Rounding off a week off, I headed over to the University of Birmingham for a couple of sessions as part of their Book to the Future festival. The festival is an annual event with a range of workshops, panels, performances and author talks celebrating literary expressions.
The final session of the Friday night was a panel discussion around blogging, Instagram, social media and influencers. With a combined following of well over one million, the panel was made up of Alice Liveing, Hannah Witton and Emma Conway (aka Brummy Mummy Of 2), and hosted by Brum Blogger and influencer in her own right, Ting of The Ting Thing.
Unsurprisingly it was full booked and I managed to bag a space at the front, before heading out to meet up with some other bloggers. One of the things mentioned in the discussion was the importance of community, about fostering relationship with other bloggers and attending gatherings. It’s one of the things I like most about blogging in Birmingham, that people are so supportive of each other and as well as being there to hear from Alice, Emma and Hannah, a lot of us were also there to support Ting.
As Hannah Witton rightly pointed out, I was scribbling notes because I find I always listen better when I do and I wanted to share some of the insights for people who didn’t manage to bag a spot on the fully-booked talk. There were a few similar themes which cropped, the importance of authenticity, of community and being a woman online. Having been to many blogging talks before, it was refreshing to listen to what felt like more of a chat between four bloggers who had both similar and not so similar experiences. Alice, Emma, Hannah and Ting were sincere about their advice and experience, particularly that some of it is about putting in the hard work, but also not knocking being in the right place at the right time and not discounting the privilege and benefits that come from being conventionally attractive.
I particularly enjoyed the conversations around authenticity. It’s a conversation I hear a lot and it has started to lose a little of its meaning. But I liked that the panel talked about being yourself online, but not having to give away your whole self, whether that be things you just won’t talk about or reclaiming some of your time for other things – be it switching off at a certain time of an evening, or having things you do away from the online world.
I said I’ve been to a lot of blogging talks, and I have, but this was one of my favourites for the flow of the conversation between the panelists, Ting’s great questions and the topics covered, many of which I had wished bigger bloggers would mention. I wrote up my notes here, if anyone is interested in reading them – they’re just bulletpoints, but hopefully useful.