What do you get when you plonk tents, various brands and a smattering of bloggers in an Elstree park? Why, Blogstock of course! A play on the name of one of the most famous musical festivals, Blogstock is the first of its kind to be aimed towards bloggers – whether you write about travel, lifestyle or fashion.
Organised by the smashing team behind Traverse, the festival took place at Aldenham Country Park in Hertfordshire and ran over two nights. Since all the main talks were taking place on the Saturday, I decided to travel up in the morning to avoid having to contend with nature and a tent. Turns out, I’m pretty glad I didn’t stay over, what with all the torrential rain on the Friday night!
Having brought my ticket just a few weeks ago, I wasn’t completely sure an what to expect. But, let me tell you: Blogstock was an absolute DREAM. Small, but with plenty of events, talks and tea, it was a chilled way to network, make friends and learn more about the craft of blogging.
If you didn’t manage to make it to the event, or are perhaps thinking of attending next year, here’s why Blogstock is a blogger’s haven.
The festival had a host of interactive talks from bloggers, marketing companies and experts in the field, ready to impart valuable information and imbue writers with the motivation to continue. I didn’t attend as many talks as I wanted to (purely because of the fact I was starving by lunchtime so had to have a mini break), but the ones I attended were so useful.
Getting Noticed by Travel Brands (from Alexis Sitaropoulos and Contiki)
This talk concentrated on the strengths of YouTube, and how it’s one of the best way for bloggers to engage with their audience. The most important thing about vlogging, according to Alexis, is to let your personality shine through.
Alexis also commented that, at Contiki, he doesn’t get quite as many pitches as he would like…so actively encouraged bloggers to get in touch! A few of the most important things to consider before you pitch to brands include:
- Make sure you speak to the right people
- Be creative – sell an idea, and refer to previous campaigns
- Be easy to work with, but don’t sell out
From Blogger to Writer: Improving Your Skills (from Andy Jarosz)
The lovely Andy, a highly successful travel writer, took us through some of the pit-falls of travel writing. These included:
- Too many clichés, such as ‘hidden gem’ or ‘city of contrasts’
- Using empty words to describe a place: draw on the senses to really paint a picture and PROVE you’ve really been there
- Avoid using generalisations to describe people and destinations. Talk to locals and write down what you experience on the day so that you don’t forget a thing
- Don’t assume you’re an overall expert on a topic. Just because you’ve visited two cities in one country, it doesn’t mean you have experienced everything the country has to offer
From Fashion to Travel: Working With Travel PRs and Brands (from Monica Stott)
Monica’s talk was especially useful as it helped give me a good kick-up-the-backside and the confidence to take my blog on to the next stage. She spoke about how proactive you have to be as a blogger, from writing for other blogs to pitching to PRs.
One of the most significant things she said was that it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got a squillion, billion social media followers and readers.
If you have a particular niche, or an engaged audience, you can still pitch to companies, providing examples of previous popular posts and ways in which you’ve connected with readers.
The most important thing to do, however, is to ensure you pitch to PRs that are relevant to you and your blog. Approach companies with the mindset of ‘this is what I can offer you’ rather than ‘this is what I want from you.’
Travel Blogging Fortune Telling
I had absolutely no idea what this involved until I got there. Turns out this involved huddling up inside one of the cosy tipis to have my blog critiqued by two experts.
This was a fantastic idea – it pointed out things I hadn’t even noticed, and gave me some inspiration on how to move my blog forward. You may have already have noticed some changes on here in the last few days, and there’s much more to come.
The Generator Fair
Generator Hostels had their own little funfair on site to keep big kids entertained. From a coconut shy to a bouncy castle, polaroid competitions and free ice-cream and popcorn, they really injected a whole lotta fun into the day. Massive #Genlove to them.
As well as providing the most incredible looking yurts for VIP bloggers, Hertz also rolled up with a mini go-karting arena. The fastest person to race round two laps of the course also won tickets to next year’s Traverse event. Needless to say, this wasn’t me. I blame it on my skirt blowing up every time I caught a bit of speed.
The Expedia VIP Tent
Not being a VIP, I wasn’t too sure if I was allowed in this section or not. I still went in. They have comfy seats and beanbags and phone chargers, so it would have been a crime for me NOT to go in, right?
I only knew one or two people (at least, well enough to approach and talk to) before I turned up. By the end of the day, I’d chatted to so many new people, old friends and some of my favourite bloggers, that my mouth was aching like mad (I ended up looking like a stalker SO MANY TIMES: “Yes, I read about that on your blog.” “How was [insert country here]?”
What I’ve learnt
I’ve taken away so many useful nuggets from Blogstock. Most of all, I’ve learnt that you need to be confident and have faith in your blog. Don’t be nervous and talk to as many people as you can. Network. Apply sun screen so you don’t end up with a lobster face after a day in a Hertfordshire park. But, above all, do what makes YOU happy, and stay true to your brand.
Were you at Blogstock? What did you think of the event?