“Start your blog post with a really catchy opener. In the easily-distracted world of online communication, if you’ve not got your reader’s attention within the first few seconds, you may as well not bother to write the rest of the article.” A top tip for aspiring bloggers – and one that is made to be flouted … Another is to “have a catchy title, which engages but also helps with SEO if that’s your thing.”  Well, the title may not be catchy but you get the point.

Blogstock Blogging festival in Elstree, England

Assuming you have taken the trouble to get this far (avoid procrastination and waffly sentences – flout, flout) here are 5 reasons why I thought Traverse’s Blogstock, the world’s first blogging festival held in August 2014, was such fun.

1. It rained

Blogstock in the rain

It poured down. Torrential rain, monsoon-like rain, which went on all Friday evening and through the night. This was my first festival (yes, some things just take a long time to get round to) and I wanted to have the full festival experience and an opportunity to wear my natty spotty wellies. Of course it was definitely NOT fun for those in the flimsy tents who got flooded out, but us lucky few who were in the beautiful bell-tents provided by sponsor Hertz, were dry as the Sahara desert and able to luxuriate in our lovely camping accommodation.

Blogstock Hertz luxury tent

AND the great guys from event organisers Traverse very kindly laid on free drinks when it rained which was jolly sporting of them.

2. The sun shone

Blogstock Pinterest Breakfast talk

Pinterest Breakfast talk

Saturday morning, the main day of the festival, dawned dry and sunny and the weather was fine all day. This was great for all the participants, speakers, sponsors and organisers because it meant we could all really enjoy the event.  Some of us kicked off the day with a breakfast talk from Pinterest, which was extremely informative. There were four areas for talks on blogging; the Marquee, Tipi, Debate Tent and Fashion Galleries Tent and they were all fully used throughout the festival.

Stay Calm and Eat Ice Cream - at Blogstock

Stay Calm and Eat Ice Cream

But it was mainly fun in the sun because we could lounge about on the deckchairs, have a go on the coconut shy, bounce on the castle, zoom around the go-cart track, try on fancy dress and eat ice-cream.

3. Caught up with old friends and made new ones

Kathryn, Heather and Zoe at Blogstock

Kathryn, Heather and Zoe

The world of blogging is relatively small still, though growing very fast. It really was fun to catch up with (relatively) old friends and fellow travel writers like Andy Jarosz, Alastair McKenzie and Steve Keenan plus fellow Travelator Media mates, Kathryn Burrington and Heather Cowper. But it was even more fun to put names to faces from Twitter and meeting new people. Blogstock featured talks from bloggers across a number of different sectors including food, lifestyle, video, fashion, photography and travel; the mix made for a dynamic and vibrant atmosphere. Great to finally meet quirkilicious Reeree Rockette and see how Sarah Andrews is now following her heart with The Fashion Galleries.

4.  Learnt loads and shared blogging tips

Cook Sister Food Photography tips Blogstock

Cook Sister Food Photography tips

The diversity of topics and speakers was really enticing. Jeanne Horak-Druiff Cook Sister gave some practical advice on food photography whilst Niamh Shields Eat like a Girl‘ shared tips on writing a food blog. There were times when I was really torn … ‘How to get the most from your smart phone’ vs ‘Improving your writing skills’? ‘Getting noticed by travel brands’ or the ‘Blogging Debate’? I gave a talk called ‘So you want to be a travel blogger?‘ where I shared some learning from the past 5 years of travel blogging, including just how difficult it is to make a living from it!

The Quirky Traveller at Blogstock

So You Want to be a Travel Blogger?

Sitting cross-legged on the floor in the (very hot) Tipi with a young, enthusiastic audience felt very ‘festival’ and fun – though trying to get up afterwards wasn’t …

5. Everyone enjoyed themselves

Blogstock 2014

Blogstock 2014

Well, of course I can’t speak for EVERYONE but the general consensus was that the world’s first blogging festival was a roaring success.  The sponsors all contributed to making it extra special and the organisers all went out of their way to cope with the weather and the complex arrangements that an event like this entails. One of the best things about Blogstock was meeting other bloggers from around Europe, not just travel but many different niches and being able to share ideas, get re-inspired and just chill out with like-minded folk.

Future of blogging Blogstock

Blogstock – the future

The final debate was on the future of blogging, which concluded that it’s not clear but looks positive. No-one can really tell where online communication and social media are heading but one things for sure. Blogstock 2014 was a huge success and hopefully there’ll be another one next year and maybe you can try it for yourself.

Oh yes, there’s a 6th reason I loved Blogstock – our team won the ‘Pub Quiz’ and we got to share a bottle of bubbly 🙂

You can watch the rain fall and sun shine on this video …

I used my brand new Millican weekend bag – he’s called Harry the Gladstone Bag and is a great companion to Mark the Courier Bag. Both stood up to the variable weather and the huge amount of kit I had to take – a blogger needs a lot of ‘stuff’!

Home of Millican - Mark the Courier Bag and Harry the Gladstone bag at Blogstock

A big thank to sponsor Hertz UK, who not only provided the very luxurious VIP tents but also a hire car for me to get down to the festival from the wilds of north west England.

Hertz UK car hire

Hertz UK 

Thanks to Traverse Events for inviting me – you can find out more about Traverse Events Traverse Events here.