Blogstock was freakin’ awesome. That’s all I really need to write here. But I am going to continue and explain exactly why. For those not “in the know”, Blogstock is the world’s first and only blogging festival and is based in Elstree, just north of London. This year’s festival was only the second Blogstock and ran from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. So a bit shorter than your usual music festival. Therefore only one day needed to take of annual leave for us 9-5ers! Score!
The festival was filled with talks, one-to-one sessions, musical entertainment, panel discussions, good food and fantastic new blogging friends. This was also the very, very first blogging event I attended, and with the Travel Massive Manchester meet up happening in a couple of weeks and then the LAMB meet up in London a couple of weeks after that, it certainly won’t be my last!
Key takeaways from Blogstock
Here are the main tips that I learnt from my overall experience at Blogstock:
1. My “niche” needs to be, um, “niche-ier.”
I have such terrible, awful problems with my Blog’s niche. You know, that thing that makes it different to all of the hundreds of thousands of film blogs out there. The problem was not that I didn’t have a niche (it’s film and travel, in case you were wondering, which is worrying to me if you were), it’s that I had no idea how to handle my niche and really define it properly. Listening to Alexandra Jimenez from Travel Fashion Girl and Monica Stott from The Travel Hack‘s talks has made me realise how important it is for me to get my niche down pat and stick to it so I don’t confuse my readers.
2. Camping in the freezing cold wasn’t as bad as you thought, was it?
I have to admit, I had a bit of a freak out on the Thursday night before Blogstock where I was ready to sack off the brand new tent and self-inflatable air mattress I had saved up and bought months in advance and panic book two nights in the nearest Premier Inn. My recent camping endeavours at music festivals, etc. haven’t made for a happy Becca. But actually, I haven’t camped since I was a Camp Counsellor in 2012 and I think that experience has made me have a thicker skin and not be such a wimp. Even though I didn’t have a shower and I was freezing the whole night I still didn’t overreact and get in an unnecessarily grumpy mood. I also had a double skinned pop up tent this time. That was a very good shout in Friday night’s pouring rain.
3. Your readers aren’t stupid. They know when you’re being fake.
This is totally true and I can see it when I read travel blogs. The “I only started this blog to see if I could monetize it” bloggers with the clean white theme design (unfortunately a lot like what mine is now) and the crisp, well designed logo who start working with companies and trying to earn money way before they’re ready and not even companies that match their blog. Blog readers want to see passion and personality. You want to know where to find the most genuine bloggers out there? You need not look any further than any of the film blogs I read.
4. Free cups of tea and pancakes are enough to make a girl forget it’s cold.
Almost. Almost forget it’s cold. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best weather on Saturday; it was grey and often quite windy. However, one of the great things about Blogstock is that because it’s an awesome opportunity to meet with brands to work with, those brands will also be awesome in return and provide the cold campers with free warm things to consume.
5. Know exactly what there is of you to find on the internet and guard it closely.
Kirsten from Kooky Traveller‘s talk was really refreshing because, despite how good the other talks were at Blogstock, they all basically the same thing: ‘to get this many followers you need to have passion, have a niche, etc. etc.’ whereas Kirsten’s talk on protecting your blogging brand had real, actionable tips that I am definitely going to do to make sure my personal information is protected.
6. Your new blogging friends are out there waiting for you and they’re super friendly.
I was so nervous about meeting people before Blogstock because why the hec had I chosen a really full on festival as my first ever blogging event? Turns out I needn’t have worried! Even bloggers who had known each other for years welcomed me and other newbies into their group and everyone is so inclusive.
Great tips for other people in my position though is meet as many people as possible beforehand, for instance on twitter by shouting out the event in the hopes of a retweet (how I met fellow Manchester blogger @footstepsontheg !) and if you notice one of your favourite bloggers mentions in on one of their blogs that they are attending said event, comment to say you’ll be there (which resulted in the incredibly friendly Jodie from The Little Backpacker approaching me late on the Saturday before I’d even spotted her. She didn’t know who I was, but knew I was attending).
8. Blogstock has the best festival toilets ever.
EVER! I had just finished up putting up my tent, opened up the nearest port-a-loo thinking that’s what it was, turns out it was actually a shower! The toilets were in their own little trailer and looked exactly like a normal public bathroom! Nothing but the best at Blogstock.
9. Try to look at your social media sites as critically as possible.
I attended Elle Croft‘s Social Media Health check and it really hit home how critical I really need to be of my own blog and social media sites to notice the things that could change. All too often I take a “that’ll do” approach to bits and pieces where I know it will be difficult to change.
As an example of how in depth I need to be, even though I like the picture of me that I use across my blog and social media sites under the nice pink Cherry Blossom tree in Brussels, it’s not very well representative of me or this blog. It should be me, hair in flowing ginger light, in one of my film tee shirts standing in front of a cool looking cinema in another country somewhere pulling some awesome yet embarrassing facial expression. Jus’ saying, not like I’ve given it a lot of thought or anything…
10. You need to be quick if you want free booze during the closing panel discussion.
Blogstock is run by Traverse, who run events and conferences all year around. Apparently every event has a big closing panel that everyone attends and it’s customary for the events team to hand out free alcohol during the event. However, it seems like this isn’t the case for everyone who asks for it because I sent in my requests via twitter with the correct hashtag roughly 1 minute into the event and unfortunately my beer didn’t make it to me! Gotta be quicker next time.
11. The World Land Trust is actually a totally awesome foundation I never knew anything about.
On Saturday morning I knew I just had to attend the talk run by Wildlife Presenter Bill Oddie, former RSPB Conservation director Mark Avery and Dan Bradbury of the World Land Trust, which sounds like an awesome charity. They buy up land that is either under threat of deforestation or is home to animals that need it. They work with the local community to make sure they are involved in the purchase and help preserve the land once it has been bought. Being a vegetarian I’m obviously somewhat concerned about our responsibility to nature so it was really interesting to be there.
12. You can, in fact, dance in Wellies.
A closing party in the main tent meant a band and a decent sized dance floor and it turns out wellies will not stop you getting your groove on.
13. I need to start actually paying attention to what I put on instagram.
From those of you that have read my post on my Olympus Pen Lite camera and how using an actual DSLR still baffles me, you’ll know I’ve got a long way to go on improving my photography. In fact, my instagram page for some wouldn’t even be good enough for Snapchat. So I plodded along to Chio Photography‘s session to learn more about images on social media. So I basically need to develop more of an overall ‘theme’ on instagram and I also need to post more pictures to twitter… Not so hard, right?
13. You become something of an underground character as the “only film blogger at Blogstock.”
As soon as I signed in to register I was asked if I was a food, travel or fashion/beauty blogger. I answered with film and met with immediate questions and looked upon in wonderment. I then introduced myself to several other people that day who replied with “oh, so you’re the film blogger?! I’ve heard about you!” I feel like this can only be a good thing and I will bask in my originality at future blogging events for as long as I possibly can.
14. My quirkiness is to be celebrated over every inch of my blog.
One of my favourite sessions was by Dutch travel blogger Milou from Explorista.nl about being noticed in an already crowded blogosphere. The truth is, there’s only so much you can learn from past bloggers’ success as everyone and every blog will have different methods to gaining more readers and creating a community around that blog, all we can do is keep going and learn from trial and error. However, one big thing we can do to get noticed is to just be ourselves. We are the only people who have learnt the exact things we have, who have lived through the same things and think about things in a certain way. Use it, and use it indefinitely over everything you do, it’s the only way you’re different to everyone else so make sure you own it.
Thank you all for a fantastic Blogstock! See you next year?!