I've been writing online blogs for the past 10 years, but my first one was really just a digital journal, which evolved into travel blog for my friends and family when I first went to Canada for 12 months and then to Australia for another year (with some USA, New Zealand, Singapore and Japan thrown in for good measure) and eventually it transformed into a squee-filled fandom outlet. Even with Page to Stage Reviews I never set out to be a "proper" blogger, I was merely looking for an online platform to aggregate my book reviews, which at the time were published all over the Internet, and bits and pieces I wrote for my day job as the editor of a women's website.
I soon met a fantastic bunch of fellow bloggers (on- and offline), PRs/publicists and brands, and realised there was so much more to blogging than writing reviews of things I enjoyed. But even after making all these invaluable connections and getting invited to a host of events to meet even more amazing people, I didn't consider myself a real blogger. After all, I was just one voice in a sea of many and I hardly had the name recognition, social media following or professional design to play with the big boys and girls.
This thinking changed when I went to the amazing Big Blogger Conference, organised by LDNmeetup, a few weeks ago. Not only did I meet a bunch of fabulous new bloggers outside of my small circle of mostly book and theatre blogging friends, but I had the chance to listen to some blogging greats at inspiring workshops and meet very friendly and welcoming new brands – all of which has spurted me into action to be better at what I'm doing and really think about my blog and the way I brand myself.
The entire day was brilliant from start to finish, but I wanted to share some of my highlights which I hope will inspire fellow small bloggers such as myself. When these girls organise another conference, or any blogging event really, I definitely recommend making the effort to attend as it was so incredibly useful and fun!
The entrance to the gorgeous Hotel Russell in Russell Square, where the Big Blogger
Conference took place
I will talk about these workshops only very briefly as I don't want to give all of the speakers' secrets away!
Monetising your blog: If you're a lifestyle blogger I'm sure you've heard of The Prosecco Diaries, and our first workshop was only held by the face behind the blog: Sarah! From affiliate marketing to sponsored content, this was such an insightful session. It's really spurted me into action to actually do something more with my blog and brainstorm ideas on how, perhaps, I could earn some money with my work. She also covered some useful blogging best practises and how to work with PRs and agencies. Great stuff!
Pinterest: I love Pinterest but I haven't used it for my blog at all. However, after the presentation by Rosalilium that is about to change. I've always counted on Google as a main source of web traffic, but did you know that Pinterest is very good too, especially for older content? Great images, preferably with text overlay, are of course key but so are well written descriptions and signing up for a free Pinterest Business account for analytical insights.
SEO: This was the workshop I was most looking forward to, especially as I thought I'd be able to get value from it for my day job as a digital editor as well, but as it was the last of the morning it was unfortunately also the shortest. Nonetheless it was a fantastic session by Jasmin Charlotte who told us all about the importance of a SEO checklist, collecting link 'juice' (and not giving all your juice away!) and using tools to schedule and analyse social media postings. Absolutely invaluable stuff, I only wish this session had been longer!
Every single brand here was absolutely fab, friendly and welcoming, but there were a few that particularly stood out to me for various reasons.
The stunning display of the Heaven Skincare stand. I was given one of the transparent squares,
which is a full-sized version of their signature Bee Venom Mask. I can't wait to try it!
Bee Good: Admittedly I loved this brand before even seeing them, as honey is one of my favourite ingredients in skincare products but not only do they have a fab selection of products (and gorgeous and delicious cookies made with the same honey!) they were incredibly knowledgeable on bees and honey too and it was a joy to talk to them and learn something new about these wonderful creatures.
COMB: I'm not a big fashionista, but this new app (which is free by the way) sounds absolutely ace. You can snap a photo of a piece of clothing or accessory you like (whether you see it in a shop, or spot someone wearing it) and the app will search high street brands for similar items. Not only do you no longer have to stop a random stranger on the street to ask where they got their clothes from, but the app is also a great way to find affordable high street alternatives to expensive pieces. Plus you can add items to your favourites and if the price drops, you'll instantly get a notification! Needless to say, I've downloaded the app.
Jewellery Box: Their products were by faaaaaar my favourites at the entire exhibition! I've been looking for fun, tiny Sterling Silver studs for yonks and they have a wealth of choices. I was particularly attracted to cute dinosaur studs, and lo and behold, a surprise gift I got from them had just that in the box! They have a pop-up in Brixton later this month and I have already whizzed over my list of things I'd like to buy, totaling over £80, oops. As they are very affordable this means I am buying a LOT.
I could have taken photos of their cute stand all afternoon...
Look Fantastic: This was another brand that wasn't only ace to chat to, but was really generous to bloggers by offering a full-sized beauty box to try. It looks super classy and pretty and the products within are so exciting! I can't wait to give them a whirl. Look Fantastic has so many different kinds of brands on their website that I think I'm going to need a whole free weekend to look through them all and decide which I want to buy next.
Suti Skincare: Different from other skincare brands in that it is not only organic (always something I go for) but the products are based on energy healing too and each and every batch of products receives the energy that makes the brand so special. If that wasn't enough, I was also awarded Starblogger by Suzannah from Suti Skincare (each brand picked a blogger they enjoyed speaking to the most) which meant I got a lovely box of goodies from them in the post. Review to follow.
Shoeaholics is the cool Kurt Geiger brand that sells shoes from a previous season at a
massive discount. I had my eyes on these ankle boots with silver heels!
Insightful workshops, amazing brands and a fabulous goody bag to boot (two weeks later and I've still not had the chance to try everything within it, there was THAT much!); The Big Blogger Conference was an ace day and I can't wait to attend one of LDNmeetup's other events in the near future (and this time I will not forget to bring my camera so I won't just have rubbish phone pics for my blog)! Thanks so much for the great day, guys ❤