A weekend in Newcastle-Gateshead
Traverse Events returned last month with their second travel blogging conference, Traverse 14, which took place in Newcastle-Gateshead on Saturday 22nd February. After enjoying last year’s Traverse conference I was really looking forward to another action-packed weekend full of inspiration, learning, networking and fun! As anticipated, I was not disappointed.
The Traverse weekend activities began on Friday evening with a casual opening party at the Baltic River Terrace, a fantastic location with a great view of the Quayside area and River Tyne. It also ended with a great party hosted by Expedia at As You Like It in Newcastle on Saturday night. On Sunday there were lots of experiences available for conference delegates to sign up to; I chose A journey into the world of Indian spices, hosted by Angeethi. That fantastic experience is deserving of a post of its own; Spice up your life Angeethi style!
My Traverse 14 sessions
I attended the following sessions at Traverse 14:
- Going Freelance
- Why would brands want to work with you?
- How bloggers should work with brands
- Keeping it legal
- How to create and build successful publishing projects
Julie Falconer presented this workshop which in a short space of time provided tons of useful and practical advice on each stage of going freelance. Networking and lining up work before you quit the day job are clearly important, as is identifying a workspace and creating a routine with tasks to complete on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. Julie also talked about the importance of tracking in relation to work activities, income, expenses, time and projects – you know, the stuff you don’t want to do but if you want to get paid, you’d better! Time tracking helps you understand what you should charge for the projects you work on, which is a good enough incentive to be organised. Don’t forget about the taxman either and that you need to register as self-employed before you start. Continue to build relationships and expand by leveraging your previous work, growth and partnerships. Always think about identifying work for the medium and long term, evaluate success (and areas to develop) and always be open to new opportunities.
Not the most critical learning point of the session, but one I identify with; it’s ok to work at home in your PJs – I do that as often as I can too 🙂
Why would brands want to work with you?
Mrs O shared her experience in relation to working with brands. In order to work effectively with brands, Mrs O built her own brand and created a consistent image with her own values, which are transferable for all bloggers and freelance workers:
- real personality
Mrs O also pays for most of her travels, she gets approached by brands because she has been loyal for many years and knows the brand. Having worked with a travel brand myself as an ambassador rather than a blogger, I can appreciate this completely.
Mrs O also talked about the importance of defining what it means to “deliver” – does this mean the brand should expect an increase in followers, viewings, bookings? Should you work with all brands that approach you? In short, no. It’s important from both perspectives that the brand and blogger fit. A blogger should also take care that they do not work with too many brands either, where possible, if your work with brands can be complimentary, it is likely to be viewed more positively.
Probably the most important takeaway from the session was a reminder that bloggers should “stay honest” and remember that there is no blog without readers; I couldn’t agree more.
How bloggers should approach brands
MSC Cruises are a great example of a brand which knows how to work with bloggers. They provided some great tips for bloggers, which are all transferable to working with brands in general. Here’s a few gems:
- Look at the partnership through the brand’s eyes.
- Brands respond best to pitches that show an understanding of their business goals and are focused upon helping them achieve their business objectives.
- Demonstrate you are audience-centric; make sure your audience is really likely to be the right fit for the brand; “our audience is your audience”.
- Stand out from the crowd and inspire confidence to close the deal.
One of the really important takeaways was that it was made clear that it is acceptable for a blogger to approach a brand and ask them what their business goals are; there’s no point pitching to a brand if you aren’t on the same page.
Keeping it legal
Steve Keenan returned to Traverse 14 to deliver yet another useful and important session; keeping it legal. It’s an area that I regularly support colleagues with, although I don’t have an academic background in the law, I’ve developed a good understanding. I’m always willing to learn more though and to listen to other perspectives, which is why I chose this session.
Steve presented some really helpful case studies of what happens when things go wrong, highlighting the need for bloggers to engage with this topic. One of the key takeaways from the session was that the Defamation Act 2013 came into use recently, which introduces some positive developments for bloggers and website owners in general.
- Steve recommended the Electronic Frontier Foundation website
How to create and build successful publishing projects
The Budget Traveller delivered this final session that I attended. Kash having experienced the highs and lows of publishing had lots of valuable tips to share:
- To thrive in the current world of digital publishing you have to see yourself as an innovator.
- Always look for the value you can add, by doing something different and new.
- Think differently, don’t just think about telling a story, think how you can solve a puzzle.
- Allow yourself time to be creative.
- Learn to delegate and work with good people who “know their shit”.
- In order to create your dream project, you don’t need high web traffic, you need good content.
- Collaborate e.g. with tourist boards or other bloggers.
- Pitch like a pro – “keep calm and sponsor me” 🙂
- To work with brands, you’ve got to think like brands and act like brands.
- Good design is important.
- Be prepared to fail. Many times.
Final thoughts on Traverse 14
Traverse 14 was yet another inspiring conference experience, with lots of really practical and helpful advice, all at a very affordable price. The Sage, Gateshead was a fantastic venue for the event too. I’m fortunate that I don’t live too far away from Newcastle-Gateshead because it’s a great destination, full of lovely, friendly northerners and plenty to see and do. As for Traverse Events, their next venture is BlogStock; I’ll be away for this but I’m looking forward to hearing more.
Did you attend Traverse 14 and write about it? Please feel free to share in the comments, below.