BlogConf Bristol 2015

On Saturday I went to BlogConf Bristol and it was so_bloody_good. Really. Best networking event I’ve been to, and a wonderful way to spend the day!

I thought it started at 9.30am so got there a wee bit early and felt like a royal twat. Luckily, Karen, aka @missionstyleuk got there before me so I wasn’t the only one! We sat awkwardly with our heads buried in our phones for a bit. Then along came Emily who sat at our table. We got along fabulously and had, as it happened, all ordered the same lunch of halloumi salad (for some reason we felt this to be a cosmically-significant coincidence). We are all into healthy eating, which we talked about a lot (although hypocritically, after my salad, I was still hungry so ordered a bowl of chips. NO SHAME BRO.) That is what Emily plans to blog about, and I can’t wait to watch it develop!

Karen and I also arranged a little trade, too – I’ll design her a logo for her blog if she gives me some fashion advice. That woman has some serious style!

The first proper talk we were given was by Joe Stutter (@webpalUK). He gave us a fantastic overview of the kinds of things we need to do to get our sites off the ground, as well as recommending some useful WordPress apps. I admire his work and he really knows what he’s talking about.

Lottie Storey (@lottie_storey) then gave us a talk about copywriting, working in print and magazines. Lottie is a huge inspiration to me since she has no professional qualifications in writing or similar, she has just worked her arse off and done everything she can to gain experience. She now works regularly for the craft magazine Mollie Makes, which is where her fellow speaker Lara Watson (@LaraMcspara) is from. I wasn’t actually aware of Mollie Makes before this talk but its aesthetic is STUNNING – exactly my kind of thing. There was a huge gap in the market before MM – craft magazines were all extraordinarily old-fashioned and dull. MM very much reflects where we are in art and craft these days which I’m delighted about. I think it’s now my dream to be featured in it at some point!

Up next was Danny T and can I just say, holy shit. What a dude. It is very rare that I find photographers whose work I consistently love, but Danny is an exception. If I ever get married (hint hint, darling boyhalf), Danny would be my first thought for photos. His talk was brilliant – it was the kind of talk I wish I had had when I was just starting out in photography. It would have saved many years of blurry/ dark/ generally shitty photos. He’s a really nice guy and explained everything in such an accessible way, telling us exactly what we needed to know.

Stunning photography from Danny T.

Afterwards, pretty much everyone was using the grid overlay on their phone cameras to practice taking pictures according to the rule of thirds!

Following Danny’s talk, Gemma from @helloitsgemma and Mel, who works for Trunki, talked about working with brands.

Gemma is utterly hilarious, she’s a no bullshit kind of woman and I love that. She talked about her experiences of engaging with brands in terms of trying out products and writing reviews. Mel from Trunki talked about the other side of that – what it’s like to be someone representing a brand and what they are looking for from bloggers. There was some interesting discussion about remaining authentic and honest when reviewing products.

Olivia Wellings, from Just Olivia TV, gave us a talk about vlogging. This is something I already have a little bit of experience with – a couple of years ago I started my own YouTube channel where I uploaded a couple of videos to reach out to others with similar health problems to me. In the end I deleted most of my videos as I just felt I’d outgrown my channel and got a bit self-conscious about it all, but I’d like to have another venture into vlogging at some point.

Our last speaker was Will Guyatt from Instagram. To be frank, the guy is a fucking nutter (in a good way though). The main advice I wrote down was to use targeted hashtags in your Instagram uploads – this means using a select few which will get results, rather than to use lots of very general and popular tags where your post will get lost in the ether. Other than that I don’t remember much of what he said – I was bowled over by his energy and enthusiasm and was exhausted from watching him so my memory is a bit hazy! I found it a bit of a mind-fuck that he is an average guy from Wiltshire, and ended up being one of the few staff working for an insanely large international company like Instagram.

In addition to all the cool talks, I met some lovely people – especially Karen and Emily who I sat with all day, and Colette who I ended up chatting with outside at the end of the day. We’d actually initially met for the first time earlier in the day – I had decided that despite devouring my delicious halloumi salad, I was still hungry. So, off I toddled to the bar to get a bowl of chips and on the way I bumped into Colette who enquired as to my plans. She had clearly spotted that I was a fellow hungry hungry hippo, so I reassured her it’s okay, I’m being fat too. You should totally get more food. But then we parted ways to go and stuff our faces, not talking again until we bumped into each other outside and I reminded her of our mutual piggery. Colette is a lovely Canadian (I realised this when she said the word “out” – such a giveaway that someone is Canadian when it comes out as “ote”!) and is just starting on her journey of blogging about lifestyle. More specifically, a healthy and positive lifestyle – she’s all about creating a life you love. So am I, as it happens, so I look forward to seeing what this lovely lady has to offer us!

Overall, BlogConf was a fantastic day. I feel bad that I was probably one of those annoying “I’ll just put my hand up and ask a question or generally ramble at the end of every talk” people, but never mind! I’m so glad I went and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone else. Thanks for a great time, everyone 🙂