The last week in April saw the return of Traverse – an annual blogging conference bringing together influencers, industry insiders and key speakers from all over the world. The 2017 edition came to London with numerous fun events and experiences taking place around the capital before culminating in the main conference at the stunning Ravensbourne conference centre just metres away from the O2 Arena.
It was a great success with over 500 attendees enjoying talks, seminars and workshops from experts, content creators and leading brands. Traverse 17 proved to be extremely valuable and here is a selection of things I took away from the event
1 Networking is key
One of the key reasons why events like Traverse continue to be popular is the opportunity they provide to meet people face to face. This is particularly important in a digital industry, where meeting peers and key players in person can be challenging. I relished the opportunity to rub shoulders with PR experts, SEO gurus, YouTubers and of course, fellow bloggers. It was fantastic putting names to faces as well as engaging with brands and sponsors to discuss potential collaboration opportunities. I even got to meet one of my favourite bloggers – Barefoot Backpacker! He’s a great guy and I highly recommend you check out his blog! Catching up with the amazing #PTTravel Twitter chat guys was also super fun!
2 My SEO needs a LOT of work
I have plenty to do around my Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). A fantastic talk by marketing expert Judith Lewis (twitter: @JudithLewis) was eye-opening and highlighted the importance of strong SEO when trying to rank online. The session featured practical advice, tool suggestions and plenty of chocolate that was thrown in the direction of those brave enough to ask a question. Some of the key things everyone took away included keeping image sizes as small as possible to reduce page load times and optimising keywords. I use the Yoast WordPress plugin and I’ve learned that that, while useful, it’s not the ultimate solution to SEO -so I will be focusing a lot on my site in the coming months.
3 Don’t undervalue yourself as a blogger
Those influencers trying to monetise their work will know all too well of the dilemmas faced in this industry. Working with incompatible brands, lack of negotiation and not knowing own value can be damaging – it could lead to low fees, poor contract terms and even loss of authenticity. So, the key is to take each brand and consider how they fit your blog, what each party will gain from working together and, most importantly, stay true to yourself. We have a lot to give to brands as well as our audience. Nicola Easterby from Polka Dot Passport hit the nail on the head in her Instagram talk – be authentic, create quality content and realise that worth isn’t measured in likes and followers. Sometimes, I pay too much attention at my hits, number of comments and likes. Then I stop and remember that I blog because I love travelling and sharing my experiences – all bloggers would do well not to lose sight of that!
4 There are loads of opportunities out there
Monetising and creating partnership opportunities isn’t straightforward. Many will inevitably ask: “But where do I even begin!?” Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities out there as more and more brands find themselves willing to work with bloggers and influencers, realising the value and potential of these collaborations. The key is to be confident in yourself and your brand, identify what you want to get out of a collaboration and pitch to companies that fit with your content and audience. Needless to say, a luxury travel blogger will probably be called out for promoting portable camping stoves! The most important thing is to give it a try – you have nothing to lose! I’ve told myself that I need to be more proactive in reaching brands and publications as well promoting my blog. I am really looking forward to doing some pitches in the coming months!
5 Live video is where it’s at and you can be a pioneer if you start NOW!
Ever since I started blogging, I found myself occasionally stopping and thinking: “But so much of this has already been done!” The industry has come a long way and the barrier to entry is low – anyone could be a travel blogger or make videos! The key is to stand out – having a niche is more important than ever! After attending Tawanna Browne Smith’s great talk, I will let you in on a little secret – live video is the next big thing and very few people are doing it! Not only is it very immediate and allows for unique engagement with your audience, but being an early adopter can put you in good stead when it really takes off! I am looking forward to doing some videos on my upcoming trips! Time to practice being on camera!
6 London is a fantastic city
In case any of us needed another reminder, London is a pretty badass city. The Traverse team and the amazing sponsors went out of their way to make the conference and the events as good as they possibly could be. From the opening night drinks in the Millbank Tower and the evening boat cruise along the Thames to bike and street art tours of the city and the stunning Ravensbourne conference venue right next to the O2, we got to experience some of the incredible events and locations that the capital has to offer! Thanks, Traverse!
7 Traverse 18 will be in the Netherlands! Bring on Rotterdam!
In a surprise announcement during the conference, we found out that Traverse 18 will take place in Rotterdam! While details are still being worked out, this was met by excited cheers and applause – heading to the Netherlands will be super exciting and I am looking forward to visiting the city for the first time! If you want to be one of the first to know more about Traverse 18, register your interest here!
8 The blogging community is amazing
When I started blogging, I literally didn’t know anyone else who was. I wanted to do it because I enjoyed writing and travel. Attending my first Traverse in 2016 was a little intimidating – everyone seemed to know everyone else! Fast forward 12 months and throughout the week I realised that the blogging community is pretty amazing – supportive, friendly and helpful. It’s inspiring to be a part of it and I am lucky to have met some great people thanks to Traverse! You all know who you are!
And that’s that! I had a brilliant time at Traverse 17 and would recommend it to absolutely EVERYONE, regardless of whether you are a total newbie or already a famous influencer. Roll on 2018!