Okay, so 2 weeks on and I think I’ve just about come down from the Blogtacular high! For those who don’t know, Blogtacular is an annual conference for creative bloggers, makers and independent businesses. This was it’s third year and I’ve been hankering to go ever since I heard about the first one in 2014. I was pregnant last year so couldn’t go, and to be honest I don’t think I would have got so much out of it then, but when the earlybird tickets were released for 2016 I pounced. And I’m so glad I did…

Not only did it give me something to look forward to during a difficult pregnancy but I immediately became part of the Blogtacular community. I started taking part in the weekly Twitter chats and I have never come across a more welcoming and supportive bunch. They are so generous with their knowledge, I learn something new every week.

I’m a member of a few blogging groups on Facebook and although they are great for sharing blog posts & asking for technical help they can often feel less than friendly. The Blogtacular folk are a whole other ball game, though. Chatty, creative and downright excitable on occasion. They are more than happy to share ideas & advice and I always come away from the chat feeling fired up. So imagine how you’d feel after 9 hours surrounded by 350 of these fabulous people?!

If you saw last Monday’s post you’ll know that I was lucky enough to bag a place on the Shoreditch photowalk the day before the conference which was a great introduction to the Blogtacular experience. There were a few faces I recognised and a few that I didn’t. I got chatting to some lovely ladies, including Natasha from Graphique Fantastique, Victoria from Dizzy Miss James and Rachel from Sew Healthy Sew Happy to name but a few. As I was wandering around I wanted to jump up & down and shout “I’ve found my people!”. In fact, I was jumping up & down at one point along with Natasha which you can see on her vlog!

 

That evening I attended the “paper maker” party at West Elm. There were various paper related crafts for us to enjoy as well some amazing nibbles and mocktails. Unfortunately I missed out on all but one of the craft tables as I was too busy talking and admiring the gorgeous homewares! The two that I really wanted to do were calligraphy with Quill London & getting my portrait done by the ever-so-talented Ella Masters. But I was more than happy chatting away with Julia from Just Creative Julia, Jennifer from Jennifer Grace Creates & Emma from Make & Fable as we messed about at the instant Insta-booth. They are all very talented ladies and it was great to get to know them a bit better. I was very surprised to hear that Emma is nervous in public situations as she came across really lovely!

And then on to the day itself. It didn’t start off great thanks to a combination of tube closures and roadworks so I ended up getting lost and missed out on the first hour of networking over brekkie. Thankfully I made it to the venue just in time to hear the opening speaker, illustrator & artist Lisa Congdon. I had enjoyed listening to Lisa’s podcast so I was looking forward to hearing her keynote. And I was not disappointed! In fact I was so captivated by her talk that I completely forgot to take notes! The only thing I wrote down was a quote that really resonated with me…

“The key to happiness is connection”
 
I think I might get it printed out and stuck on the wall along with another fabulous quote from her: “If it isn’t HELL YES then say no”. I love that! She also told us how she came to her career later in life and spoke of vulnerability hangovers, believing you are good enough and shaking off imposter syndrome. As I listened I could feel every person in the room nodding in unison and thinking “That is so me!”. All in all it was an extremely inspiring and uplifting way to start the day. We are all buzzing as we came out to top up on caffeine & discuss which session we were going to next.

 

I chose to attend Kristabel Plummer’s talk, Blogging for Business. Kristabel writes the popular fashion & travel blog I Want You To Know which I had previously discovered via Instagram thanks to our shared love of tiles & bright colours! I would love to start earning a living from Nest & Dressed eventually so I was keen to learn how Kristabel turned her hobby blog into a business. She threw an awful lot of information at us and was extremely generous with her knowledge. I’m yet to work through my notes but it was certainly worth going to. Thanks, Kristabel!
 
Next up was lunch (amazing!) which I spent half of holed up in a separate room attached to the breast pump. Not fun. But I did get chance to wander round and buy Hester Van Overbeek’s book Furniture Hacks. I spotted her in a queue and took my chance to get the book signed. Unfortunately I got a bit star struck and started gibbering nervously (I’m pretty sure I referred to myself as a geek at one point) but she kindly signed my book and sounded keen when I asked her if she’d do an interview for me. No idea where that came from but watch this space!

