Reflections on Blogfest 2015

Reflections on Blogfest 2015

For a long time now I have been uncomfortable about where my blog has started to take me – or should that be where I am starting to take my blog?! I think the two things go hand in hand really.

I never started my blog to get ‘stuff’, I never knew that things like sponsored posts existed and I didn’t realise that you could experience opportunities and review things as a result of having a platform where you wrote. But what seems to have happened is that I have become a little commercial enterprise. I didn’t set out for that to happen – and I seem to have become a bit clouded by it all and lost my way. I am certainly not saying that I am ungrateful for the experiences and items that my family have had. But it does mean that it has taken away so much from what I originally set out to do.

As Tim from Slouching Towards Thatcham quite correctly observes in his follow-up post, Blogfest focuses more on the craft of writing. And that is what I really needed this weekend. To affirm a number of my plans. I want this blog to get back to the creative outlet that I had originally planned for it – and speaking to so many of my other fellow bloggers about this, they were extremely supportive.

I would like to share with you 5 lessons that I have learned from this weekend. Mainly from the sessions that I attended and also from just generally chatting to people.

Bridget Christie Blogfest 2015

The first session of the day was ‘A Room of One’s Own’: Motherhood and creativity. To me, this doesn’t just boil down to motherhood and whilst I believe in gender equality, I am not a staunch feminist. I think I sit somewhere in the middle. I found Bridget Christie extremely funny and very engaging and she said something that resonated with me. She said that she wrote from 12am until 4am – and then carried on being a mum the next day. I realised that not only had I been suppressing my own creativity – and not writing when I felt like it – I had been doing the same to Ross. I had been quite particular about us both going to bed at a certain time so we could get enough sleep. He likes to write at night and I had been stopping him.

Lesson learned #1: No more suppressing the need to be creative.

The second session that I attended was 25 ways to get published. This was the one I found most informative. I have not written about my latest idea for my poetry so I guess I need to tell you now. I am going to be putting together a book of wedding readings following the success of the one Ross and I wrote for our friends wedding back in October. I was keen to attend this session not only for me, but for Ross too as he is putting the finishing touches on 3 training books and is looking to get them published. I was also looking forward to hearing Rachael Lucas speak. Having spent time with her on a Mark Warner break last year, I am full of admiration for how well Rachael has done. She answered my questions in full and we had a lovely chat later at the drinks reception. I wanted to know the difference between getting a publisher and self-publishing and I also wanted to find out if genre affected this. I have to say that I found Will Francis very dismissive when I explained I wrote poetry and didn’t actually listen to my idea. I was told as much by a lady who felt the same way as I did when she approached me afterwards. She works in the wedding business designing dresses and she definitely wanted to know more. 

Lesson learned #2: The main difference between getting a publisher and self-publishing is that the former opens more doors whilst the latter is more lucrative.

Lesson learned #3: It is worth telling a room full of people your ideas because even if the panellists aren’t interested, someone else might be! 

Sandi Toksvig Blogfest 2015

I think my most enjoyable session had to be  the Think Bombs with Sandi Toksvig, David Baddiel and Val McDermid. They were quick-witted, snappy and engaging and all of them had a part to play in what they said. Val McDermid used my favourite phrase of the day – ‘Creativity is the way to fight back against those who repress us’. I have taken this away with me and will never forget it. David Baddiel was hilarious! I thought his engagement on Twitter was very witty and extremely clever.

Lesson learned #4: You can be rude on Twitter – but you will more likely get away with it if you are a celebrity! 

Lesson learned #5: Creativity is probably the most exciting way to express yourself.

David Baddiel Blogfest 2015

After lunch, I attended the session From blogging to vlogging: A practical masterclass. The speaker was Mike Figgis – a man very well known and well respected in the film industry (look up ‘Leaving Las Vegas’). This man knows anything there there is to know about filming. I found his tips invaluable and I know that it is something that I could pass on to Ross in his writing and filming capacity. For example; side light is better than top light, you can get apps that help you with storyboards, using an LED ring light for better lighting, use a Rode microphone to boost the sound on your iPhone, his camera of choice is the Canon XF100.
Outcome 6: You don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment to get great results.


I decided not to attend any further sessions after this one as otherwise I would have been suffering from information overload so I used the opportunity to visit a few of the sponsor’s stands and catch up with some of the bloggers who had decided to do the same thing.

The final session was good but I think by that point I had taken in everything that I had wanted to that day.

Attending the drinks reception was a great chance to stand and chat to so many different people. As always, whenever I come away from an event like this, I wish I had had more time to speak to everyone! 

Overall Outcome:

I think I needed to know that the changes I have wanted to make are the right ones. This conference helped me to see that as long as you are happy with what you are doing and how you are writing, then nothing else really actually matters. I’ve finally realised that I haven’t been happy with what I have been doing for a little while now and so, expect to see lots of changes come the New Year.

Blogfest 2015 Goody bag

Thank you so much to Mumsnet and all their organisers who did such a wonderful job and brought in some very high profile speakers for #Blogfest15.

And then the fun began...

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2015 Victoria Welton

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  1. January 4, 2016 / 9:09 am

    I’m a very new blogger and hadn’t even realised Blogfest existed. Your summary and the take home messages you got from the event were very useful and informative (I hope I can go next year!) It sounds as if being around all of those creative, like-minded people and having an opportunity to gather such useful tips and advice after feeling you had lost your way a bit was just the ‘booster injection’ you needed…May it continue to inspire and enthuse you!

