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Key takeaways from Icelolly.com’s #BlogattheBeach

Blog at the Beach

Last weekend I was thrilled to be attending Icelolly.com’s #BlogattheBeach event, not only was it my first blogging event but it was an opportunity to meet travel bloggers I started following before I knew what ‘blogging’ was! The day was a great mix of fun talks from industry experts and tips on how to improve your blog combined with a buffet and cocktails. Fab! Here’s what the day had in store for us along with some of my key takeaways.

Introduction to Icelolly.com

Sunny's presentation

First up was a lovely introduction from Marketing Director, Suni who gave us the low down on Icelolly.com. The holiday comparison site receives over 20 million visitors a year and compares over 85 million cheap holidays from some of the UK’s top travel companies, making sure holiday-makers get the best travel deals.

Digital Marketing in 2015: A Blogger’s Basic Guide

Rob talks about SEO

Next up was Robb Frost, Technical Account Manager at WMG talking about Digital Marketing trends for 2015 with an emphasis on SEO (a topic he has several years professional experience in).

Robb’s top SEO tips included:

-Use Yoast Plug in or All-in-One-SEO-Pack to help with title tags

-Title tags must be between 30 and 65 characters and have a maximum of two key words

Moz is an excellent tool to help find the best title tag

-Meta description underneath your title tag is not an SEO ranking factor but users will see it and are more likely to click through to your site

-Meta descriptions must be between 80 and 165 characters

-Keywords in the title must match up with the description

-H1 tags should have the same keywords as the title and H2 and H3 tags should be used afterwards in the post

-Google provides Adwords for free to help you find the best keywords for your site

-If you have a niche, make sure to do some keyword research and include references to them in you title tag, description and H1 tag

-Content linked to your homepage will be given the biggest ranking boost

How to work with travel brands without compromising your blog’s identity

Monica from The Travel Hack

Next, Monica from The Travel Hack talked about working with travel brands, the do’s, the don’ts and the must haves. Monica has been a Travel Blogger for many years now, and has been officially freelance for over two years, so she knows her stuff! Speaking from her own experience, she discussed what brands want from bloggers so they can ensure delivery of results and provide the best value for brands and themselves.

What brands are looking for:

-Personality

-Trust worthy and professional bloggers

-Multi-skilled bloggers (who can write, photograph, film etc.)

-High statistics

-A niche

10 things you need in your pitch:

1) Who you are

2) A bit about your blog (no essays!)

3) A description of your niche (if you haven’t got one, get one!)

4) Statistics (offer to screen shot your Google Analytics page if they need confirmation)

5) What you want

6) What you will provide in return

7) Why your brand is a good one to work with

8) Examples of your work from previous trips

9) Testimonials (or link to a media pack)

10) Say if you can provide any extras (e.g. copies of photos you may have taken that they would like to use for marketing purposes)

Every travel blogger is different however a good amount of coverage for the brand is one blog post each day you are on the trip on something different you have experienced or observed. Think about posts that allow readers to replicate the trip to add value to them.

In terms of pitching, media contacts, people you have met through events like Travel Massive and World Travel Market are all great places to start. World Travel Market in particular is a great place to network and pitch ideas straight to brands.

How not to be a sell out:

-Only work with brands that you love and would use yourself

-Only accept ‘freebies’ if it is something you would pay for yourself

-Make sure you understand ‘your brand’ or your niche so you know how it fits (e.g. pitching to sports wear companies when you have booked a yoga retreat weekend where the clothing would be featured in photos)

-Always tell readers when content is sponsored

I had the pleasure of meeting Monica over lunchtime just before her talk and she was absolutely lovely! For more details on her talk you can read her post about the day here.

How to edit travel videos on a budget

Greg talks Vlogging

Lastly Greg Brand, Creative Director at Travizeo talked about how to make great travel videos on a budget as well as answered all our tech questions.

Key points for making great videos:

-Natural lighting is best

-Great sound is just as important as great lighting (e.g. invest in a ‘wind muffler’ for microphones when shooting in a windy location)

-Film as naturally as possible for greater engagement

-Change up shots for different perspectives (great example of this is Watchtower of Turkey)

-Royalty-free music can be found on Audio Jungle and Pond5 but YouTube have a vast audio library too

-imovie and Final Cut Pro are both great for editing videos with Final Cut Pro being a little more advanced

-Keep videos between 2-4 minutes long for maximum engagement

-For vlogging the Canon PowerShot S120 is used widely by Travel Bloggers

Other features of the day

Cocktails by The Alchemist

But it wasn’t just the talks that got everyone erm…’talking’ but everything else in-between. The Alchemist were brought in to make the most amazing cocktails to complement our buffet lunch and it was absolutely spot on! I opted for a Screwball which was a cool mix of raspberry vodka, blue curacao, apple juice, lime juice, bubblegum syrup and white chocolate foam, it was divine!

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Pop up beach

It may have been raining outside in Leeds City Centre but us Travel Bloggers were having a blast taking selfies at Icelolly.com’s pop up beach with deck chairs, pineapple sunglasses and blown up palm trees galore!

Group by the beach

Beach selfies

I had a great time with Kirsten from Kooky Traveller and Nigel from Uneven Toast taking selfies on the ‘beach’, many thanks to Kirsten for letting me use these awesome shots! :)

Goodie bags

OMG. These goodie bags were fantastic! It was a lovely parting gift from the guys at Icelolly.com which included, a notepad and pen, wireless mobile phone charger, frisby, bottle opener and a voucher for retropacks.com to have all our favourite instagram pics printed.

Goodie bags

Goodie Bag items

All in all, I had a brilliant day, the speakers were very engaging and shared some great tips to help us all improve our blogs. I met some lovely people that I’ll no doubt be down the pub again soon with talking all things blogging and travel!

Many thanks to the Icelolly.com and WMG teams especially Emma, Kate, Peter, Suni, Amber and Andrew for organising such a great event!

Mel x

About the author

Hi! I'm Mel a full-time Marketeer and part-time adventurer. I’m a British travel blogger who loves nothing more than immersing myself in different cultures and exploring new places. My goal is to inspire all of you office dwellers to follow your travel dreams whilst still working your 9-5.