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BlogHouse Toronto 2013: The Ultimate Travel Blogging Workshop

BlogHouse

It is very rare for the stars to align so perfectly that an opportunity you never knew you were searching for seemingly falls in to your lap. This happened to me several months ago. I woke up one cold February morning, routinely skimming my inbox, and clicked on one of my travel writing subscriptions, which I usually file away for later (then often forget to check). As fate would have it, I was meant to read and pay attention to that email.

Announcing: BlogHouse Toronto read the headline, followed by  ***UPDATE*** The deadline to apply has now been changed to March 1, 2013. My attention peaked, I read on to discover the “stunning success” of the previous travel blogging workshop in Besalu, Spain, where well-established, successful travel bloggers met in a working-group environment to mentor those new to the profession, while staying in a Spanish villa. The next workshop would take place in a Canadian castle in Toronto, during the week leading up to the annual North American TBEX. I still had time to apply. Score.

After applying and apprehensively waiting for the accept or reject email, I was notified that I was one of 12 (from over 40 applicants) shining stars selected to attend Navigate Media Group’s BlogHouse Toronto 2013.

castle

We stayed in this castle thanks to Flip Key.

Like many new to travel blogging, I was unclear on the business details behind and value of the industry. The senior bloggers, as we fondly referred to them, led us through detailed sessions on SEO, social media strategy, photography, video, time management, monetization, and industry pitches, grounding all of their lessons in real-life examples. We also received site audits and attended industry networking events. The purpose of BlogHouse seemed two-fold: to elevate the level of professionalism within the travel blogging industry writ large and to prepare and position fresh bloggers to get the maximum benefit out of TBEX. Mission accomplished.

Working on photography with Sherry Ott and Pete Heck 

dsc_45671

I joked with other participants that I learned more in those three days together at the De La Salle Castle than I did in an entire year of researching and reading numerous books on blogging. Experiential learning, as I always say about travel, is the best and most efficient way to learn. The master bloggers of Navigate Media Group provided a perfect cross-section of expertise and personalities to instill all of the tools I know I’ll need to move forward successfully.

My two biggest overarching take-aways from BlogHouse were 1) the power of networking and 2) the importance and vast potential of travel blogging as an invaluable profession and marketing mechanism for the travel and tourism industry.

For those who may not realize, bloggers are increasingly becoming the predominant source of information for consumers in all industries: fashion, food, travel, tech, photography, family, entertainment, you-name-it. Bloggers build trusting communities of followers who consider them an authority in their area of expertise. When you shop for a product or experience, wouldn’t you be more inclined to make a choice based on the recommendation of someone you know and trust as opposed to biased, generic advertisements? The first thing I do when I need to make a decision on a purchase is ask around my network of friends, both virtually and in person. Not to say that traditional marketing and advertisement will disappear, but the blogging marketing model compliments, and will eventually overtake, more traditional models.

Honing photography composition skills, one of BlogHouse’s many workshop sessions, led by Pete Heck of Hecktic Travels and Sherry Ott of Otts World

Working on depth of field

Working on depth of field

dsc_4578

Symmetry

Symmetry

Leading lines

Leading lines

Leading lines + depth of field

Leading lines + depth of field

Creating a new skill-set: BlogHouse left me full of new knowledge and tools, and most importantly, feeling invigorated, inspired and confident that the travel blogging profession is not only real, but it is important. I know that I am on the right path.

Thank you, Navigate Media Group.

A special thanks to our BlogHouse sponsors Flight Network and FlipKey.

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14 Responses to BlogHouse Toronto 2013: The Ultimate Travel Blogging Workshop

  1. l-jeezy June 12, 2013 at 10:55 AM #

    ummm… its GORGEOUS!
    so glad you got what you needed to feel excited about your passions.

  2. Ayngelina June 12, 2013 at 11:50 AM #

    So good to hear you had a great time, you were with a fantastic bunch of people.

  3. PointsandTravel ✈ (@Pointsandtravel) June 12, 2013 at 3:04 PM #

    Awesome! Love those leading lines and depth of field work!

  4. Emily McCarroll June 12, 2013 at 10:03 PM #

    Great!! So glad you had such a fun and educational time. Of course, I already think you’re great. Wonderful that you can do something you love.

  5. Samuel Jeffery June 14, 2013 at 8:36 PM #

    Glad the workshop went well for you. It’s great to have a mentor-ship program like this for new bloggers. I wish I had such an opportunity when I first started.

  6. Where's Pablo June 15, 2013 at 2:07 PM #

    When I got to TBEX I heard so many great things about it. I didn’t even really know about it until then, sounds like an amazing opportunity!

    • The Traveluster June 15, 2013 at 3:19 PM #

      It was pretty epic! You should check out their site and stay tuned for the next BlogHouse opportunity!

  7. Jess June 15, 2013 at 6:14 PM #

    This looks like such a valuable experience! And exactly the kind of useful information I’m trying to teach myself. I’m definitely keeping an eye out for the next one.

    • The Traveluster June 15, 2013 at 9:33 PM #

      Hey Jess, You definitely should keep checking with their site to see when the next BlogHouse is. It’s an invaluable experience! Do I see that you are from Tulane? I’m from Baton Rouge! We were actually just on campus the last time I was in LA, a couple of months ago (right after French Quarter Fest). There was a crawfish festival @ Tulane, I think. Bands and all..

      • Jess June 15, 2013 at 10:07 PM #

        Yup, I went to Tulane, and lived in NOLA for 5 years in all. I moved back to CT last year, but I am really hoping to go visit Louisiana again soon. I miss crawfish!

        • The Traveluster June 16, 2013 at 12:01 PM #

          I love it! A New Englander in love with crawfish! My cousin moved to Japan, and he plans his Louisiana visits around crawfish season! Let me know if/when you visit! I live in Nashville but am in LA ALL the time!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Navigate Media Group Toronto BlogHouse was a Success! | Navigate Media Group BloghouseNavigate Media Group Bloghouse - August 6, 2013

    […] TheTraveluster […]

  2. Toronto Highlights- The Traveluster - June 4, 2014

    […] A year ago today, I was in Toronto Canada for the very first time. I was there to attend my very first travel blogging conference, TBEX, which stands for Travel Blog Exchange. Although I celebrated my first “blogiversary” in November of 2013, I didn’t start to take blogging very seriously until I was forced in to a victorian castle with a room full of bloggers for BlogHouse. […]

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