Saturday, 16 November 2013

Confessions of a Blogger’s Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea at Mercer Street Hotel

Last Saturday, I had the chance to meet up with 19 other fantastic women at a Blogger’s Afternoon Tea at the Mercer Street Hotel in Seven Dials. The event was organised by the lovely Selena from Oh, the Places We Will Go and it was such a success that we hope to make this a quarterly event in future.

It was such a privilege to meet in person women whom I had only previously known through Twitter and their blogs. I loved how easily we all chatted away about all sorts of topics ranging from Croatian immigrants in New Zealand to coping with the humidity of a Brisbane summer. What impressed me the most was how intelligent, warm and talented each of these women was and how eager they all were to get to know each other. My experience with blogger’s events has often been a group of people talking about their blogs but that was not the case here.

My only regret was that I didn’t get to speak to everybody and I certainly didn’t take any photos. I was recovering from a cold so spent most of the time seated in one place. I shall make a concerted effort to be a social butterfly next time!

If you’re looking for engaged and friendly bloggers to follow, then I wholeheartedly recommend the following women:

Selena from Oh, the Places We Will Go
Gina from Sweet Serenity 
Erin from Erin Out and About
Sarah from The Experience Collection Project
Sarah from The Wanderblogger
Bonnie from A Compass Rose
Tina from Girl Meets Globe
Jacintha from Urban Pixxels
Anna from Eat, See, Do
Emma from Adventures of a London Kiwi
Janelle from The Halfpenny Diaries
Jaklien from Passport and Toothbrush
Kara from Pen Plus Passport
Sarah from The Secret Life of an Unknown Housewife
Shobha from NYLon Living
Annie at Sew Graceful
Kelly from Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes
Melanie from Melanie Fontaine
Samantha from To the Days Like This

Now for the confession…

Shorty before our Afternoon Tea, Bonnie from A Compass Rose challenged me to take part in the confessions of a blogger series. Here are her questions and my answers.

1. When did you first start blogging and why? 
I started Emm in London as an expat blog to keep in touch with my friends and family back home in South Africa. It didn’t quite work out as planned and my friends are quite proud of the fact that they never read my blog! Nevertheless, I’ve met some fantastic people along the way and I have kept quite a record of my travels too!

2. Have you had any past online presence?
Yes, I’ve had a Livejournal since 2001 and two other blogs where I blog about my addiction to media and my passion to understand. I’m not surprised that the blogging instinct bit so hard – I’ve kept a diary since I was 12 years old and love both writing and sharing my writing with people.

3. When did you become serious about your blog?
Gosh, I hope I never become serious about my blog. In the past 5 years I’ve become serious about my career and my vocation, spending hours every week studying and losing sleep. I’m serious about my husband and committed to my friends. My blog reflects my life but I hope it never becomes my life.

4. What was your first blog post.
My first post on Emm in London was all about the Wireless Festival in 2008.

5. What have been your biggest challenges blogging.
There are times when I’ve struggled to keep up, when I’ve been unable to maintain a balance between creating my own content and replying to and reciprocating comments. I think this is a balance every blogger needs to reach and define for him or herself. In my case, I’ve decided to increase the time between posts (it works out to about once every 5 days) to give me time not only to promote those posts across social media, but to reply to all my comments and visit other blogs too.

6. What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
There are a lot of amazing things that have happened because of this blog including sunset flights on the London Eye, a dawn photography workshop and the chance to attend test events for the London Olympic Games. It is mostly the small events that please me such as the chance to visit an exhibition or attend the launch of a restaurant’s seasonal menu. Mostly, keeping this blog helps me to feel grounded and encourages me to be mindful in my daily life. I try to really take note of my surroundings and ensure that I have ample blogging content!

7. What is the most discouraging thing about blogging?
Sometimes it can feel like an awful lot of work for very little reward at all. I wouldn’t say I’ve been discouraged but I think I’ve had to learn how to maintain a balance in blogging. I’ve learned about reciprocity and prioritising those bloggers who make me a priority too, who read and comment on my blog as I do on theirs. Hand in hand with this realisation came the acknowledgement that people will only comment on quality content so I challenged myself to uphold the quality of my posts.

Like I said, blogging can be hard work but I’ve turned that into something that I find rewarding and I’ve made some great friendships through this blog.

8. What is your lasting inspiration or motivation?
To always act with integrity and honesty. And to overcome depression. I’m optimistic, focused, happy and positive and yet am still plagued by clinical depression. When I think about it, everything I do, all the choices I make, are about future-proofing myself against depression. That way if and when it does arrive, I’m able to curl up in my pyjamas for a week and just give myself a break.

In the bigger picture, I’m motivated to become an accountant and the overarching motivation behind that is that I want to do accountancy volunteer work in emerging economies. I’m almost within reach of that goal now.

9. What is your blogging dirty little secret?
Ha! I don’t have one! I use Windows Live Writer to compose my posts and think everyone else should too. But dirty little secret? Maybe that I take as few photos as possible and try to make each one count. My aim is to take about ten photos per outing and I take them with my story in mind. That way when I get home, I can upload those photos with as little post-processing as possible and then relay my story.

I’ve taken to blogging for Emm in London once every three weeks only, so that I can get my studying done and occasionally focus on my other two poor, neglected blogs.

10. What is your current goal as a blogger?
I’ve recently checked off a few goals that I did have in mind. I completely redesigned my blog and am proud that I implemented all of the changes you can see from the tabbed sidebar widgets to the linkbars to the front page snippets myself. I know that black and white might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I was so inspired by our Art Deco walk that I wanted to reflect those sleek lines and the simplicity of the Art Deco movement. I might bring back a little bit of colour in the future or I might just try to take more colourful photos!

Next year I want to explore Kent more, see more museums and exhibits and continue with my London-based activities but for the moment I’m happy with where I am.

Well, that was quite a bumper post! Join me on Monday for the first of my posts on Milan’s Sforza Castle.

In the meantime, what are your answers to the questions above?

© 2008 - Mandy Southgate | Emm in London

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