After picking up a hot chocolate from Costa at the train station, I walked for miles in search for a bin. A bin. That has what my life has come to. I’m no longer searching for sales bargains (January why you so long?!) but instead looking for somewhere to dump my rubbish. Ace. Turns out bins pose a security risk and the lack of them in stations is a well-known thing. Not one to litter, I carried that empty hot chocolate cup through Leeds as I made my way to Blog At The Beach 2018.
Yep, on Saturday I hopped onto a train from Manchester to Leeds for after being invited by icelolly.com to their annual event, Blog At The Beach. Now, I will happily admit I had no idea what to expect. I was actually invited to Blog At The Beach 2017 but then became ill with the flu the week before which put a dampener on those plans. Thankfully the wonderful people at Icelolly gave me another opportunity to come up to Leeds and have a mingle with some fellow bloggers.
After collecting my name badge, I naturally headed across to the bar where I had a cup of mulled wine to warm me up. So much for dry January. Once I was nice, warm and had a good old gossip with my fellow bloggers it was time to grab a seat. The team at Icelolly had organised three amazing speakers for us so we can all achieve our blogging goals this year. So what did I learn? In a word? Lots.
“People need to understand what they need to know.”
In the first session of the day we got to become more familiar with the ‘new’ icelolly.com. I say ‘new’ because icelolly is the same great travel brand, just a little better. With around 20 million visitors a year, you’d expect icelolly to feel pretty content right? Well, just like we all want to step up our game in 2018, so does Icelolly.
Essentially, people need to understand what they need to know. And that makes sense right? I mean, sometimes you have that many things associated with travel, flights, hotels etc, that it can get a bit overwhelming and you have no idea where to start. But icelolly help guide you so you known you’re getting what you want. Completely independent, icelolly acts a bit like a comparison site, but for holidays. If you’ve used the site before, you might have noticed it has some smaller brands that you haven’t heard of. Well, you can now expect to see the likes of TUI and Jet2 in the mix. Throw in live pricing and availability, and you know for certain that you are seeing the best deal that is actually available at the time of your search.
Personally, I would think that those additions would be enough, but Icelolly have taken things a step further. Hands up, who looks at holiday during the morning commute? I’m definately guilty. Knowing how addicted to our phones we are, Icelolly have worked really hard to make sure the site is completely mobile-friendly, and focused on their search and filter functions so it’s as easy as possible for you to find exactly what you want. It sounds so simple, and kind of obvious, but makes the biggest difference for you finding a bargain.
A place where I can find the best deals on the internet at a click of a button from my phone? That’s a dangerous thing for my bank account.
“Be your own cheerleader.”
The next session we had was “How to Pitch Successful Travel Collaborations with Brands”, taken by Kirsty of Kirsty Leanne. Now I have to be honest, I will always be there supporting anything Kirsty does. She is such a lovely, sweet person who writes the most incredible blog and deserves every inch of success she achieves. I say success, because I saw how Kirsty took her blog from strength to strength last year, and to be honest, I want a piece of that action.
So what did I learn from Kirsty’s talk. Well, I learnt that it’s no use just saying “it’s only big bloggers who get opportunities”, you need to get out there and be your own cheerleader. There’s this taboo about bloggers approaching brands for work and I have no idea why. Obviously you don’t go in demanding things left right and centre, but surely someone has to start a conversation if there’s going to be a collaboration, so why can’t it be a blogger?
When it comes to pitching ideas, only you are going to persuade brands why they should work with you, and if you don’t get out there and pitch them, they are never going to be persuaded.
“You don’t have Beyonce’s entourage.”
After being fed and watered (thanks Icelolly!), we all took our seats for the next session, “Taking your Blog to the Next Level WIthout Going Full Time”, taken by Bee of Queen Beady. I’ve read Bee’s blog for ages and having just started a new job, I was pretty darn excited to listen and learn. Personally, I felt like Bee told me everything I subconsciously knew, but needed someone else to tell me before I took any notice.
It was when Bee said that, yeah “we all do have the same amount of time in a day as Beyonce, but you don’t have Beyonce’s entourage”, that it really sunk in for me. You are one person, and no matter how incredible you are at blogging, you will never be able to compete with a blog that has lots of people working on it. But; and this is a big but (lol). You might only be one person and can’t do everything, but you can do a lot if you’re savvy. Get up an hour earlier, use your lunch breaks, know what works for you and do that. Like I said in my blog post about the failure of my 5 year plan, you have to find what makes you work, both blog-wise and productivity-wise, and make the most of that. Then know when to stop and take a break. After all, if you’re burnt out, you can’t do anything.
“Find time to experiment.”
The last session was with the super talented Kaye Ford of Fordtography and The Life and Styles of KLF all about “Travel Photography Tips & Tricks”. Now, I know I’m a fan girl for Kirsty and Bee, but I was a tad starstruck with Kaye. I mean, most people have seen her work on social media, she is absolutely amazing! I’d like to think I take an ok photo, but, I’ll let you into a secret, I rarely venture off auto. There. It’s been said. But don’t worry, that might change soon.
With that in mind, the main lesson I learned from Kaye was that you need to take time to understand your camera and find time top experiment with the settings. You don’t have to have all the equipment, or the fanciest camera, just knowing how to work with what you got works wonders. That’s a life lesson if ever I heard one. I mean, Kaye actually mentioned that, when travelling, she only really takes a 50mm lens and a tripod, the rest is down to playing with settings. In a tourist spot with lots of people? Embrace them and make something visually interesting rather than trying to get a “perfect” shot. It’s more about capturing the essence and atmosphere than getting the same shot you’ve seen a thousand times on Instagram.
And with that, Blog At The Beach 2018 was finished. A massive thank you to icelolly.com for inviting me, and to Kirsty, Bee and Kaye for inspiring me and filling me with motivation. Now let’s all go put these lessons into practice!
Did you got to Blog At The Beach? What are your top blogging tips? What’s the most important thing you look for when searching for holidays? Let me know in the comments below!