When people ask why I go to Blogtacular each year, the one reason I always give is that I love the intense burst of positivity. There is something about having so many creative people in one place, all cheering each other on, all rooting for each other to succeed and helping one another out, that is almost dizzying. Something magical happens when so many creatives converge for the sole purpose of being inspired and learning, and Blogtacular is the best example of this that I have experienced.
In my post on last years conference, I said that I had found my creative tribe. That they were kindred spirits, which in turn, gives the event a feeling of positivity. I think we can all do with a boost in the positivity department, with what can feel like ever increasing levels of negativity in our everyday life; people complaining, moaning and knocking others down. And you might think that a conference of mainly women would suffer even more from this. But Blogtacular folk seem to be a breed apart. Instead of feeling like the only way to get ahead is to scrabble over your peers, elbowing them out of your way as you go, you want to stop and raise others up, helping them to achieve.
The speakers are always a varied and inspiring bunch and I always find it hard to choose which sessions to attend as you can see so much potential value in each one (there are three blocks of sessions throughout the day, each with a choice of three speakers on different topics).
This years opening keynote speaker was Tiffany Han. She is encouraging, non nonsense and inspiring without making you feel guilty, or lacking in some way. She talked about having crazy faith in crazy ideas and that if you are bored, then you readers are bored. She managed to give the whole room a kick up the butt whilst also making them feel like she was giving them a hug. Which sums up the whole Blogtacular experience.
For my first session, I chose Defining Your Blog Persona to Attract Brands with Jess Sims and Kate Baxter of Be More Hive. Working with brands isn’t something I do a huge amount of; I don’t have 10k+ Instagram followers or a Facebook group that so many brands seem to want. I have worked with smaller companies with gifted items and a couple of ads. But for me to continue, I need to look at ways what I do can also bring in money. Basically, I want to keep on creating fun and modern craft tutorials and helping people to find their own creativity, whilst making sure I can afford to feed my cat. That way, everyone is a winner.
Blogging and other online content creation is still a developing industry, and brands are unsure of how it differs from traditional journalism and advertising. Jess and Kate are trying to help this new relationship along, helping both sides to find ways of working that benefit everyone. Again, the message was overwhelmingly positive, with tips on how to know who our readers are, what they want and how as bloggers and influencers, we have something really unique and beneficial to brands.
After lunch, which was as always, delicious, I went to Natalie Lue‘s ‘Lets get Digital, Digital’ session. As soon as I saw the schedule, I knew i wanted to attend this session. I have been thinking about developing what I do in my blog posts into [spoiler alert!] e-books and courses for a while now and in fact, Natalie explained that creating digital products is like offering the next logical step to readers. It was fascinating to hear just how broad digital products can be, from free downloadable cheat sheets to in depth courses. Again, there is a certain aspect of this being a way to monetise what I do, whilst still doing what I love.
Then for the last session of the day, I went to Creating Compelling Insta-Stories with writer Laura Jane Williams and blogger Carrie Santana da Silva. If you don’t follow these two on Instagram, where have you been? Laura is superlativelylj and Carrie is wishwishwish and despite them having very different ways and styles of ‘doing’ instagram, both are so much fun to follow.
Most people say they can be introverted and sometimes awkward in real life, find they are more comfortable in being themselves online. I find the opposite! I really have to concentrate online not to fall into the trap of sounding pseudo-professional rather than just being Emma. I have never been one to overshare online, maybe its my age, having been a child when the only computer I could access was a bulky BBC Micro kept in a cupboard at school.
What I really took away from this session was in response to a question somebody asked at the end. The question was along the lines of, my life is quite boring, what do I have to share that people would be interested in? Laura answered that to someone else, what we do might be fascinating and that it is just about telling the story of our humanness.
The closing keynote speaker was graphic artist Antony Burrill. I can’t even explain how nostalgic this made me feel for art school. For people using to the standard model of closing keynote speeches, this was probably a somewhat confusing experience. But this is pretty much what lectures are like when you study Fine Art at university- visiting artists talking about themselves and their work without seemingly never getting to the point yet still managing to be inspiring. I don’t know how else to describe it, other than despite his stoic Northern facade, his joy in traditional print media was obvious and his determination to maintain this practice in an age of digital print.
Blogtacular gives you the chance to chat with so many inspiring people about what they are doing and how they do it, that you find yourself being given super helpful tips from an experienced blogger with a huge readership, then five minutes later, you are the one offering advice to someone just starting out.
Every session and speaker spoke with honesty, but also kindness. Each person I chatted with was optimistic and helpful. It is just so inspirational to be part of a community with positivity at its heart. And it is this generosity of time and knowledge that I find especially positive, both in the attendees and speakers that keeps me going back to Blogtacular. The main conference is taking a break in 2019, but when it returns, you can count on me being there for another explosion of positivity!
*All image ©Will Ireland 2018.
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