Last year I saw lots of blog posts pop up in my feed about Blognix, a brand new Birmingham-based blogging conference. It looked like fun so I joined the mailing list, bought an early-bird ticket when this year's event was announced and booked myself a hotel room so I could have a lie in on the morning of the conference and turn the trip into a mini holiday, exploring the city, and visiting nearby Stratford-upon-Avon.
When the day of the conference rolled round, I walked the short walk from my hotel....
... to the venue: the Custard Factory.
The day was jam-packed with blogging-themed talks and workshop, about everything from being a freelancer to working with brands to podcasting to taking better photos.
Some of the bloggers I chatted to were "old timers" like me, reminiscing about how much blogging has changed since "back in the day" when we first started and others were more recent converts to the world of blogging. I even chatted to one person who hadn't yet written their first post, and was still deciding exactly what she was going to blog about.
There were fashion and lifestyle and food bloggers, podcasters, designer/makers promoting their businesses through their blog, and craft bloggers like me. I was delighted to discover that a few people I knew "from the internet" - Jackie, Kate and Lucy - were at the conference too. It was lovely to meet them in person and to have a good natter about the different talks we'd attended.
Oh, and there was also lots of tasty food throughout the day, including homemade cakes and a bar of Blognix-branded chocolate tucked in our free goodie bags. Yum!
Now, I have to admit to feeling a bit nervous about going to this conference. This was partly the usual social butterflies where you think "I don't know anyone going to this event, what if no-one talks to me and I end up sitting on my own all Billy no mates??".
However it was also in a large part because earlier this year I was suffering from a bit of Impostor Syndrome about my blog.
After making big changes to my business last year I'd started to describe myself as "a blogger" when talking about my job - for example, my business cards currently say "Designer / Maker / Craft Writer & Blogger".
But I didn't feel like "a blogger" - I wasn't doing any of the stuff that bloggers are "supposed" to do like sponsored posts and brand collaborations and having an editorial calendar and writing traffic-increasing posts with SEO-friendly titles and making those perfect Pinterest-friendly images with post titles on them, and so on.
Almost all the How To posts I read about blogging seemed very disconnected to this crafty diary that I was writing which - technically, coincidentally - happened to be "a blog". I just made stuff and wrote about it! I wasn't doing any of this important blogger stuff that real bloggers do!
So I started to feel like my blog wasn't really a "proper" blog, and whenever I described myself as "a blogger" I felt like a bit of a fraud.
Of course, like every case of impostor syndrome this was all in my head. I write a blog, therefore I am a blogger. Obviously. But this was really not the best mood to be in when going to a blogging conference! :)
Having this moment of "oh my god I don't belong at an event like this"... and then going anyway and having a great time actually turned out to be just what I needed. As well has having a lovely day and meeting some lovely people I confronted all my weird feelings about what I "should" be doing as a blogger and realised that the only thing I "should" be doing is what works for me! (I give this advice to other people all the time, but am apparently terrible at following it in my own life, haha.)
The magic of blogging is having a space where you can do things you own way. You can write about what you like, how you like, when you like.
This summer I resolved to stop worrying about how other people blog and how I "should" be running my blog and to just focus on creating my own happy, crafty space, cherry-picking blogging tips and tricks that work for me. I now happily describe myself as "a blogger", and I've even bought a ticket for another blogging conference!
P.S. If you'd like to read more about Blognix and the different speakers and their talks, you'll find lots of the other attendees' posts about it here.