April 26, 2014
So last night was the much anticipated and eagerly awaited UK Blog Awards night, a classy red carpet affair in a Central London hotel where I would find out if my much loved (by me anyway) blog had won the coveted prize of being named Best Individual Health Blog.
I had been quite nervous about the whole thing to be quite honest, meeting people in real life that only know my online persona, having to dress up, going to the event by myself…enough to bring anyone out in a sweat I guess.
But what the hell, it was a chance to get done up and schmooze with the best of the UKs blogging community, what did I have to lose?
So I dug out a little black number from the back of my wardrobe and employed the services of a fantastic hair and make up artist (Ewelina Apanel) who just so happens to live in my apartment block.
She did an incredible job taking me from this
To this in less than 90 minutes.
I NEVER wear lipstick and I rarely wear something so figure hugging so this was a massive departure from my normal look, but I was embracing the concept of red carpet chic and besides if nothing else it would act as a mask to disguise my nerves.
My sister dropped me at the Grange Hotel in St Paul’s to save me the shame of having to get the tube or worse still a bus in the drizzly Friday night traffic and just after 7pm I made the daunting red carpeted entrance into the event.
Two hundred or so seriously glamorous and confident looking folk enjoying champagne and canapés and networking effortlessly in the grand surroundings of the venue. I grabbed a flute and scanned the room for a familiar face. Impossible.
So I loitered for a while, smiling nervously with my red lips and fumbling with my drink, handbag and heath blogger lanyard. With a deep breath I decided to move from my spot and try and make some connections, it seemed however that everyone else had someone with them and I worried it would be a long lonely night.
But then I spotted someone I knew, Alan Stephens the MC for the night and someone I had connected with on Facebook and who I had met up with recently to talk shop, after realising we had a shared interest in running.
I approached his group, caught his eye, smiled and said hello. He politely nodded, smiled and returned my hello before continuing with his discussion…and then he realised who I was. With a laugh and a kiss on each cheek he exclaimed “Wow you scrub up well” which I took as an almighty compliment.
Alan is the founder of Media Coach and is an expert on building and protecting reputations, but you see the last time we met I was in running tights and a hoodie with half my daughters lunch down me, after meeting him in the free hour I had between two of my mums on the run sessions in Essex. In hindsight this was probably not the best first impression to give someone as influential as he.
But after having a lengthy chat with Alans lovely wife I was now relaxed and it didn’t take long before someone else spotted me and my night really began in earnest. The lovely Health e Helen a fellow nomination in my category introduced me to some other fab bloggers, and my fears about spending the night alone were soon forgotten.
There was such a buzz in the room as drinks flowed and smartly dressed waiters offered canapés, cute boxes of popcorn and candy floss no less. I was too scared to eat through fear of ruining my make up, and I had to make a conscious effort not to get my drink topped up as we took our seats for the main part of the night, the awards ceremony.
Now I always knew I couldn’t win – thats not me being defeatist but having looked at the other finalists I was blown away with the quality of their blogs…it was a very tough and diverse category to be in. But there was still a seed of possibility and the nerves increased as our category approached with an almighty fear of falling over in front of everyone if I did have to make my way to the stage.
But in the end the award went to Chris’s Cancer Community Blog, an amazing health blog that discusses the isolation that cancer sufferers encounter and lots of other related issues besides, so well done Chris.
As I sat in my chair with my “I am not upset I didn’t win that oscar” face I thought a little about whether my blog was reaching its full potential and why I wasn’t doing more to ensure it did, why hadn’t I got the visual identity of it sorted yet? Why had I insisted on doing it all on my own rather than getting in the help I clearly need? And I started to feel a bit crap about it all.
I have had some great PR over the last few months and I wondered if it had all been in vain with a website which lets itself down through poor design, average photography and a sometimes confusing layout.
There is a silver lining to all of this though, when the 11 finalists were announced the Fat Girls Guide to Running was the last to be read out, and as Alan made the announcement I could hear a collective swell of laughter, recognition and support from the crowd, a shared “ha thats a great title for a blog” sound or else “I bet thats funny” kinda noise. So I may not have been a winner in the traditional sense, but in terms of market research into the effectiveness of my blog name…I nailed it.
So as the last award was called out and cocktails were announced I felt a little weird, asking myself whether is was worth all the effort? Would I ever have a blog with the style, functionability and monetising ability of the winners across all of the categories…or would it forever be seen as a hobby blog, something to do in the evenings to give me a voice, and validation perhaps for my journey?
But it didn’t take long to forget about all of that stuff as the party picked up. Gin and Tonics were in full flow, the band had started up and I got to meet some real interesting guys including the presenter of the Automotive Category, Top Gears “The Stig” who I managed to get an embarrassing selfie with.
At about 11.30ish realising I was likely to pass out if I didn’t get some food soon I made my excuses and headed for the tube, but not before picking up my goodie bag which was the size and weight of a concrete breeze block.
I had a quick nose on the train, hoping there would be something edible in it…result, a shortbread biscuit but that my friends unfortunately was the highlight of an otherwise quite disappointing and dare I say it wasteful/environmentally damaging collection of crap, which included toothpaste, carpet samples (I kid you not), tea bags (well I guess the event was sponsored by Twinings) and a passport cover.
Despite this blip I would like to congratulate the guys behind the awards evening for a job well done, this was the first awards evening of its type in the UK and it truly did highlight the diversity and quality of blogs and bloggers that we have here, the event was everything it promised it would be.
Some pointers though for next year?
- Don’t bother with goodie bags unless there is something better to give away, I guess most of that stuff ended up in the bin, particularly the carpet samples.
- Canapés, networking and red lipstick do not mix, but by 10pm I was starving, and for an event that started at 6.30pm and went on until past midnight, its no wonder there were quite a lot of drunk people by the end.
- There was a misprint in the brochure where the information about my blog was, I was a bit pissed about this when I discovered it. Remember the bloggers are the people driving this event and we invested a lot of time, effort and the event ticket price to be involved, getting the right information out there about our blogs should have been a priority, so a little more attention to detail perhaps.
- What happened to the winning bloggers voice at the event? It would have been nice to have heard something from the bloggers, even if that had extended the night somewhat.
But hey guys, this is me nit picking. All in all it was a great first event and what do I know anyway?
Today after nursing a little bit of a hangover I am feeling optimistic about my blog, it may not be pretty or the most well oiled machine, but it is much loved (by me anyway) and is there to serve a niche that there is obviously a specific and growing need for.
I will finish up with a comment that really made me laugh last night. I can’t even remember who said it, but I was talking to a very charming and gorgeous young lady about the premise of my blog and she asked quite innocently “If you love running so much and it has become such a big part of your life, how come you are still….erm…” to which I helped her out a little and replied “still fat? your guess is as good as mine love” of course I know that is not true, but it saved her further embarrassment.
The thing is I don’t expect everyone to understand that the blog is actually not about me and how fat or not fat I am, I mean I am not about to rebrand in the unlikely event I get down to goal weight anytime soon. The Used to be Fat Girls Guide to Running doesn’t quite have the same ring to it does it?
Anyway, well done to all the winners of the awards last night and I look forward to see what happens with next years competition.