I’m sat here staring at a blank screen. It’s been four days since I came home from Blogtacular now and I still fell as if I’m trying to grapple with the enormity of it. It was amazing, alive, creative, inspiring, utterly wonderful and to quote H (whose favourite superlative it is), “Epic”.
I got to see friends I haven’t seen in real life since about this time last year, or in one case, a lovely friend I last saw five years ago when we were out to here pregnant with our eldest daughters, and to meet people I’ve known through their blogs for ages and people that are completely new to me. I had noodles, followed by cake and fresh lemon juice with friends on Friday night and a great pre-Pintacular Pad Thai on Saturday.
I could tell you about how I went to this session and that session, how Grace Bonney was just utterly brilliant as the starting keynote and set the tone for the whole day, and how Anthony Peters gave so much food for thought on how we value creativity that we’d all forgiven him for not being a blogger himself by the time he finished his closing session. But if you were there, you were there, and if you weren’t I don’t want to rub salt in the wound and Grace’s talk will be available sometime soon and other sessions a little while after via the virtual conference, so I wanted instead to try to explain just why it is that Blogtacular is so special, just why I’d keep going back again and again and again. What’s the magic?
We were pretty busy in the run up to the conference this year, I was on holiday in Devon and Cornwall until about 12 hours before I left for London and H flew out on a boys golf trip at 4.45am on Sunday so I hadn’t had time to pour over every inch of the conference schedule, read up on all the speakers in detail and plan my day out in detail. Instead I pretty much chose my next session at the end of the previous one. And in doing so I threw myself completely out of my comfort zone.
Much as I hate the stereotype that goes with it, I am (at the moment) a Mummy blogger. I haven’t always been and I probably won’t always be but motherhood is the core of my life at the moment and my blog reflects that. And so I find that the online me circles gently within a few different parenting circles, and dips her toes into some knitting and quilting circles along the way.
But on Saturday I listened to people who built an entire online community from an Instagram hashtag and a love of plants; a magazine editor talk about how they put together fashion photo shoots; a DIY blogger talk about the experience of crashing and burning at becoming a professional blogger and the lessons learned that she took forward to her current second and much more successful attempt, and a whole panel of bloggers from the top of their fields talk about how they approach the challenge of building and engaging their audience.
It was incredible. So much of what I heard is so a million miles away from what I do with this space, and from what I’m ever likely to do (I don’t see myself giving up the day job any time soon for example), but that didn’t matter. In every talk that I attended there was always something to take away, whatever niche your blog fits into, which for a blogging conference that doesn’t limit itself to, well, anything as far as your blog’s subject is concerned is pretty impressive. But the more I listened, and the more I think about it, I can see that it isn’t the practical tips and tricks that I love.
Next spring I’ll have been blogging for 10 years and without wishing to sound horribly arrogant, I kind of know how to blog. I’ve found a way to do what I want to do that works with everything else that I love to do, and although I could always be doing more, if I’m not doing xyz there’s usually a good reason for it. I make tweaks and play around with things fairly regularly and I’m always looking to refine what I do, but I’m not looking to make any sea changes. And even if I did want a “how to blog” guide, I don’t want to copy someone else’s, I want to write mine.
Blogging at it’s best is when everything is authentic and genuinely from the author of that blog, not simply a pale imitation of someone else.
And Blogtacular confirmed what I think I already knew, that for me, the very best thing about all of these sessions is listening to the speakers’ enthusiasm. Each and every one of them (except Anthony Peters!) clearly blogs first and foremost because they love it. It might also be an income stream, but it’s driven by love of their subject and for the medium. And it’s that that is inspiring, the stories of how they built their passion projects, how they saw a challenge and faced it, and even just how they blog in the day to day.
One of my favourite quotes goes something along the lines of “creativity is a muscle; the more you use it the bigger it gets”. Blogtacular was creativity steroids. It would be impossible to have spent the day there, in the company of so many talented and amazing people, and not come home so completely fired up that if I hadn’t been utterly exhausted/ in charge of three small children I would have spent the rest of the weekend writing posts and brainstorming ideas and trying to capture and pin down all the little light bulb moments that dance in my head like fireflies.
There was an energy there the whole day, in every room, every session and all the little places here and there besides, a combination of sheer joy and creative fervour, and I can honestly say that I loved every minute – and I can’t wait until next year!
Thanks to Mollie Makes for sponsoring the Blogtacular photos (all the ones in this post), it’s so lovely to really enjoy the conference and not worry about taking pictures
Space for the Butterflies is a finalist in the Baby category at this year’s MADs Awards for which I am truly thankful. If you haven’t voted yet, I would be over the moon if you would vote for me? It literally takes seconds, you don’t need to be in the UK or a blogger – parenting or otherwise – and it might just make my year! Voting is open until 26th June.