Way back in February, I attended the Blognix Retreat event at the Northamptonshire-based Hellidon Lakes Hotel. It was weekend conference jam-packed with great sessions on all things blogging and a bit of self care thrown in for good measure.
My day started nice and early on Saturday 27th February. After a fair few train journeys (gotta love weekend engineering work!) I landed at Banbury Station. It was here I met up with the lovely Urika and boy was that lucky as the taxi to the hotel itself ended up being so expensive. After pulling up to the hotel and parting with the cold hard cash, we were greeted very warmly and able to sign in and register for the sessions we wanted to attend. Thankfully all but one of the workshops I wanted to attend were still available and I actually ended up really enjoying the session I had to take instead.
After registering, we bloggers were able to help ourselves to complimentary refreshments, including adorable ShopStyle branded travel mugs for our coffee, and begin to network. It was here I met my companions for the day: Ffion, Neesha and Jo. After getting to know each other over pastries and coffee, it was finally time for the day to begin.
Blognix was founded by Elizabeth of Rosalilium and she opened the day with an amazing speech about the blogging community and the spirit in which the event was founded upon. It was a really inspiring start to the day and clear indicator of the quality of the sessions yet to come.
After Elizabeth, we were introduced to the lovely ladies from the ShopStyle Collective who gave a really interesting talk about successfully utlising affiliate marketing on your blog. This was followed by a talk about launching a digital product by Ximena de le Serna. This was one of my favourite sessions from over the weekend. Unlike many How I Made £X in X Amount of Time workshops I've seen, this one actually gave useful, practical, step-by-step information on how to launch a digital product. Although I don't have any plans to launch a digital product of my own any time soon, if I feel like if I made one now, I could launch it and do a damn good job of it too. Ximena was also a very engaging speaker and even if I'd had no interest in what she was talking about, I imagined I would've been hanging on every word anyway!
The other sessions I attended on the Saturday included "Time Management for People Who Want to do ALL THE THINGS", "Accounting for Creatives" and "How to Build Successful Relationships with PR and Brands." I'd wanted to attend the Pinterest workshop, however, that was the session I mentioned was fully booked before I arrived at the Retreat. Instead I went for "Accounting for Creatives", thinking it would be dull and of no relevance to me whatsoever. Oh how wrong I was. Raj, again, was a really engaging speaker and he really seemed to know his stuff. It was actually really interesting to hear about some of the tax issues facing bloggers who make money from their blogs and it definitely gave me some stuff I need to seriously consider this year as I decide whether to turn my blog into a side hustle or not. Holly's time management workshop and Monica's session on brands and PRs were also insanely useful with tips and tricks I will actually be able to use in my life.
After the days talks and workshops were done, it was time to check into our rooms for the night. I was intrigued about what would happen when I got to my bedroom, as I'd had an email from my roommate a few hours before explaining she wouldn't be making the event after all. So, was I going to be alone? Was I going to have a new roomie? Who knew! Thankfully, I ended up with a new roommate, the wonderful Tamsyn who I'd had the pleasure of meeting earlier in the day. We had a chat about our day and our blogs, then got ready and headed down for the evening entertainment.
Dinner consisted of a seriously delicious three course meal including the yummiest sticky toffee pudding and a quiz. Our table failed epically, but it was so fun to take part in. I was a bit worried about the dinner to begin with as seating was assigned rather than chosen and I was nervous about having to meet new people. It turns out I needn't have been so anxious because my table was great. There was some seriously interesting conversation going on and we were a pretty diverse group of bloggers.
After dinner, a large group of us headed downstairs to make use of the hotel's bowling alley. I must admit I was knackered by this point, but I'm really glad I pushed through the tiredness and went bowling. I had such a great time.
Day two was equally inspiring. After my first ever yoga class and breakfast, we sat down for the next set of sessions, one of which I was particularly excited for, Laura's self care workshop. I cannot even begin to explain how inspiring this was. I've since been reading her blog and it has fast become one of my favourites. There was also Jen's creatvity workshop which was really fun and useful. The day was closed off by Elizabeth and a great little masterminding session.
All in all, I had such a fantastic weekend at the Blognix Retreat and it was exceptionally good value for money. I learnt so much, I met a really wonderful set of people and had a lot of fun. The hotel was really lovely, if a little bit in the middle of nowhere and far too loud at night, but this didn't detract from my enjoyment of the conference. I'm really, really looking forward to seeing what the next Blognix event will be like.
Have you ever been to a blogging conference?