Home blogging Blogtacular – Creativity, empowerment and feeling the fear

Blogtacular – Creativity, empowerment and feeling the fear

by Clare Mansell
Blogtacular – Creativity, empowerment and feeling the fear

So last weekend was Blogtacular my second year attending and only my second ever blogger conference… and on Friday I’ll be attending my third in the shape of Britmums Live.

Between my first and second conferences I’ve learned a lot. This year I made the bold decision not to attempt to take any photos, it goes against every fibre of my being, but I knew that it would be impossible to listen, take notes, meet new people and take photos.

So this year I did a lot more listening, a lot more note taking and I tried to spread my wings a bit more and push myself to talk to other attendees. I stepped outside my comfort zone (and I suspect all of ours) by approaching a blogger who I admire and wanted to meet (Laura from Side Street Style) and I talked to many others I’d already connected with through social media.

So what did I learn? I think there were two levels of learning. There was the literal stuff we were told, the facts, the quotes and the ideas and then there is what it all gets mentally crunched down to after the event… which is perhaps more interesting.

The opening keynote speech was from Grace Bonney of Design Sponge who talked about the changing face of the blogging industry, the fear of being left behind and of getting older in a young industry. She talked about how to deal with change through a five step plan, which included having a good support network of friends and peers with whom you can discuss your concerns. She finished by saying that once you’ve examined and considered a new idea you will have a choice to either swim with the tide or swim upstream and although the latter won’t be easy, you can take ownership of it and make it something that distinguishes you.

Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (195)

My second session was a Q&A with a panel of PR Pros and was the most valuable talk of the day for me. The message rang loud and clear that Content Is King and I was encouraged to hear that PRs do like being approached and that if an idea is strong enough your stats won’t matter. Keys points from the discussion included…

  • PRs really love great photography
  • Be up front with who you have worked with and be proud to disclose
  • Try to incorportate your disclosure artfully into the post body rather than at the end of it
  • A pet hate of the panel was the use of asterisks to disclose
  • Guest posts are a turn off, especially when there are too many on a blog
  • Brands don’t give things away for ‘free’, it comes out of their marketing budget
  • PRs have the tools to tell fake follows from real ones so don’t compare you numbers to other bloggers
  • If someone offers you something for under £50 (either goods or cash) don’t do a whole post on it as it will damage you long-term
  • “Don’t bend your voice to fit with a brand. The reason the brand is working with you is to connect with your own individual voice”

Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (427)

A Pinterest session lead by Zoe Pearson followed the lunch break. I have already worked with Zoe in my capacity as a Featured Pinner. Pinterest now has 30 billion pins and 750 million boards and Zoe advised us that to be successful board names need to be searchable and not cute and clever. Though the visual quality of what you pin matters, it’s really the description (the longer and more descriptive the better) that ensures that pins success.

  • The average pin is repinned 11 times
  • Follower count is not a great measure of success on Pinterest
  • Most content is consumed through searching and not through your profile page
  • Look at what people are pinning from your site ( eg : www.pinterest.com/source/www.maybushstudio.com) and see what they are pinning versus what you are pinning
  • Have boards that show the ideas, people and places that inspire your content
  • Hashtags no longer work on Pinterest as they were seen to attract spammy behaviour

The first of two styling sessions was next with Marte Marie Forsberg showing us her food styling techniques. As a photographer who delights in over-exposing it was intriguing to see the beautiful dark images she captured by turning the dial the other way. The most useful advice I took away from her talk was when she told us to use all our senses to work out what elements to capture in images if we are telling a story – So you should walk into a room and smell and listen to what is going on before you choose what to photograph.

Blogtacular 2015 Official Photos by Piers MacDonald. Thanks Mollie Makes (630)

And the last session of the day was from Betty magazine, who had one strong message in their presentation : the confidence of knowing what was Betty and what was not. Charlotte Jacklin talked of how Charlotte Melling who originally conceived the magazine would sometimes reject ideas for photoshoots because they didn’t fit with the ethos behind the magazine. They spoke of finding a unique tone of voice and planning photoshoots so that images were captured in pairs with a good amount of variation of landscape and portrait.

So what did I take away from it all?

As I was digesting the information from the weekend, I stumbled across this post from Mammasaurus and it seemed to entwine with a lot of what I was taking away from the conference. I think what this year’s Blogtacular has emphasised to me is that there is nothing wrong with wanting to pursue quality over quantity. There seems to be a race at the moment to churn out as many posts as possible during a week, sometimes a day. I personally find it too much, both as a reader and a writer. I want to only publish great content and I want that content to be a showcase of great photography.

