BlogHouse Chicago: Two Truths and a Lie

I’m thrilled to break the silence here on the blog to tell you guys all about a little something called….#BlogHouse.

If you’ve been following along on Twitter and Instagram, you may have wondered what in the world I was going on and on about…and what is with that omnipresent hashtag?

bloghouse chicago

It seems that rumors have been floating around, both online and off, as to what exactly this mysterious house of bloggers is exactly.  It’s time to put some of these rumors to rest.

BlogHouse Two Truths and A Lie:

1. BlogHouse is a gathering of veteran and newbie travel bloggers who share tips and experience, work hard, and play hard at the business of blogging for four days, three nights.

2. BlogHouse took place this year in Chicago, in an Italian-style villa with a free-flowing wine tap in the wall. Previous BlogHouses have been held in Spain, Ireland, and Canada.

3. BlogHouse is a reality show and competition, airing soon on a major television network.  Twenty bloggers live under one roof and drama/hilarity ensues.

Now that we’ve established what BlogHouse is and is not (hint: not number 3,) let’s take a look at what actually happens at a BlogHouse.

First, the “work hard” part, which included panel discussions, workshops, and one-on-one audits for the following:

  • Writing
  • Social Media
  • Photography
  • The Business of Blogging
  • SEO, or Search Engine Optimization
  • Blog Design and Functionality
  • How to Dodge Killer Ducks On the Chicago River <– okay, that one is the lie.

bloghouse entry

 Image courtesy of Lisa Lubin.

(Confirmation that I should be a blogger: this “work” all seems like fun to me. Except for SEO, amirite?!)

Not to be outdone by work, here is some of the “play hard” that occurred.  Like every good reality show, good food and adult beverages were in ample supply in and out of the house:

  • Champagne and Industry Night at Vertigo Sky Lounge
  • Margaritas and really delicious tacos at Mercadito (thanks, Gogo!)
  • A night on the Chicago river, crazy captains and their hats included, courtesy of Chicago Electric Boats
  • An in-wall wine tap and inside jokes with BlogHousers *cough, Nick and Brad*
  • The best darn (homemade) French toast of your life, sponsored by Kathy, the head of Villa D’Cita
  • All the house wine (compliments of Villa D’Cita) and beer (compliments of Goose Island) you can drink.
  • Did I mention the coffee breaks?  Villa D’Cita has its own blend of Intelligentsia coffee ready to go for guests.
  • Did I mention the FOOD?  We enjoyed phenomenal Spanish tapas from Cafe Babareeba and ice cream from Jeni’s Ice Cream.

(Please note: all of the above are truths.)

Cheers!

Cheers!

We're on a boat!

We’re on a boat! Doesn’t she look good in a hat?

The setting wasn’t bad either.  The roof over our heads, the stately Villa D’Cita in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood:

Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood

The city we played in:

Chicago Lakefront

Lincoln Park, Chicago

chicago skyline from river

What I Learned:

Well folks, I learned so much in just four days that I’m still processing it myself.  Here are a few takeaways for you:

A Few Snippets From #BlogHouse

  • “Blogging is a profession.  Be professional.” – everyone  (Of course everyone is, right?)
  • “Before you post something, ask yourself: is this something I myself would share?” – Ayngelina Brogan, on Facebook
  • “Twitter is like a giant cocktail party happening 24/7, around the world.  Don’t be that guy who only talks about himself.” – Stephanie Yoder, on Twitter
  • “Take the ordinary or often photographed, and show a new perspective.” – Sherry Ott, on travel photography
  • “Every webpage has the chance to catch traffic like a sail catches wind.” – Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media, on the importance of SEO
  • “Don’t drink and Tinder, folks.”  – Anonymous
  • “The community of bloggers is an extraordinarily hard-working, collaborative, supportive, kind group of people that you need to know.” – Me

Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that the best part of the entire experience (and I’m a person who loves learning, food, drink, and networking!) was the new friends I’ve made.

The best thing about a good trip or a good party is never the place, the food, or even the lessons learned…it’s the people.

As Lindsey of Frugal Frolicker put it so perfectly:

It was so refreshing to be around people who just GET IT. They get that travel is everything. They get that the key to happiness is being free and adventurous. They get that it’s more fulfilling to go against the grain and make your own path in life. It’s not always easy to find people at home with the same mindset.

Can I get an AMEN?!

Each of the “newbie” bloggers I met blew me away with their life stories, travel stories, sharp wit, and authenticity. Each person has a unique background, writing style, and perspective to share. There’s nothing I love more than meeting an awesome person offline and being able to continue along with their journey online.

The only thing that might be better than an offline to online relationship are when the people behind blogs you’ve been reading and tweets you’ve been sending morph into real-life interactions.  This, my friends, is what social media, content, and blogging is all about (if you ask me.)

Finally, it was crazy to be in a group that not only doesn’t tell you to put your phone away, but encourages more interaction on social media and more pictures of food.  FINALLY I’VE FOUND MY PEOPLE.  To me the point of blogging at all is to connect with like-minded people and opportunities.

So, what’s next? Former BlogHouse participant (who had her own fan club at this year’s house) Liz of Young Adventuress said it best: “The Blog House was the push I needed to really believe I could turn my travel blogging into a career.”

