If there’s one thing I hear more than others when it comes to blogger complaints and mini moans, it’s that unless you’re in London based it’s incredibly hard to become a successful blogger and focus on building those all-important brand relationships. It seems to be a sore point with many that the majority of launches, events and networking opportunities are in the capital city; although a huge number of bloggers are based there, a huge proportion live much father afield and simply can’t get into London on a weekly basis. I lived in London for over six years and moved out to Buckinghamshire in 2013, back to be closer to friends and family while living in an apartment that was big enough for all my junk and didn’t smell like damp. (That’s incredibly hard to find in London.) Despite my blog’s name, I’m no longer actually based in London and I don’t feel I’m at a disadvantage for not being able to hop on a tube at ten minutes notice. Although the shiny lights and daily socialisation of the big city can be appealing, when it comes to the crunch you really don’t need to be within walking distance of Oxford Street to be successful.
London Is Where The PRs Are Based
If you’ve ever wondered why everything happens in London, then there’s an incredibly simple explanation – that’s where the majority of PRs are based. Why are the PRs based there? Because London is where all the magazines and journalists are based. It makes economic and logistical sense to be close to where the action is, so don’t begrudge the location of your favourite makeup brand because they’re not close to your little village in the Midlands. It simply wouldn’t make business sense for most PRs to be out of the city, as proximity and flexibility makes their day-to-day job easier. However, with the growth of online things are most definitely changing and I’ve noticed a fair number of PR companies popping up all over the UK and representing some great brands. Many companies are also making a concerted effort to establish events in big cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, Belfast and Glasgow, so change is definitely in the air. However, it takes time for organisations to react and implement change – so we just have to be patient.
Use Twitter As Your Post-Work Drink
Although it may be frustrating that you can’t attend every event, launch or meet-up, the great thing about social media (and specifically Twitter) is that you can have a glass of wine and a chat with a mate from the comfort of your own sofa. The possibilities are endless when it comes to our ever-evolving digital world, so you can always speak to other bloggers, brands and PRs and the click of a keypad. Some of my most entertaining evenings are spent chatting to fellow bloggers and watching The Apprentice or Made In Chelsea, cup of tea in one hand and my smartphone in the other. There are 100s of people that I’ve met via Twitter that I feel like I know, but I’ve never so much as clamped eyes on them during a fleeting moment in Selfridges. The same goes for brands – make the most of what you’ve got and build a virtual relationship, even if you can’t meet physically.
London Is Only A Train Journey Away
Although sometimes it’s costly, for most of us London is still only a train journey away. It may be an hour-long excuse to catch up with a magazine or a snore-worthy four hours that provides an opportunity for a nap, but it’s always possible to get to the city if you really want to. Booking tickets in advance can really slash the prices and ensure it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg, plus some brands may even contribute towards your travel expenses if you ask. It’s more than possible to get into the city and make the most of opportunities, even if it’s once a month and in the early stages when you want to grow your presence and build relationships. See it as an investment that will pay off in the long-term, albeit a non-essential one, and make the concerted effort if you’ll feel you’ll really benefit from it.
Organise Meetings & One-To-One Sessions
Because I’m no longer based in London and only travel in 2-3 days a week, I often don’t have the opportunity or time in my diary to swing by events or launches. However, I really don’t feel I miss out on anything as I always request to be sent information and samples after the launch if I genuinely think it could be interesting. Furthermore, organising one-to-one meetings and sessions with specific brands will be a much more efficient and beneficial use of your time if you’re only traveling down every month or two. PRs are generally really understanding and accommodating, plus keen to have face-to-face meetings as they know it gives them an opportunity to talk you through products, so why not have the conversation and schedule something with your favourite brands every quarter?
Events Aren’t Everything
I can remember being invited to my first blogger event and feeling like I’d finally made it. A year later and I was zipping around London trying to fit in three or four launches in the space of a few hours after work. A few years after that and I try to limit events and launches as much as possible because they’re (mostly) not an efficient use of my time. Although I love catching up with PRs and other bloggers, I can do that over coffee between four other meetings I’ve arranged that day when I have less work on and fewer grey hairs appearing from stress. I much prefer to sift through product launches in my office and get the opportunity to pick out what I find interesting, has an angle or simply could be integrated into a post I’m working on. There are so many events and launches now that for many they’re becoming more of a chore than something that’s fun, so don’t feel like you have to keep up appearances and bankrupt yourself on train fares every week.
Just Look At Zoella
If you really think about it, some of the most successful bloggers and YouTube stars aren’t based in London either. There’s a huge corner of Scotland oozing with beauty bloggers, Brighton seems to be the new place to re-locate to, the Midlands is seeing more and more networking and events launching (hello Blognix) and there are lots of little pockets beside all over the UK. You’re never at a disadvantage not being in London, as you simply work with what you’ve got; some of my favourite blogs are written by bloggers further afield because they have to think outside the box and write some genuinely engaging content – rather than relying on event after event to fill their pages. If you don’t live in London, why not write about the fab little boutique shops in your local village or handmade cosmetics you can pick up from the farm shop? Why not talk about the amazing charity shop finds you stumble across, or the great things there are to do by the sea. The world is your oyster – it doesn’t stop at Zone 6 of the Central Line.
What do you think? Do you have to be London based to be a successful blogger?