we’d chatted online and met briefly many years ago) I felt a sense of relief.
Then the equally lovely Eleanor from The Salted Tail, someone I’d chatted to on Instagram came up to me and said hello – and, again, the relief was tangible. This was going to be OK. People are generally lovely (must write this on the back of my hand…).
The day was full to the brim with talks, workshops and enlightening conversations. Pair that with tasty food, coffee on tap and a market place to buy pretty things and it was basically any creative person’s dream.
What I got out of it
OK, so let’s get real for a minute – Blogtacular costs money to attend. It is a fair investment and this can be what stops some people from committing, which I get – it isn’t for everyone.
But, I want to outline here the return I got from my investment, bearing in mind that you get out what you put in. That’s the beauty of events like this with multiple talks and networking opportunities, you can tailor your experience to suit your needs.
Solidified online connections
I had been chatting to a couple of people on Instagram who were also attending and throughout the day I got to know them better. Making connections is one of the biggest selling points for Blogtacular, everyone there has such passion for what they do and it’s just so incredible to have conversations with people who ‘get’ you.
Identified my purpose
I had a vague idea of what my ‘purpose’ was with my blog, who my target audience was and what my editorial pillars were (health, happiness, hope), but after hearing Kayte Ferris’ talk and doing a little homework I feel like I’ve really nailed this down. Once you have your purpose, your ‘why’, the work comes pretty easily.
Found my niche
I wasn’t sure exactly how much I would get out of Cath Dean’s (from Mollie Makes) talk about finding your niche, as I thought I pretty much knew it – ‘happiness blogger’, right? Well, not exactly. I had never looked at my ‘competition’ or considered what a typical reader of mine may be interested in. Using Cath’s super helpful worksheet and a bit more thought on the subject when I got home, I realised precisely where I sat in the market and what makes Blue Jay of Happiness unique.
Figured out what I really want out of Blue Jay of Happiness
This eureka moment came from Sas Petherick’s talk on self-doubt where she asked some BIG questions (i.e. what is your big goal? What are your undermining behaviours? What are you secretly committed to?). I realised that I was secretly ‘committed’ to being a hobby blogger. I often dismiss blogging as a hobby or a side project when, actually I want a lot more from it.
And that, to me, was the biggest take away from Blogtacular. As Emma Gannon highlighted in her closing keynote speech, blogging is not just about the blog anymore. It’s about creating a platform, and using that platform for other things.
Now, I know what I want those other things to be. So… watch this space! I certainly feel I got what I paid for and will be attending next year for sure. If you’re a blogger/creative, I would recommend checking it out. Any time you can get together with other likeminded people to inspire and lift each other up is a no-brainer to me.
How do you get the most from events like this? Any networking tips for me, a networking novice?!