What I Learned From TBEX

TBEX Logo

As I first started writing this post, I quickly realized that I was going against some of the very things I planned on writing about in this post. Don’t worry, I did my best to fix it, but this is just one of the many valuable lessons I learned last weekend!

If you know what TBEX is, skip this entire paragraph. Background Information: Last weekend I attended a world travel bloggers conference called TBEX. When I registered I thought the conference was a Toronto based conference, but later learned the conference travels to a new location every year and that this was the 4th edition. The goal of the conference, from my understanding, is for bloggers and industry to connect while learning some stuff in the process.

One of the most important things I learned is I tend to add way too much “clutter” in my blog posts. This means words that really don’t need to be there. To keep in line with minimizing this, I will make this post a point form list:

– Conferences are a MUST for anyone in blogging. If you run a blog but never get out and meet real people your experiences are likely going to suck. Also, networking is VITAL for progression. I met so many awesome people at TBEX who I hope to keep in touch with in the future.

– My writing has a lot of room for improvement (as I touched on above). Listening to some of the great writers at TBEX I realized I really need to focus on my writing style much more. I hate proof-reading my work, so I rarely do it, but I need to start. Having well-written content will get you those valuable return visitors and visitors that read more than just one page.

– Strangers aren’t bad. I have never experienced an environment where it was so easy to just go up and talk to random strangers. Every single person I met at the conference was super friendly and very approachable. I find a lot of people in Toronto are very closed off to strangers. I think this has to do with us being brainwashed as children to believe that all strangers are dangerous. It was really refreshing to see that strangers really can be amazing!

– Good things DON’T come to those who wait, they come to those who go out and get them! For far too long I have just sat back waiting for companies to approach me with my blog. While this may work over a long period of time, this is the wrong strategy. If you want to work with companies/brands then go out and pitch them! Here is an example of what a really good travel pitch should look like:

good travel pitch

– Dance like everyone is watching, but just don’t care what everyone thinks. So many of our life lessons are completely backwards, this is just an example of one. At the Saturday night party at Easy & The Fifth I haven’t seen so many people just out having a genuinely great time. Everyone was dancing and no one had a care what anyone thought. Here is a Vine video that I took at Easy & The Fifth:

– Having a good audience with your blog is worth WAY more than your following on any social network. Social networks come and go (think MySpace), but if you can build a following with your blog then those people are the ones that will spread your content on whatever social network is the most popular at that current time.

– Be able to prove your abilities with case studies. This goes without saying.

– There is a big disconnect between brands and bloggers regarding payment. Bloggers think a blog post is worth $223 on average while brands think it is only worth $112.99. For some reason they both think a tweet ($55.36 avg by brands and a whopping $178.11 by bloggers) is valued more than a Facebook update ($47.62 avg). Personally I think a blog will always carry way more value than a social update and that brands are way off. Brands do need to realize that an average blogger invests $1373 building their own personal brand so they expect a return on this investment and paying in free product just doesn’t work.

– Brands value traffic the least when looking to work with a blogger. This is how they rank what they want from a blogger:

What Brands Value

– When pitching, think outside the box. Don’t just go after an airline or hotel, go after non-travel companies with a different angle. Pitch content that you can provide to them, not just a single blog post. For example, pitch a camera company if you take really great photos on your travels.

– If you want to make money blogging, build a publishing empire, not a blog. Here are the slides from the building a publishing empire presentation.

– There are ways to make money from travel blogging other than writing: consulting, content production, tours, social media, & self publishing.

– Journalists shouldn’t hate bloggers, they should become one. Look at what @sullyfish did:

sullyfish

– If you can’t find a direct ROI from working with a blogger, think about things like the SEO boost your brands’ site will get by working with a blogger, the increase in fans on your social networks, and the content you can get by working with them.

– The future of travel blogging lies in: micro blogging, longer blog posts, companies use bloggers for content, travel talk shows, new media & traditional media merge, video blogging increases, online TV travel shows and engagement.

These are the key takeaways I got from the weekend, but would love to here if anyone had a different experience. If so, let me know in the comments below what YOU got most out of TBEX or any other tips you may have for bloggers or brands. Also, don’t forget to add me on Twitter so we can keep in touch!

3 Responses to What I Learned From TBEX

  1. Great summary of the weekend, Graham! One of the things I found most interesting were how many of the sponsors were willing to work with smaller bloggers based on their niche instead of looking purely at traffic numbers. I guess I just always assumed that only the biggest of the big would get any attention at TBEX. Overall, it was an awesome weekend, and amazing learning experience. And to think: I almost didn’t go.

    • Graham says:

      Thanks for the comment Ryan! It definitely was a great weekend and is nice to see that so many brands do want to work with the bloggers. I used to think it was just the big guys, but now I see it differently. I think they will work with anyone but as a smaller blogger I need to present my idea to them instead of the other way around.

  2. […] Sunday afternoon I was sitting around a table with a bunch of bloggers at TBEX talking about how I would love to attend the upcoming The Art Of Marketing. Little did I know that […]

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