This weekend I took my little blog-show on the road and headed to Blogcamp UK in Birmingham. It was an event organised by the lovely people at the tots and foodies100. I signed up to attend a few months back and have been quite excited to meet some fellow bloggers and be able to talk about things like SEO, stats, photography, reviews, social media etc... with people who are interested in the same things. As lovely as all my friends are I do sometimes think they might be getting sick of my constant wittering on about blogging and baking.
The great thing about this event for me was that is was completely free! Yes I know, I am a total cheap-skate, but the fact that I only had to pay for travel was a BIG tick in the plus column.
In true food blogger style I seem to have mainly taken photos of the food I ate on the day, and completely disregarded taking photos of people I met! So here is my run down of the day told through the medium of food;
I got up a ridiculous-o-clock (also know as 4:30am) to get ready and get to the station in time for my 6am train.
I don't often travel by train but was impressed with how comfortable it was, compared to my epic 8 hour Megabus adventure in January it was the lap of luxury! Although I could of done without the gaggle of loud American students, or the beer drinking Sheffield Utd fans. Nothing against either group of people, just waking up is hard enough, it should be illegal to be loud or drunk before 10am.
I had arranged to meet the lovely Karen from Lavender and Lovage on the train, as she was traveling from York. I have "known" Karen through her blog and twitter for a while now and was excited to be able to meet and get to know a fellow foodie fanatical blogger.
Karen was much more organised than me and brought some baked goods for us to share on the train. She didn't have time to bake them herself but assured me they were from a fabulous York baker.
We enjoyed some lovely fresh cheese scones for breakfast, and some "fat rascals" on the way home, which are a cross between a scone and a rock bun. Just look how cute their little fruity faces are!
Once we arrived in Birmingham we met up with some other lovely bloggers (Made with Pink, Go Free Cakes, Made by Jayne and Curlylinz) to walk to the venue, we did get a bit lost and ended up doing a full lap of the station before finding our way, but found it eventually and in plenty of time to grab a coffee before the first session kicked off.
Bangs and a Bun, who writes a brilliant lifestyle/personal blog. Her talk was all about taking your blog to the next level and developing your voice/brand. I found this really interesting, I could of picked her brains all day long.
The main thing I took away from this session was not to feel pigeon-holed by your blog theme, and develop your own voice in your writing.
I then attended Stu Heritage's talk on "How to be a snark and get away with it". I am a bit of a fan of Stu's work in the Guardian, and his blog Luv and Hat. It was a very entertaining session and I am glad I went to it, although I did miss out on the video blogging workshop which was a shame. I am still going to work on doing some recipe videos in the future, so watch this space.
The main thing I took away from this session was to not sit on the fence, don't be afraid to have an opinion.
I then attended a photography workshop with John Taylor. It was a great workshop and John gallantly stepped in at the last minute to fill in, but I do wish I had gone to the SEO one instead in hindsight. Everyone said the SEO one was brilliant and incredibly useful, and the photography workshop seemed to focus on photographing people; which as you can see from this post is not my strong suit or what my blog is about.
I am sorry to say I didn't actually learn anything new from this workshop, but I suppose it cemented my existing photography knowledge.
After lunch we then settled down for the Great No Follow Debate, I already was pretty confident in the whole issue but it was great to hear everyone else's experiences and opinions on the matter. There are already a lot of great guides out there around this issue so I won't go into too much detail here, but do check out this post on the Tots100 for the low-down.
Also HUGE thanks to Lee Smallwood, what he doesn't know about SEO is quite frankly not worth knowing.
Following the cake break, we sat down for a wonderful Q&A with some PR professionals, it was a chance for us bloggers to find out what goes on in the brains of those elusive PR folk. I found it VERY interesting hearing their reactions to the "no-follow" issue and the idea that PR professionals attempt to get bloggers to not disclose sponsored posts.
It has definitely made me more confident in saying no to dodgy offers or actually approaching PR people to introduce myself! So a great big thank you to Stephen Waddington, Emily Leary, Rochelle from Frank PR and Andrew Burton from 3 Monkeys.
I have to say that Birmingham New Street station is one of the most dank and depressing places on earth, but with good company (Thank you Karen) and a good pasty it makes it all the brighter!
I made it home by about midnight and was asleep before my head hit the pillow (ok, so I might have fallen asleep in the taxi...), I slept like a log with sweet bloggy dreams filled with SEO techniques, snarky post ideas and bucket loads of inspiration. A HUGE squishy (non-huggy) thank you to Sally and the folks at the tots and foodies100 for organising this brilliant event, I hope I can come along to many more.
Nabbed this great picture from the Tots100 facebook page
Hope you enjoyed this rather lengthy account of my day, rumour has it that they might be contemplating having another event in Scotland! If you are interested be sure to join the mailing list here.