Let me start by saying that I’m not sure I’m at all qualified to write this ‘review’, because I was only at the event for about 30 minutes, and was in a corker of a bad mood due to having to travel for THREE AND A HALF HOURS to get there, with no information from Southeastern. So I turfed up at The Only Way is Blogging hoping that it would really turn my day around. I’d booked tickets for this blogging/networking event ages ago, and had been looking forward to it ever since – panels of experts, insider info, SEO chat, and lots of bloggers to talk to. It sounded perfect.
As I said, my train journey was from Hades. So instead of getting there nice and early and hopping around the British Museum for a while as I’d planned, I ended up arriving about an hour after the official start time, and snuck in at the back. The room was packed full – a very long, carpeted room with the panel set up on a table at the front, and row upon row of bloggers sitting down. As I was so obscenely late, I joined a group of people at the back who were standing. I didn’t mind this at all, as it was my own fault (well, Southeastern’s, but, you know) so settled in to find out some info.
I was already feeling a little stressed and harassed after my journey, but I decided I wanted to make the best of it having trekked such a long way. Despite standing up, I couldn’t really see the panel that well, but I could just about hear them – still, I was extremely surprised that they weren’t miked up. At the Magazines event I attended at the V&A, there were only about 4 rows of people, so we were close to the speakers but they still used microphones and a podium so everyone could see/hear clearly. A thoughtful member of the hotel staff set out some chairs for us stander-uppers at the back so, I gladly settled down.
Ah. Now I couldn’t see any of the speakers. And I REALLY couldn’t hear what was going on. But that was primarily down to the fact that a wide selection of girls at the back were just talking amongst themselves! What?! If you’ve come to a seminar, why aren’t you listening? TOWIB was designed to be both informative and to offer networking opportunities, which is why there were big breaks scheduled between talks for people to digest/chat to each other. Sorry, (actually, I’m not sorry) but I find it the absolute height of rudeness that people behaved like that. Not even whispering – two girls near me were having a full blown conversation amongst themselves. If they’d just taken themselves outside the room (a mere few metres), they wouldn’t have caused a problem.
It was bizarre – I’ve never before sat in a room where so many people were just rustling and chatting, while there were people speaking at the front! The problem seemed to be more towards the back of the room, so it might have been the case that people simply couldn’t hear. That’s why you need a mic. It instantly gives the speaker authority and makes the room pay attention.
From what I could hear, the matters discussed were probably of more use to those just starting out in the blogosphere, and for that, I think it’s a great event. A lot of good, basic points were covered in the segment I saw (I also subsequently read tweets from the day, didn’t just base it on the half hour I was there) and I think new bloggers would have found it useful. It was also geared primarily to fashion/beauty blogs, so I didn’t expect that everything would be tailored to me anyway. I’m a massive geek, and quite possibly know more about SEO/site building than your average blogger who has just started out.
I think that it would have been a great event for me, a while ago. These days I know with absolute clarity what my blog is. My blog is ME, through and through. I used to think I wanted to make it profitable, but I now know that a) I wouldn’t be able to do this and maintain my own voice, and b) that whatever money I made wouldn’t be worth it. I love my blog. I work hard at it. I don’t expect to make a penny out of it, and I hope that lends a certain charm and authenticity. I have no issue with blogs that do make money – I do pro-blogging as a part time job, and the site I write for is set up as a magazine, and it all works perfectly well. I strongly believe that bloggers should be able to make money from their work, but my blog isn’t in that category. It’s a scattered pile of stuff that I carry in my head. And please don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that by not having advertising, that makes me better than people who do. It isn’t about that: advertising just wouldn’t fit with my blog and the content I feature.
I’m also used to dealing with PR companies and various agencies, but again – for newbie bloggers, having that info is really important. I want to make sure I’m not criticising the event here: it did what it said on the tin, and I’m sure if I’d stayed around I would have met some really lovely bloggers and picked up some tips. I read some Twitter feedback about not being fed; which I think is a little strange. I didn’t expect to get food from a £5 ticket!
So I’m sure if I’d stayed I would have got something from it, but unfortunately, after such a hideous journey, I just wasn’t in the mood. I was so hugely underwhelmed by the behaviour of some of the attendees, I really didn’t feel like staying. It reminded me of the behaviour of people on boring school trips, the girls who loll around at the back of the coach and make sure they let everyone know that they REALLY AREN’T INTERESTED IN LEARNING STUFF. If you’re not enjoying it, leave. If you want to talk to your mates, wait for the break. Or leave. Don’t ruin it for anyone else, or be disrespectful to the speakers. Anyway, I stuck it for half an hour and got so furious at the constant chatter that I buggered off to the pub instead.
Those are my ponderings. I’m sad not to have come home with food for thought and lots of blogger business cards, but I made my choice. I don’t have any complaints with the event; I think the organiser did extremely well to get it off the ground, and I truly believe it’s an important service that will provide support for new bloggers. My main feedback would be literally just to get some microphones in. Unless a panellist has been to drama school, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to project their voice to the very back of a room. Hopefully, that would cut down on the problem of rude audience members too…Because as you all know, I am the Mistress of Manners, and poor habits will NOT BE TOLERATED.