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?
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:
[box] 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. [/box]
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:
- Social Media
- 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.
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.)
The setting wasn’t bad either. The roof over our heads, the stately Villa D’Cita in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood:
The city we played in:
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:
[learn_more caption=”A Few Snippets From #BlogHouse” state=”open”]
- “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:
[box] 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.[/box]
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.
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:
- Lisa Lubin – LLworldtour.com
- Cailin O’Neil – TravelYourself.ca
- Ayngelina Brogan – BaconisMagic.ca
- Stephanie Yoder – Twenty-SomethingTravel.com
- Michael Tieso – ArtOfAdventuring.com
- Sherry Ott – OttsWorld.com
Show this group of newer (very talented) bloggers some love:
- Francesca Mazurkiewicz – TheWorkingMomsTravels.com
- Ryan Zieman – RyanZieman.com
- Brad Bernard – MyWanderlist.com
- Susan Schwartz – BestBitsWorldwide.com
- Mindi & Daryl Hirsch – 2foodtrippers.com
- Jenny Marshall – AThingForWords.com
- Nick Huggins – NicksTravelBug.com
- Lindsay Buckley – FrugalFrolicker.com
- Beth Williams – BesudesuAbroad.com
- Amber Hoffman – WithHusbandInTow.com
- Chanel Brown – CulturalXplorer.com
- Kristin Francis – SouvenirFinder.com
- Anne Lowrey – PartTimeTraveler.com (Me!)
FlipKey, Gogo, Megabus, and Goose Island.
If you’re interested in attending a future BlogHouse event, sign up for updates.