What is Vidcon like? Attending As a Speaker

by kaya@comfygirlwithcurls.com

After speaking at Vidcon US 2022 in Anaheim, a lot of people asked me what was Vidcon like. While other people had no idea what he conference was for and had never heard of it. So in today’s post I’ll share a bit of an “insider’s take” on what my Vidcon experience was like with the fancy yellow speaker badge.

I had the honour of attending and speaking first at Vidcon Abu Dhabi in December 2021 before giving an updated version of our talk at Vidcon US 2022 six months later.

This was completely thanks to Google For Creators who invited me to cospeak with them at both conventions alongside Crystal from their team about the Power of Strategic Content Bundling

*Some of the links included in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on them and make a purchase, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.*

My 2022 Vidcon Experience

I didn’t have any prior Vidcon US experiences, but I had an amazing time. This post is a highlight of my main takeaways from the experience! 

I share all my thoughts in the below video, but if you prefer to read, you’ll find the written version beneath it!

What is Vidcon?

Vidcon is an annual conference that celebrates online video creation.

It was co-founded by John and Hank Green, the vlog brothers, and historically focused on Youtubers.

Then in 2022, with the global blow up of short form media, their focus expanded to other platforms with a heavy focus on TikTok content and its creators.

In fact, in 2022, Vidcon was actually presented by TikTok. So rather than as in the early days, with fans used to flock to Vidcon for YouTube megastars like Jenna Marbles, they now came to see headliners like Charlie D’Amelio.  

And from my experience, I actually do believe Vidcon is still going strong.

I don’t know the official attendance count, but I was impressed with the US 2022 turnout. Especially considering we are living in a very expensive, post-COVID world.

Vidcon is made-up of three different tracks.

To understand Vidcon more deeply, you need to understand that it is made up of three distinctive tracks, each with its own space, sponsors and vendors, and speaker lineup.

Community track is targeted towards fans of online creation. They’re there to do meet and greets, and to watch the panels and live performances from the featured creators.

Creator track is perfect for both aspiring and existing creators that are looking to learn more about the craft, the industry, and network with their peers.

Industry track feels a little bit more corporate. It’s for people are really looking to do a deep dive into where the industry is moving, who want to see what trends to leverage, and have those deeper conversations about the creator economy and media as a whole. 

My Vidcon Takeaways  

Now onto my thoughts on the conference! I want to emphasize that this was my experience as a speaker and so will greatly differ from that of a normal attendee.

I also think my takeaways are a bit on the philosophical side… but let’s get into it.

1. So Many Things are Happening 

There are multiple Vidcon events and activations happening at the same time meaning that…

Multiple people can attend the exact same conference and have completely different experiences of it. In fact, I’ve been seeing a lot of people’s Vidcon recaps on TikTok and YouTube, and half of the content they post is like, “I never saw that”. 

I credit these different Vidcon experiences to more than just the three different tracks. Because yes, there were separate holes or areas that catered to community, creator, and industry tracks respectively. But even within those same ticket holders, there were people there with different intentions. 

I met people that were at Vidcon to network.and people that were there to party.

People who were there to learn from the talksand then those who did not attend a single panel.

When I look at my own experience, I only stepped foot in the exhibition hall for like 20 seconds (pictured above with the Squishmallow). That’s also where the meet and greets were happening, so I didn’t see any of those–and I also didn’t see any performances. 

Honestly, I knew people that had only stepped foot in the proper conference once to pick up their ID badges. They then spent the remainder of their time at the offsite location that had exclusive activities like lounges and gifting opportunities.

And that brings me to…

2. The Power of the Yellow Badge 

The Vidcon experience that you see a lot of creators living, you can’t buy that.

They were given yellow badges, which give you full access to the entire conference, the after parties, the lounges, the whole experience.

These are for future creators, invited guests, and speakers.  

As a speaker, our yellow badge got us into lounges that were full of free food, free alcohol, and swag.

Meta was running three lounges, so did YouTube, TikTok, Amazon Prime, and there were many, many more. In these lounges a lot of great networking and connecting happened with other creators.  

3. Connections Can Still Happen “On The Floor”

Don’t get me wrong, while I made tons of great connections in the lounges…

Great connections can still happen on the floor by walking around the actual conference. While walking around the creator hall, I even bumped into people that I had known for a couple of years virtually.

