Ironically, the first time I heard about TBEX was just after it had wrapped up in my hometown of Toronto in June 2013. One of the bloggers I was following had attended and written about it. Although it would have been economical for me to attend, since it was in my own backyard, it was too early as I hadn’t yet launched my blog, BigTravelNut, a website about budget travel for women. It wasn’t until the second time that I heard about it , that I decided to seriously consider joining hundreds of other bloggers and travel industry professionals at TBEX.
In the fall of 2013, I was told by Mike Richard of Vagabondish that bloggers’ conferences are a good place to meet lots of people and find business opportunities – even relatively young bloggers (less than a year old) could snatch sponsored activities or trips through speed networking. Soon after, I subscribed to the TBEX newsletter. I looked forward to the announcement of a TBEX conference in 2014, and in early April I decided to lock in the super early bird price and booked myself a spot at TBEX Athens!
Not only will this be my first TBEX conference, it will be my first bloggers’ conference.
Getting Ready – Plan and network
As the date draws nearer, there are many things for me to do to prepare for a travel blogging conference like TBEX. I’ve already designed new business cards for my blog. My next step is to put together a media kit (both online and in print).
This worries me a bit, as my numbers (from Google Analytics and social media) are not where I would like them to be. They are gradually and consistently inching up, but not fast enough. It is tempting to get discouraged when you see other bloggers’ numbers, but there is nothing I like more than travelling and writing so I have decided to take it as far as it can go!
I also plan to establish clear goals for the conference. This shouldn’t be too difficult: learn as much as possible about the business of blogging, meet new people, and try to establish a few partnerships with people in the travel industry. How often do you get dozens of representatives from travel companies and tourism boards all in one room? Even though you do “meet” a lot of people online through comments, e-mails and social media when you’re a blogger, nothing beats meeting people in person and establishing real relationships. I believe this is the quickest way of becoming known and being remembered: good ol’ fashion face-to-face meetings. Attending a conference also proves that you’re serious about your craft and can help distinguish you from the hobbyists.
I have already signed up for a pre-conference day-trip, Cultural and Culinary Sailing in the Saronic Sea. This will be my third time in one of the world’s oldest countries but attending the conference gives me reason to explore a new area of Greece I haven’t yet explored. Cape Sounio is high on my list.
I expect the conference itself to be exciting but exhausting. As an introvert, large crowds and noisy environments sap my energy, so I will need to make sure to get a lot of sleep and find a way to take quiet breaks every now and then to re-energize myself. I have heard many people say that they came out of TBEX buzzing with new ideas and renewed energy. I really hope this will be the push I need to take my blog to the next level, to create better articles, grow my traffic, and monetize.
Athens here I come!
Author Bio: Marie-France Roy is a travel blogger, freelance writer , photographer, and member of Travel Massive (a TBEX partner). Her blog, BigTravelNut focuses on budget and independent travel for women. Since 1992, she has travelled to 55 countries and seven continents. She officially resides in Toronto, Canada, but now spends about six months of the year abroad. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.