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3 Takeaways from Milwaukee BlogHouse

You know how a lot of action movies have some kind of training montage – the scene where the main character gets whipped into shape by some seasoned mentor? That’s kind of similar to what BlogHouse felt like. It was a (wonderfully) intense 4-day training session in which a team of experienced bloggers coached a group of up-and-comers into blogging champions. Here’s a brief look at a few of the biggest lessons I took away from this awesome experience.

Know Your Niche

It’s advice that I’ve received in many forms over my years of blogging, and it emerged as a more fundamental concept than ever at BlogHouse. It’s no secret that the number of travel blogs out there is growing exponentially virtually every day. Gaining and keeping readers’ attention means clearly demonstrating why your blog is unique, special, and generally worth their time.

I’ve always known that having a well-defined niche is important, but it’s something that I’ve struggled with for a long time because I do (and have done) a lot of different kinds of traveling: Sometimes I travel alone and sometimes I travel with my boyfriend; I’ve worked and lived abroad, but I’ve also taken short vacations; I’m usually traveling on a budget, but when I travel for work I often get to stay in high-end hotels. It seemed challenging to narrow all of that down into a clear focus.

Over the past year, I’ve been gradually emphasizing slow travel on my blog, and BlogHouse gave me the extra push I needed to continue in that direction. Although many aspects of my travel style are constantly in flux, my tendency to explore destinations slowly, learn languages, return to the same places, and immerse myself in the local culture has remained the same. It doesn’t mean I’ll never write about a whirl-wind trip, but approaching most of my posts from a slow travel perspective gives readers a sense of my blog’s overall tone and purpose.

Bloggers Do It 24/7

I’ve been to a few blog conferences and met up with other bloggers in the past, but BlogHouse was still one of the most concentrated and intensive periods I’ve ever spent with a group of bloggers. It gave me a pretty fascinating insight into how dedicated full-time bloggers have to be to succeed.

Despite the fact that I expose a lot about my life online, I’m a hard-core introvert in real life and I generally try to draw as little attention to myself as possible when I’m out in public. Watching the other bloggers, I realized that blogging often means stepping outside your comfort zone. It sometimes means taking an unabashed selfie in front of a crowd, or risking the embarrassment of asking your friends to let you take a photo of the food before everyone starts eating.

It often means thinking about stories, angles, and strategies during moments when most other travelers are simply relaxing – like taking the time to find out the ingredients and context of a local dish you’re eating, or snapping a photo of a beautiful hotel room before sprawling out on the bed. Every new experience is a potential story to share.

Connections Are Key

When I first start blogging, I imagined that if I provided useful content and awesome photos, people would naturally want to read it and share it. While this is true to a certain extent, readers (particularly other bloggers) are far more likely to share content that’s not only great, but produced by someone they know and like.

Beyond getting content shared, BlogHouse reminded me that making connections with other bloggers is essential to producing amazing content in the first place. There’s only so much innovation you can achieve when it’s just you, alone with your laptop. BlogHouse gave me the opportunity to bounce ideas off other bloggers, use their creativity as inspiration, and find support through their advice. It’s definitely possible to achieve some success working alone, but it seems like informal and formal collaborations with other bloggers are the key to creating truly mind-blowing content and campaigns.

Thanks to our BlogHouse Sponsors: Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, FlipKey, Visit Milwaukee, Travel Wisconsin and Bartolotta’s Restaurants.

2 Responses to 3 Takeaways from Milwaukee BlogHouse

  1. Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren July 14, 2015 at 2:33 AM #

    I’d absolutely love to participate in a BlogHouse one year! Maybe 2016?! Fingers crossed. Thanks for sharing, Jessica!

    Happy travels 🙂

  2. Carina July 14, 2015 at 4:26 AM #

    Oh these are such key take aways, thank you for sharing them with us 🙂 I have some issues with having a niche as well… hopefully i find that soon enough, or am able to better show it through my content.
    It really isn’t to succeed as a blogger, so much handwork goes into full time blogging! I applaud all the full time bloggers!

    x

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