Friday, 26 September 2014

The Melbourne Blogger Meetup

One Saturday morning in July I received an email informing me I was no longer required in my Pharmacy job.* I was crushed. You see, I remember the minutiae of peoples' lives, I care about helping people, and this was one of those rare communities where it is not just about how quickly you can dispense a script (although there was that); people would come in for advice on their child's rash or baby formula. I love that stuff. I didn't care about the loss of the job. I was wounded by the loss of that community.

As I drove to (my other) work it occurred to me that there was a bunch of opportunities for connection around me and I just had to grab hold of one. I had joined a couple of Facebook blogger groups two months earlier and had seen a Sydney meetup occur but nothing in Melbourne. So I created an event and started telling people about it. I ran an online survey to see what people wanted because I had no idea what kind of lives other bloggers lead, and armed with the results I found a venue with the location/pricepoint/timing people wanted and made it happen.
A couple of people had left by this point but you get the idea. Photo by Millicent Nankivell

It was glorious.

Blogging is a bit of a weird niche thing in Australia. There are plenty of people doing it but often I feel a bit awkward mentioning it to people. It is not widely embraced by the PR or hospitality industries (unless you are one of the A-list), traditional journalists think we are hacks (well, I kinda am but most aren't) and people outside of it often wonder why we bother doing it.

I gave a little speech at the meetup about recognising this community of like-minded people who care enough to write about the things they experience, eat or wear; a group of people that stand behind their opinions and have a voice. Blogging about fashion, food, beauty etc. can sound a bit naff but most of the blogs I read touch on important issues and increase awareness about a range of topics, including, but not limited to: appearance diversity, health, nutrition, body image, environmental issues, mental health, feeling good about yourself and kindness. Important stuff.

I joked that this is the new CWA (although of course blokes are welcome too). At its core the CWA is about feminism, supporting those in need and education. We need these things in our lives and bloggers have found a way to slot them into this crazy, busy world we live in. Sadly, there are fewer scones and meetings over cups of tea- hence the need for a meetup.

This post is a bit of a mish mash of ideas.
I wanted to write about appropriate function venues in Melbourne for low-budget gatherings- feel free to email me for info if you are planning something but it made for a dull post.
I planned to take lots of pictures and blog about the excellent service and food provided by Tazio, but I left my camera in my bag. I was too busy trying to talk to everyone to worry about my phone/camera. I know! I can't believe it either.
I was going to mention the planning support and ticketing system provided by Paul from Lime and Tonic- it's probably better just to check out their website for some of the cool stuff they have coming up though.
So the best I came up with was just to write about the experience of putting this meetup together. In reality though it was just a lot of time emailing potential venues, visiting a few and writing inspirational posts on Facebook to get people to buy tickets. This was the one I posted when I got desperate:

Righto guys, we need to get cracking on this. One hundred and thirty five of you expressed interest in this meet up, one hundred and thirty five.
60+ of you took the time to fill out the survey.
Twelve of you have booked. Actually eleven of you because one of those bookings is mine. We need a minimum of 25 bookings in 10 days time for this to go ahead.
Now I understand that the time or day doesn't suit some and there is nothing that can be done about that but I refuse to believe that the time and day does not suit 123 of you... 
I expect that a few of you are waiting until somebody else you know books. I expect that a few of you are fairly introverted because this seems pretty common in the blogging community.
I understand, but please don't let that stop you from coming out for a lovely afternoon and meeting some new people.
Please know that when I created this event I did not know a single blogger in real life. Not one. I have since met one amazing creature because I sent a message saying "hey, we are about the same age and I'm pretty sure you live in my area, wanna grab a drink?"
I want to meet at least 30 extraordinary creatures. That is why I started this. I want to meet YOU.
This will be fun and a great experience. There is no need to be shy. We are all in the same boat and I promise that if you find yourself nigel-no-friends in a corner, all you have to do is stand on a chair to look for the 5'2" redhead and come and say hello.

OK, I ain't no Martin Luther King Jnr. but we did finally get the numbers to go ahead and you know what, I did meet almost 30 extraordinary creatures that day (29 to be exact).

For some more coherent and picturesque accounts of the day check out Millicent's and Vicki's blogs.

*This was expected as unfortunately the industry is oversupplied so there is often a new graduate prepared to work for less and be on call all the time. Comforting the way healthcare is going hey?


  1. Wow good for you for being so proactive and what a great turnout! I'll be honest, I don't tell most people I blog as I feel it's just something creative for me to do without any outside influences.

    1. I was like that for a long time too Emma. I'm keen to pursue more writing though and my education and experience so far is not even in the ballpark so I feel like I kind of need to own it publically.... Ack,

  2. Bit selfish holding it in Melbourne to be honest...
    But in all seriousness, well done you. That's an awesome thing you did and I'm so pleased people showed up and got stuck in.
    Next time in Devon, England yeah?!
    M x

    1. Well you know, I thought about Devon but I would need too much time off work and these guys all wanted it in the Melbourne CBD- selfish buggers.
      Devon 2016 perhaps? :)

  3. Had the best time thanks again Nicole x

  4. It is a weird feeling when you first tell someone you blog, you can never gauge the reaction can you? But most people seem to think it's quite interesting, and I agree with you, there are a lot of topics out there in the blogging community and I've met so many lovely people online through it, I hope to meet them in person someday too! - Tasha xxx


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