I went to VidCon in Amsterdam. It’s like a mini festival, but for YouTubers. It’s been going since 2010, and April was the first European attempt. I went along on an industry pass thanks to my friend Cailin who did FOUR talks on Snapchat (go follow her @CailinONeil).

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This, (*dramatic dun, dun, dun) is what I thought…

My first time at VidCon

Me at VidCon

Great talks guys, great talks. I mean, I sat in and listened to how the head of BBC WorldWide overhauled the company’s social media efforts, with huge success. He developed YouTube shows from TV shows, keeping the BBC relevant to a whole new audience. I listened to the Head of Innovation at VICE talk about what’s next for them and how they manage to stand out, still. I love this kind of stuff.

I also heard from too many YouTubers to mention in 500 words about how they’re constantly creating, the challenges, pitfalls, highs, lows and how they make YouTube life work for them. Talks on working solo, working with others, the tech side, mental health and women in the industry, among others, kept me captivated.

My Industry Pass

– I was using a Samsung Galaxy S7 while I was there: rubbish selfie cam. That’s John Green btw.

The Industry Pass got me access all areas. I was hanging out for the weekend with super famous YouTubers, 95% of which I’d never heard of. Tyler Oakley anyone? Mamrie Hart? Hannah Hart?

Yeah nor me.

These guys are absolutely top of their game though. Millions of subscribers… and millions in the bank.

On the first night I joined the creator banquet at the Rijiksmuseum, right in front of Rembrandt’s artwork (check out that library!). Followed by a sausage, cheese and beer party at the Heineken Experience. The next night I was invited to the super plush Calvin Klein party, with gifts for all. And the next I joined all the creators at a party by one of Amsterdam’s famous canals. Just casually hanging out with John and Hank Green – VidCon’s inventors – and, most importantly, John is the writer of Fault in Our Stars. One of the saddest books of all time, surely.

I got breakfast, lunch, a few drinks here and there at events and the opportunity to travel by canal boat from the hotel to the venue (see pic above).

The line up

VidCon creators

So, YouTubers. I kind of find them fascinating. I had access to the Green Room – perfect for the people watching. I sat with my free pick n mix and unlimited coffee among what are considered today’s celebrities. Honestly, some of them had three-hour long queues for their viewers to meet and greet them in the main hall. And some of the people who did would absolutely lose it when they finally met them. Crying. Screaming. Hugging. Shaking. Handing over trinkets and crafts they’d made especially for them. I saw it all.

Once again, I was grateful for the year I was born. If I was a teenager right now, I’d totally be queueing up with them. Thankfully my hero worship ended at Robbie Williams (LOL).

I read a stat today that said people feel 7x higher emotional attachment with their chosen YouTuber, than a normal celeb. Their viewers lurrve them. As part of the aforementioned Industry Pass I could get chauffeured to the hotel from the venue – for fear of the fans mobbing me as I walked – I had no bother from anyone or anything but those bloody Amsterdam bikes.

Would I go again?

VidCon experience

When I left Amsterdam yesterday I was all like, hell yeah, loved it. But now I’ve thought about it again and unless I was on an Industry Pass, rather than the Creator Pass, I’m not sure I would. The Industry track was the most interesting, authoritative and reliable.

Meeting the 5% of YouTubers I’d heard of left me feeling disappointed – not how I thought they’d be. VidCon was definitely a very young crowd, and as always, whenever I leave a conference, I was left thinking if I’d just spent the weekend working on my own stuff I’d be further to my goals and creative satisfaction. Most of the speakers started 10 years ago and kept at it – of course they’re going to have more subscribers than everyone else and I didn’t feel like they neccessarily had any insight into how to recreate their success.

It was interesting to hear their stories though, and maybe a push to try and make more videos, as, as one of the featured creators said to me:

“I can’t believe people still make a living from blogging, it just feels so… archaic”

Lovely YouTubers I met…

Didda – Icelandic vlogger who does animation

Beckie Jane Brown – one of the first vloggers I’d ever heard of, years ago

Bria and Chrissy – lesbian couple trying to get an end to revenge porn in the UK

Andy Burgess – Snapchatter

Hank and John Green – Creators and authors

Maddie Moate – CBeebies presenter and science vlogger

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