This past weekend, I attended my first UK Blogging event, the BlogOn Toys event held at Hotel Football in Manchester. The aim of the event is to gather parenting bloggers from across the country who are interested in kids toys and doing toy reviews on their blogs, and to bring them face to face with the toy companies, brands and PR companies who represent them.
This was the 11th BlogOn conference, and the second dedicated exclusively to TOYS!
The Pre-Event Party
The organisers decided that as most bloggers never get to have a Christmas Party, we deserved one. Even if it was in September!
I was extremely nervous! But I dressed up, showed up, and mingled. I drank some wine, I danced a little and I met some of the blogging greats who I had only previously met online, or viewed from afar! I also met some lovely genuine people who I hope to see again next time around.
It was a lot of fun. Hopefully next time I won’t be so nervous!
The BlogOn Toys Awards
On the morning of the BlogOn Toys Conference I arrived and checked in. I love the fact that we received our goody bags at the beginning of the day. I packed mine up and stored my suitcase and set off to cast my votes. *Stay tuned for more on this!*
The toys that were up for votes were all on display, and divided into their separate categories. All you needed to do was scan the QR Code on display and it took you straight through to the Voting on the BlogOn website. Thankfully all the toys for each category had been shared on the BlogOn Facebook Page and Instagram Page in advance. I had familiarised myself with most of the toys up for awards via these channels in so I was ready for the voting.
Congratulations to the Harry Potter Talking Sorting Hat which won Bloggers Choice Award at the BlogOn Toy Awards 2018!
— BlogOn Conference (@BlogOnUK) September 17, 2018
The Brand Den
In the basement section of Hotel Football was the Brand Den. The various brands who were there in full force to display their wares had set up their stalls and it was epic!
It was a completely different viewpoint for me. I am used to being one of the many that the brand pick from, but this time around it was the bloggers who got to discover, interrogate, and almost ‘interview’ the brands and the toys they had on offer. It was a complete flip to what I am used to, in such a good way. All the amazing brands there recognise and value the input that bloggers have using their social media influence.
It was a refreshing change for me. I am looking forward to working with some of the brands I met with this weekend at BlogOn Toys. There are some amazing products to showcase to the worldwide audience.
There were games!
The one thing I wasn’t prepared for was the competitions and games that the brands were running to win freebies from them by posting their wares on social media. In order to win certain extras they required you to post pictures of their wares on social media for a chance to win! It was fun.
One thing to always remember, is that marketing on social media is a give-and-take partnership. As bloggers we do have influence, however that influence is worth something to the brands and our audience as well!
As I keep telling my kids, nothing in life is free. Bloggers work damn hard for what we get, and we love to give back just as much when our value is recognised and respected.
What I Took Away From BlogOn Toys
And I don’t mean the epic #BlogOnToysGoodyBag!
I mean the learnings, teachings, and the whole experience.
- The PR Companies do value bloggers and influencers, and see the value in our role in the new world of marketing toys to parents. It’s not all TV and YouTube. We, as bloggers, play an important role in giving our opinion and verdict on the coolest toys on the market, and influencing parents on what their kids will really like, and what is really worth their hard-earned money. Never underestimate the value of social media.
- If you use a GoPro for your videos, it’s extremely technical. But … the most important thing I took from the talk was “your head is the most stable part of your body so if you hold the GoPro in your mouth whilst filming cool shots, it’s going to be epic”!
- By putting yourself out there, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, you will eventually get used to seeing yourself in video and hearing your own voice played back to you. The influence of video over the written word is far more powerful and memorable. So whether your chosen channel is Facebook, Instagram or YouTube, or any of the others, make use of the video options, and challenge yourself to do some live videos.
- There will always be people who know more than you, and there will always be people who know less than you. Be kind. Be willing to share. Be willing to learn.
- Keep your About Me Page and Contact Me Page on your blog up to date and relevant. If you haven’t updated it for a couple of years, it’s not going to be relevant to the PR companies and Brands who are looking for people like you. Update your details at least once a year.
- Never be scared to ask “What’s your blog name?” When mingling with other bloggers, most of us don’t recognise each other’s blog names over their personal names. Our blog names are more memorable than our personal names in any case.
- Don’t expect people to know who you are, and don’t expect to know who everyone else is either. There are over 10,000 UK parenting bloggers. You’re never going to know them all!
- When you are surrounded by bloggers and social media influencers, it’s never rude to take out your phone! Take a selfie, take a picture, Instagram your food, or become engrossed on your phone – it’s okay! We get it!
- Get yourself some Business Cards printed. I really wish I had done this. I seriously contemplated getting some before the event, but after reading that you don’t need them for Brands as they have sign-up sheets I decided it wasn’t worth it. BUT, on the day, I spent a lot of time writing out my name, blog name, url, and all my social media handles! And if I had taken some business cards, I could have handed them out to other bloggers as well. It would have saved me a lot of time … and pen ink!
- Know what you want to get out of the day in advance. I wasted a couple of sessions by ending up in the wrong place and getting lost. I’m not kidding. Hotel Football was quite a maze. If it wasn’t for the kindness of strangers and “following the crowd” I would have missed half of what was available on the day!
- Take the biggest suitcase you have! I did, and even though I felt incredibly awkward initially, it was evident that I needed it. It’s not just about the size of the products in the goodie bags. The brands in the Brand Den gave out a huge amount of products as well. When you combine that with the wins from the tombola and the raffle, you’re going to need a big suitcase, on wheels!
BlogOn Toys Hangover
I thoroughly enjoyed my first BlogOn Toys conference. It’s given me a great insight into the UK Parent Blogging industry, in particular the toy industry.
If you want to see who won big at BlogOn Toys, out the BlogOn Instagram account and check out all the winners in the different categories!
I am definitely looking forward to what the future of blogging for Mom Of Two Little Girls in the UK will bring. Thank you to the Laura and the whole BlogOn team for organising such a fantastic event!