Thursday, June 20, 2024

BlogOnX: Another Great Weekend In Manchester

I went to BlogOnX over the weekend and had another brilliant time up in Manchester, catching up with friends, meeting some lovely new people, chatting to different companies and taking advantage of the various food and drink freebies on offer.

Don’t Believe The Rubbish

Blogging events can get a bit of a bad press at times – if you believe some of the stories out there you might assume that people only go to them to slag off other bloggers and mastermind their downfalls through carefully planned social media attacks or to hook up with other bloggers. Or indeed to plot the downfall of other bloggers whilst concurrently hooking up with other bloggers.

Personally I have far better things to be doing with my time that slagging off strangers and would rather just enjoy life, spend my time talking to people that make my life happier and ignore the plums out there. Ain’t no one got time for that shit.

Fortunately there were a lot of people to say nice things about at BlogOnX, not least the decent whack of the people that had to display a massive wedge of inner strength just to make it to Manchester and face 186 strangers in an alien environment at all.

After all, a fair few people blog because that is the environment they feel most comfortable in and the thought of rocking up to a massive place full of people probably doesn’t come that naturally. I remember when I went to my first blogging conference I was pretty nervous about the whole thing and as I walked in a variety of things were going through my mind like:

Would there be other men there, or would I be the sole besausaged person there?

Actually this turned out to be a pretty genuine concern as it was Blogfest and apart from the lovely Tim from Thatcham it was pretty much the polar opposite of a sausagefest – there must be an equivalent term but I can’t quite decide on one at this late hour.

Would the people I had been speaking to online turn out to be massive dicks in real life?

This turned out to be a resounding ‘no’. Pretty much exclusively no in fact.

Would everyone else there be better at blogging than me / have more readers / earn more money?

No (I’m genuinely great ūüėé) / yes / yes. But it didn’t matter anyway.

Fortunately BlogOnX was a much more relaxed and diverse affair, but still massive kudos to anyone that had to overcome their own self-doubts to turn up at all. It’s not easy and you should be proud of yourselves.

Launch Party

The event kicked off with the Paladone launch party on the Saturday evening, which this year was up in Heaven, which is on the top floor of Hotel Football, next door to Old Trafford.

A good night was had by all, despite the best efforts of the ‘red cocktail’ which was the strangest tasting thing I’ve had in my mouth in a long time.

The ‘blue cocktail’ on the other hand was like all cocktails should be – sugary, ludicrously sweet and without even a hint of the taste of alcohol. There were games to play and lots going on, but I spent the whole night chatting to strangers, including possibly the most impressive person I met all weekend – Sara from Ballsymama, who was simultaneously on crutches, carrying a teeny tiny person, drinking, and making conversation about straws. Making straws sound interesting would have been enough for most people without the crutches and baby combo thrown in but she nailed it – and she’d even flown up that day for the conference.

I also spent a good bit of time chatting to Faith from Raising Moonbows, Luke from The Woodhouse Life, Jenny from Accidental Hipster Mum and Lisa from Pass The Prosecco Please and lots of others – all cracking people too. In case you can’t spot me I’m the one on the left at the back…

The Main Event

Sunday was the day of the conference itself and, unlike last year where I was stressing about doing a speech, I was pretty chilled this year. I think you can get too focused on having to pack in absolutely everything and end up missing out on things, so this year I just picked a couple of sessions to go to, which left lots of time to meet the various brands, eat cheese and chocolate courtesy of the Co-op, sip some Pimms by the canal and chat to as many people as I could, including the lovely Suzanne from Andanothertenthings who is another person that is properly impressive. She’s even in a book…

The Brands

The brands that were there were lovely too. I learnt a lot about the Co-op between sips of Prosecco and also tried out a brand new version of Slush Puppy that comes in a sealed pouch and is perfect for alcoholic cocktails relaxing picnics. It was proper old school lush too! Wire PR were there who I have done some bits for before and they had the new Untamed raptors which are part of the Fingerlings collection. Joshua spent 30 minutes this morning trying to make one pass ‘dino gas’ so that was fun!

Snopake were there again with their awesome array of stationery, and Recreation Toys had loads of new bits that I hadn’t seen before including a trick football called Kickerball and a timed water balloon game called Splash Out. Definitely will be getting them for the Summer!

The Sessions

The two sessions I did go to were really good though and were hosted by two more really impressive people – one on earning money through blogging from Sophie from Mamamei and one on Pinterest from Grace from Eats Amazing. Both had lots of useful tips and gave me lots to think about and try out when I get back into writing stuff.

Organisation-wise BlogOnX was even better than last year this time around. Everything was on time (apart from the time management session which overrun – obvs), pretty much seamless and everyone seemed to be on top of everything. The only downside were those bloody incredibly slow lifts up to Heaven which got on my tits last year too!

It’s easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than it is for a blogger to get to Heaven.

Apart from the lifts though it was really well put together so loads of credit should go to Laura (and her family!) fellow Reading resident Alice, Zoe and everyone else involved in the behind-the-scenes stuff that made it all so enjoyable.

Even the BlogOnX raffle was loads more efficient than last year – most importantly I even won a prize in it! Perfect for Joshua’s birthday later this month!

The Good(y) Stuff

As always, the final parting shot of awesomeness were the BlogOnX goody bags which were jam-packed with toys, sweets, wine, chocolate, crisps, games, candles, paints, creams, lotions and potions. Even without the conference itself the entrance fee is worth it for the goody bags alone!

After it was all done, a few of us had a ‘street style’ Chinese and drinks afterwards, including Kate from The Motherload, who it transpires is the world’s slowest drinker of red wine – very friendly and entertaining though! Not forgetting my blogging buddy / You Have To Laugh partner, Fran from Whinge Whinge Wine, who was the first blogger I ever spoke to in real life, has been to every blogging event I’ve been to and who is actually a pretty top person to be around.

So all in all a great weekend away – of course I missed Sarah and Joshua at home, as I always do, but it’s always good to have a break from time to time to focus on something else and make coming home all the more enjoyable.

If you’re a blogger and haven’t yet been to a BlogOn you really should come to the next one in September. Especially if you like toys as it will be a toy special! And if you aren’t a blogger you really should start a blog before September and come to the next one anyway! Just come!


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