Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Popping my Blogtacular cherry 🍒

I've been promising a Blogtacular post since the event nearly two weeks ago (where has that time gone?) and I'm finally going to attempt to share some words and pictures with you to sum up my experience.

I could go on and on about what I took from the weekend as it was jam-packed and my mind hasn't stopped buzzing since BUT I'm going to focus on FIVE key things that really stood out in my list of many.

Image credit : Blogtacular

ONE : Blogtacular IS for you.

Last year I suffered from the biggest FOMO, seeing those I knew (insta-stalked) and admired on social media having what looked like the time of their lives at a blogging conference in London. Being rather fickle when it comes to blogging, and downright terrified of people reading my waffle and judging me left right and centre, I never saw myself as a blogger or worthy of being able to go to such an event.

The more I thought about it though, the more I found myself wondering why I had been telling myself that I couldn't go to Blogtacular. I find it tough but I do enjoy writing when I feel I have something I want to share, creativity is at the heart of all I do and I love being part of such a great creative community (online and in real life) so why wouldn't I jump at the chance to attend an event that brings all that together?

And the more people I spoke to who had been before or who were also interested in going seemed to have some of the same fears too, which helped give me the slap about the face I needed to realise I should take part. At the end of the day Blogtacular is an event to bring people with a passion for creativity, content and beautiful design together no matter what level you're at.

Which brings me to the first learning : You, (yes YOU!) can totally attend this fun-filled and truly inspiring event, whether you're completely new to blogging, just starting out, need a push or are already a professional blogger. If you want to learn more, be inspired by fellow creatives and surrounded by friendly faces then a ticket to Blogtacular IS for you.

Photo credit : Will Ireland and Mollie Makes.

TWO : It's OK to be scared.

This is strongly linked to my initial worries of being unable to attend Blogtacular in the first place. As well as feeling unsure about if I was 'a blogger', I was also scared. Terrified due to lack of self confidence, paranoia and anxiety - what a mix eh? But a mix I soon discovered was pretty common amongst those attending Blogtacular already - the facebook group, a few twitter convos I observed and a few chats with closer friends soon highlighted this and in some way reassured me.

Others can tell you not to be scared and that everyone is super lovely and it will all be ok but I know how hard it is to take that advice on board and chill the fuck out - it just doesn't work like that does it?

BUT having been, having experienced the fear/thrill/many toilet trips, I can confidently tell you, it really is OK to be scared and you will be fine because most people are in the same boat. From the incredible keynote speakers and those running the show to that lovely person standing next to you at the coffee machine - a lot of people are nervous or scared but I found that they were also open and honest about it.

The warmth and friendliness of the event and the content explored in the talks and workshops embraced this and I feel, really helped to bring people out of themselves and push a few personal boundaries throughout the day.

Photo credit : Emily Davidson

Through forcing myself out of my comfort zone I was delighted to meet and chat to so many friendly faces who I had been insta-stalking or had met briefly at craft fairs in the past. I have never been so scared to say "Hi, I'm Sunshine Jo - Hello Sunshine" before, but as awkward as it may be introducing yourself with your username it really does work and help to spark up fun conversations. I met so many lovely people, spoke to new faces, fangirled a bit (a lot) and even swapped a few cat pins and goodies with folk - all of which I was terrified of doing the night before.

Photo credit : Kat Molesworth and Mollie Makes.

THREE : You are enough.

Lisa Congdon's opening keynote speech was incredible. If you've read any other Blogtacular posts or were there yourself I'm sure you'll agree and know why. Lisa spoke openly and honestly about her experiences of imposter syndrome, burnout, vulnerability and discovering the need to readjust her work/life balance.

Image credit : Lisa Congdon

I got quite emotional during her talk, as did many who were sat their nodding along in awe. Lisa's words about this overwhelming fear we have of never being enough, saying yes to everything and feeling like we have to be busy to be worthy in life resonated deeply with me and my experiences over the past couple of years.

Image credit : Tara Rodden Robinson

I wrote about my own struggles with stress/anxiety and the impact it had on my health back in January (Time to Reflect) and to hear someone I admire speak so openly, in front of 300-odd faces (!) about similar, personal experiences was so moving.

The mini mantras that Lisa shared with us all were ones I whole heartedly agree with, from personally trying to say 'NO' more to keeping active. I find every one of these points incredibly important and relevant to my life...







Sharing these key actions as well as this brilliant manifesto by Jennifer Pastiloff, illustrated by Emily McDowell, addressed many of my own personal struggles and reminded me to make self care more of a priority again - it's so easy to slip back in to old, unhealthy work habits!

Image credit : Emily McDowell

Lisa's talk moved me so much I felt the strongest urge to track her down during the day and thank her. I did and it turned out that it happened in the loos by accident at the end of the day but we had a nice little chat about yellow accessories and the wonderful beads she was wearing which were made by my friend Amy Blackwell (double fangirl moment!!)