 
After lunch I went to Laura La Monaca’s photography workshop. Seeing as I’m yet to buy a camera I wasn’t sure if it was worth attending but I’m a fan of Laura’s work and I’m keen to get into photography so went along anyway. It was definitely the right call because I learnt so much about the basics of photography as well as more specific tips for photographing food and capturing moments. I can’t wait to get a DSLR and get practising!


Laura’s talk was followed by a session on Pinterest Ads by their Partner Manager, Carin Lee. I’ve been severely neglecting my Pinterest lately but I’m keen to start using it a bit more effectively from the blog’s point of view. It was really interesting to hear how Pinterest’s new promoted pins feature works and how we as bloggers can use it to our advantage. It’s definitely on my to-do list.
 
Time for another tea break, more chatting & swapping thoughts on the sessions before we all piled in for the closing keynote by Pinterest’s Community Manager, Enid Hwang. I wasn’t sure what to expect but Enid gave a funny, warm and engaging talk on the humble beginnings of Pinterest and the perseverance it took to become the huge success it is today. It was the perfect way to end the day.
 
Actually, the perfect way to end the day was with a Blogtacular goodie bag! This year’s canvas bag was designed by Hello Dodo and Designosaur and contained a pretty epic haul of treats. Some of my favourite bits & bobs were an Annie Sloan tester pot & paint stirrer, a cute Sun Jellies bag and a Tilly & the Buttons sewing pattern. Happy days!


Once I had said goodbye to my new blogging buddies, including the lovely Emma from The Glittery Hands Box (you must subscribe at once!), I headed off to find another Emma who was staying at the same hotel as me. I found her talking to a very stylish lady by the name of Jess whose headscarf skills I had been admiring earlier in the day. Jess runs a vintage concept store called Rosita Lollipop which is my new favourite shop, you really should check it out!
 
Emma & I shared a taxi back to the hotel and had a great chat on the way. Emma, of Emma Brooks Design, is a very talented web & brand designer and her enthusiasm is infectious. I thoroughly enjoyed our little chat and hope to keep in touch with her. Such a lovely lady!
 
I came away from the day feeling so inspired & at home with myself; this is me, this is what I love, these are my people. But more importantly I came away feeling focused. For a while this blog has felt a bit wishy-washy and lost but thanks to Blogtacular, it’s speakers & attendees I now have a really clear vision of what I want Nest & Dressed to be and how to get it there. I’ve also realised that it’s ok to take my time. Patience is not my strong point but I’m going to make a plan and be kind to myself. I have a 7 month old & a 3 year old for goodness sake, time is not my friend!
 
So there you have it. Blogtacular in a nutshell. And I loved every minute of it! The friendly, excitable atmosphere; the beautiful, spacious venue; the sea of colourful outfits; happy faces and hugs from friends you’ve only just met. People that get you. People that understand your passion for blogging, creating & making.
 
I also had a bit of a mini “aha” moment at some point over the course of the weekend. To be surrounded by people who wore whatever the hell they wanted (and had probably made it) was kind of liberating. Since moving house a few years ago and having kids I’ve been lacking in confidence when it comes to my style & the clothes I love. I’ve been guilty of sticking to jeans and a comfy top to save the raising of eyebrows from the villagers. But who says you can’t wear lime green, 50’s dresses or a head scarf on the school run in rural Scotland?! Watch out folks, I have a new hashtag…
 
 
#LiveLifeInFullColour

 
Feel free to join in on Instagram. I’d love to see your colourful photos whatever the subject; fashion, home décor, food. Just add the hashtag #LiveLifeInFullColour and I’ll share my favourites. 
 
 
That was a pretty epic read so go pop the kettle on & reward yourself with a cuppa while you check out all the amazing people I’ve mentioned!
 
 
[All images Will Ireland/Mollie Makes]


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