Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog!!
I organised a blogger meetup within Sydney on Saturday 8th June and I thought I would share a blog post on the lead up, how I planned it and how it all went.
Firstly I’m still feeling so over whelmed with the response because this is something I had thought of for a few months and was a huge goal of mine. Now it’s happened and it’s out there it feels so surreal that I actually reached it.
I want to explain that if you have a dream or goal make sure to get it out there and never doubt yourself, yes it’s not easy but what is???
I had done a lot of research as I was trying to actually connect with other bloggers within Sydney but always struggled to find a group or community where we could meet up and network. I know it’s very popular back where I’m from in Belfast, Ireland and within Australia there are groups across Melbourne & Brisbane but not in Sydney (strangely).
Thoughts started running through my head were I would question myself, is this something I could start? Obviously it was going to be difficult but who doesn’t love a challenge?
I then visualised this almost everyday and would sit at my desk in work writing notes upon notes about where I was going to have the venue / location, how many people I could cater for and wondered how many people would actually be interested in this idea. After a few days I started to believe I could do this as its something I enjoy and I’m passionate in. I wanted bloggers to have the ability to network / collab with other talented bloggers.
My first step was to create a Meetup community which majority of Aussies use to connect through different groups within their local area. Within first few days I had roughly 20 members join which I then thought, wow that’s a possible 20 people already who could attend my event.
I then met up with 2 bloggers that I have connected with over Instagram for over a year but this was the first time we actually met each other in person. To meet each other in Sydney and have the opportunity to share my idea and also to hear their passions and ideas as bloggers, was amazing. We all loved and supported each other’s ideas which then motivated me more to go ahead and start seriously planning my blogger meet up.
I give myself 4 weeks to plan as I had a deadline to reach before my closest friend left the city to go do her regional work. She had told me that she wanted to be there and support me which was an amazing touch for it being the first time I had ever planned an event.
My first priority was to find a venue and within the city of Sydney it’s very expensive to hire. As this was the first time I had ever organised an event and had to search for a venue, I didn’t want to put myself out of pocket.
After a weekend of visiting different cafes throughout different areas of Sydney I had to decide on a location that was close to public transport, had parking facilities and was easy to get too for everyone attending.
I personally love Glebe within Sydney, it’s got a cool vibe and it’s quite central too. I knew this was where I was going to locate the event but I still had to find the perfect venue to accommodate everyone’s needs with the correct seating so that everyone could hear/ see me speak throughout the event and also have a wide variety of food options too.
I visited numerous cafes around the Glebe area, until one stood out for me which was Otto Noorba this was because the owner was so welcoming and came across very accommodating. Mary reassured me that she would happily cater for me + 30 others and assist with anything I needed, in which this would be to have half of her restaurant reserved so that everyone was seated together. Mary has a strong passion for her business and didn’t request a huge upfront fee to reserve the tables needed, were as other cafes were requesting this. I did expect these fees/ charges but first time around I didn’t want to put myself out of pocket until I seen how successful the event went then I can worry about fees for future events when I don’t mind paying out as I know there is a huge potential.
I knew instantly this was the venue, as I walked away feeling so relaxed and felt this would be an easy location for people to also be able to access on the day. Next I needed to get the event out there, so I started the promotion work and advertised the event. I created the event promo on “Canva” myself. I played around with this app for awhile until I was happy with the look, font, style and photos selected to make it unique and also stand out.
I then reached out to Gemkenblog and asked Gemma to come and speak about her success as a Travel / Lifestyle blogger who is also a fellow Irish girl. I have followed Gemma’s travel journey and she inspires many to come out here to Australia. I felt she would be perfect to speak about how she started her blog and how she directs traffic as she recently reached her goal of 10K Instagram followers.
I also reached out to a photographer which I came across on Instagram called Ben Douglas he is a Sydney photographer who does a lot of collaborations with bloggers and influencers. I scrolled through his feed and loved his work, so decided he could possibly attend and snap shots of this all happening which I could then use to promote future events.
My next step was to research local businesses who could possibly sponsor my event and this would also help their business progression too. I have a strong passion in helping others and although I love meeting others, I love to also help those that I know too. I communicated with a company called Barette du Jour which I came across when attending Glebe Markets one Saturday morning. My other ideas for possible sponsors were girls that I know through Instagram who are extremely passionate in what they do.
