20 Things I Learnt at Blogtacular 2016

31st July 2016

It’s over a month since I attended Blogtacular, a London blogging conference for design loving bloggers. It was such an amazing day and a half with inspirational speakers, a photo walk, crafting and meeting lots of lovely bloggers. Here are the top 20 things I took away from it:

1 – That it’s totally fine to walk about the streets taking photos of doorways, bunting and flowers and it doesn’t matter if people think it’s a little strange. To be fair, I knew this anyway but still feel a little inhibited about taking photos sometimes. I was in a restaurant recently and really wanted to take a photo of the open kitchen but didn’t want to draw attention to myself in a crowded room of diners. Must try harder!

2 – The power of an interesting wall as a backdrop. The bloggers who led the photowalk I did in Notting Hill (Natasha Denness from Candy Pop & Kristabel Plummer from I Want You To Know) had a knack for finding interesting places to stop and use as a background that has put me on a wall hunt in my neighbourhood ever since!

3 – How much I love wearing colour. We were asked to dress in bright colours for the photowalk and as the weather forecast was rain (which mostly stayed away) I gave myself permission to buy the brightest umbrella I could find! For the conference itself I wore a slightly-over-the-top flamingo print 1950s style dress which I don’t think I would have bought otherwise.

4 – Slow blogging is a thing. This came out of a conversation on the tube with Kate O’Sullivan from A Playful Day. Pretty much since I started blogging 4 years ago, I’ve written blog schedules I don’t stick to and had plans to blog daily and feel like a bit of failure that I don’t stick to either. I’ve realised recently that the only one who puts that expectation of me, is me, and I’m actually very happy with the slow pace of blogging once or twice a week.

5 – How to paper weave. This was the craft I sat down to do at the West Elm Paper Maker party. It was so relaxing! I didn’t manage any other crafts as was too busy chatting and drinking wine after that.

6 – “If the answer isn’t ‘hell yes’ then I say no”. A gem of a mantra from Key Note speaker, artist and blogger Lisa Congden who talked about her career, her creativity, her burnout and how she now balances self-care and work obligations. She uses this phrase to decide on which opportunities to say yes to and which ones to put aside.

7 – That you should take your ideas for a walk. Kirsty Smith from Eeh Bah Mum led a session on Developing Content Ideas. She said that when you have an idea but you don’t know where to take it, there’s no point in just looking at a blank page or your screen, go for a run or a walk and subconsciously the idea will develop in your head and you might even come back with a whole blog post written.

8 – To ‘Just Get Started’. Another gem from Kirsty, that it doesn’t matter if your idea isn’t brilliant (how many are?) but just get started to work on it and things will develop from there.

9 – How to win at Pinning. I attended the Pinterest Ads session led by Carin Lee from Pinterest, which was really useful on all things Pinterest. It really does matter which sort of image you pin from your post – portrait images with text overlay work best with the additional description text being informative too. Hashtags are not needed though.

10 – “Your time and energy are your most precious resources“. The second keynote was by Pinterest’s Enid Hwang who humorously described the journey from Pinterest’s launch to where they are now. This phrase reminded me to focus on what I want to achieve and not allow distractions.

11 – To not listen to the nay-sayers who don’t share your vision. Enid reminded us of negative reactions to ‘new’ technologies like about how the telephone will never catch on, the idea of space travel is “utter bilge” and that a possible world with virtual communities is baloney. Hmmmm.

12 – Write as if no-one is going to read it. I think I’ve got this right, I wasn’t in the room when it was allegedly said by author Laura Jane Williams from Superlatively Rude in her Writing Workshop session. The meaning I took from it was that when we think about potential critics that might read out work, we self-censor. If we forget about those – or any – readers then we are free to let our true inner voices come out.

13 – Business card goals. I picked up some truly creative, ‘stand out’ business cards at Blogtacular. I need to up my game for next year.

14 – That lots of bloggers are introverts. Which sort of makes sense if they are drawn to making their livings and creating networks online. Blogtacular had an Introvert Space to take refuge and recharge. It can be hugely overwhelming chatting, smiling and listening for a day and a half.

15 – How cool and easy-to-use the Adobe Clip app is. We used this in the Video Workshop class run by photographer and filmmaker Xanthe Berkeley. We filmed a series of flower arranging video clips in small groups then each edited them into a proper video using this app. It’s really intuitive to use and means I am going to be able to create something meaningful from the little clips I take of the kids! Oh, it’s free too.

16 – That it’s possible to hang a huge sign with 12 helium balloon characters using Command Hooks. Respect to those magic hooks! As you would expect, the decor at the event was impressive. I also loved the selfie background area with adorned with paper fans and crepe paper streamers.

17 – How much I miss being creative. I certainly don’t get much time to exercise creative muscle these days. I need to put a priority on more crafting and DIY time. So, many people asked me if I made my flamingo dress and I was quite sad to admit I hadn’t. I have a nearly-new-hardly-used sewing machine and a fabulous skirt pattern from the goody bag so that seems like a good place to start.

18 – That there is a blogging world outside the parenting blog niche. Probably quite naive but I had no idea how many great UK craft and interiors blogs were out there. I’ve been so focused on reading parenting blogs over the last 5 years that I realised I was missing out on so much inspirational creative loveliness and it was wonderful to meet these bloggers and discover their work.

19 – Snapchat is really cool. I’ve been avoiding it for ages, but a culmination of more and more people saying I should use it and Blogtacular having their own filters for the event made me dive in (I’m sianmamastory if you want to follow). I love how it curates a little day-to-day story of your world and you can share photos that are ‘real life’ and not ‘Instagram life’.

20 – Blogtacular give out the best goodie bags! Filled with craft kits (even a sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons!), samples and stationery delights!

Blogtacular will be back with an even bigger conference next year. They are also launching memberships, retreats and have just launched an online shop!

Photo credit – all photos are © Will Ireland and available courtesy of Mollie Makes. With the exception of the photos of my outfits, the flamingo dress selfie was taken by me and the one next to it with my umbrella was taken by someone else on the photo walk with my camera, I think it was Zoe from Oodles of Craft

Mr and Mrs T Plus Three


  • Reply Plutonium Sox 5th October 2016 at 10:41 am

    Fabulous post, thanks for sharing all your tips. Definitely makes me want to go to a conference soon!
    Plutonium Sox recently posted…Teletubbies Magazine – ReviewMy Profile

  • Reply Helena 1st November 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing your highlights with readers. It’s interesting to read what different people get from these great events. #mmbc
    Helena recently posted…Farewell October, Hello November!My Profile

    • Reply Sian 1st November 2016 at 7:05 pm

      Thanks Helena!

  • Reply Rachael Jess 27th February 2017 at 2:23 pm

    Great Post, very useful, I think if I go to any Blog conferences this year, it’ll be this one
    Rachael Jess recently posted…Term’s Wellington Boots ReviewMy Profile

    • Reply Sian 28th February 2017 at 10:33 am

      I highly recommend it!

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