What I’ve learned at blogcamp (#BCUK) 16

Today I went to Birmingham to chat and have coffee with bloggers learn things. If you’re a blogger and have no idea what blogcamp is, it’s a free bloggers event thingamywhatsit organised by those lovely Tots100 folk.
The day centers around coffee, cake and cookies talking sessions such as how to properly use your SLR camera and how to collaborate with other bloggers more successfully.

stained glass

Lovely location.

I zoned in on the “travel blogger” focused sessions as I really would love to travel more. I did not swat-up on who was talking, which brands were sponsoring the event (Show Room and Cow and Gate)  or ask loads of bloggers who was and wasn’t planning on coming.


Cool kids corner.

It turns out the most important thing (or the thing I was hearing most) was pitch better. Don’t ask companies for “free stuff”, but do your research and find out a named contact for the place you want to travel to (the same logic applies to products). Say you want to visit Florida, you need to pay for your own flights as those are almost never going to go for free – even if you have ten thousand or something followers (which I don’t!) it costs the airline too much between taxes and fuel. However if you pitch to a hotel group based in the area of Florida you wanted to visit then you might be in luck. Pitch to them your blog idea, what makes your planned holiday unique or what’s in it for them? You will be more successful with those pitches if you don’t suggest traveling in peak travel weeks. No Christmas at Disney for free, sorry folks.

Gin in hip flask.

Alice has gin, Emma looks away.

If you think about it flights are mighty pricey but it’s the extras that get you – days out at theme parks, expensive dinners out at restaurants and spa or sport activities. If you go to the hotel, and the theme parks and the eateries and activity companies and approach their PR folk online, you could save a lot off of various chunks of the holiday spend. Play your cards right and you might be in Mauritius for Margate prices. You will have to work flipping hard, but as a social media addict I think I could totally do this.

To start up as a travel blogger I intend to revisit old holidays. Dig out the old snaps stored on CD and get writing. I’ve nothing to lose really have I?

What else did I learn? Well rather a lot about empowerment actually. Not being afraid to be me, writing what I like to at the time whether that is a review or a photo based post, or even a deeply personal diary bit.
What makes your blog unique and noticeable to brands is you. I loved listening in the last chat between PRs and bloggers – I found out from the horses mouth that not all PRs care about stats and follower numbers. Some care more about engagement. Say your blog had 50 followers and almost all of those 50 regularly reply to you on twitter and comment on the newest blog posts you’ve written. Your 50 rocks as most blog followers are silent – a bigger blogger could have a thousand but if only 50 chat you are still doing great, go you! Just pitch, remain polite but not grabby. Remember you aren’t actually getting something for free, you are proposing you blog for a company in exchange for you experiencing something. A service swap.

What else, erm, well, erm. The coffee was good! Seriously though, write write write.

Blogger how to tips. Sections and categories are amazing, tidy your blog up by getting a few clear direct categories linked by your blog header. My suggestions are travel, pets, family, fashion, reviews, personal and so on. Think about the main 5 topics you post about and virtually pin them up at the top of your blog. It’s easier for readers, and kicks rear for search engine brownie points. You can still have 100 odd other categories (just don’t link to them all!) but focus on fitting most of your future posts in to one of these neat little pigeon holes. Who doesn’t like it tidy?

Consider it a spring clean, yes, in Autumn. Whilst you’re editing things turn on spell check. Yuo neevr konw waht you’ev miessd in odl psots! *deliberate wonky typing*

Birmingham at sundown.

Birmingham as the sun fades.

Get passionate, don’t just write facts, give it some love and opinion. You don’t all want to be the same now do we?
Oh, and Vlog as much as you can. Video is the new black. Yeah.

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