I also feel that it’s probably ok to decide to leave certain things behind, if you do it for the right reasons. I have played with youtube for the last six months and I believe it can add a great extra dimension to my posts, but it is never going to be a priority for me. Likewise I can see that some social media channels are more important than others and that’s ok as long as you are strong on a couple.

Oh and finally, if you don’t have a bright red lipstick, you are nobody. I might need to sort that one out before Britmums Live…

All images except the top one courtesy of Mollie Makes


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Em @ snowingindoors June 16, 2015 - 1:11 pm

Great post, thanks for sharing what you’ve learnt, I shall be on the lookout for the bright red lippy this weekend xx

Amber June 16, 2015 - 1:53 pm

Note to self: wear the RED lipstick for Britmums!

Thank you so much for sharing notes, Clare. It sounds like an amazing conference and I’m so sad to have missed it.

I think that for bloggers like us, our photography is one of our key strengths and that ultimately it would be damaging for us to post multiple times/day to the detriment of our photography – there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get enough pictures to support that kind of posting. Four times weekly seems to be my sweet spot, any more than that is a bonus.

Emily Beale June 16, 2015 - 4:23 pm

How did I miss you at this?!? So cross at myself for not knowing you were there! I would ahem come up to bear hug you and talk cameras of course, that too! I won’t be at Britmums, so we’ve missed our chance – sob!

Ellie Horry June 16, 2015 - 6:13 pm

It was lovely to see you on Saturday!
I found the PR panel and Pinterest talks really interesting, so full of crunchy data and useful information, and there was also heaps of inspiration from speakers and other bloggers. All good, but also rather overwhelming.
As for the lipstick, try & Other Stories’ if you have time before Britmums, their stuff is super long lasting and should keep going as long as you can!
x Ellie

[email protected] June 17, 2015 - 2:32 pm

Brilliant! A lipstick tip off, I’m on the website now…

Kate June 17, 2015 - 6:44 am

I really enjoyed reading this post as I was planning on going to Blogtacular then decided I couldn’t really justify/spare the funds with a baby on the way and a house sale going through (I don’t do things by halves it seems!), so thanks for sharing what you took away from the day.

I agree with you about quality being more important than quantity. I think sometimes that feeling that you have to keep up with other blogs/bloggers (a lot of who do it as a full-time job) can make you spread yourself too thin and impact negatively. That’s part of the reason I have taken a step back in the past month and now only post twice a week as opposed to three times.

Love your notes/takeaways from the PR panel too. Some of those things are refreshing to hear! I can’t help you with the red lipstick thing though as I never wear any (stupid dry lips).

Hope your pregnancy is going well too! x

Katie @mummydaddyme June 17, 2015 - 2:51 pm

It was a great weekend wasn’t it? I am sorry we didn’t get a chance to say hi! xx

Chloe (Sorry About The Mess) June 17, 2015 - 4:31 pm

Oh, I didn’t know you were there! I would have loved to say hi. I was in the PR panel bit too.

Carie June 17, 2015 - 8:56 pm

Oh I love hearing about the sessions I wasn’t in – thank you for sharing 🙂 and it was lovely to get to meet you in person! The quantity vs quality debate was so well timed for me as I’m trying to work out just where I want to go with my blog in the next couple of years, especially once I go back to work and as Amber says, there just isn’t time for good photography for every day of the week!

Elisa June 18, 2015 - 7:58 am

Oh no! I knew I should have applied a coat of that cherry-red lipstick I brought along! 😉

I agree about quality over quantity, I think every time I have suffered from blogger burnout it has been because I was comparing myself to others too much, and/or trying to churn out more posts than I could reasonably put all myself into.

What a packed day it was! So many ideas buzzing in my hear right now 🙂

Seaside reads, tortoise earrings and homemade shorts… #LittleLoves » Maybush Studio June 19, 2015 - 6:01 am

[…] feel like my feet have barely touched the ground this week. No sooner was I back from Blogtacular on Saturday night, than I was starting to pack another bag for London for Britmums Live. When I […]

Charly Dove June 19, 2015 - 6:46 am

Blogtacular sounds brilliant and I’m yet to get there. Next time hopefully, seems like you had a really good time. Hopefully see you at BritMums 🙂

Lupin June 30, 2015 - 10:24 am

Thanks so much for sharing tips from the sessions you went to! It’s been great being able to catch up on some of the ones I missed on the day (too many great sessions to choose from!!)


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