This weekend I went camping. Happily for all concerned given Birmingham weather’s recent unannounced but abundantly clear intention to refill all the reservoirs everywhere with the water solely falling in the city centre, it was inside (with a teeny option of outside) at the Studio. The enticement to an early (ish) Saturday morning and the re-enactment of my week-day commute was the very wonderful and brilliant BlogCampUK, organised by the talented peeps at Tots100 (and others).
Those of you that have been around since my early forays into blogging (that’ll be my Mum then), know that I started simply to keep a record of my knitting projects. But times change, and a wedding, a bump and a baby, and six years down the line, sees me call this little corner of the internet my own, and what an eclectic hotchpotch little place it is. It’s a bit like my house if you could see that (actually at the moment I’m glad you can’t; blog camp = no housework = minus wife points). Before Kitty’s arrival I was vaguely aware that people wrote blogs about things other than making lovely projects, but it wasn’t until I had my own little pink-cheeked, squeaky night-owl that I really started to explore, and found a whole new world waiting for me. And through that melee came two words; Blogcamp and Birmingham. A day on blogging, near my house? Sign me up.
Miss Bangs and a Bun kicked off the day with a great opener on self-branding and blogging, demonstrating that she does blog exactly how she talks, which would be why I enjoy her confident, thought-provoking posts so much. Let it be noted that she also has fabulous tights. I’m chartreuse with envy.
For the first of the optional sessions, Phil Szomszor of The Red Rocket proudly raised his geek flag to talk about the pros, cons and how tos of self-hosting your blog. Whether Space for the Butterflies every finds a new home remains to be seen, but I know an awful lot more about self hosting now than I did. Actually, that’s not hard, I knew practically nothing, well actually nothing more than it means having your own www. address. I know more, and to Phil’s everlasting credit, I actually understand what I know.
Susannah Conway has a beautiful blog, and some really really tempting e-courses, and if her session on setting up and running an e-course does nothing more than inspire me to start taking some courses, I’ve got a feel for what to look for in a course that should run well, and those that, shall we just say ‘might not be so inspiring’.
My last ‘choose your own adventure’ session I could have stayed in all day. John Arnold’s class on photo editing, was funny and packed with tips and tricks, and I’ve bookmarked the tutorials on his Photowalkthrough site for a day when I’ve a little more time to play with my photos.
Given that I’ve only ever been approached by two brands/their PRs in six years of blogging (neither of which seemed particularly relevant and one of which was really rather bizarre) I found the final discussion of the day on the interaction between bloggers and brands fascinating, particularly as the topic seems so much more of a hot potato in the parent blogging circles than in craft blogging; not a massive surprise when you consider that despite many knitters’ best efforts, parents as a whole will still be a larger target market (and have a greater group spend) than the creative peeps. If there was one thing that became apparent throughout the conversations it is that social marketing through bloggers is still in its infancy, and everyone is trying to work out how it all fits together. It’s going to be interesting to see where it ends up.
But as everyone knows, camping is really about two things; the food and the company.
I met lots of lovely people, including Kylie from Not Even a Bag of Sugar, a fellow knitter who took me under her wing and explained the techie google not follow things I couldn’t get my head around, and Angela from This is Life whose photo of her children raised a collective “awww!” from the photography class, and has a serious appreciation for some good cake.
Speaking of cake….
If I’ve been metaphorically ‘sitting on the beach’, BlogCamp was that first cautious toe-dip in the ocean. I didn’t know anyone going, I didn’t really know what to expect, and had a brilliant time. It turns out the water’s lovely and warm!