What I Learned From Teaching at the #Bloghouse

If you were at TBEX or following along on Twitter you might have noticed a lot of tweets with the hashtag #bloghouse (and if you’re not on twitter you probably have no idea what that means). The Blog House was an exciting new project that Mike and I were able to be involved in that involved mentoring a select group of new bloggers while enjoying a fabulous villa in Besalu, Spain.

Now I love villas, and I kind of love teaching, but I really, really loved being involved in this project. I’m a huge beleiver in community, and in the travel blogger community in particular. It’s what kept me going for over three years and what inspires me every day. So I really believe in the importance of mentoring. So much gets lost and overlooked in a massive conference environment, but this scenario let me get to truly know some new people and to really dig deep in discussing the art of travel blogging.

So yes, I was supposed to be the teacher, but I learned a lot too. Here’s a partial list:

Costa Brava is Acutely Beautiful

 Yes, it’s so pretty it literally hurts me. I’d never been to this corner of Spain before but I was awestruck by Girona (more on that later this week) and the tiny Medeval town of Besalu where we sequestered ourselves for two nights. The town looked like something out of a storybook: narrow cobblestone walkways, ancient stone buildings and a bridge to outdo all bridges.

Then, there was a villa. Now I wouldn’t call myself a villa connoisseur but I’m certainly developing a taste for them. The Casa- Marcial was lent to us by the charming folks at charming villas and had 12 bedrooms, giant common rooms for blog chats, a swimming pool and the remains of medevial church on the grounds. I think it’s popular for weddings, but we made great use of the space for both working and partying.

How to Make Paella

Well, I’m not totally sure I could recreate this masterpiece, but I still got to watch the care that goes into creating one. Our first night in the Blog House we had a private chef come in to show us foodies and food photographers how to create a traditional spanish meal. The results were creamy shrimp, stuffed squid and this vast paella, which took about an hour to bubble and cook up crisp.

How to Use Lightroom 4

I know I was supposed to be the teacher but I got totally sucked in to hearing Michael Hodson talk about how he edits photos, something I am pretty half-assed at. I was also fascinated to hear Kate McCulley’s presentation on how to work with sponsors. And everyone wanted to here Michael Tieso (that’s MY Mike!) speak on wordpress optimization.

I think that one of the key things that made the Blog House work so well is that the 5 organizing mentors all have vastly different blog strategies, talents and abilities. I’m a strong believe that there is no one way to travel blog, so I think it’s really great for newbie bloggers to experience a bunch of different opinions and make up their own mind.

I Can’t Drink Like I Used To

It’s no secret that travel bloggers party hard. Seeing as we were in Spain, we consumed copious amounts of red wine each night. Late into the evening we had long conversations and a few dance parties. The second night we brought in a boatload of PR people who only made the situation messier.

But guys, I just can’t drink bottles and bottle of red wine. Not anymore. It just makes me dizzy and messy and I end up with red splotches all down my white t-shirt (true, sad story). I got to be the old lady this week, going to bed at the early hour of 3am while everyone else partied til dawn.

The Next Generation of Travel Bloggers has Crazy Talent

Travel blogging has an industry is growing exponentially. With little barrier to entry and such enticing rewards, more and more people are staking out a space on the internet and aiming for the stars. That’s great, but it also means competition is getting stiffer and sometimes it can be heard to separate the good from the bad.

We found some really great gems for our house. Really bright and inspired bloggers who were enthusiastic about learning about the industry and improving their websites. Really nice people too! Exactly the kind of people I want as my coworkers in this ever changing internet cube farm I work in. By the end of TBEX I really had the warm fuzzies for everyone involved.

A special thanks to very first blog house participants! Be sure to check out their awesome blogs:

I Still Have a Lot to Learn

Just like the newbie bloggers I mentioned, this site is still a work in progress. The three days we spent in Besalu really drove home how much I still have to learn and improve on in my own blog (and certainly in my writing). It’s what keeps me coming back to these conferences and what keeps me humble- that I’m so very lucky to have an audience at all, and I need to always work hard to keep and serve my readers.

All in all the event was a definite success, and something we are going to strive to do again in the near future. After my liver recovers.

24 thoughts on “What I Learned From Teaching at the #Bloghouse”

  1. Oh what fun! I was sad I didnt have the chance to even apply to this house but I am SO happy it was such a HUGE success for you guys! I hope you do it again because I’m so flying across the world to take part next time! Personally I followed along on Instagram versus Twitter. I just like photos more!

  2. Aw, such a nice write up, Steph. Thanks so much for including me in the #BlogHouse experience. It was so good to meet you all and I left having learnt so much. Hopefully see you again soon 🙂

  3. That looks like great fun. Wish I could be a fly on the wall to hear about all the tips! – shall be very useful for a baby travel blogger like me 🙂

  4. Aww this was so lovely to read! I had such an incredible time at the blog house with everyone, and it’s great to hear that you enjoyed it just as much. Thanks so much for inviting me to be a part of it!

  5. I was really glad to be a part of the blog house! I learned a lot and have already been hard at work making some changes to better my blog.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself about going to bed at 3am. I was definitely in bed well before you!

  6. Aww, I miss you all! I’m back in Ecuador now and have just emerged from a few days sans internet. Besalu was a great experience and I learned loads. Thanks so much for inviting me. Please can we all come again next time? 🙂

  7. What an amazing mentoring opportunity! Well done for putting it together! Look forward to following the growth of the recipients – no pressure, ha!

  8. This is awesome! It sounds like it was an educational experience for everyone involved. In my experiences teaching, I’ve always come away learning a lot, often as much as or more than my students. And you can’t go wrong when the class includes a gorgeous house and a paella chef!

    I also clicked through to some of your students’ blogs. I like reading new voices!

    Happy travels to you 🙂

  9. I only wish I had a chance to be in the #bloghouse! any idea if anyone is putting one together for Toronto? I missed my chance on Girona! How about a post on the most common mistakes new travel blogger make? just a thought

  10. This sounds great, Steph, and what a cool thing for you guys to offer to some newbie bloggers. I’d love to have gone, but alas I’m currently incapacitated from travelling outside of Korea. Boo.

    I wonder if there’ll be anything like this going down in Toronto next year and if other bloggers will operate a similar thing? Hmm.

  11. Ha! Dalene stole my comment. I definitely don’t drink like I used to. Well, acutally, I do…never drank that much to begin with (except college and at random parties..okay whatever). So us little old ladies can play gin rummy or something at the next one. 😉

  12. Glad you had such a great time.

    Being new to the travel blogging world, I know little/nothing about this event. You were invited to it, or …?

    I am off to TBEX Europe as my first event/conference, in a few weeks and am very excited to meet some people with a passion like me, and you!

    Take care,

    Clare

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