It was also really cool to see that Discord, Tubebuddy, VidIQ, #paid all had booths where you could actually talk one on one with the people behind these software platforms.

Not only is this a great way to network, it’s also a great way to learn more. If things hadn’t been so busy and we weren’t prepping for our talk, I would have actually liked to spend more time in the creator area.

The space felt really practical and it wasn’t trying to lure me in with all the flashy stuff.  

4. People are Nicer Than I Thought 

People were kinder than I thought they would be. There was a lot less ego than what I’ve experienced in other influencer/creator spaces.  

As a micro influencer, I’m really used to doing an introduction, exchanging handles, and then somebody sees that I have just over 17,000 followers, and dismissing me.

That wasn’t the case at Vidcon… and I think it’s because…

5. Everyone Had Imposter Syndrome 

Okay, maybe not everyone, but in going to Vidcon I realized that more people have imposter syndrome than you think.

In talking to other creators, whether I was in the conference itself or in some of the exclusive lounges, people were really quick to downplay their own success and numbers. People were really out here like, “oh, I’m just a small TikTokker with 300,000 followers”.

People invited to be there by YouTube or other massive brands still felt small and like they weren’t really supposed to be there. And in talking to these people and seeing their content, I just wanted to shake them.

But at the same time I related completely. Because I was there with a yellow badge, speaking with Google, and honestly not quite being able to wrap my head around the fact that I was there myself. 

6. I’m on the right path  

I feel like I really needed that confirmation, and Vidcon gave it to me.

I may not be a big creator, but I do have a strong connection to my community and I’m making enough to have taken it full time.

Vidcon really showed that there are creators out there who grew really quickly, especially on platforms like Tik Tok where their following did not necessarily convert to community or even fans… And for a lot, it didn’t even convert to money.

Related Post: How to Build an Engaged Community

It reminded me that slow and steady, which I’ve been doing for the past six years, is a perfectly acceptable way to have a career as a creator, and that chasing virality is not as great as it seems

7. All Creators Are Different  

This takeaway is a confirmation of something I’ve always sort of known, but thatwas really illustrated in attending Vidcon.

It’s that there are simply different types of creators out there and that’s OK.  

It always bugs me when people look down on creators that don’t do things their way. Maybe that’s educational content creators looking down on influencers, and maybe that influencers looking down on prank creators.

But we shouldn’t try to make everyone fit into one box–if we all did things the same way, the internet would be a very static, uninteresting place.

Some creators see what they do as a business. They love the strategy, the entrepreneurial side of it.

Other creators see themselves as more of a talent. These are people that don’t even want to have to think about the business side and are likely to seek out a talent manager.

Some people are focused fame, the attention, or the money, others just want to help somebody.

All types are needed to make this creator economy go around.

8. People Want to Work

I think there’s this assumption that ‘influencers’ and ‘content creators’ don’t want to do any hard work.

A lot of people assume that everybody attending Vidcon just wants to be famous, but that’s not the case.

And I feel like I saw that in our talk. Our presentation was heavily targeted towards people who see content creation as a business, who weren’t afraid to do the work of starting a blog, of intentionally diversifying their presence.

And we were told that we had about 100 people in attendance and they were all engaged, taking pictures of our slides and really into the question and answer period, all of which was just so comforting and rewarding as a speaker. 

9. Swag Everywhere 

The swag was a little out of control, but I also loved it. 😅

I have a lot of thoughts on swag and merch, and Tiffany Ferg does a great video on the topic, but I’ll admit I was sucked in by it and I really liked everything I got.

First of all, I think I consumed the most water I have had in weeks thanks to the YouTube shorts water bottle I received. And overall, I actually thought a lot of the merch was pretty thoughtful.

Final Thoughts when people ask “What is Vidcon?”

It’s a fantastic creator community centred event that is relevant to multiple streams and people. Whether you are a full-time creator, someone looking to become a creator, a fan, in the industry, or just randomly attending, there is something at Vidcon for you!

I would definitely recommend going to the next Vidcon and experiencing it for yourself, it was definitely worthwhile for me and I hope you will love you experience just as much as I loved mine!

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