Let's start off with a bit of housekeeping. The workshop was sponsored by a variety of brands and it seems only fair to give a shout out to them. Please don't think this is a post stuffed with links that I'm obliged to post, it just seems right to show my gratitude in this way! The venue was a beautiful bright space underneath O Bag Factory and the main sponsor was Zazzle.
Those gorgeous flowers were supplied by Bloom & Wild and as well as the Basilico pizza we had for lunch, we were kept going throughout the day with Ringtons oh so colourful teas, hot chocolates and biscuits.
We kicked things off with a whip round of who's who, where we're at with our blogs and where we want to go in the future. I found this part really interesting - we spent a good hour or so doing this with the 10 of us there and it was a chance to really share ideas and advice. All written down in those Wordsworth quote notebooks gifted by the Literary Emporium. Much better than the fleeting introductions between bloggers at events that I've known in the past!
After lunch, Stephenie from Penguin Books came in to chat to us all. This was my favourite part of the day - it was fascinating finding out more about the various jobs within the publishing industry that manage to remain hands-on with the books. It was also a real insight into the direction Penguin's going when it comes to working with bloggers and YouTubers. She had us all enthralled and it was an amazing opportunity to sit down and chat books with likeminded people.
The day was rounded off with goodie bags stuffed with books and various other treats. My personal favourite? The Nibboxx which I scoffed on the train home....it was a much needed refuel after dashing across London! I also managed to win a competition which was running on the day, thanks to that tea shot you see above, so I went home armed with a colouring book and pencils from Hobbycraft, a stationery box from Yoohoo HQ and a box of Lindt truffles (which may or may not have been tucked into on the train as well...)
So what did I learn on the day?
The opportunities available through blogging are far and wide-reaching | from dream jobs to new friendships, valued hobbies and valuable skills....it really does seem that blogging can be whatever you make it.
No one's journeys are the same | the bloggers I met were a varied bunch and despite differing levels in terms of subscribers and followers, the diverse stages we were all out was incredible and a real reminder that it's never too late for new opportunities.
Brands really do want to work with bloggers! | I was surprised by the enthusiasm and admiration Stephenie had for bloggers and the emphasis she put on Penguin wanting to collaborate, expand and create exciting content with us. It was refreshing to see the relationship between bloggers and brands viewed as a partnership on equal footing and left me excited to start thinking about directions to move in the future.
Don't be afraid to ask | I've never been a blogger to ask for anything - it's always felt cheeky to effectively ask outright for something I'd like, but don't want to pay for. Stephenie reassured us that Penguin loves the opportunity to create a buzz that bloggers and YouTubers provide and are more than happy to send out books for review. I guess it's just about forming a relationship with willing brands who recognise that bloggers work hard and sometimes need support when it comes to creating content!
Invariably, it's who you know | Meeting with Stephenie has created a 'way in' of sorts. Not only did she give us a link for the aforementioned review copies of books, she was also nice enough to offer work experience for any of us wanting to find out more about working within a publishing house. It seems the same across many industries; experience is key and often a way to fast track that is through the people you know.
Workshops are the way forward! | I like the expression 'workshop' - it's much more encompassing and accurate than 'event'. This wasn't simply a get together for the sake of it; there was focus, the chance for discussion and the opportunity to learn from others' perspectives. More of these, please!
All in all, a Saturday very well spent. Thank you again to Bloggeration, Stephenie and all the other brands who made it possible!