Photo credit : Will Ireland and Mollie Makes.

FOUR : It's OK to be a bit shit.

Kirsty Smith's workshop on Developing Content was both brilliant and funny! Leading with an inspiring quote from Maya Angelou we were thrown in to discussing ideas with our neighbours and appreciating how just openly talking about ideas can get things rolling.

"You can't use up creativity. 
The more you use, the more you have."

Photo credit : Will Ireland and Mollie Makes.

Following on with quotes from MC Hammer (Yup, you can't touch this!) and Alicia Silverstone, Kirsty's humour and advice about ways to kick start ideas and how to develop them made for a truly enjoyable session.

My cheeks ached from smiling and laughing so much and I came away with some great gems for getting ideas going, from making lots of lists to taking a particular idea on a run with you. My favourite quote from the session though (aside from MC Hammer obvs) was from Kirsty herself:

"Start off by just being a little bit shit"

Somehow hearing someone tell you that it's ok to be a bit rubbish at something to start with is immensely reassuring and is what I have been telling myself over and over again in the lead up to writing this post. If it's a bit shit, it's ok because I'll learn and then strive to write something better next time (or at least a little bit less shit maybe).

FIVE : You don’t have to chase everything.

The closing keynote talk was from possibly one of the coolest people I have ever been in the presence of. Edin Hwang was the 6th employee of Pinterest and the first women to work there when it started in a teeny tiny apartment 6 years ago.

Photo credit : Will Ireland and Mollie Makes.

To realise that Pinterest really is only 6 years old when it's a tool many of us use day to day now is truly remarkable and incredibly inspiring. Hearing Enid speak of those early days when her desk was next to a toilet (shared with 5 blokes! Spewk!) and about how far it has come through the determination, hard work and focus of the team was really interesting.

People in the industry dismissed the idea of Pinterest at first and investors shied away but the Pinterest team knew they were onto something and believed in their idea and product so never gave up. Hearing this at a time when I feel quite scared about the future and these early days of self employment has given me the kick up the bum I needed to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing/what I'm not doing and re-focus my energy.

Some of the key points Enid talked about, that I scribbled in my notebook and plan to work with included:





Ending with Enid's focussed talk was the perfect way to end a jam-packed day and left everyone buzzing with a mix of excitement, inspiration and exhaustion.

It really was a truly brilliant couple of days none of which would have been possible without Kat, her left-hand lady Kelly and their team of volunteers. I can't thank Kat and her amazing team enough for their impeccable organisation and planning such a great event! Not only did it run like clockwork and pack so much in with photowalks and the West Elm party on the Friday, but we were in a top venue on Saturday with delicious foodie treats throughout the day (OMG the FOOD!) and we all received the most incredible goodie bag designed by mega talented helloDODO and designosaur at the end of it all.

Photo credit : Will Ireland and Mollie Makes.

So there you have it, my TOP 5 TAKE OUTS from popping my Blogtacular cherry. Although these are just my personal top take outs from the weekend (there was so much more!), I hope you found them interesting and if you'd like to see more of what I got up to over the two days then pop over to my Instagram (@sunshine_jo). Expect a mix of snaps from the Photowalk (east), a trip to the London Cat Cafe, some foodies shots, photobooth fun with favourite faces and general happenings from the weekend.

Photo credit : Mollie Makes

Photo captured by : Nina Gigante

If you're after more photos from the weekend make sure you check out the #Blogtacular hashtag that EVERYONE was using and if you'd like to read more then I highly reccommend checking out the following blogs:

Hello DODO
Twin Pines
Daphne Rosa
This Little Space of Mine
Mrs M Makes

...and Claireabellemakes who also made this awesome vlog...

If that's still not enough to persuade you to come along next year then there are many many more amazing blog posts on the Blogtacular Pinterest board so pop over, put the kettle on again and get involved!


  1. Awww thank you for linking to me! Ace post and I'm so pleased I finally got to meet you. :) Leanne xx

    1. It was so lovely to meet you too Leanne :) xxx

  2. Thanks for including me lovely!! Awesome post and not even close to being a 'little bit shit' Looking forward to reading more 😊

    1. Haha! Thank you sunshine, it was so much fun to spend the day with you and I'm looking forward to more Cambridge Crew adventures :D x

  3. Great blog post Jo! Glad to hear that it's as awesome as it looks :)

    1. Thank you Laura - so you're coming with us next year yeah? ;) xxx

  4. Really love this post Jo. Such a great round-up. Shame I didn't get a chance to say hello. Where did you get your denim shirt-dress from?

    1. I'm so sorry but your comment came up as anonymous so I'm not sure who this is but thank you so much! :) My dress is from ASOS but is by Lazy Oaf :D