After blogging on and off since 2013 I have seen many blogging conferences come and go (many no longer running) and I would always say I would go to one, but then things would come up or I would wimp out and I never ended up going.
This year I decided that I would go to BlogOn Toys, as it has been running for many years, and I have only ever heard good things about it. So I brought my ticket and booked my hotel and committed myself to go. I am so glad that I did!! I had an absolute blast. It was so much fun and definitely worth the ticket price.
As I am not a social butterfly but actually rather socially awkward (think, Sheldon Cooper without the brains!) I was extremely scared. I knew no one and did not think to talk to anyone online before the event so that I would have people to look out for and meet. However, this did not impact the event as everyone was very friendly and approachable and I was not the only one who did not know anyone.
The event was on Saturday 21st September 2019, at the Coppid Beech Hotel in Bracknell. This is about two and a quarter hours from mine which was great as it is normally in Manchester which is approximately four and a half hours from ours. We booked the hotel for Saturday night so that we could attend the party and not have to drive home. However, in hindsight, we should have booked for Friday night as well. As we didn’t, I had to get up at 4 am on Saturday, so that I could get ready and we could get to the venue for 9 am.
We found the hotel really easily and were parked up and ready to roll at 8:30 am so we had to wait as you could not check into the blogging conference until 9 am. We had to leave early though, just in case we got lost or stuck in traffic as I did not want to be late!
It was funny on the drive up as I was wearing a christmas t-shirt as dressing festive was optional. It was a sunny September Saturday morning and there I am in the car wearing a Christmas top and eating mince pies! Passers by must have thought that I was getting a bit ahead of myself!
Inside the hotel
The ice breaker
At 9 am I was one of the first to register and get given my goody bags. They are as big as people say! I gave mine to my hubby and he took them to the car for me (he was occupying himself until he could check into the hotel at 3 pm). They had a ‘decorate a Christmas tree’ icebreaker competition so I found a lady who was sitting by herself and started talking to her. She was lovely and we decided to be a team of two and have a go at the tree.
There was also breakfast rolls and tea/coffee available but I was too nervous at this point to eat anything! At 10 am we had the welcome speech and with everyone in one room it slightly panicked me at how many people there were!
The speeches were lovely and relaxed and I started to calm down and relax a little. We also found out that we won the Christmas tree ice breaker contest which was nice!
After the speeches, we had our first session and the one I wanted to attend was being held in the same room as where I was already so that was nice and handy. I attended the Christmas SEO session with the fantastic Cerys Parker. It was the best session of the day! I learned so much, it was so useful and if that had been the only thing I did at the whole event, it would have been worth it. I left with a plan in my mind for doing so much better with SEO and I felt so inspired, it was brilliant.
During the morning break, I voted in the toy awards. The toy awards are where companies submit their best toys for Christmas and we vote on which we like best from the different categories. Then the entries are raffled off and the money raised from the raffle goes into a fund for helping bloggers when they are in need which I think is an amazing idea. It was difficult to choose as there were so many great entrants.
Session two and lunch
My next session was building brand relationships with the lovely Jessica Sheppard. This was great for beginners but as I have been doing this for so long, I didn’t really learn anything new in this session.
It was then time for some lunch and trust me, by this time I was absolutely starving! The buffet was nice, although it could have been better, but that is not the fault of the BlogOn team. I did love the bat burgers which were in honour of batman’s 80th birthday which I thought was pretty cool.
After lunch I had a go in the giant globe which was a good laugh, being a child again! I wasn’t going to do it as I get so nervous but then a lovely lady who I had spoken to earlier that day asked if I would like to go in with her, so I did and I was glad that I joined in.
The next session was how to get published with Emma Vanstone and Maggy Woodley. I had been really looking forward to this one as I am currently writing a book that expands on my A-Z relationship series. This was interesting and again left me feeling inspired which is exactly what you need when you attend blogging conference sessions.
We then had another break and this time there was free gin and cake! What more could you ask for! I had a lovely cranberry and orange gin and the cake was delicious even though it was gluten free! I had one more session to attend after the break but unfortunately, I had to make the decision to not attend, as I had still not visited the brand den where all of the brand reps were as I had been so busy!
The brand den
It was great meeting some of the brand reps and even though it was scary to put myself out there, I had some great conversations and agreed to work with a few of them which was fantastic. I just wish that I had not left the brand den until last as, by the time I got there, it was the last hour before they were finishing. Some had already packed up and as the brand reps had been in there all day (and it was mega hot in there!) meeting so many bloggers, by the time I got there, I think a lot of them had had enough and just wanted to get home!
Next, it was time for the much-anticipated toy raffle. It was amazing to watch, there were over 200 prizes and it was so funny seeing people run through to grab their prizes. Unfortunately, I did not realise how many tickets people would purchase and I did not have any luck. Some people won multiple prizes but they did admit that they had purchased a lot of tickets. 3, 500 tickets were purchased and when I heard that I was quietly confident that I would not be winning as I only brought ten!
There was then a break for dinner. Some people paid for the dinner at the hotel and ate together but as I had my hubby with me I went back to my room to see him and eat.
There was a party as well after dinner which I had every intention of going to but I fell asleep! It had been such a long and busy day and even though in my head I’m still a spring chicken, in reality, I am not! This is why I know that next time I go I will be staying the night before as well so that I do not have to get up at stupid o’clock on the day of the event and then hopefully I will make it to the party too!
The next day!
After a good night’s sleep, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast which was included in our stay at the hotel.
It was all over and I could not believe how fast it had all flashed by yesterday! I was emotionally and mentally exhausted as I am not used to socialising with so many new people at once! It was brilliant though and I can not wait to do it all again next year! We then set off to pick up our oldest daughter and her fiance from the airport as they had been holidaying in New York!
The goody bags
On Monday morning I suddenly realised that I had not even peeked into my blog on goody bags! That was so much fun, it felt like being a kid on Christmas morning with my Christmas stocking, not knowing what I would be pulling out next! There were some really lovely products in there, I could not believe how generous the brands had been. It was such a nice end to a really fantastic blogging conference.
What I loved about BlogOn Toys
There was so much going on at BlogOn, it really was fantastic. Here is a summary of what I loved about the conference from a blogging conference newbie!
- Friendly atmosphere.
- Fantastic choice and quality of sessions to attend
- Brilliant icebreaker game of decorating a Christmas tree
- Toy awards and raffle and what the money is used for!
- Free gin!
- Lots of food and refreshments
- The brand den
- The goody bags
- Meeting so many lovely bloggers and vloggers
- The fantastic value for money of the event
- The party (even though I didn’t get to it!)
Tips for first-time attendees
As this was my first time attending, I thought I would jot down some tips that I learned while there for other newbies.
- Everyone is lovely so try not to get too nervous!
- You will not be able to do everything as there is so much to do and it is only one day so make sure you prioritise so you do not miss anything that you really wanted to do.
- Do not leave visiting the brand den to the end of the day, especially if this is one of your top priorities.
- If you want a shot at winning something in the raffle you will need to buy many more than ten!
- If you want to attend the party, make sure you get lots of sleep the night before so you can keep up!
- Don’t make a list of the things that you want to do and the people you want to look out for and then leave it at home!
- Bring your phone charger and/or some power banks