I realize that while I’ve remained a part-time traveler, I don’t want to just be a part-time blogger. You can expect a new, improved commitment to writing (regularly) here on Part-Time Traveler.  Someday I’ll fill you all in on where I’ve been writing all over the web instead.  For now, know that I plan to practice (and write about) what I preach.  Travel, food, adventure, home…on the reg!  Sign up for site updates.

What’s also next is you checking out these fine human beings’ blogs and getting WAY inspired to travel/eat/be awesome.

bloghouse chicago

HUGE thanks to this lovely group of established experts, who not only do awesome things on and offline – but go out of their way to help others do the same:

Show this group of newer (very talented) bloggers some love:

A special shoutout to our generous sponsors for making BlogHouse possible:
FlipKey, Gogo, Megabus, and Goose Island.
If you’re interested in attending a future BlogHouse event, sign up for updates.

 


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28 Comments

  1. So happy you found it useful. Just wait for the All Stars edition…

    • #BlogHouse All-Stars…consider me IN. I am expecting “Facebook for Haters, Part Two.”

  2. So glad you loved it Anne! It was such a pleasure getting to know you. Definitely hope to see you again soon!

    • Lisa! Thank you so much again for all of your hard work and for hosting us all in your city. You know I’ll be back in Chicago…come visit me in SF! 🙂

  3. Love this post, and I am so glad you had an awesome time and that it has inspired you!

    • Hey #bbf, thanks for the love! All the Navigate peeps inspire me, but you and your hats have taken things to a new level. Haha. It was a true joy, and you’ve helped me so much! 🙂

  4. So glad we met in Chicago. I look forward to staying in touch and reading about your future adventures!

    • Mindi – me too! The only problem for me is how hungry your posts make me…
      (Still can’t believe that you and Daryl have been to Nevada City!)

  5. Looks like a lot of fun! Thank you for sharing some of what you learned, as a newbie myself this is very helpful.

    • Hey Michelle! It was fun, and you’re right…I learned a lot. I suppose the greatest lesson was how helpful other bloggers are and how important it is to connect and support one another. I wish someone had told me that sooner.
      You’re one step in the right direction by commenting, something I often fail to do and hope to get better at!
      Cheers and happy travels 🙂

  6. HAHAHA, literal LOLz happening over here. So honored to be quoted multiple times (ahem!) 😉

    SEE YOU ON THE BEST COAST! (not soon enough!) 😀

    • You’re just so quotable! 🙂
      Can’t wait to get you back to the city you belong in…
      Might have to come visit the other coast soon, though! 😉

  7. LOVE your angle on this!! 2 truths and a lie, too good. But even moreso, I love how you included all those inspiring quotes of things we learned, as well as some things our fellow bloggers had to say. Hearing (reading) those things repeated just keeps fueling my will to keep this blogging stuff up. As does reading and keeping up with every incredible blogger we met at Bloghouse! So glad I found my twin in Chicago 🙂

    • Our new BlogHouse family is what keeps me going as well. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for everyone, though I already know our future includes frolicking in Barcelona! (and then blogging about it, duh.)

  8. Yay for BH and meeting wonderful people like you xoxo! See ya soon!

  9. Yay! I’m glad the Blog House was so awesome, I wish I was there! I hope it’ll be as pivotal for you as it was for me 😀

    • Hey Liz! Believe me when I say you were missed. You were basically there in spirit, which may or may not be creepy coming from those of us who haven’t met you yet. #BlogHouse legend.
      And I can only hope it’s a fraction of the pivot! 😀

  10. Welcome to the BlogHouse family 🙂 Glad you had an amazing experience…I think the wine tap should become a standard for all future events and for all alumni 🙂

  11. Agreed, Jo! It was my first in-wall wine tap and I certainly hope it’s not the last 🙂

  12. This sounds awesome, and like there was so much useful information! I would love to go to a BlogHouse event. One-on-one audits, cool blogger, AND all that exploring and adventuring sound perfect!

    • Hey Jessica! It was awesome 🙂 So many of dramatically changed our sites for the better after our audits! The most valuable thing by far was still meeting the other bloggers. Definitely check out the next one!!

  13. I’m so glad we were at BlogHouse together! It was great to meet you and hang out and talk and drink… Oh, and learn, too 😉 Hope to see you in Chicago again soon!

    • Francesca! You’re the bomb girl! You and your blog inspire me on the reg. I hope one day when I’m a mom I’m still traveling and am half as kick-ass as you.
      Hope to see you in SF soon, too!

  14. Wait, nobody told me that Goose Island beer was included in the Chicago bloghouse! Haha….looks like a ton of fun with great people…!

    • I know right?! You totally would’ve signed up for that alone, admit it 😀
      It was amazing to get offline and interact with so many great bloggers in person! The Goose Island didn’t hurt though 🙂

  15. I read this ages ago but am back to say wow you took good notes! : ). Fun piece and I enjoyed swiping your tinder. Glad we were able to continue the bloghouse tradition in SF!

    • Hahaha I totally forgot I gave you my phone! You must come back to SF again soon! We have too much fun 🙂

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