BlogOnToys earlier this month was my first blog conference although I’ve been blogging for 3 1/2 years. I wanted to go back in May but would have had a 3 week old so wasn’t able to attend. This time around baby dottie was 5 months old, so was able to come with me as a babe in arms. I actually used my Baby Bjorn carrier and it was a life saver. You can read my introduction post here to BlogOnToys
Being an introvert and a very shy person heading outside my comfort zone to BlogOnToys was a big thing. I suppose you could say I’m socially awkward and I’ve always preferred my own company. Nevertheless I was doing this for myself and my blog. Heading to a big city like Manchester was in my thoughts weeks before. I was excited but also scared shitless! You see I’m a Cornish girl who has barely been anywhere in the UK. I’ve never ventured to London unless you count Gatwick.
So what did I think of #BlogOnToys?
My husband dropped myself and baby dottie outside Hotel Football. I got her in the carrier and with my very large suitcase (I was advised to bring!) I made my way to the lift and up to pick up my goody bag. Thank goodness all the lifts had notices on them for where to go ad which floor was which. I did get a tad confused at one point during the day as one of the lifts only got to some of the floors and not down to the brand den or up to the photography hub on the top floor. But after a while I got used to the lift situation and made my way during the day around. At least when I go in May I will know exactly where to go!
Yes I thoroughly enjoyed it that much, I bought my ticket when I got back to the Premier Inn that night after the conference!
The way everything was set out was fantastic. The BlogOn team did an amazing job. Once my goody bag was popped into my suitcase (Thanks Zoe!) I headed down to the Players Lounge for a geek at all the toy entries to the Toy Awards and of course cast my vote. I knew what I was going to vote for as I’ve carefully followed the BlogOn Insta and Twitter feed of all the entries the previous week or so.
I grabbed myself a cup of water and started my voting. I used the QR scan thing to get me to the correct voting page. This was a very quick way of voting. The toys were arranged in the same order as the vote ballot so very quick and easy to follow. I also bought my raffle tickets, dropped off my Secret Santa, and had a couple of goes on the tombola.
Hotel Football arranged bacon baps for breakfast but I didn’t want any as I had a fry up before we left Chesterfield earlier that morning. Driving over Snake Pass in the Peak District to Manchester was an experience before BlogOn!
When it approached 10 am we were all called up to stadium suite 1 for the intro speech by the lovely Laura. She explained about the day and also about the BlogOn Community Fund which is what the proceeds from the conference go to. Back in April I was a recipient of some help from the Community Fund as I lost my dad to cancer 3 days before I had baby dottie. It was the hardest time of my life.
After the introduction everyone headed off to either the planned sessions or to the brand den or photography hub. I stayed seated for the session with Emily Leary on Brilliant Blogmin. Unfortunately I only got to hear half of the session as baby dottie was very unsettled with her teething. So we headed back down to the Players Lounge for a drink and a chill out. Throughout the day the Players Lounge was our quiet space when everything got a bit overwhelming. The brand den was especially hot and dark so we only spent time down there in 15 minute blocks throughout the afternoon.
Baby dottie slept all the way through the SEO and Monetisation speech by Cerys Helen Parker so I was glad to catch that session. I made notes and learnt loads on that one, so one of my highlights of the day. At lunch I headed back down to the Players Lounge and found a quiet corner over by the Nintendo table. I thoroughly enjoyed the sausage roll pinwheels and the chips.
During the lunch break I made my way down to the brand den as it was quieter at this time. I spoke to quite a few brands and played with the toys. It was a fantastic turnout. I popped my name down on quite a few lists a and gave a few business cards out. I got more confident as I got around the room. Having baby dottie with me was a good ice breaker.
I managed to pop up to the photography hub and have a look at the gorgeous backdrops by Capture by Lucy. Her sample rings were perfect for me to have a browse at the backdrop colours and I know which ones are on my Christmas Wish list! Oh and Lucy! Your mum was lovely to chat too!
I was gutted I couldn’t attend the Understanding the Toy Industry or the Writing a Book and Getting it Published sessions but baby dottie was fussy and I know it was too much to ask of her to sit quiet. So we loitered between the brand den and talking to the dressed up guy with the Strictly Game and the Players Lounge.
At 5 pm the raffle was being drawn in the players lounge. I can totally understand why I was put next the the table in the “safe space” as I had baby dottie with me. With so many toys to be won it’s a crazy rush to get to the one you want, but its a huge amount of fun! I really enjoyed watching the toys getting picked. I did get the chance to get up 4 times to pick toys in the raffle. They will make some lovely Christmas presents and I more than doubled the money I put into the raffle. It was great to just have to listen out for your name and not your raffle number. Much easier.
My Raffle Prizes
I will take away from BlogOn that it’s not really for babies. It makes the day twice as hard, your mind gets distracted and you can’t get around to everything you want to see and do. But as I’m exclusively breastfeeding and she’s only 5 months old I didn’t have a choice. I suppose I could have missed BlogOn but then I did miss the one in May because she was only tiny then. I haven’t been able to attend previous BlogOn’s because of working in my day job. When I head back to work in January after my maternity leave finishes I’m dropping hours to part-time so will be making sure I attend BlogOn from now on!
It was fantastic to have a chat with some bloggers I’ve known online for a while face to face. It was lovely to chat to like-minded people who have blogging as their passion just like myself. It was also good to chat to some newer bloggers and find out how they are getting on. Although I was a newbie to BlogOn I’m not a newbie to blogging so I did feel right at home.
As for the goody bag, well I’m totally amazed what was in it. I will be sharing the contents over the next couple of weeks over on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. It’s been a fun blog conference experience and I’m excited to see how the next BlogOn can be even better!
Thanks for stopping by today, I hope I didn’t bore you with my ramblings!
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