It’s hard to imagine the incredible experience of BlogHouse began with a man in pink panties and a bra waltzing up and down the aisles of the Sunday afternoon Dublin to Cork train.
I was traveling from Dublin to BlogHouse with a handful of other travel bloggers for an intensive four day workshop in Bansha, Ireland. I was nervous about spending 24/7 in a house for 4 days with a dozen people I didn’t know, so my cross-dressing seat mate was a welcome distraction. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend BlogHouse, but worried it might end badly. I was older than most travel bloggers. I was going to have a roommate for the first time in years (Poor. Thing.). I don’t do well locked in a room staring at a computer screen for hours and I have the attention span of a squirrel. The list of potential disasters was long, but after spending the past year crashing around in the virtual dark, I was struggling to move forward with my blog. I needed help and Navigate Media’s BlogHouse was the answer.
We left the party-on-rails, piled off the train at Limerick Junction and drove off to Bansha Castle, a lovely, ancient home filled with winding stairways, tower rooms and Irish hospitality.
The Blogging Masters of the Universe gathered at the Castle from the four corners of the earth to mentor this crew of novice bloggers in the art and science of web design, SEO, WordPress and social media, media kits, photography and writing. For nine hours every day. Nine. Hours. The evenings were spent in long and bluntly honest conversations about choosing a blogging niche and thus, the phrase “being niched” became stuff of BlogHouse legends. Our mentors were incredibly generous with their time, talents and resources and I am incredibly grateful for their willingness to commit every spare moment to answering questions, sharing their experiences and showing us that this travel blogging dream is possible. I offer my gratitude and many thanks to our BlogHouse mentors:
Craig and Linda Martin of Indie Travel Podcast are the Kiwi hosts of the best travel podcast on the internets. Also incredibly warm, generous and knowledgable perpetual travelers.
Michael Hodson of Go, See, Write left lawyering to travel and never went back. He is a Renaissance man of the travel blogging world…great stories, phenomenal photos and inspirational film.
Ayngelina Brogan is the fabulous, effervescent woman behind the brand Bacon Is Magic. A read through Ayngelina’s blog offers a trifecta of goodness…food, wine and travel.
Pete and Dalene Heck of Hecktic Travels have a special place in my heart since they introduced me to housesitting as a way to travel. They are both Canadian, corporate runaways and travel/housesit full time.
I know what you’re wondering (because I wondered it myself) …what does a room full of travel bloggers look like? Go ahead and imagine it for a minute. I’ll wait.
This, my friends, was the biggest surprise of all. Travel bloggers are incredibly passionate, talented and interesting people. I was expecting that. I wasn’t expecting the sense of community I felt from the first moment we stood in the kitchen together and decided to open the wine and explore the castle. I didn’t expect mornings gathered around the kitchen table, the all-out effort to maintain a constant coffee supply, the morale building conversations and the pervasive spirit of generosity… sharing ideas, advice and friendship.
Do yourself a favor and meet this year’s BlogHouse Ireland attendees:
Indiana Jo runaway lawyer, smart lady, entertaining writer. Because she chose not to smother me in my sleep, we’ll add tolerant traveler to her list of virtues.
Wandering Wahba is the smart, quiet guy in the back of the room filled with brilliant ideas. He also has a good heart. Who wouldn’t love a man who organizes ice hockey in India?
Helen in Wonderlust is a passionate, exuberant adventure girl with a particular love for Africa. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s going to help plan my Africa trip.
Travel Addicts is half Lance, half Laura, traveling the world as a couple. Lance must be the details guy in the operation, because he doesn’t miss a thing. Great site, fabulous couple and they’ve been EVERYWHERE together.
Nerd Travels isn’t quite as nerdy as his blog implies. Brendan is the kind of traveler I’d love to be…he has an agenda, but isn’t a slave to it. He’s open to whatever adventure life holds for him. He’s also the kind of guy who helps you hide the evidence of a light-night binge eating session.
Sateless Suitcase is a fascinating read from Julika, a degreed art and cultural history graduate from Germany. This girl knows her stuff and writes in a way that really captures the essence of a place. She has an eye for photography and enjoys a day out in an ancient cemetery, which makes her fabulous as far as I’m concerned.
Eille La Cheap! isn’t just travel, although she does that quite well, it’s a little bit of everything. Creative Beatrice is a true believer in a luxe lifestyle for less and she writes about it all in TWO languages, French and English.
The Wanderfull Traveler is Murissa’s culinary adventure blog. Murissa is based in British Columbia and is the area’s up and coming food and wine expert. She is also a writer and writes about her travels and inspiration whenever and wherever she can.
The Occasional Traveller Ah, Jac. The fun, smart, classy solo traveler who balances a full-time job with travel writing. She may LIVE in Singapore, but this girl is on the move inspiring other desk-bound wanderlusters to take a break from the daily grind and travel. Also a good dancer.
Am I beginning to sound like an Academy Awards speech? I’m sorry, it can’t be helped. Everyone deserves a “thank you.” The following people donated the resources so we could live, work and learn at Bansha Castle’s BlogHouse.
Things to Know
If you would like to know more about “being a better blogger,” you can read Indiana Jo’s perfect write up.
If you are interested in attending a Navigate Media Blog House event, you can find most of the pertinent information here.