Blogtacular 2016: Lessons from Lisa Congdon

Oh ‘Hi’ there! If you’ve been hanging around the blogosphere lately, you might have spotted a fair few posts about Blogtacular – an annual blogging conference which was held recently in London. This year was my first ever Blogtacular, and I was not disappointed – just check out this crowd…

Blogtacular 2016

This year’s conference was held at 200 Aldergate, a stone’s throw from St. Paul’s Cathedral, opposite the Museum of London. A very kind security guard helpfully beckoned us all inside before we wandered blindly past. Once inside however, and it was clear that we’d reached our destination!

Blogtacular 2016

I thoroughly enjoyed the event, and wanted to use this first blog post to share some of the important lessons that I took away from this year’s opening keynote speaker – Lisa Congdon – author, artist and illustrator, who delivered a truly inspiring talk on the realities of blogging.

Blogtacular 2016

Re-evaluate the meaning of “success”

Rather than focusing on the ways in which she made herself a success, Lisa opened with a very raw account of the ways in which she had to re-evaluate the meaning of success post burn-out, after working too darn long and hard. It was a real pleasure to listen to someone so honestly express their perceived vulnerability – something that I think we could all relate to, and needed to hear.

Blogtacular 2016

As Lisa pointed out, the path of a creative designer-maker (particularly one who is reliant on their craft and/or blog to make money), is not an easy road. In most cases, we end up doing the jobs of five or more people – we are writers, photographers, designers, makers, coders, community managers, etc. etc., so we often demand a lot from ourselves, and strive for excellence in all areas.

Success is a three-legged stool

Based on her own experience of burn-out, Lisa recommended using an analogy of a three-legged stool to measure your success. The first metric (leg) is money – are you making enough money for your business? The second metric (leg) is analytics – are people reading and engaging with your work? But the third metric, which she said most people forget to think about, is your well-being – are you looking after you, and enriching your life? In short, if you fail to look after this third metric – yourself, then your two-legged stool could come crashing down at any moment, so remember to prioritise YOU.

Blogtacular 2016

Ignore the ‘vulnerability hangover’

Lisa also coined a new term – the ‘vulnerability hangover’, which is the feeling that we all get when we do something brave and bold for the first time, and then immediately wonder if we should have. Lisa’s own example was being filmed for a TV show for the first time and then immediately doubting the decision. I remember my own vulnerability hangover when I contacted Fran of Fall for DIY to say that I would love to do a tutorial for the members’ zone of her newly-launched We Make Collective – “She said ‘yes’, but am I qualified enough for this?!” In short, Lisa urged us to remember that this feeling is nothing but a vulnerability hangover, and that we all get them, and have to push past them.

Blogtacular 2016

If the answer isn’t ‘HELL yes’, say ‘no’

Lastly, Lisa described ways that she found to cope with the strain on her work-load, and create boundaries. She created a new rule for herself – “If the answer isn’t ‘HELL yes’, say ‘no'”. On the one hand, we are always told to be ‘yes people’ – to accept whatever opportunities come our way, which can be great to begin with, but when you find yourself slightly overwhelmed, burning the candle at both ends, or like a hamster (/cat) in a wheel, then it’s time to change your approach. This new filter meant that Lisa only spent her time and energy on those opportunities that truly excited her.

Blogtacular 2016

As well as the talks and workshops, I really enjoyed getting to know some fellow bloggers and creatives, namely Natasha from Graphique Fantastique, Tessa from All Things Stationery, Ella Masters (aka Illustrated Ella), Kristabel, and June of June Sees – who you can see below! It was also great to see so many of the speakers mingling with their fellow bloggers – we’re a pretty inclusive bunch!

Blogtacular 2016

Believe it or not, I actually have another two Blogtacular posts in my drafts. I’ll be writing about attending my first ever photo-walk (#BlogtacularPhotoWalkWest), as well as the Mollie Makes #PaperMakerParty, and also sharing some more inspiring anecdotes from some of the other guest speakers. To see more about our experience, you can also check out Natasha’s vlog

I’d love to hear if any of Lisa’s advice resonates with you, and what you made of the day if you went along yourself? All photos in this post were kindly provided by the sponsor Mollie Makes.

Thanks Kat and team for organising an inspiring event! Can’t wait for next year.

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