Last weekend I headed down to North London for my first ever Blogstock – the world’s only bloggers’ festival. It was a brilliant two days of talks, workshops, meeting other bloggers, delicious food and drink, live music, and the obligatory British festival rain and cold. It’s hard to quantify what I came away with, but here’s my attempt to highlight a few things I learnt.
I really am a blogger!
I don’t talk much about my day job on my blog or social media, but I do have a busy and fulfilling full-time career as an academic librarian in a university here in the UK (no, I don’t stamp books or shush people. I teach research skills, manage collections and budgets, and do a lot of marketing and communication work). Running and building The Imagination Trail is an evening and weekend job on top of that, but being so new on the scene, I sometimes feel a bit of a fraud calling myself a blogger, or calling developing the site a job. Penny Alexander ran a great session on creativity, in which she asked us to spend a few minutes writing something about Blogstock based on whatever came to mind, and I found myself scribbling down my feelings on my day job versus blogging. When I attend a library conference or event, I’ll always meet someone I know. There’ll be other people who know my name, or who recognise me from Twitter. I’ve blogged, tweeted and published research as a librarian for five years, and I’m experienced and confident in the field, offering mentoring and guidance to newer colleagues. At Blogstock, I was the newbie. I didn’t know anyone, and certainly they’d never even heard of me. I knew nothing and had no advice to offer. However, being welcomed and listened to by more experienced bloggers, being invited to participate in sessions on the same level as them, and spending a weekend immersed in the intricacies and issues of blogging all helped me to feel legitimate as a blogger, which gives me the confidence to keep going with it and to keep developing The Imagination Trail into a useful and engaging travel site.
I can be tough when I need to be!
I hate being cold, wet or tired, and I have health problems and get ill easily, all of which mean I’m not very resilient! Camping on the Friday night was awful; I shivered my way through the freezing night and then when the morning finally arrived it started raining. I started Saturday on a couple of hours’ sleep and with chest pains, aching limbs and a nagging headache, resolving that I’d go home that evening rather than stay for the final night. Despite feeling terrible, I had a brilliant and inspiring day, and decided I would stick it out to the end. It might sound daft to many, but I’m proud of myself for braving the second cold night in a tent and not giving up when it got tough!
Seriously, I had never heard this song before in my life, but it seemed to be everywhere at Blogstock. If think if I ever hear it again it will always remind me of that weekend!
My blog needs a lot of work
Well I knew that anyway, but the sessions at Blogstock really highlighted how much I still need to do! The good thing is that it also showed me what and how, and I came away with a big to-do list of specific things to work through, think about, develop and try.
You can’t shy away from the money issue
Bleurgh. This is the less fun one. I’m terrible with money and hate doing anything to do with my personal finances. And I certainly didn’t start The Imagination Trail with the aim of making lots of cash from it. But Blogstock made me realise that the time may well come when money gets involved, and I need to be ready to deal with that side of things effectively; it also sent me away with some ideas on how to do that.
I feel I’ve benefited enormously from my weekend at Blogstock 2015, and it’s given me lots to think about and work on. I’d recommend attending next year’s to any new blogger. Don’t be nervous – you’ll be welcomed into the community and have an inspiring time.