    All the best with your book idea.

    Kind regards

    • January 4, 2016 / 11:09 am

      Welcome to the blogging world Jane. I am so pleased you found this and that it was useful. I hope you manage to get to at least one of the blogger events this year – it will inspire you and it would be great to meet you πŸ™‚ x
      Victoria recently posted..Birthday WishesMy Profile

  2. November 28, 2015 / 11:02 pm

    Sounds really interesting. I wish I’d gotten to this one, but just couldn’t manage down. I too am trying to get my book done and the publishing ones I’d be most interested in. Thanks for the round up x

    • January 4, 2016 / 11:08 am

      A pleasure – good luck with your book Susan πŸ™‚ x
      Victoria recently posted..Birthday WishesMy Profile

  3. November 26, 2015 / 9:37 am

    I think you should follow your creative heart all the way! I thought it was a fantastically inspirational day, I just wish I could have attended more of the sessions – there was too much going on at once (which there had to be of course!). Thanks for sharing your lessons learnt – I love no. 4 – David Baddiel was hilarious! A highlight of the day for me was meeting you! Next time I hope we have longer to chat. xxx
    Maddy@writingbubble recently posted..What I’m Writing – week fifty-fourMy Profile

  4. November 25, 2015 / 4:45 pm

    The creativity and inspiration at Blogfest was brilliant wasn’t it, Vic? Really appreciate your section on the ways to get published session – I missed it because I was chairing a session during the same slot. There was no need for the agent to be rude, just because poetry isn’t his bag. Good for you pursuing it, I love your poetry so am looking forward to hearing more. It was great to see you, and fab to catch up again too xxx
    Leigh – Headspace Perspective recently posted..Loved and Lost Babies RememberedMy Profile

  5. November 25, 2015 / 2:49 pm

    Oh I like your idea and wish you all the best with it. Blogging is a strange one isn’t it? I feel a bit lost at the moment, not least as I could do with an income from it. I like writing about my kids, but there are only so many unmumsy mums you can have. I think that food is my direction (although it is a lot of cake) as that seems to be what I do best, but at the moment it is just a bit of everything. I am planning from stepping away over Christmas and going from there. xx
    Louise Fairweather recently posted..Planning On Travelling With ChildrenMy Profile

    • November 28, 2015 / 9:21 am

      Thank you Louise, I am so glad you do. It can be a very strange world. From what I can see you do some great food posts and I wish you all the best with your decision (your blog name would be great for that too!) x
      Victoria recently posted..Are You a Dangerous Driver Because of Your Vision?My Profile

  6. November 25, 2015 / 8:11 am

    I loved Blogfest, so thought provoking and inspiring. It sounds like me and you are in a very similar place, I too have decided to step away from pursuing an income in pursuit of re-discovering the creativity that led me to blogging in the first place. That’s not to say you will never again see a sponsored post or review on my blog, but I won’t be chasing it or trying to run/write my blog in a way that encourages that side of things, rather I want to get back to writing for the joy of it. Good luck with your poetry book – look forward to hearing how it goes and hopefully seeing the finished product on sale.
    Sonya Cisco recently posted..Christmas FudgeMy Profile

  7. November 24, 2015 / 9:19 pm

    Firstly – did you take all those pictures? They’re excellent and help me feel like I was there too! Secondly how awesome that Blogfest has fuelled your creativity. I knew there was something about Blogfest. I don’t know for sure what will be happening on my blog a year from now but I would like to think that I will go to Blogfest again with a lot more understanding of what blogging really is about for me and get a lot more out of it than I did last time. Thirdly – Mike Figgis – wow. Being a bit of a (lapsed) movie buff I am probably more impressed by this than some of the other big names! Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout this week Vic X
    Sam recently posted..The Truth about… #53My Profile

    • November 28, 2015 / 9:34 am

      I did! Thank you Sam πŸ™‚ I totally agree with you on Mike Figgis – that was the one that was most impressive to me too. I will certainly go back next year from the creativity perspective xx
      Victoria recently posted..Are You a Dangerous Driver Because of Your Vision?My Profile

  8. November 24, 2015 / 9:18 pm

    It sounds like it was really valuable and I’m sorry I couldn’t go! I hope you are able to find your way with your blog more now and get back to doing what you love. Good luck!
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted..Parkrun: The winter routeMy Profile

  9. November 23, 2015 / 10:51 pm

    Oooh, change is exciting! I really enjoyed your honest, heartfelt post my lovely. I had no idea either about the paid opportunities blogging would bring and it is true that earning money from it makes you change direction. I can’t wait to hear more about your journey to publication! xx
    Mel recently posted..How Do You Make Chocolate?My Profile

  10. November 23, 2015 / 7:36 pm

    Thanks for the round up – I have never been to a blog conference and couldn’t make it this year what with a new baby and so I read with interest. I like the way you’ve considered and listed the takeaways and inspiration you got from your attendance. I think the key is to follow your heart with where you want to go creatively. Many bloggers get immense satisfaction from PR friendly posts and that’s fine, but it sounds like you’ve got far too much original creative content in your sights to get too bogged down with the other stuff. I’m confident you’ll find the right balance and I always enjoy reading your posts! Thanks for sharing your experiences!
    Susie F recently posted..The Best Days?My Profile

    • November 23, 2015 / 8:23 pm

      Thanks so much for the comment Susie – and I am really happy you liked how I have presented my post. So pleased you enjoy reading my blog, thank you x
      Victoria recently posted..Reflections on Blogfest 2015My Profile

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