Back in 2015 The East Midlands Blogger Network, the brainchild of Hannah and myself was created. It was a Facebook and Twitter page which enabled bloggers from all over my region to network, share their blogs and meet one another. Our first ever meet up was in Nottingham early last year and I soon realised this was something I wanted to continue in developing. The first meet up consisted of 7 of us all bringing some food, setting up a picnic outside of Nottingham Castle and getting to know another.

12 months on our network has grew incredibly with so many people sharing their blogs on a daily basis, new faces joining the group regularly and there's no other word to describe it other than it being absolutely bonkers. There's over 100 people on our little database and I don't quite know how it happened.

I don't know a time when people haven't mentioned when a local event is going to happen, and after much debate with myself I got my notebook out and decided to organise the latest #EastMidsMeetUp.

( Prepare yourself for a long post, you may want to grab a cup of tea 
and a snack before reading this. You have been warned! )
Organising an event, intended for bloggers or not is extremely hard work, but luckily it's something I know I've always enjoyed doing. But it was clear from my initial first ideas that I couldn't organise this event alone and it wasn't fair with Hannah's workload to add something else to that. I asked for some helping hands on the group and that's when Kirstie, Kirsty and Lianne came on the scene.

I cannot tell you how much I appreciated their support and contribution to this event. Having a small team to help you organise the little things takes a hell of a lot of weight off your shoulders.

Choosing a venue for the event was probably the easiest task of organising this meet up. I knew instantly that I wanted our event to be based in my hometown of Leicester, within a walking distance of the train station and it HAD to serve amazing cocktails. Manhattan 34 is such a lovely, contemporary venue just situated around the corner from the Curve Theatre and of which has some incredible art hung upon it's walls. They definitely do serve delicious cocktails, and I was so happy that most bloggers at the event agreed with me too. (YAY for awesome cocktails!)

I don't know how I decided on the number of bloggers, I just felt ambitious and knew a lot of other events recently had the same number and it worked well and was a good enough number that it didn't feel too restricting for bloggers but also enough numbers to make some kinda impact on future events. I'm not going to lie the most frustrating thing is when individuals bag a place then weeks before the event they announce they can't because something's come up which is so stressful for an organiser and filling their place isn't always busy. However, we didn't have nobody just not turn up to our event so we had the numbers we expected which is amazing in itself.

With the bloggers and the venue we needed an atmosphere and that came in the shape of local vocalist Becky Bruce who sang for most of the afternoon. She acted very professionally as the noise started to build within the venue. I can't thank her enough for stepping in so last minute to perform at our event and everyone seemed to love listening to her!

Also we had Danique Hair and Angel Eyes attend who were on hand to give you a beauty treatment or to give your hair some TLC during the afternoon, as usual I didn't get time to make full use of these so this is something I must do in the future. However all girls who went looked incredible afterwards!

Events are also an opportunity to be inspired to write more, to think more outside the box. Events are honestly the best places for this to happen, especially if your a newbie to the community and haven't been to a event yourself. I remember the fear of going to my own event and given it was full of incredible brands and I got to put so many faces to Twitter names but in hindsight it didn't inspire me, it didn't make me walk away with a bag full of ideas with how I can move forward.

So I opted for professional talks, because who doesn't want someone to tell them how they can improve their blog and develop relationships with PRs. I've learnt so much in the past 18 months of blogging but you can never learn enough can you? So having Blogosphere Magazine and Gabby from Cool As Leicester PR was the perfect fit for our event.

Both talks offered different aspects of advice within a community that grows so rapidly. I think they were both an essential and key part of my event that enabled the bloggers in the venue to think about their blogs and how they could improve it or feel more confident about it. I would absolutely love to work with Blogosphere Magazine more closely in the future as it's a dream to create a dance magazine for young people. Gabby who owns Cool as Leicester provided us an insight into the dos and don'ts of working alongside PRs. There is a fine line that is often crossed with how best to represent and show off your blog professionally and properly without coming across as pushy and too much.

I definitely feel like having talks at the event helped shape a positive and really engaging afternoon for the bloggers and it's great to hear it motivated so many people.

During our event we also managed to raise £200 to split between two charities, Bowel Cancer UK and Rainbows Hospice. I think bloggers can work together to do some amazing things and that includes raising money so I knew this was an element of an event I just had to have. We chose our charities based on personal experiences or just because we're passionate about the work a charity does. The charities are really overwhelmed by our support and I know it'll go a long way with both of them. Thanks to all of the brands and businesses that got involved in the success of our raffle, World Duty Free, The Happiness Planner (still gutted I didn't win this), Oh Deer Stationary and so many more! We had amazing support in ensuring our raffle was a success so I can't thank you guys enough!

What's an event without some refreshments to go along with it. We had a helping hand from Rothley Wine Estate who gave us a lovely sample of their rose wine (perfect for event nerves!) and which was a very refreshing wine that I would definitely enjoy a bottle of. But we couldn't have had our event without our favourite cafe to get involved. Bru Coffee is pretty much the place that myself and Kirstie spent a lot of time in planning our meet up and just generally the place we always ending up going. They honestly have the best selection of cakes, tea and so much more so definitely check them out if your in the Leicester City Centre. We were well stocked with enough goodies to taste and I was so glad when I got myself a little bag to take home, they were delicious! I'm really excited by the prospect of connecting with Bru on a more regular basis with our local bloggers and hope we can get something organised soon cause it would be fab!

But onto the last thing about our event, goody bags. I feel like goody bags have become something of the 'norm' at blogging events and it sometimes feels like bloggers only turn up to these events for the freebies. Initially our plan wasn't to provide goody bags at this event, I just didn't feel comfortable with the idea of people being interested in nothing more than what goodies they got at the end. However my mind was quickly changed as I wanted the bloggers to be appreciated for their time and effort in coming/travelling to our event.

Kirstie from BehindTheScent was incredible in supporting me to create goody bags and we managed to provide not just one but two goody bags filled with brands who we both felt suited most of the bloggers coming to our event. There's nothing worse than getting a goody bag and not feeling like you can talk about the products, even if it's small. We worked with a crazy amount of brands and businesses including Lush, Matalan, VitaCoco, Covershoot Cosmetics, Busy B and so many more! I'm going to do a separate post about the goody bag and give you tiny reviews for each products as I feel like all of them are worth individually talking about.

However, two of our goody bags went missing which meant that a couple of bloggers missed out on enjoying their products like everybody else. I really hope that nobody at that event took more than they should have as I felt we had already spoilt them enough, I really hope you'll come forward so that we can resolve this. I feel so bad that me and Kirstie are looking into a way of ensuring those individuals get something out of our own money, which we shouldn't have to do because a goody bag or two shouldn't go missing!

But that leaves me with the end of the event. I cannot tell you how overwhelmed I have been by the response of our event, so much so I think I have cried a few times and wanted to squeeze quite a few bloggers for their love. I feel so supported after this event and feel like all the hard work that all of us as organisers have put into it has paid off and everyone enjoyed themselves!

I've screen captured some of the many tweets we got after the event to keep as a memory of our afternoon and I've left some of those below:

I can't thank the attendees enough for their kind words, the brands who helped with the goody bags and the raffle, Manhattan 34 for allowing bloggers to take over their venue, to our speakers for giving up their Saturday afternoons to be there. The biggest thank you goes to my team of organisers for helping, no matter how big or small contribution to make the event a success.

So then, when shall I start organising the next #EastMidsMeetUp?

I also created my first vlog through this event so I've left that below for you to check out.

thanks for reading,