As part of my mission to ‘Take 12 Trips’ in 2014, I’m taking at least one trip each month – anything from a local day out to an international trip. After January took me to Manchester, I stuck with the chilly, northern cities theme by heading even further up the country to Newcastle. The north-east of England is a part of the country I know shamefully little of. My only previous trip to Newcastle was 12 years ago and involved a six-hour drive from London, a big night out, then a six-hour drive back. This time I still didn’t manage to see enough of Newcastle itself, but for entirely different reasons. Despite blogging for almost three years, I’ve never made it to any of the travel blogging conferences – ironically enough I’ve usually been on holiday. But I always liked the idea of the Traverse events, based in the UK and fitting neatly into a weekend so you don’t need to take time off – perfect for part-time travellers.
This year’s conference took place at The Sage in Gateshead – an ultra-modern steel and glass building on the quayside that’s used as a conference and music venue. After an introduction from the Traverse team, the day was split into four different sessions, with workshops covering everything from social media and photography to freelancing and copyright law. The speakers were made up of industry experts and bloggers, from travel and beyond. My only criticism would be that with three sessions at a time it was tough to choose which one to go to. So I brought along my husband/technical support manager so we could double up and learn twice as much. Here are some of my top takeaways from the day…
My first session was Thinking like a journalist to bring your posts to life, where former journalist Michael Turtle took us through the main parts of a story: the hook, angle, narrative, colour and resolution. One interesting point that came up was about preparation – doing research before you go into what potential stories might be. That’s not to say you can’t just go off on a tangent while you’re there, but being prepared means you can arrange to meetings or visits that you mightn’t have access to otherwise.
Next was Why would brands want to work with you? with Ana Silva O’Reilly. As luxury travel blogger Mrs O Around the World, Ana has worked with major brands and asked them what they look for from bloggers. Professionalism came out top – make sure you are easy to get hold of, have a well-designed site, a comprehensive media kit, a recognisable brand of your own and deliver on your promises. But you don’t need to have the biggest numbers, a smaller group of engaged readers can be just as useful.
After a break for lunch I dived into a completely new world – that of video, with a session on Travel video editing by Greg Brand of Travizeo. The biggest thing I learnt was not to be scared of video. The session covered the editing basics – from managing your workflow to how to use music to tie the video together. I’ll be trying out some filming in Morocco next week to see if I can put all this into practice.
The final session was How to create and build successful publishing projects with Kash Bhattacharya, aka the Budget Traveller. Publishing was my day job for 10 years, so I was interested to find out how to incorporate those skills into my blog. The first thing you need is a ‘damn good idea’ then get innovative – publishing projects can include things like maps or websites as well as ebooks. It doesn’t even need to be published via your own site, and you can collaborate with tourist boards or other bloggers to increase your reach. Try to think of a solution to a problem nobody else sees, and don’t be afraid to fail.
After information overload, the day ended up with a Q&A session, with the greatest use of social media ever – the Twitter bar. Just tweet where you’re sitting and whether you fancy beer or wine, and your drink is delivered to your seat! For me the social parts of the conference were just as important as the sessions. From Friday night drinks in the BALTIC centre, a converted 1930s flour mill turned contemporary art centre, all the way to the closing party in the As You Like it bar. It was the chance to meet other bloggers – whether that’s people I’d been talking to online for years, fellow Take 12 Trippers or new faces.
The talks and workshops were incredibly inspirational, but what I took away from the weekend went above and beyond that. It was the feeling of being part of a community of travel bloggers, who are passionate about what they do. You couldn’t help but leave feeling full of ideas and motivation. So what does that mean for On the Luce? Well a long-planned design revamp, a proper media pack and a brand-new website project are all in the pipeline. And who knows there might be videos and publishing projects to come in the future too. But whatever happens I’ve already got a trip back to the north-east booked for September, to finally see a bit more of this part of the country.
Are you taking part in the #Take12Trips challenge? You can find out more about what the other take 12 Trippers got up to in February here. Then after two cold trips to the north of England, March is time for me to get some sun with my first international trip of the year to Morocco. And if you’re interested in Traverse, their next conference is festival-style Blogstock in August. I might see you there!
Many thanks to Netflights for sponsoring my trip to Traverse.