20 October 2018

A brilliant time at #Blogontoys - 6 reasons you should go.

It is almost 5 years since I started this blog and four and a half years since I went to my first blogger conference where I had a good time and came away with lots of ideas, information, a few new friends and contacts, it was high time I went along to another.

Having seen Blog On conferences popping up in my social feeds twice a year and hearing about what a great time everyone was having, how much they were learning and the lovely brands they were meeting not to mention the Christmas party, Blog On toy awards and the infamous Blog On goody bags I decided I wanted to go.

For me it was a last minute decision and having bought my ticket just two weeks before the conference the decision was made and I was going. I am not the most seasoned traveller (ok I have hardly been anywhere!) so the thought of getting the train to Manchester by myself including a change and navigating a tram to Hotel Football where I was to meet a whole lot of people who I don't know but might have chatted to on twitter or read their blog posts did make me rather nervous. In the end I was accompanied by my mum who fancied a bit of shopping and exploring the architecture that Manchester had to offer while I was at the conference which meant I had some company on the train, yeah.

Blog on was held at Hotel Football next to the Old Trafford stadium where Manchester United play, a great instagram worthy photo opportunity on arrival even for a non football fan like me.

First up was the Blog On Christmas party, I entered the disco darkness alone, and not knowing a single soul there, made a beeline for Laura (the Blog On founder and organiser) who was propping up the bar and kindly introduced me to some faces of the names I knew and chatted to online. After a drink, a giggle watching fellow bloggers do the macarena on the dance floor, pulling crackers, exploring the party games on the tables and getting to know a few people I had only spoken to online I was glad I had gone and was looking forward to the conference the next day.

Ok, so I am putting Food next because it was the first thing on arrival at Hotel Football and everyone had been talking about it online before the event commenting how lovely the food was there and I sure wasn't disappointed. Hot coffee and a yummy sausage brioche roll got consumed while I got to know a few other bloggers and browsed all the entries to the blog on toy awards then I cast my votes as we waited for everyone to arrive. Lunch was rather tasty too, sandwiches, swirly sausage rolls I had heard a lot about and giant chips, there was fruit and greens too of course as well as my first mini mince pie of the year and of course more opportunity to chat to others too. Then there was cake.. and prosecco, what more could a girl want! I went for reasons other than food but... yum.

Meeting other bloggers was one of the reasons I had gone to Blog On, in a world of blogging and social media I tend to read other people's blog posts and chat to them online but although I knew everything about where they had been on holiday and the latest parenting issue they had faced, I couldn't put a face to these people and knew little about them. Queing for food and sitting eating seemed to be the best time to chat and it was lovely to find out the person I was talking to was someone who I followed and wrote a blog I read and most of whom had actually heard of me and even read my blog!

The other main reason I went to this particular Blog On conference was because the September one is Blog On Toys, being a blogger with three young children we get approached a lot to review toys and games and I was keen to see the new toys on the block so to speak, explore the entries in the toy awards and get networking with the brands and PR companies- I think there was only one company there I was not already working for. Meeting the people who email me on a practically weekly basis in person and chatting to them about upcoming review opportunities and seeing the products being promoted for Christmas helped me to decide which ones we really wanted to review and which weren't for us was great.  

The Little Ones loved the Floof we reviewed

As well as food, chatting and playing there is another reason I went, to learn a thing or two. Blog On has sessions running throughout the day you can dip in and out of, several run at the same time so I chose to attend one on Photography, the toy industry (and how bloggers fit in, which was really interesting), and one on google rankings and blog promotion. I came away with more knowledge and some ideas that, when I get a minute, I will have a go at playing around with!

As I said before Blog On Toys hosts the Blog On Toy awards, lots of amazing toys were entered this year, the bloggers get to vote on our top toys in each category and at the end of the day all the toys are raffled off with the money going towards the Blog On Community Fund for bloggers in need. I heard many things about the raffle and queued up with others buying tickets excitedly talking about their past wins of some amazing prizes. I didn't spend nearly as much as some on tickets and heard others saying they had never won in four years etc so I didn't hold out much hope but was excited all the same. 

The raffle was drawn right at the end of the conference, I had a small list in my head of what I would grab for the Little Ones if I was to be lucky. The best things on my list went first of course but then my name was called and just as I was looking it was called again, what luck. I grabbed something for each of the girls I knew they would love to receive and have put them away for Christmas, I know they will both be thrilled.

And then comes the ledginary Blog On Goody Bag, I had heard that you needed to take a huge suitcase just to get the goody bag home and they weren't kidding, with my two raffle prizes, my goody bag and my overnight clothes my suitcase was stuffed! Just look at the amazing things it contained, games and magazines, food and drink samples, a calendar, toy samples and a whole host of collectibles and small toys. Whilst I shared the food, magazines and a few bits with the Little Ones (Daddy got the beer and I might have scoffed the sweets on the train home), I have stashed the majority of the small collectibles and games to fill the Little Ones Christmas stockings this year.

I had a great time at Blog On, I got everything out of it that I went for and have made some new friends and contacts too. I will be going again next year.... better start saving up for my ticket!

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