The Saturday just gone, I found myself pulling up into the car park of a conference centre somewhere just off the A13 in Essex.
I was arriving at BlogCon London – my first ever bloggers conference. I was wondering what I had let myself in for as I watched lots of glam looking bloggers make their way towards the entrance.
I had booked the ticket way back in January when, fresh with New Year’s enthusiasm, I had decided I was going to attend some blogger’s events this year and stumbled upon this one. It was inexpensive and not too far from me so enthusiastic me was like “Sign me up!”. I didn’t give it much more thought until the week before when the programme and reminder emails came through. This was when I realised that it wasn’t exactly in London (Romford) and it appeared to be quite heavily focused on the Lifestyle / Beauty / Fashion / Travel blogger audience.
Though I like to think my designs are not a million miles away from fashionable and I definitely like to promote a thoughtful living ethos, that was as close as I thought I got to any of these bloggers. What would I have in common with all those bloggers who unbox face creams on instagram stories or create make up you tube tutorials or travel to far flung places in beautiful boho dresses?
But I decided to go along anyway because I knew it would be an interesting experience if nothing else!
It was only the second year of this conference run by Scarlet London and it was the only blogging conference I could find in London(ish) other than Blogtacular which I think says quite a lot about just how young this industry is as a professional platform.
The venue was beautiful with all mod cons and as I walked into the conference hall I was hit with a glass of fizz and market place of various brands, ranging from spa products to contact lenses to mobile memory solutions to natural feminine hygiene products and travel companies to a shoe brand. I couldn’t even count how many selfie boards there were! There were some side rooms with various workshops and an auditorium with a schedule of blogger panel discussions. I still felt underdressed but decided I was just going to style this one out!
I confess I have a bit of an aversion to Instagram accounts which I perceive to be filled with gratuitous selfies. I mean it’s fine if you’re modelling something or saying something of substance but selfies of women looking seductive in their perfectly contoured make-up with captions talking about how awful they look make me angry and constitute an immediate unfollow. Harsh maybe, but I don’t go on Instagram to look at things that make me cross, I like happy positive inspiring stuff… and sarcastic memes!
It’s probably just my age.
With that in mind however, I set the intention to be as open minded as possible. Selfie addicts are people too. So I got stuck in, chatted to some of the vendors then went to a workshop about pitching to brands – not something I’ve done much of. The workshop was run by a travel company called Click Stay along with a travel blogger (who was lovely but I can’t remember her name). There were some really useful generic tips about what brands like to hear and what bloggers should expect but the most useful part of the workshop, and probably the whole day, was the reminder to think outside the box when working with brands – to do something different in this saturated world.
I would not be a natural partner with a travel company on first glance. But then I got to thinking about how much I enjoyed the crochet retreats I have been on and ping… there was an opportunity… the travel company to provide the accommodation and open themselves up to a whole new audience in the craft community. I’m not saying I’m about to start running crochet holidays (never say never!), but the point is that looking at what I do from a different point of view suddenly opened my eyes to a bunch of different possibilities!
After the workshop I went to a couple of interesting panel discussions, one about USPs (unique selling points) and how to find and use yours, and another about monetisation – yes, that dirty word – but bloggers have bills to pay too and free face cream will not put food on the table!
As expected all the panel were all lifestyle, beauty and fashion bloggers but having had my eyes opened a little already, I realised that that is the part of the industry which is most professionalised, and there is SO MUCH to be learned from that. Brands are getting better at working with bloggers, and actually paying them for their work (and it is work, a lot of work) and these professional bloggers are setting the bar for others to follow. My snobbishness was definitely taken down a peg or two!
I guess that the moral of the story is the ancient adage about not judging a book by its cover, but reading it and working out what it can teach, you because there is always something to be learned from every situation!
I would love to do a proper blogger photo collage here but to be honest I didn’t take a lot of pictures at the actual conference, I did take some of the pretty fountain and the cute baby geese outside though… make of that what you will!