I reached out to these girls and they loved the idea in participating and providing small discount codes for the attendees to get off their work. You can access their pages and contact them through the following links:
PROMOTING THE EVENT:
My next step was to announce the event online. I done this via my personal Instagram emmajanecraig_x and also created a Sydney Bloggers page on Instagram. I felt this would be the best way to promote the event as I connect with a lot of bloggers through the use of Instagram and through the use of the Instagram hashtag tool this would spread the word too. I then created a page for the event and released the tickets via Eventbrite as I find this also to be a very strong tool to promote & manage any event.
I decided that 30 people would roughly be a good figure to have attend the first event as I also didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself either for publicly speaking for the first time. After everything was confirmed from Special Guest GEMKENBLOG , photographer Ben Douglas and all the sponsors I was good to go ahead and announce the event live.
I began to reach out to all the bloggers I know within Sydney through the use of my social media and also the members on the Meet Up group to make everyone I know was aware of the upcoming event.
Once the event went live, I began to already receive such a positive response. So many people reached out and said they were so excited for this to be actually happening in Sydney and couldn’t wait to attend. The first half of the tickets were gone within a week and I honestly woke up everyday so grateful that I was receiving this feedback as this was a dream I had thought about for awhile and it kept my energy high.
The whole lead up was very exciting and I loved the whole idea of planning and being super busy as there really is so much background work involved but it give me more motivation when I knew the event had such an massive interest too. I spent endless evenings after work in my local library typing and editing the schedule on how the event was going to run throughout the morning and I also created a small activity in order to break the ice / make people feel more relaxed about who they were sitting beside for the duration of the event.
I then began preparing items for the goodie bags. I know the event was free and I didn’t have too in any way spend but I wanted the guests to be as impressed as possible and I felt like it would be a nice touch to provide them with small freebies. I bought the little brown bags and personalised “Sydney Bloggers” stickers on Etsy which is my go to for any creative need.
The most important part of event was in my eyes how it was going to run and what was going to be discussed as I want everyone to feel like they had spent quality time out of their Saturday morning. I wanted the event to run smoothly and to be structured as I didn’t want the event to be too long or too short. All this was going to be controlled by myself which was the most scariest part of the whole planning / hosting process as I learnt how to really manage time effectively.
FEELINGS & EMOTIONS:
The day before the event, all tickets were gone…. 30/30 which is an incredible result!! I had worked a 12 hour shift and felt exhausted but I had to maintain a good energy and mood as I knew I still had so much preparations to do. I had to not only prepare my speech but also pamper, do my hair & tan etc. You girls understand. I firstly sat down and began writing a speech, I wrote a good few paragraphs and then thought this was not a good way to memorise what I was wanting to talk about. I felt this could possibly lead to me rambling on too much and focusing too much on one topic more than another. I then decided the best solution for this was to just write down key words and from these words I would know what exactly I wanted to talk about and would be talking fluently rather than staring at a piece of paper.
It was difficult to prepare yourself for public speaking as I had never done this before but I listened to many podcasts which motivated me that its possible for anyone to do this, if they put their mindset to it. I practised my speech around 4 times, 1 was the morning before the event before I jumped into my Uber. Although it was only talking to my partner and not 30 + people, he still managed to keep me calm and reassured me that it sounded great. I also highly recommend meditation, recently I started to get at least 5 minutes in a day and it honestly helps your mind and body so much.
The morning of the event it just felt like a normal day to be honest. I began getting ready doing my makeup / hair then caught an Uber and arrived to the venue 30 minutes before the event start time to set up. The tables were already laid out exactly how I wanted them to be but I just had to place water on the tables and set up the goodie bags where each person would be seated.
When I arrived to the venue and got everything set up, my nerves then started to kick in and I was shaking so much but I just tried to remain calm with my breathing and drank lots of water. When my bestie arrived and I sat chatting to her, it helped whilst I awaited on everyone arriving.
HOW DID IT GO??
As I had a schedule and knew roughly how I was going to begin the event it made it a little easier. I firstly welcomed each guest with a warm hug as this is how I love to be greeted and made sure everyone found a seat, grabbed a goodie bag and also signed in through a registration sheet this way I could contact them easily after the event and also know who exactly attended.
I awaited roughly 20 mins for everyone to arrive, get seated and browse the cafe menu. Once everyone seemed comfortable and relaxed, I then began to interrupt and try get everyone’s attention which was very nerve wrecking as I didn’t have a microphone and also I could see all the guests didn’t hear me greatly as they were chatting amongst each other so I had to control this without shouting also.
