On Saturday 19th November 2011, a secluded (and very secret) Cambridgeshire location, hosted an afternoon tea with a blogging event alongside it. This was an unusual event in Cambridge where guests stumbled upon breakfast muffins, Oreo Layer Cakes, Carrot cakes, Homemade Fruit & Spice Scones as well as tea and coffee in an informal conference style.
The Cambridge-based Golf & Leisure Club that we used was taken over for a few hours by 28 lovely bloggers who had all joined myself and my 4 guest speakers to get inspired and meet others with the same interests whilst eating cake and using the wifi to blog, tweet and facebook their inspiration as they gained it.
The guest speakers consisted of Mel Hollidge, ReeRee Rockette, Liz Fraser & Sian Townsend, happily answering any questions as they came up from my guests as they discussed their thoughts and ideas.
Each of these wonderful ladies spoke honestly and passionately about their favourite topics to help bloggers move forward in many different ways, depending on their blog style or topic. They also helpfully suggested their own favourite blogs, some of which we had never heard of, so it was helpful to jot down for a visit later on after the Blogfest.
Mel taught us a lot in the form of using Social Media to promote your blog and helped us through the basics of Twitter, Facebook and even using Google Analytics to monitor who is reading our blog and where in the world they might be amongst other facts and figures we can gain from this tool.
"Photos and pictures without Alt Text are no good!" - A great tip to note!
We also learnt that Wordpress has a high ranking on Google, so this may be a good blog format to go with if you are unsure, however there are different sites, such as Blogger of course.
Liz discussed her experiences as a mum, a journalist and a writer and inspired some of my guests to completely change their way of thinking when it comes to blogging, much to their own amazement. She really got us thinking about honesty (We promised not to quote her on her honesty, but it was greatly appreciated!) as well as life beyond blogging, telling us that yes, blogging is fun, it's great to escape with, but it is not your life - "Take a break, Switch off in the evening!"
ReeRee advised that you need to be good at one thing & do it really well. She has had over 100,000 hits on her blog post on how to tie a bandana and she is now an expert when it comes to this topic. She also suggests that you find a niche and use it. Admitting to not planning her blog posts, she sometimes posts up to 4 times a day and is happy with the way she blogs for her readers. This isn't for everybody of course, but she spoke for herself and gave us her personal advice on Twitter and Facebook from her own social experiences. "People will sit and read your blog all afternoon if it is easy and simple to follow"- Great advice.
Sian offered her ideas on how to write a great blog review, thanks to her experience as a journalist she is able to offer some very constructive feedback on what makes a good or bad review. She say's not to rush a blog post, and perhaps ask somebody else to read it to get their feedback before posting, getting the best out of your post that you possibly can. "Don't use words you need to look up, if you don't know what it means, don't write it". On the flip side, if your reader has to go and look up a word, they might not consider finishing the blog post and may well leave your blog.... so do consider this when using fancy words. She also asked us to consider writing just 100 words on what our blog was about, keeping it simple and to the point - A difficult task for some, myself included as a waffler!
I thoroughly enjoyed planning and plotting every element of this event, including the planning of each table within the room and naming them after my favourite places in Cambridge for Tea & Cake. These included By Jove, Peacocks Tearoom in Ely, Fitzbillies in Cambridge, Jocalatte and Hot Numbers. They were all worthy of a mention and helped to educate my guests in the best cake and afternoon tea in Cambridge.
The next Secluded Blogfest will be coming in 2012, so if you are keen to join us, please do email Miss Sue Flay at: firstname.lastname@example.org to be put on the waiting list. More info to follow in the new year.
You can view blog posts from some of my lovely guests since this event, as follows:
Miss Sue Flay