I hope you enjoyed the couple of guest posts that I left you with earlier this week? I actually have a couple more to come next week, but I wanted to pop in today and tell you all about where I was at the beginning of this week, and maybe a bit about why I left the blog in the hands of guest posts for a few days.
Fact is I was desperately in need of a bit of breathing room. I’ve been blogging for 8 years now, when I started it was a sideline to my “real” work of selling on eBay. And I would frequently get very stressed with the time that photographing, packing up and writing listings would take. Then blogging grew into my real job, and I loved it. I could write about my life and the things I did and I took photos on my Camera phone. Then I took photos on a point and shoot. Then I bought a DSLR.
There’s no escaping it, blogging is a proper business now, and if you really want to make it your JOB, not just a hobby, you need good design, good photographs, you need to be on the right social platforms and engage with people. You need to be a brand not just a woman in her 30s with a decent camera and some pretty frocks.
For a while I loved the challenge of that, but in the last year or so I have taken on more and more work, become very committed to some of my hobbies and I felt like I was constantly playing catch up. Like I was drowning in stats, figures, and emails inviting me to events I couldn’t attend.
Maybe it was blogger burnout.
I hate that phrase. People who clean toilets for a living aren’t allowed to go all “woe is me” and “burn out” so why is it ok for people who write about frocks on the internet to do it?
Well, it isn’t, really, but there is one significant difference between blogging, or writing, or painting or any other “creative” profession (another word I hate, sorry, it’s so often used by idiots who do nothing as a noun “I’m a creative”) and that is you can clean a toilet on auto pilot. You can take pride in your work and cleaning that toilet as well as you can, but if you’re having an off day, you can just clean the damn toilet, then go home and watch TV and eat crisps and the job (probably) won’t have been done any less well.
There’s only so long you can get away with that when you’re a blogger or a writer, or whatever, if you’re not feeling inspired it shows. Finding ideas is hard, getting the words out and onto the screen is hard. So maybe blogger burnout is a real thing not just something that people who are insufferably up their own bottoms suffer from?
Anyway. I wanted to take a bit of time, not a holiday. I’ve had those, they’re lovely, but nothing is different when you come back. A bit of time to fall in love with my job again, learn what’s new and whats changed and after 8 years, maybe review the direction I’m moving in.
And there, after 500 words, I finally get to the point of todays post (Goodness I do prattle on, don’t I? Don’t answer that!)
On Monday and Tuesday this week I was invited to an event by Dell for the launch of their new XPS Laptop. It was in London, obviously, they always are, and normally I’d have declined because of the cost, but this time I didn’t. I happened to be in London on Monday morning anyway, and this was actually an event with a bit of a difference that I thought would be useful in my whole drive towards professional development.
Dell had taken over the of the beautiful Bourne & Hollingsworth buildings for 2 days. Otherwise known as “the most Instagrammable space in the world”. They were providing food, drinks, and blogger workshops over the 2 days.
I’m not really very good at blogger events. Until I’ve had a couple of drinks I’m actually quite shy, and rubbish at small talk (and once I’ve had a couple of drinks I don’t shut up and then hate myself for it in the morning). But I was very brave and and I decided to bite the bullet, book myself a hotel, and go along.
On the first evening I showed up for dinner. Everyone had been to classes and broken off into friendship groups so I stood on my own with a cocktail, taking photos of everything in order to cover up the fact that I wasn’t talking to anyone.
Then I ate some canapes and spilt soy sauce down my dress and had to go and try and wash it off. First I tried to rub it off with toilet tissue, but the dress I had chosen to wear was textured and now I had not only soy sauce, but little bits of toilet paper down my front. So then I had to try and run it under the tap, leaving me with a huge wet patch. The beauty of 70s polyester, however, is that it dries in a snap, so 30 seconds under the hand dryer and there was no visible evidence of why I shouldn’t be allowed out in public alone and I went back upstairs for another cocktail and some less drippy canapes.
Someone recognised me from my blog, which gave me an excuse to talk to them, and then some bonding happened over a plate of prawns, and before I knew it I was sat for dinner at a table with Little Miss Katy, Country Mouse Claire, Heroine in Heels and Adorn Girl. I am pleased to say that my ability to find the best people to spend an evening with in a room hasn’t failed me, and we spent an enjoyable evening working our way through the extensive cocktail list. You know you’ve sat with the right people when they suggest ordering another cocktail as soon as the one you’ve just ordered is delivered to make sure it’s arrived at the table by the time you’ve finished the first one.
So yeah, cocktails, dinner, DELICIOUS pudding, and it was great to spend time with other bloggers. People who aren’t shy about rearranging the entire table to get the perfect photo of their dinner and who talked me into finally signing up for Snapchat (I’m retrochick_uk but I can’t promise I’ve worked out what I’m doing with it yet!)
On Day 2 I arrived for breakfast (why pay for it in the hotel when it’s way nicer here?) plus 11am is more my kind of time for breakfast. Breakfast was 11am-12. I arrived at 11:20am and was obviously the first person there. I’m afraid I’ve never been able to manage “fashionably late”.
The session in the morning was a panel discussion with Caroline Duong, founder of Zine, which is an influencer platform that builds you a media kit and connects with brands, Nick Bain, originally a blogger himself and now head of Social at Bacchus and Danielle Brown, a Senior Account Executive at PR company Iris Worldwide.
So I got to sit in a beautiful space and take pages of notes from industry professionals about how to work with PRs, having been sat on a panel on the other side in the past, talking to PRs about how to work with bloggers, it surprises me that I there’s still so much miscommunication that happens; pitches that want you just to regurgitate pre-written content and not put your own stamp on things. I guess the PRs that come to sit on a panel and talk to bloggers are already the ones that know how to work with them!
After the session there was lunch, a chance to play with the new Dell XPS, and take fancy photos in a room especially set up for flat lays, which is a whole new blogger thing that didn’t exist back in the old days when I was blogging before Instagram (can you hear the creaking of my porch swing? I’m like the crabby old elder of the Internet)
So, after 2 days, and some very nice food. What have I learnt?
Well, I’ve learnt London is expensive, but I knew that anyway, the Dell XPS is a pretty cool laptop, I really want to replace my DSLR with an Olympus Pen, that Snapchat is the new Instagram and the place to put all those blurry photos of my dinner that didn’t look beautiful enough for Instagram and that I should make the effort to get out and do things more and that I need to take on less work that keeps me confined to my desk, because it’s impossible to be a blogger sat at a desk 12 hours a day.
I’ve met some new bloggers who like Cocktails, I’ve taken a lot of notes on things to work on and, yes, I’m feeling a little more inspired. There’s a couple more guest posts coming next week, but then I shall be back, all new and improved. Or possible just exactly the same as I always was, but less miserable.