This past weekend, I did something big. I swallowed my nerves and headed out solo to go to Borderless Live. Borderless Live is a festival style conference event for content creators. As you would imagine with a name like Borderless, it was mostly focussed on travel content creation and linking travel influencers with travel brands. The conference took place at the Tobacco Docks in East London the first weekend of September.
Attending your first influencer/ content creator event
I am by no means an ‘influencer’. I have been writing this blog for just over a year now. People read it, but not that many in the grand scheme of blogging. I only hit 1000 followers on Instagram a month before I went. So what an earth was I doing going to an event like this?
I figured, you have to start somewhere.
A few of the travel YouTubers I follow have posted about events hosted by Traverse Events recently. They looked like a lot of fun, with content creators hanging out with their peers, sharing inspiration and experiences. So when I saw people start posting about a festival type event which was going to be hosted in London, it was just the push I needed to decide to start taking my blogging hobby a bit more seriously. I thought to myself, if you don’t do it now, when there is an event in your city on a weekend you are free, then when will you?
Was it intimidating? Yes massively. I arrived alone, not knowing anyone who would be there on that first day on Friday. I felt massively out of my comfort zone. I am fairly outgoing and pretty comfortable chatting to people, but I have never been that good at just starting a conversation with a total stranger. I tend to wait for them to talk to me.
That wasn’t really a good strategy for an entire weekend to be spent alone. Usually these days when I am travelling it is either with my boyfriend Craig, or with friends. However, Craig had a football tournament to play in this weekend, and none of my friends are travel content creators. So I really was in a position I am not at all used to.
Fortunately in the first session I attended, there was a group discussion session, so I met some people early on. People were all very friendly and interesting to chat to, and I quickly realised this environment actually was kind of like when you go travelling and meet people. Which I guess was the general idea!
That being said, I still felt a little uncomfortable wandering around by myself when there were so many groups of people. Quite a few of the people did already know each other from previous events, and it can be quite hard to have the confidence to try and join in with that. But luckily, loads of people were in the exact same position and everyone seemed keen to meet as many new people as possible. Plus with all of the amazing sessions on offer, it wasn’t like there was a huge amount of spare time in my days!
Sessions at Borderless
I attended some incredible sessions and saw some really inspirational talks. I learnt a lot about the more technical aspect of blogging. Literally had no idea what SEO even stood for when I arrived at Borderless Live, let alone how to try and utilise it.
I went to hear about writing and purpose of a blog and how to find that purpose and use it to shape the content you create. I attended a bunch of talks on travel video creation, something I have always been interested in but not really known what to do or where to start.
There were so many sessions I would have loved to go to but sadly I can’t be in more than one place at once. Besides the company, it would have been nice to attend with someone else to cover more sessions and swap notes – maybe next year! There were four different stages, which even included a room filled with deck chairs, which was a very cool touch.
I discovered loads of new people to follow who have amazing content. I loved the variety of people at Borderless Live who had come to give talks but also attend sessions and learn more themselves. It was such a great community feel in all of the sessions, which all gave us the chance to have Q&A, with everyone being willing to answer your questions after if you hadn’t wanted to ask in front of a room filled with people.
A few of my favourite sessions included Kash from Budgettraveller on content creators vs influencers, Sorelle’s talk on how to maximise profit, Karl Watson’s talk on editing video to tell a story and Christianne of BackpackingBananas on travel vlogging. All of the advice from the speakers kept coming back to the same point – be original. Don’t copy someone else’s work exactly, but find inspiration from other creators styles and find your own through that. Provide something of value to people. Work out your niche and see how far it can take you.
Networking and making new friends
Probably the coolest part of Borderless Live was the variety of people I got to meet. I took away lots of new knowledge yes, but made lots of new friends, who I very much hope to see again, even if just at future events like this! It is great to have new people to speak to about travel content who are also on creative journeys. Whether it is a ‘hey you went to this place where did you stay and would you recommend it’ to ‘could you watch this and let me know if the narrative makes sense’.
It is very cool to be able to just go up to someone who has thousands of followers who is amazing at what they do and just speak to them about their travel experiences and they are just as interested in hearing about yours. Everyone was really nice when you spoke to them and made me feel welcome even though I am a tiny account just starting out, and that was really awesome. I feel like I am now a part of a community, rather than just another girl with a laptop, a GoPro and Instagram. I personally cannot wait to hear about everyone’s adventures and see them unfold. I want to go on their journeys with them and hope that they will want to come on mine with me too.
On a side note, all the free drinks really helped with the confidence thing and brought everyone together at the parties and gave us the chance to chat and have fun and get to know each other. There was a range on offer from Czech made wine cocktails, Belgian beer and Mimosas on offer which was great and a good way to start a discussion with exhibitors. So that was pretty cool.
What I have learnt this weekend whilst attending Borderless Live is so varied and all so valuable. I have given thought to what my niche is. It was sort of hard to pin down, since I do a mixture of London based posts and travel. However, once I started thinking about why that was, I realised I already had the answer. I have always known. In fact, it is right there in my tagline.
I have a career. I studied hard at University, did an internship, applied for loads of jobs in my field and have ended up in my perfect job. All this digital nomad stuff is awesome, and of course it would be amazing to live wherever in the world you want and make money from your laptop. But I am not that digitally skilled, my job is very specific and knowledge based. It is also pretty location specific to Westminster, London. That doesn’t mean I am not passionate about travel and I spend half my time wishing I was abroad exploring somewhere, because believe me I do. But my reality is that I also love living in London doing what I do and exploring around here as well, and I don’t think I could give that up permanently.
So where does that leave me? Well, good people of the internet, it leaves me in a similar position to millions of other people. I want to travel and see as much of the world as I can. Within my annual leave time. Sure, someday I plan to take a longer trip by taking a sabbatical, or between jobs. I am fortunate enough that when the time is right, if I can save the money, I am in a job where that will likely be possible. But at present, I am an annual leave traveller, that loves to explore my own incredible city when I cannot be away.
And so I shall continue on writing about my travel adventures, and my London adventures. That is my world and that is what I bring to you all. And hopefully you like reading about it and find it both helpful and inspiring for your own travels, both around London and the globe.
So thank you Borderless Live, Traverse Events and all the fantastic people I met this weekend for helping me realise that sense of purpose.
With that thought, I will end this post with a nice inspiring message, since I am still feeling pretty inspired myself. Push yourself to be the best version of you you can be. If you want to do something, don’t let excuses hold you back. Especially the killer – ‘I don’t have time to do that’. Make time. Write, take photos, read, whatever for even an hour a week instead of watching Friends reruns (guilty). It will be worth it. Go and seek the opportunities that are out there and don’t be scared of getting involved. I debated in my head whether I should go to Borderless Live; am I important enough, will people care about what I am doing, will I be by myself the whole time, all these questions of self doubt. But I am so, so glad that I went and gave it a go and I cannot wait to go back to another event soon!
Amazing account of this brilliant networking event and exactly how I found it too. It was my first time and I totally agree with you, its a pretty daunting thing but you take so much away from it! Maybe next year we can meet? 😊
Thank you so much Gemma! Yes it’s definitely worth putting yourself out there, glad you think so too! Yes that would be lovely! 🙂