As l mentioned on the prior blog post, our visit to Stockholm happened because the TBEX conference was being held in the city. We decided to kill two birds with one stone so to speak. It turned out to be a great thing. We enjoyed the conference very much. I consider it money well spent. Here is our takeaway from the TBEX conference Europe with some information on what to expect, along with tips to prepare yourself for attending one.
TBEX is Travel Blog Exchange. It is a yearly conference that takes place in America, Europe and now Asia. This is a networking mecca for travel bloggers, both new and old. It was my second time of attending the conference. Last year, it was held in the town of Lloret de Mar in Spain. This year, it was held in Stockholm. It gave me a chance to up my blogging game a bit by connecting with online friends and learning new things about blogging. You are never too old to learn l say. Admittedly, there is still a lot l need to learn to become a better blogger. That is why it’s so beneficial to attend these sessions (there were 3 breakout sessions a day over two days, from 9am-5pm with a nice lunch served in-between). The topics ranged from “writing better stories” to “affiliate marketing” to “mastering Snapchat”, “Introduction to Vlogs” “Podcasting” and a whole bunch of other topics. It was hard to narrow it down to just six over the course of the two days.
I got a lot more out of the sessions this year than l did last year. The reason being that l felt the speakers were more forthcoming about where they actually made their money. Last year, most sessions l attended were conducted by veteran bloggers who basically told you that they made tons of money, but then when asked how by the naive blogger attendees, got the standard answer “I don’t disclose that information”. You’re sitting there like “then what the heck are you here for?”. It was very frustrating for me as well as to the other newcomers. I signed up for some things that never amounted to anything because l never knew how to use them effectively. Last year helped with my social media a lot which was good. This year added strategies in addition. Yeah! The day prior to the conference, there were paid workshops with different bloggers that you can sign up for. These run several hundred dollars each. I can’t comment on them as l have never done, or know of anyone who has.
This conference started out with a rousing speech by Ian Cleary, a very energetic and engaging content and social marketer. The rest of the sessions were just as good, content wise. You can find a list of the topics on this page as it is too numerous to write. It will give you an idea of just how good they were. The best part was that, at least in the sessions l attended, the speakers gave a pretty good idea of where they were making their money, be it print on demand or direct and indirect affiliate marketing. This type of willingness to share was good for everyone, especially so for those thinking about monetizing their blogs or those who just wanted to tell better stories like me (I still refuse to write like a poet though :-) , sorry!) . While we were learning in Stockholm, the failed coup was taking place in Turkey, another painful reminder of the chaos that is becoming common these days. One of my favorite sessions was conducted by a lovely man by the name of Murat. I had wanted to tell him how much l loved his lecture, but there were too many people hanging about. A day after the conference ended, we decided to get some sushi for dinner, and lo and behold, Murat was sitting at one of the tables. We ended up having a wonderful evening chatting about everything, especially how much we loved our Istanbul visit. His flight back to Istanbul had been cancelled due to the coup, and he was stuck there for the time being. He had been looking forward to spending time with his family :-( .
If you are a travel blogger and can make it to a TBEX conference, l would suggest you do so. If you are new to blogging, you can prepare by:
- Registering as early as you can. There is usually a discount for early registration
- Signing up for TBEX conference trips. These are usually sponsored trips by hosts designed to show you the best bits of the city. They fill up quickly so you want to register as soon as possible and then cross your fingers :-) .
- Having a blog. While you don’t have to be an experienced blogger to attend, it helps with your credibility if you at least have a blog you can refer people to.
- Having business cards handy. They don’t have to be super expensive either. We got ours made via Vistaprint. They don’t get much cheaper than that. Remember this conference is for networking, so you will be handing out your cards to other bloggers, company reps and anyone else you meet. I suggest bringing at least 100.
- Keeping it professional. I think sometimes people get carried away because the atmosphere is very relaxed and casual. There are opening parties etc. and l think sometimes the frat mentality creeps in with people drinking and partying too much, and then not showing up for their sessions or scheduled tours etc. Remember, once you get a bad reputation, it is very hard to shake and can impact your future. It’s a very small world .
- Signing up for speed networking with companies that interest you. Don’t feel bad if you don’t hear back or are declined. They usually like to meet with the top bloggers with insane number of followers (mmm..not us :-) ). It never hurts to hang around the sponsor tables and then move in if you see that they have a spare minute to talk. Don’t do that during the sessions though as you may be taking time away from their scheduled appointee.
- Stepping out of your comfort zone. I am a shy person by nature till you get to know me, and then l am a loudmouth! :-) . I have trouble approaching people, but l am getting better. Introduce yourself to as many people as you can. You never know where it might lead.
- Not forgetting to open the goodie bag handed to you :-) . Inside our bags, we found free 72 hour pass on public transport as well as a 2 day pass for a lot of museums and water transportation too. Complimentary tickets to the ABBA museum, complimentary tickets for Context travel good anywhere in the world among others. Makes your registration fee worth it. This amounted to quite a bit of money saved (excess of $250 for both of us which made the whole trip money wise a lot more palatable :-) ). Imagine, that’s about what we paid for the conference! Sweet deal indeed!!!
- Having a media kit. This is a snapshot of your blog with details on your social media followings and your target audience. This is one of the services l provide if you need one made up. You should have one ready to send if requested.
- Following through with any promises. If you happen to get a free tour or trip, you’re expected to blog and promote it on social media. It is important to keep your word. Go the extra mile even, especially if you’re starting out. You can’t expect to be considered a professional if you act like a twat!
On the whole, l think the TBEX conference is a good way to meet other bloggers and brands. It is a very crowded and continuously growing field. The networking can help you stand out just a bit, or even more if you want to make it a business. One needs to have a business plan if your goal is to become a digital nomad. You already know how l feel about that! :-) . You can definitely learn new things, whether your blog is a hobby or your sole source of income. Use the opportunity to ask questions from seasoned bloggers. Everyone (for the most part :-) ) is there to encourage and help others. You’ll easily suss out the “too cool for school” people. The most important thing is to have fun and learn some.
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Have you ever been to a TBEX conference?. If yes, was it beneficial for you? If no, do you attend conferences in your field of business to increase your knowledge? Share with us.