There were hundreds milling about, clutching iPads and shiny new business cards, eager to network with complete strangers.
They did so easily.
Conference attendees downed their coffee while exchanging stories of rides on chicken buses and tips on where to stay in India. One could tell these were hardened travelers, accustomed to finding their way through foreign airports, unaffected if their schedule were to change on a dime. At our conference hall in Toronto, winding through the massive building to find Saturday’s keynote speaker Trey Ratcliff was an easy task.
This was TBEX, the largest conference dedicated to the business of travel blogging: where new media content creators and writers collide, sharing best practices in order to inspire others to get out and explore.
TBEX is for travel bloggers experienced and not. Whether you intend to simply share travel stories with the ones you love, or turn your blog into a business, here are some of my favorite takeaways from TBEX 2013:
Starting your website. This may seem daunting, especially to those that are not tech-savvy. But it’s best to just dive in. Many bloggers use a free publishing platform called WordPress, according to designer Mitchell Canter, which offers tons of different themes to choose from. If you’re like me and want to minimize the time you spend on your home computer, it may serve you to work with a designer. If you like choosing fonts and colors and adding your own photography, then it may be fun to do it yourself!
If you opt for working with a designer, take the time to explore other blogs, earmarking those that speak to you and why. Then, find out who created them, and talk to them about your budget and expectations. This is not a process that should be rushed, as finding the right fit is crucial.
Photography. Lola Akinmade Åkerström encouraged bloggers to find ways to visually elevate subjects. In other words, you may travel to a place that is very poor, in an environment where trash is strewn about and ratty looking animals are walking around. People living here may be very happy, and it’s important to capture them, rather than their environment. When photographing children, you can accomplish this by physically getting low and on their level, so as photograph looking down on them. Lastly, remember that what looks good to you may not catch the eye of your audience. Capture images with your target market in mind and think about what might excite them.
Write. Someone once said that when preparing for a trip, you take half the amount of clothes and twice the amount of money you think you’ll need. When I write a blog post, I first write out all of my thoughts, then try to say the same thing, only half as long. In the blogging world, it is definitely to your advantage to keep it short and sweet, and err on the side of using more photos than text.
However, if storytelling is your passion, as it is for Mike Sowden, run with it! Hook your readers by incorporating cliffhangers and starting with the end (“After weeks of falling asleep to sultry samba music on the streets outside my hostel, Brazil had changed me indelibly.”) Grab your readers with catchy photos, and make sure to be generous with practical and helpful links. Travel bloggers are friendly folks who scratch your back when you scratch theirs, so be generous in sharing others’ material.
Most of all, have fun and let me know how it goes! Got any other tips? Feel free to share below.