A dream was all we had : Four food bloggers Nisha, Nupur, Preeti and me (Suchi), we had a dream. We wanted to organise a formal food bloggers' meet in London. After attending several such meets, we were neither happy nor satisfied. Our dream was to organise a cosy meet where the participants would feel welcome and comfortable, they would get the chance to mingle and talk to each other, have fun with people who share the same passion while learning a few new skills in the process. We named the one-day meet Bloggers' Buzz and it was held on 23rd February 2013 in London. A total of twenty four food bloggers participated in the meet. In-spite of some glitches and last moment cancellations, we are proud to say that the event was very well received. Though it was a ticketed affair, we kept the tickets as low as thirty pounds per participant including a fabulous venue in Central London; breakfast, lunch & evening refreshments; three masterclasses; and a goody bag stuffed to the gills for each participant to take back home, plus a gift hamper for the Blogger's Buzz competition winner.
Bumping along to battle: We started with this very simple idea. We bumbled along making happy plans, dreaming big over coffee and macrons. Soon plans were made, reviewed and frowned upon, grand ones were hastily watered down, sometimes severely so; lists as long as our arms were drawn; our few contacts fished out, fellow bloggers contacted. We were ready for battle!
Fair hall we seek thou: Since this was our very first event, we started organising it pretty early on. Our first priority was to find a venue fit for the occasion. We wanted to find something centrally located in London, easily accessible by public transport. But not just any space, we wanted something cosy, something which clearly said food blogging and not manure selling (no offence to the manure sellers). London being London, Nisha found scores of such locations. But London being London their rates were exorbitant. Finally Nisha struck gold and found this beautiful hall. We all fell in love with it. It was just perfect. High ceilings, loads of sunlight streaming in and the space oozing its own special charm and character. Standing in the empty hall we could hear the natter of the food bloggers and visualize them happily socialising over some good food and drinks! One step closer to realizing our dream. But hold on for a second, you woolgathering day dreamers. Such perfection could not be not cheap. Oh no, not even by a long chalk. I still remember the trepidation with which we four paid the advance amount to book the hall. What if no one came? What if we lost all our money? I clearly remember the anxious beatings of our scared hearts! To calm our taut nerves we kept repeating the exercise motto "no pain, no gain".
Could you spare some money please?: Next in the line was getting sponsors. Now who in their right minds would want to sponsor an event organised by a bunch of unknown bloggers? We kept asking ourselves this question. Then came a zen moment, a weird kind of of confidence stole on us. We felt what was the harm in asking? The worst scenario would be that they (the potential sponsors) would say no. Nisha, Nupur and Preeti got down to the task of knocking the sponsors. I remember Nisha's stunned expression when Hotel Chocolat came back to her agreeing to sponsor a gift hamper. Our first sponsor was in. It was just the beginning of a long road. Some companies said no, but most companies that we approached, to our utter delight, agreed to sponsor bits and parts of the event. Slowly our sponsor list started filling up--Total Yogurt, Whittard of Chelsea, Devnaa, Silverspoon, Nielson-Massey, Billingtons, BakingMad, The Dream Cakes and Popchips. . We were feeling quietly confident, having no clue that a stiff challenge was coming our way. No company was interested in sponsoring the Bloggers' Buzz venue. Finally, literally at the very last moment, Preeti convinced two businesses-- Avedna Ayurveda and ILoveSabji to partially sponsor the venue hiring cost. Even though partial, these sponsorships helped us tremendously. Though all three girls worked really hard at getting sponsors, Preeti emerged the star of the show. Not only the venue sponsors, she also got us Shree Krishna Vada Pav to sponsor lunch, Urban Tadka to sponsor evening refreshment and Promosourcery to sponsor the bags for our goody bags.
Who says girls are bad at maths?: Meanwhile Nupur took on the entire responsibility of the financial side of organising the event. From bank to paypal accounts, deductions, making budgets, keeping us on our toes regarding all things related to money, Nupur did it all. She also dealt with all money related queries and issues that the participants had. And there were times when being calm and patient was a real achievement on Nupur's part! Thank God for Nupur's organised approach, otherwise this would have been a rather tricky and challenging area for the rest of us.
Social media here we come: Suchi's husband Indranil had already designed the Bloggers' Buzz logo.It was time to promote the event. We simply had no budget for advertising, it had to be done by us. With whatever little experience we had of promoting our blogs we decided to invade social media. We decided to build our presence in blog, FaceBook and Twitter. Sitting in India, Suchi decided to take this up, leaving the other girls free to concentrate on other areas of organising the event. She started designing a series of posters announcing the event and its various special features. Initially it was slow going, specially during the winter festivities. But gradually the posters started attracting attention and there was a build-up of excitement among fellow bloggers. Once people started responding to her posters and content, Suchi started enjoying leading the campaign. Somewhere between the thirtieth and the thirty first poster she became the poster queen of Bloggers' Buzz.
Oh! how to entertain them?: The team had a lot of discussions to perfect the event schedule. From our previous interactions with fellow bloggers we knew that bloggers would love to learn about food photography. Jeanne of Cook Sister did a presentation on the basics of food photography. Also we are very much part of the '' macaron obsessed gang'', we knew we had to have a macron making masterclass in Bloggers' Buzz. Dora of Bo Bo Macarons took the class. Also often bloggers' complain that food blogging is an expensive hobby, we wanted to inform our participants about how they could earn some money through their blogs. Charlotte of GlamMedia did a presentation on this. Nisha (and partly Nupur) did the entire communication and coordination with the experts who took the masterclasses in Bloggers' Buzz. There was an immense amount of hard work involved in this, but Nisha carried it off with élan.
When the calm sea turns choppy: These were just the tip of the ice berg called Bloggers' Buzz. Apart from these there were hundreds of other jobs and chores. During the run-up to the event, some days were smooth sailing, while other days were extremely choppy with last minute cancellations, ugly surprises, unforeseen twists in our plans and unaccounted expenses. So how did we survive? We just held hands, kept faith in each other and Bloggers' Buzz.
How did we work?: We worked mostly through emails, with odd phone calls thrown in when our typing became garbled. The team met only a couple of times before the event. We just did not have the budget for face to face meetings. Of course our partners also helped us out in many ways. How? Find the details here, where we thank each and every soul who has helped us in this journey called Bloggers' Buzz.
Conclusion & Our Services: I realize that I have rambled on for long enough. Time to shut up and let my lovely readers read some other posts. But before I go I want to answer a question we are being asked often post Bloggers' Buzz. Would we organise Bloggers' Buzz again? All four of us unanimously said, yes in a jiffy. Why restrict ourselves only to Bloggers' Buzz? As a team we are ready to provide our services to plan, design and lead social media campaigns, organise/conduct events & masterclasses related to food and related industries and blogging. We also provide photography and content writing services. For details please shoot us an email at bloggerbuzzuk[at]gmail[dot]com or get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter or fill in the form given in this blog.