There didn’t seem to be anything dodgy about going along to a hotel room for a Valley bloggers meet up when I first signed up for yesterday’s event in Pontypridd. I’d already been to a similar event for Cardiff bloggers at Pica Pica and that had been great fun, as well as also being a good opportunity to network with other bloggers and talk about what they were doing and how well it was or wasn’t working for them. In fact, my main thought before tootling along the road to Pontypridd had been, “I wonder if there are any other Valley bloggers and, if so, what will they be like, and what do they blog about?”

And then I walked into the above room.

Never shy in saying what he thinks, Squizzey tweeted that he was “out in the wild. In a purple function room in Ponty. Expecting lap dancers any minute.” I can’t say I blame him. Although the room hired was in The Blueberry Hotel, I still hadn’t quite been expecting to find myself in “a purple boudoir.” Even fellow Valley blogger, Corpulent Capers, described it as ”a sort of French Rennaisance Bouduoir” (@gomezadams).

We were, apparently, in the right place, as people nodded when we muttered and sniffed, looked shiftily from side to side, before saying under our breath, “you here for the Valley bloggers meet up?”

Friendly faces, resembling their Twitter avatars, reassured me that we hadn’t been lured to Pontypridd for nefarious purposes, and it was fantastic to finally meet @KatieWEPR from Warwick Emanuel PR, one of the evening’s sponsors, along with Media Wales journalists @ed_walker86 and @joniayn.

Ed, who edits the YourCardiff and WalesOnline blogs, mentioned the inaugural Wales’ Blog Awards, which launched a week ago. There are a number of categories, including one for the overall Best blog, Best Lifestyle Blog, Best Writing on a Blog and Best Community Blog. Not only can you nominate other blog(s) that you read and admire, but you can even enter your own. The criteria is that you need to be either Welsh, living in Wales or blogging about Wales. Nominations are open until September 2010. Check out the Awards site for details of all categories and how to enter.

Joni gave us a presentation, From Basics to Brilliant, in which she gave us a useful overview about what we needed to consider when starting up a blog all the way through to growing it into one that is successful, well-visited but still unique to us. The ensuing Q&A session was really interesting and I got a lot out of the discussion, which covered topics such as how to find your blog’s remit and target readership, moderating blog comments, and ways in which to promote your blog. Ed, Joni, and other bloggers present, notably @jamescuff@unclewilco and @stuherbert, were generous with their advice.

While turnout was relatively low, but boosted by Cardiff bloggers making the intrepid journey up the A470, I hope there are future events for Valley bloggers, where we can get together, share our experiences and ideas and also just get to know each other a little.

The picture used is taken from their website and is © The Blueberry Hotel, Pontypridd.