I won’t lie, I didn’t know what to expect from Blogfest, an annual event sponsored by Mumsnet. Being a new blogger I was worried that I would be shunned and cast aside by seasoned professionals who would sneer at my questions about the basics of social media. Most of all I was worried that: a) getting a train down to London and accommodation for 2 nights would have been a waste of time; b) I wouldn’t learn anything, and c) I would make a fool of myself.
Although at the start of the day I felt like an imposter, I soon realised that I couldn’t have been more wrong (ok – one of the above came true – more on that later). Everyone at Blogfest was so nice and friendly, and I was incredibly inspired by all the amazing speakers there.
My friend Emma and I (of http://www.channelislandsblog.wordpress.com fame) had travelled down to our nation’s capital the day before, had an emotional yet hilarious reunion at Kings Cross Station which Emma got lost in. We walked up to the venue which was conveniently located near our hotel (ok, Premier Inn) then collected our name badges which I maybe pretended was an exclusive press pass (totes did). I have to say the venue was amazing – over several floors of beautiful glass and shiny floors which made me feel very important. The other bloggers were of all different ages and types of people – many were parents, as you would expect at a mumsnet event, but like me, many were beginner bloggers looking for some tips and ideas.
The catering throughout the day was LUSH. We were given a million (to the nearest million) opportunities to refresh ourselves with endless tea, coffee, juice, coke, and never ending pastries. This is where I made a fool of myself for the first time by unknowingly dropping a tiny delicious pastry on the floor:
Shameful. Surrounded by all these chic professional bloggers and I drop a pastry on the floor, not realising til it’s too late. I should have probably picked it up before someone slipped on it…
The opening panel was all about the role of the Internet, featuring amazing speakers such as columnist Tim Dowling, Sarah Vine, and Susie Boniface. There was an awkward moment when my tweet describing my mortification on realising that a man I’ve blogged rather unfavourably about in the past was married to Sarah Vine flashed up on the big screen behind her, but later on she replied to it and was very nice indeed about my Gove-bashing so I didn’t feel too bad.
After yet more coffee and cake (remaining safely on my plate) we went to our first breakout session. There were a few to choose from, but Emma and I elected to attend ‘How to find your Funny’ and we sat on the front row near these brilliant ladies:
Pretty stellar company, I’m sure you’ll agree. There was a debate between the panellists on how much to reveal about others in your blogposts, with some saying ‘fuck ’em’ (Arabella Weir – just as fabulous as she sounds) and others arguing more for empathy for the subjects of humour. What do you think? Can you go too far when writing for humour?
We then had three 5 minute long ‘think bombs’ designed to get you thinking differently and creatively – I was really inspired by Francesca Martinez who reminded us of the strength and power of our bodies.
Accepting yourself as you are is an act of civil disobedience.
Lunch was extremely tasty, and with plenty of time to go and visit some of the stalls of the event sponsors. I once again felt like an imposter as I hurtled past all the calm, collected bloggers to enter every competition going and try to get my hands on as many freebies as possible. After some furtive glances around I soon realised that others were also partaking in the freebie-raid, and that any intense, serious looking discussions were mainly about what other freebies we were likely to receive.
In the afternoon I attended my favourite panel ‘Can blogging change the world’. I had been looking forward to this due to the inspirational women on the panel, including a bit of a childhood heroine Carrie Grant. Still feeling like an imposter, I plucked up the courage to ask a question about the strength of one voice in making a huge world change, and was very proud to feel included in the answer. Carrie Grant spoke about the voice of women, reminding us that:
You are not powerless. You are not a burden, you are an asset.
The next session was a round table skills sharing on social media. I was hoping to learn more about how to effectively get the most of twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If I’m honest, I didn’t get very much out of this discussion as I felt the room was too busy to hear very much in, and the chairs were set out so that I was sat outside of the ’round table’ circle. This was the closest I got to feeling like an imposter all day.
After this there were more pastries. I dropped my second pastry on the floor, but this time picked it up quickly and surreptitiously. I then ruined this by tweeting it to everyone at blogfest with the #pastrygate. Hopefully they saw the funny side.
The closing panel was on ‘the power of writing’ and featured novelist Nick Hornby. The final speaker, comedian Lucy Porter has us all laughing at her talk of penis cups, left handed masturbation, and outwitting sexist cab drivers.
After canapés and one too many free drinks, Emma and I returned to our hotel (Premier Inn) to watch Strictly in our PJs, and root through our goodie bags:
I can definitely say that next year I will be returning, and this time with the confidence to call myself a blogger – no longer an imposter.