Once I had everyone’s attention I then started by going through the goodie bags and getting everyone to pull out the communication task which was inside the bag. I explained how I answered mine and asked everyone to work on this over the next couple of moments then we would go around the table by sharing our answers. This way we would get to know each other a bit better and it would relax the room too. I felt this task was very successful and worked in getting to know one another and we learnt what type of blogger each of us are.
I then moved on to introducing myself, my background as a backpacker travelling from Ireland- How travel has impacted and changed my life. How I started my blog and have now became passionate about sharing my good & bad experiences through the use of my blog to help others. I explained my blogging tips that I have learnt over the last year which involve staying creative/ unique, expanding your knowledge of the platform your using by reaching out to others who are using the same platform, how I direct traffic to my blog and then I concluded my speech with mindset and positivity as I believe its so important to surround yourself with others who have the same passions and interests therefore you can push each other to your highest, otherwise you aren’t going to continue to grow and as a blogger you need to keep growing.
I spoke for roughly 30 – 45 minutes then GEMKENBLOG spoke about her blogging tips and how she directs traffic to her blog. Gemma shared some real quality tips which involved to stay consistent as your followers want to see what you are doing and want to keep up to date with your day to day experiences so if your only being active now and again they will unfollow as this is not want people want to see. Gemma discussed as a WordPress user also that she makes sure when publishing a blog post to tag every single category of the post as this will direct people from search engines when they type in specific words which may be included this way your post will be shown on google etc.
Gemma spoke about how certain posts that she has published have done better than she may have thought and said that if you think something seems so small or silly it actually isn’t as it can go a long way in helping others. As a traffic controller Gemma released a blog post on how she done her course and got her cards to get into traffic controlling, this ended up being very successful as it helped many other girls throughout Australia get into traffic controlling.
We then ended by having the last 30 minutes – 1 hour of networking and I answered any questions I got hit with, the best I possibly could. I then went around the table speaking to every guest and hearing their feedback was incredible. Everyone was so thankful and grateful for me to have organised this event and people explained how they have learnt at least 1 thing from attending- this was an amazing feeling!! People then started questioning the next event and how often I wanted these meet ups to run. I honestly couldn’t believe the response and I’m so estatic that I actually hit my goal by creating a small community of like minded people and we can continue to grow and network through the use of these meet ups within Sydney.
I’m so proud of myself that I took this risk and everything I visualised happened – CRAZYYYYYY!! I also am so happy that the event ran smoothly and just exactly how I scheduled it to go. I myself as the host learnt many key tips from others and its great that I impacted others by sharing my background and tips too. If you be yourself and share your story, honestly it will work and go along way!
After the event I celebrated with close friends and cherished this moment of happiness! It felt strange that it was over as overall I honestly loved the planning and lead up as I enjoy being busy and keeping my mind occupied. A few days on I then created a Survey on SurveyMonkey. I felt this was the best way to gather everyone’s feedback and see what each person thought went well and what could of been improved, this will help plan future events.
Once I received our photographer’s shoots after a few days of the event – I literally cried with happiness as they are all natural photos of everyone literally having a great time! That evening after work I sat at my desk with my laptop and started to create a newsletter for the attendees as I felt this was the best way to stay as a community and have the ability to stay connected. I also had never done this before but I gave it my best shot and researched that MailChimp was the most popular. I created a Newsletter within an hug, pure chuffed haha. I attached some of my favourite shots and thanked everyone for attending and that I would provide any future updates & events through the use of this monthly newsletter.
As I’m currently on my holidays visiting Ireland I haven’t had too much time to begin the next event but that will be happening soon, I just have a pretty tight schedule at the moment with a lot of exciting stuff coming up!
I can’t wait to start planning the next event, which I know will be bigger and better. I can’t wait to see more new faces and continue to expand this community of bloggers throughout Sydney. If you didn’t get to attend the first event don’t worry there will always be another chance, just make sure to follow our social media page and subscribe to our monthly newsletter as I will be emailing all updates through this. Check out my personal social media to keep up with my daily journey and tips too emmajanecraig_x.
I want to thank all of you who have read this post and I hope this has motivated you that if you want something you can easily do it, all you got to do is put your mind to it and believe in YOURSELF.
I look forward to sharing my next blog post which will be all about my journey visiting home after 15 months.
Lots of Love,