Sometimes in life an opportunity comes along that you just have to say yes to.
This was my first proper experience event planning, and I loved it. Admittedly the run up to it was a bit stressful for the team, and I started a new job 17 days before the event was due to take place. This meant some pretty late nights in the run up to and to be honest, things don't really feel like they have calmed down a lot since the conference.
The day was an amazing success! We had such a fantastic line up of speakers and panelists for the day and everything ran smoothly. The day was kicked off by our keynote speaker Gavin Oattes from Tree of Knowledge, I don't think I've ever listened to a more motivational speaker! He relaxed everyone instantly and set the rest of the day up nicely. The first panel of speakers consisted of Andrew Girdwood (Geek Native), Ruth MacGlip (Urbanity blog), Stuart Fenwick (Tree of Knowledge), Hannah Taylor (She is Fierce) and Gordon J Millar (Scot Street Style). There was plenty of audience participation with lots of questions being asked.
Part of the day consisted of workshops. We picked three topics that we thought would have been of interest to fellow bloggers - Vlogging 101, Blogging to Business and Building Your Brand on Social Media. It seems we picked well, the feedback on the workshops was great and some people who thought vlogging wasn't for them have even posted their first vlog since the event!
We had a break for lunch and some networking after the workshops. Lunch was catered for by Nando's and they did an absolutely amazing job! And it seems everyone really does love Nando's as the food went down a treat, not only did they cater for us but also had some of the staff stay and help serve the food! With veggie and vegan options there was something that suited everyone. A big thank you to the Nando's staff in attendance, and manager Rory, who remained as cool as a cucumber when we had to call along to the restaurant to order more food! By this point in the day everyone seemed to have relaxed and it was great to see people sitting together and talking, networking! This was our main aim for the day.
The afternoon was kicked off by a second keynote speech from Sam King and Bejay Mulenga of Filli Studios and then the second panel of the day with Simon Burrell (Nomis Agency), Shaun Alexander (Shaun Vlog), Erin Doogan (Beauty Creep), Sarah Stenhouse (Pixey) and Scott Dalgleish (Round Door). The audience seemed just as engaged as they had been in the morning and it was another great session in the afternoon. The organised part of the day finished with a canapé masterclass from Ian of Edinburgh School of Food and Wine, another huge success and the food looked delicious!
As well as some amazing speakers we had a number of great brands attending on the day. Heather More Illustration was there selling some of her illustrations and cards and she was also sketching the day for us! I loved her stuff and really need to get myself onto her etsy store to get buying! Hannah Taylor of She is Fierce was also there selling her magazine, it was such a hit that she had to go and get more! Lilies & Dreams came along with a very impressive stand complete with clothing rail and were running a competition to style an outfit and then win it if it was voted the best one. Sarah Stenhouse from Pixey was talking to people about monetising your Instagram photos. Pixey is a company that works with people to provide Instagram photos for a fee, 50% of this fee is then passed onto the owner of the image, much better then someone just taking your image without permission!
We had such an overwhelming response from companies wanting to be involved in the day, Tunnock's supplied a variety of their goodies for our guests to munch on, you can never go wrong with a Tunnock's Teacake! Heath & Heather sent flavoured teas along for the day as well as some to put in the goodie bags. And Blossom Hill sent us bottles of their Spritz for the day, they certainly went down a treat with our guests! MacCorns sent us a popcorn buffet and it was amazing! Two MASSIVE buckets of popcorn for people to tuck into, a few people were asking to take them home with them!
All the printing for the day, including the lanyards was done by Stirling Printworx. I was so pleased with how the lanyards turned out and they provided all the information needed for the running times of the day and details on who all the speakers. Relentless Fitness also provided a prize of two PT sessions for the day, the person who won that is lucky! After a PT session with Matt you are in no doubt you have worked hard (I still can't walk properly after last weeks!).
Let's not forget the goodie bags, even if I do say so myself they were packed with some great treats. White Glo provided teeth whitening kits, I've been using mine and I love the fact that you only need to spend fifteen minutes a day wearing the tray. You do look pretty funny when you have it in and I still haven't let Mark see me properly when I'm using it. The Candy Kittens sweets were definitely a hit, delicious and a great sugar hit when you need one! Everyone also got a Skinny Brands cocktail in their bag, so far I've tried the Mojito one, very tasty and the fact it's low calorie is definitely a win for me.
The tea jenny in me was very pleased when tea bags arrived from Yorkshire Tea and Heath & Heather. When it comes to a good old fashioned cuppa Yorkshire Tea is my first choice every time and I love trying new flavoured teas. I'm going to assume that like me, most bloggers have some sort of planner/diary to plan out their posts so the Personal Planner stickers and discount code were a great addition. I still haven't managed to settle on a design I like for my planner for next year, you can choose everything from the size and design on the cover to the colour scheme inside your planner too!
I don't think the day would have had the relaxed atmosphere it did if it hadn't have been for the guys from Edinburgh Pub Crawl, getting people involved with beer pong and offering out candy floss and popcorn. And of course our MC for the day Dougie, who did a fantastic job getting everyone where they needed to be when they needed to be there and just generally creating a fun atmosphere. His great sense of humour helped make everyone feel at ease and man did he do his homework on the speakers! The day wouldn't have been the same without him.
I'm still amazed at the success of the event! The day went past in a whirlwind and it really felt a bit surreal to think that we (Jadine, Taryn and myself) had planned it all and brought it all together. We had such lovely feedback on the day from people and it was awesome getting to read everything on social media and some of the blog posts about the day from an attendees point of view. We have some great videos from Rob at Right Here Video, who came along with his wife and filmed the whole day for us and photos taken by Tino and Cera. We have shared some of their work over on our Facebook page.
We were also really lucky to have our amazing friends and family get involved on the day, and they all did a stellar job. A special mention to my other half, Mark, who not only helped on the day but also took time off work to get all the stuff to the venue with us (a job that probably would have taken three times as long had he not been there) and most impressively put up with me and my stress in the weeks leading up to it, he deserves a medal for that alone! I didn't get him a medal though, just some nice beers and a meal out.
The team planned on taking a couple weeks after the conference to chill and then get back together to talk about the day, but we couldn't wait that long! The weekend after we got together to talk about how it went and we've actually already started planning our next couple of events...the next one will be happening later this year! If you want to be kept up to date with what's happening with the team and be one of the first to know about our next event, sign up to our mailing list.
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The event would not have been the same without the support of our sponsors and brands that provided items for the goodie bags. A MASSIVE thank you to all of you (Tunnock's, Heath & Heather, Blossom Hill, MacCorns, Stirling Printworx, Relentless Fitness, White Glo, Yorkshire Tea, Candy Kittens, Personal Planner, Skinny Brands, Red Bus Bistro, Edinburgh Pub Crawl, Edinburgh School of Food and Wine, Right Here Video and Nando's), as a team we are so grateful for the support you gave us.
Photographs taken by me