VidCon 2015 was wild. Having lived vicariously through others' VidCon recap videos for the past few years, I was eager to finally get to experience the magic myself. I had heard tales of lasting friendships, engaging panels, and entertaining expo halls. VidCon 2015 did not disappoint.
I went with my sister who is always fun to hang out with, and was glad to have a running buddy. We stayed at a hotel that was a 5 minute walk from the convention center. It wasn't bad (and it was more affordable) but I can definitely see the appeal of staying at the Marriott or the Hilton - they are literally right outside of the convention center.
One major difference this year was the creation of a "Creator Pass" which gave attendees access to a creator floor, above the community floor, with its own panels, lounges, and programming. That's where I spend most of my time, and therefore was able to avoid the herds of viewers and occasional screams of fangirls that remained on the first floor. The respite of the second floor made the experience less overwhelming; there was less density and it was easier to talk to other creators and have meaningful interactions.
Being a speaker on the "Less Than Famous" panel, I was given an industry speaker pass, and could go up to the third floor - the industry level. It was great to be able to watch Katie Couric interview Ze Frank, and sessions focusing on business and analytics were interesting, but I found the main value in the pass to be the industry welcome reception. That's where I met several of the invited creators whose work I really admired, and got to have full out conversations. It was just a normal, schmoozy party, with people making great content, and I loved it.
I also met up with a bunch of creators who I'd previously only been able to interact with online. There's something about meeting someone in person that strengthens the relationship; there's no substitute for live interaction. I met up with a lovely bunch of geeky, social issues vloggers - we've termed ourselves the Squad - made new friends, and even had some of my favorite creators recognize me from the comments.
Speaking on the panel was awesome. Out of 600+ people they chose 5 of us to speak about the experience of being a creator and having a channel on the smaller side (see my audition video for more info). The room was reasonably full, I got some great feedback from the audience, and made a few friends from people coming up and chatting with me afterwards. A huge thank you to everyone who came out to the panel and engaged in such a fruitful discussion.
So overall VidCon was great friends, great food, great programming, and an invaluable experience as far as immersing myself in the YouTube community. If you want to really connect with other YouTubers and/ or take your channel to the next level, VidCon is a must. There's no way for one blog post to encapsulate it. The video can give you more of a taste - and show you some of the cool people I met. Hope to see you there next year :)