Claireabellemakes At Blogtacular 2016 (and how it was different to 2015)

After the UK news of Brexit, I haven’t felt like I wanted to write a cheery or excitable blog post. I feel pretty disappointed with the outcome and had some hope that our country would be less divided, especially as I hadn’t interacted with many people that wanted to leave. My city of Cambridge voted 73% remain and I’m proud of that. I guess only time will tell for what’s to come, but I have shared thoughts on social media if you want to see more of my views.

Blogtacular 2016 Programme

Anyway, back to the real reason for today’s blog post and for a bit of positivity. Last weekend I attended Blogtacular which is the biggest UK conference for bloggers. I was my second time attending and I had SO.MUCH.FUN. As we were on a mini holiday in the days before, I missed the photowalk and pre-event crafting party at West Elm, but got over my FOMO pretty quickly knowing that the day of the conference itself would be packed full of inspiration and creativity.

Firstly, I can’t commend the organisers enough. Kat, Kelly and her team of volunteers gave us all an amazing welcome and made sure the day ran incredibly smoothly. We were greeted with a delicious breakfast and a spacious venue alleviating my anxiety about crowded spaces the previous year.

Blogtacular 2016

Blogtacular 2015 was about making connections for me. 2016 was about revisiting those connections. Nothing beats seeing your creative pals in real life, nodding along to inspiring talks together and being with people that you can be 100% yourself with. Regardless of where you are in your blogging or creative journey, it’s the place to build each other up without judgement or status attached. Precisely the reason it is my highlight event each year.

Lisa Congdon was a well chosen keynote speaker (Kat nails the speaker list every year!). She talked about imposter syndrome, authenticity and being real and vulnerable in a creative world. I asked the first question of the conference after putting my hand in the air before realising what I had done. Lisa seemed so self aware and wise, I wanted to know if this was something she had uncovered with age or if she had trained herself to reflect so well. Turns out, it was a bit of both. Her talk was an amazing start to the day and her words resonated with every person regardless of which point in their career they were at. I’ve since started a daily journal for my thoughts, after being inspired to self reflect and be kinder to myself.

Blogtacular 2016 Lisa Congdon

The break out time between sessions was spent shopping in the market place, taking on the Mollie Makes two minute styling challenge, crafting and taking snaps with pretty backdrops. We tucked into a delicious lunch, swapped pins and cards with fellow creatives and generally got excited about meeting our blogging heroes and friends. A big thanks to Zoe for making some awesome name badges!


Kate O’Sullivan‘s talk on community brought me back to the heart of blogging and the reasons we all share in the first place (read my thoughts on why we blog here). We do it to make a connection and tell our story. Suffice to say Kate hit the nail on the head for many of us who struggle with the pressures of being real or sometimes negative whilst running a business and taking on sponsored posts and opportunities. This heartfelt session actually gave me chills at one point, after others began to share their difficult experiences and Kate encouraged our story telling from the heart. Community is what makes us feel whole and successful in our journeys and Kate echoed Lisa’s idea that the “route of happiness is connection”.

Blogtacular 2016 A Playful Day The next session I attended was on Pinterest Ads. I was curious to see how the platform are now monetising and what opportunities that might bring for us small business owners and bloggers. It was a lot to absorb in the short time we had, so I feel I could probably do with researching the ads a little more to see if they would be right for Claireabellemakes. One question most of us had, is how the small businesses will get seen amongst the giants using advertising, as their budgets are much bigger and they will be able to win the ‘bid’ system Pinterest offers for ads.

Blogtacular 2016 Pinterest Ads

Queen of film Xanthe Berkeley showed us how to make a mini film using just our phones and the Adobe Clip app. Xanthe encouraged us to just try, even if we weren’t confident film makers and shared that even she had been nervous for her session before it began. You can see a snippet of my efforts embedded in the vlog below.

Blogtacular 2016 Making Films

The closing keynote was from Enid Hwang who was employee number 6 at Pinterest and their Community Manager. Enid shared a talk filled with humour, authenticity and aspiration, as she told stories of Pinterest’s humble beginnings and how the start up faced rejection on many occasions. She reminded us that we should have a process in place for periods of change which resonated with me in a big way. This year I am planning to make some big changes that will impact how the business goes forward and her words of encouragement really helped. I promise I will share more on this with you soon.

Blogtacular 2016 Enid Hwang

Somehow Blogtacular 2016 was way less overwhelming than 2015. Perhaps I was more prepared as I knew what to expect, but I certainly felt more relaxed (apart from my goody bag nerves which I wrote about here). When I think about where I am in my business in comparison to last year, I feel more established, confident and strategic. I know that most of that is because I attended in 2015. It felt like a pivotal moment in my creative career because all those connections I had online were solidified and strengthened. For me, the creative community is what drives my business to grow and having a place where I can foster that and absorb inspiration is so invaluable and one of the best investments I make each year.

Blogtacular 2016 Goody Bag

Everyone I interacted with was so positive and the whole day just felt like one huge Allison Sadler hug (if you’ve experienced one, you will know what I mean). The vibe at Blogtacular is unlike any other event and I’m so happy I get to be part of it.

Blogtacular 2016 Allison Sadler

I think the biggest take away of the day for me was Lisa Congdon’s quote for dealing with work overwhelm – “If the answer isn’t HELL YES, say No”. I also learnt that you shouldn’t share donuts from the garage shop with your friends on the train ride there as they will most likely be rock solid and completely gross.

I’ll leave you with my vlog of the day – a few minutes captured the fun we had!

See you next year!

Blogtacular 2016 Group Shot



*All images in this post are courtesty of Will Ireland for Mollie Makes.

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