This post is rather overdue, but I wanted to dedicate enough time to sit down and reflect on the experience of planning and hosting the #BloggersBall, all the way back on Saturday 18th June.
As many of you may already know, alongside running my blog (now full time), I also plan and host blogger and brand networking events. Currently they are just in Central London, but I’m hoping to expand these across the UK as I’ve spoken to so many bloggers from further South or up North who have reiterated the lack of events in their areas. Initially, they began because I wanted to meet other like-minded writers, photographers and fashion lovers near to where I lived and the very first event was a pizza party with 9 other blogging girls.
However they soon grew larger and eventually, a little pizza parlour could no longer accommodate us. Eventually I brought brands on board to provide entertainment and to add an informative element to the events. I thought it would be more useful to have both the option of networking with fellow bloggers and brands, where you could establish relationships for future collaborations.
Today, the events are on a much bigger scale than I ever could have imagined and the #BloggersBall welcomed an enormous 230 + bloggers and social influencers through the doors of the glitzy DSTRKT venue on Rupert Street. Within walking distance of Piccadilly Circus, it was the perfect location for an afternoon of blogging festivities, pretty dresses, cocktails, canapés and cupcakes. And that’s only the start.
Before I begin outlining what the day itself entailed, I want to thank a couple of people first. Because although I organise the whole thing myself (which I was slightly cursing when I was doing it alongside my final year journalism dissertation), there are some wonderful people who give up their time to come along on the day and manage the guest list, prep the stalls and help move over 600 product samples down two flights of stairs. And I couldn’t have done it without them.
Celeste Pergolizzi was an absolute star throughout the planning process, sorting out logistics for the day, organising our gorgeous cupcakes from Konditor & Cook – and even creating a bespoke snapchat filter for all the lovely guests to use! Charlotte Haynes, as ever, was such a lovely and dedicated friend, coming along to help out with the guest list and overall smooth running of the day. David Mitchell, my wonderful boyfriend, lugged over 100 boxes down two flights of stairs and over to each brands individual stalls, without complaint. Marcus Summers, yet again, kindly photographed the event in his magical way, slinking through the venue and capturing all the special moments. And of course my family, who came along to support me on the day itself. I am very grateful for the support and kindness other people give – making these kind of events possible.
So, onto the day itself. I’ll take you through as though you were a guest yourself – so you know what to expect should you like to come along to our next event!
Upon arrival, each blogger was given a copy of my event directory, which we trialled at the #BloggersFestival last September and worked really well to provide a venue map (outlining where each brand was located) in addition to serving as a little black book of contacts after the day had finished. I always seem to lose business cards or come away from an event having had a great time but with no actual contacts, so this booklet takes the pressure off that slightly. All of the brands are listed with their PR’s details, so if you wanted to work with them after the event – you could do so. These were designed by me and printed by Stress Free Print, who really do take the stress off creating a glossy booklet – especially if you’re not au fait with all the binding, colour and page size mumbo jumbo.
From there, you could work your way around the brands individual stalls as you desired. I try to ensure there’s as friendly an atmosphere as possible, as I know how daunting it is for bloggers who might not know anyone yet. There’s no formal speeches or anything you have to stop your conversations for. And of course, there’s no pressure to mingle with any particular brands – as you’re free to spend the afternoon as you please. Most of those who arrive alone already have a bunch of new blogger friends once they reach the other side, because the games, giveaways and photo opportunities lend themselves to being ice breakers!
At the very beginning of of our sweeping venue, we had Luscombe Drinks who were providing little samples of their delicious flavoured refreshments, before then moving on to SmoothSkin Gold (the IPL hair removal device – which I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing myself and will be talking about more soon) and On The Beach holidays (who were offering a rather fabulous sun-soaked getaway as a prize to their competition).
From here, you could either choose to take the staircase to the next level of brands or head over to the terrace, which again – had some more exhibitors keen to showcase their products to our guests. Admittedly, the terrace was a little squashed (especially as it got busier) and I slightly regret that it wasn’t the best space to move without getting a bit flustered, but I suppose no venue is perfect unless it’s a completely blank canvas and it’s definitely something I’ll improve upon in the future.
Those who took the terrace route came across On The Dot – a delivery service who were offering to deliver bloggers goody bags home for them (avoiding the dreaded arm ache after events), El Voyage – a beautiful brand who handcraft scarves for men and women, Vatika – who have the most incredible hair products and TOAD Diaries, who you may remember from my previous events – offering bloggers personalised diaries and notebooks.
If you moved down onto the lower level, yet more fantastic brands awaited – in the form of Bon Prix, ChrisElli, The Handbag Spa, Just Beauty and Face Matters skincare. Bloggers could pop over to Just Beauty for a quick manicure or feature nail, photograph the amazing Mulberry handbag cake at The Handbag Spa (which could have easily passed for a real handbag) or take a picture with their favourite piece from the Bon Prix collection for a chance to win it to take home.
It was on this level that our headline sponsors WD (Western Digital – the hard drive specialists) had their fab photo booth area, where you could also discuss the technical needs your blog demanded. I know personally that being a blogger involves having a constantly full memory both on my phone and my laptop, so backing up is essential in order to not lose the memories you’ve made – and also free up space for yet more blog opportunities in the future. They very helpfully had a technical assistant on duty to help with any questions or queries – and this seemed to work really well.
Those who headed over to the WD lounge in our ‘ballroom’ area could also treat themselves to a bag of pick n mix, relax with a glass of wine or try their hand at winning their very own WD external hard drive.
We also had a rather special treat for bloggers, in keeping with our glitzy ball theme, as the wonderful Scissor Pic came along with their Magic Mirror – essentially the most amazing photobooth – which isn’t actually a booth at all but a mirror to perfect your poses. They also arrived with them an absolute tonne of props to complete the snaps, so this was quite the centrepiece of the day!
On our bottom level, we had an assortment of brands showcasing their wares, including Chin Up Mask, Monin (who were offering expresso cocktail shots and delicious syrups), Seed & Bean Chocolate, Tessuti and Bravura London.
If you moved through to our glitzy lounge area, with twinkling lights adorning the ceiling and a colourful dance floor you’d come across yet more incredible brands – Selfie Tan, Boho Betty, Jewellerybox.co.uk, Eversfield Organic, Tessuti, Blogosphere Magazine, So..? Fragrances and Jody Bell.
Those brave enough to have a go on the dance floor could also participate in a number of games from our sponsor Lipivir – the cold sore experts who have developed an amazing product for those prone to suffering from them! Bloggers could get involved in a blind drawing contest (which looked hilarious) along with an assortment of other games. It was great to see everyone having fun and getting into the spirit of things.
Overall, it was such an amazing day and I’m so grateful for all of those who came along to spend the afternoon with us. I do try and chat to everyone as much as possible however as this was such a large event, it can be tricky at times. All the months of sleepless nights, stress and numerous meetings are all made totally worthwhile when I see everything come together on the day and after a week or so, I’m already eager to plan the next one.
So much so, that I am already eagerly planning the next one…
Please do join us for the #BloggersFestival on Saturday 3rd September. It’s our annual event and we have the same fabulous venue as last year. It’s set to be a celebration of all things blog related – with a mix of brand genres to provide some fun activities! For more information on all of my events, please visit the SL Events page.
If you did attend and have any feedback for me (positive or negative) please do feel free to leave it in the comment facility below. It’s always helpful to receive feedback, so that the next ones can be even better and I do want to always make sure they’re tailored towards bloggers having the very best time possible!