For someone who has traveled both internationally and throughout the US pretty thoroughly, I am ashamed to say that before June I had never been to Chicago. I had no good reason for it: Chicago just never called to me, and it’s not really on the way to anywhere else, so it’s never been a priority.
Well, I freaking loved this city. I’ll be explaining all about why in future posts, but I thought I would start off by talking about the thing that brought me here in the first place: BlogHouse.
If you’ve been reading for awhile, you already know about my involvement as an instructor in Navigate Media’s BlogHouse program. They are a kind of bootcamp for newer bloggers, that we’ve run successfully in Costa Brava, Toronto, Ireland and now Chicago.
Michael and I both freaking love being involved with BlogHouse. It’s one of my favorite engagements of the year: It’s fun, it’s inspiring and it’s pretty neat to spend the weekend with a bunch of other passionate people.
This year’s BlogHouse was the best one to date, and here is why:
We held our even at the ornate Villa d’Citta, thanks to our accommodation sponsor Flipkey. It was an enormous brownstone in Lincoln Park with a hot tub, a wine tap in the wall and lots of cozy spots to curl up and talk about blogging. We had a staff that cooked us breakfast and lunch and baked us late night chocolate chip cookies. Basically I never wanted to leave.
It’s all about blogging, but it’s never JUST about blogging. We like to have fun too. We had some terrific sponsors for the weekend including GoGo and Megabus. From our industry night at Vertigo skyline to our final amazing dinner at Mercadito, we ate really well. We were lucky enough to have Goose Island Beer Company as another official sponsor, which meant cases of amazing craft beer for the house (sometimes blogging talk just goes down easier with a beer).
My favorite activity of the weekend however, was our ride with Chicago Electric Boats. We cruised the Chicago River on these self-piloted small passenger boats, sipping our beer and gawking at the crazy Chicago skyline. I also spent a lot of time taking pictures of ducks.
At the heart of all the schmoozing, beer drinking and boat piloting is our real purpose: teaching the key tools you need to become a successful travel blogger. Through one-on-one site audits, group presentations and workshops, we try really hard to convey key information on a range of subjects from photography to branding to social media. We want to help people make money of course, but more importantly, we want to help shape the next generation of quality travel blogs out there.
As always I learned some new stuff too. Ayngelina’s talk on Facebook advertising was illuminating and it’s always great to hear other blogger’s perspectives on things like working with PR, making money and more. Basically when you get a bunch of really passionate people in a room together, magic is bound to happen.
The Amazing Bloggers
One of my favorite things about being involved in BlogHouse is the intense bonds you can build in just a couple of days. I love getting to know these ambitious new faces in blogging and some of them have become close friends over time and writers for this site. This year was no exception.
Here are the new members of our BlogHouse Family:
- Francesca Mazurkiewicz – TheWorkingMomsTravels.com
- Anne Lowrey – PartTimeTraveler.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