I remember hearing about #BlogConLDN (AKA the UK Blogger’s Convention) last year, and being absolutely gutted that it fell on a day when I knew I would be working. It sounded like such a great event, and when I saw all the photos on Instagram afterwards I was even more disappointed to have missed out – it looked like so much fun.
So imagine my delight when I discovered that Scarlett London, blogger and convention organiser, had organised the event for March this year meaning that I could most likely attend and not have to work. My first hurdle, of course, was working out transport for the event. A quick look at flights from Aberdeen to London showed me that the cheapest option – which naturally was at all the wrong times – was going to be over £200 return. There are a lot of perks to living in this area, affordable travel is definitely not one of them! After trying out a lot of different variations of transport, I finally managed to get my whole journey down to around £70, including a night and day in Edinburgh.
So after an eventful journey of busses, I spent the morning at the Sea Life Aquarium before wandering along to the convention, full of anticipation. My anticipation seemed well founded when I arrived and was met by Scarlett herself (who is a sweetheart!) and I wasn’t very far in the door when a stall holder accosted me enthusiastically to give me a can of their all-natural Coke to try (he was a bit bamboozled when he asked what soft drink I usually go for and I said Irn Bru!).
I’m disappointed to report that beyond this point my enthusiasm kind of diminished and I left the event feeling…thoroughly underwhelmed. One of the reasons that it has taken me so long to write this is because I wanted to take time to make sure that I wasn’t just rushing to conclusions because I was tired, but a few weeks on and I can confirm that I am still feeling a bit disappointed by the whole thing.
I realise that this is probably not what anybody wants to read, but I’m going to explain why I felt like this and why this is a very personal opinion of the event and possibly not reflective of the overall opinion of those attending…
The venue was, in reality, too small for this event. This year’s event took part in SAMA Bankside and while it was central (not too far from the London Eye) it was uncomfortably cramped for the number of people who were there – and it wasn’t even a sell out. I know that I have always had issues with busy spaces and definitely don’t like to be somewhere that leaves me feeling trapped but that’s exactly what this venue did. If I wanted to go anywhere I had to excuse myself to get past – every time. It was impossible to just walk from one place to another without having to physically ask people to let you past and that’s no fun for anybody, right? Also when a workshop was happening the room delegated for that was filled over capacity with people standing, perching and sitting in pretty much every available space. From what I can tell the 2019 venue was smaller that the venues used in previous years, but was also more central.
Over 200 influencers attended BlogConLDN 2019 and there were, I believe, less than a dozen stalls. I’m not sure if this is a reflection of the current economic climate or just how things transpired on the day, but the number of brands their was definitely a let down. There are actually more brands represented in the goodie bag than were there on the day, which is disappointing because there are definitely a few items in there that I would have loved to have had the opportunity to learn about first hand.
It wasn’t just the lack of stalls that was disappointing, it was also the lack of…variety? I’m not entirely convinced that is the right word but it’s what we’re rolling with! As I explored the stalls I felt that they were pretty much all aimed at a particular ‘type’ of blogger, and definitely not who I am. Again, this could be a very personal issue and would definitely vary from person to person. I guess that a part of my problem is that I struggle to identify within a specific blogging ‘niche’ but I didn’t really feel animosity with any of the stalls attending. As it transpired (or was it my paranoia?) most of the stallholders didn’t feel like associating with me either – you know one way to ensure that somebody never wants to engage with your brand? Actively ignore them when they try to show interest in your product. While I wouldn’t say I was upset by this behaviour from those manning two of the stalls (should I name and shame?!), it certainly did not go unnoticed and certainly left it’s mark in my memories of the day!
The reality is that given the space available there really couldn’t have been many more stalls anyway – not without making things even more cramped!
This could definitely be user error, but when I went to look for the first workshop I fancied I couldn’t find it – in fact I’m pretty sure the person who was meant to be leading the workshop I was looking for was attending a different workshop. The schedule for the day showed that there would be two half hour round table workshops running simultaneously as well as an hour long workshop – well I have no idea where the the second table was! Like I say, this was probably me having a ridiculous moment.
As it happened, I accidentally ended up in the workshops which I attended – I found a quiet space away from the hustle and bustle to just breathe and to see if plugging my phone – which was misbehaving terribly – into the wall would make it work any better (fun fact, it did not!). Five minutes later people start pouring in and sitting down and next I know the room is full and there is no escape. Not that I really minded, I was there to learn some fantastic blogging tips after all. The problem is, in the two hours I sat there listening to people talk about life as bloggers and sharing their top tips…I didn’t hear anything that I didn’t already know. I don’t know if it’s because of what I studied or if it’s because I proactively surround myself (online) with people who know things but there was zero new information – and looking around the room, I think that most people felt the same way. The reason that I ended up staying for both workshops was mainly because it was impossible for me to get out of my seat due to the quantity of people there, so it was easier to just stay seated and hope that the next workshop offered something more enlightening (which it did not).
Whilst blogging is pretty competitive (insider secret) bloggers (and other influencers) are generally some of the most supportive human beings to exist on the internet. This was definitely one of those occasions however where, while everybody seemed to be nice enough, a lot of people came in groups and I sauntered along on my own and my little jigsaw piece just didn’t really belong in anybody else’s puzzle. It’s no secret that I usually do things by myself, but I’m curious to hear people’s opinions on attending events like this solo vs with blogger friends – let me know in the comments below!
In conclusion, I think the event would be good for locals but if it continues in its 2019 format isn’t really worth making the journey for if you’re from further afield. I don’t think this is necessarily a reflection on Scarlet or her events – I would still be tempted to attend some of the other influencer events which she organises. I genuinely do believe that – for whatever reason – the underwhelming nature of BlogConLDN might have been a one off…either that or my expectations (even though I didn’t really know what to expect) were too high!
When you look at Scarlett’s website on the 2018 event there were around twice as many stalls (with a much better variety of brands) and more than twice as many people.