This is our second BlogHouse since our last one at Besalú with Navigate Media Group. We learned a lot at Besalú on running a successful BlogHouse and we used what we learned to make the BlogHouse in Toronto better.
So what is BlogHouse? The BlogHouse is a 3 day opportunity to live, work and learn in a group environment with both experienced and novice bloggers. My area of expertise was WordPress optimization (a platform used for blogging).
The bloggers we invited were:
- Megan Smith - Megan o Travels
- Noah Ledermann – Somewhere or Bust
- Keryn Means - Walking on Travels
- Mara Gorman – Mother of All Trips
- Alana Morgan – Paper Planes Blog
- Melissa Hogan – Suitcase and Heels
- Emma Holliday – An Opportune Moment
- Alouise Dittrick – Traveler Ahoy
- Kay Rodriguez – The Kay Days
- Stephanie Spencer – Nerd At Large
- Lindsay Lewis – The Traveluster
- Cacinda Maloney – Points and Travel
We were calling it BlogHouse but really it was a castle. The castle can sleep up to 32 people. There were so many rooms that I started naming each room just to make it easier to tell others where to meet. Much like the villa in Besalú, I got lost just walking from one end of the castle to the other. I was discovering rooms I had never been in after two days.
Most of our meetings and sessions were in the big dinning hall. We had a large projection and did a few sessions on media kits, pitching, WordPress, and SEO. It became the central meeting place for most things. On the main floor we also had an enormous kitchen with coffee flowing the entire time. Upstairs we had the chalkboard room which was used often for smaller meetings and 1-on-1 sessions. Next to it was the pool table room where we generally just hung out in. On the other side of the castle we had the chess board room that had two couches and lots of light. This was great for 1-on-1 sessions and interviews.
Thank you to our sponsor Flipkey for providing us the accommodation!
On our first night at the BlogHouse, we made a huge grocery store shopping spree that would cover us for the week. This included breakfast, snacks, HopCity beer, wine, and sodas. We even had quite a bit left over in the end.
For lunch on one of the days, we ate cheese sandwiches. I never thought cheese sandwiches could be an art but Cheesewerks certainly has. The owner is definitely passionate about his cheese. It was the most delicious cheese sandwich and mac’n cheese I have ever eaten.
Hardrock Cafe sponsored one of our evenings out where we continued to talk about the world of travel blogging. We ate, had a few beers, and mingled for a couple hours.
And for our networking night, we ate at Trios Bistro at the Marriott Hotel. While Pete and I hoarded the kale chips, we were served beautifully delicious appetizers.
When we were not distracted by the delicious food, the newer bloggers were introduced to industry folks that we invited. This is where they put the skills they’ve learned the last few days with us into practice. They pitched them sample trips and the industry gave them advice and tips on improving their pitches and what to expect from press trips.
I had to do the first session at 8:30AM and it was on WordPress Optimization. Others to follow were how to pitch, social media best practices, money side of the business, and SEO. Rob from FlightNetwork gave us a really great session on SEO. It was two hours of intense SEO training from an expert that does it for a living. Our brains were fried after that session but we continued on with our special guests. Jodi from LegalNomads, Gary from Everything Everywhere, and his assistant Amy came in for a few hours to talk to the newer bloggers.
I was given the task of providing everyone 1-on-1 WordPress help by optimizing their blog and tweaking it a bit to provide their readers a better user experience. Everyone else was assigned a specific person for a 1-on-1 session but it continued on as several 1-on-1 sessions throughout the three days.
Why am I writing about travel blogging?
I very rarely talk about what I do behind the scenes on the blog. The travel blogging community is growing so fast though and I think it’s exciting. It affects the way we search for travel advice and how we look for our motivation. I’m often asked how I’ve managed to have thousands of subscribed readers and it’s not really an easy question to answer. Throughout the three days at BlogHouse, we share our experiences and what we’ve done to become successful and make this a full time job.