Disclosure: TBD Italy sponsored my trip to Italy to the conference and the following media trip to the Marche region, but as always, all opinion are my own (see here some highlights of this Marche trip in this photo journey post to Le Marche).
I participated in my very first blogging event last September – the TBD (Travel Blogger Destination) Italy, in the Rimini coastal area – and I am so happy that I did go there. I’d been writing for a couple of years, mainly my own stories with a few sponsored trips and reviews thrown in the mix, and had been thinking if it was time to try to take it to the next level – and if yes, how to do that. The agenda for the TBD had a comprehensive line-up of speakers with a variety of topics (both in English and Italian) as well as pre-booked speed-dating mainly with Italian tour operators and hotels – and as the event is held alongside a large industry event there are hundreds of other exhibitors on site for potential networking. So a lot to see and do for sure! I really had no idea what to expect from this conference, and I was positively surprised by the number of tips, tools, contacts and new friends I came out of there with. What I loved most were the two sessions on social media tools: Instagram and Pinterest. Skimbaco’s own Katja Presnal is a whiz on Instagram, and her tips and the ebook she wrote have helped me in the past year to transform the quality of my photos to another level and grow the follower numbers from less than a hundred to nearly two thousand – and I’ve become one of the hosts of the #IGTravelThursday initiative. On Pinterest a similar whiz is Nienke Krook from The Travel Tester. I had been somewhat apprehensive about Pinterest, as one can easily get lost there hours and her session for travel-specific pinning gave me the confidence on work on specific travel boards and generally have my travel inspiration boards on Pinterest – so much so that I’m now part of their Mappin Monday travel initiative on Pinterest. What is my take away from TBD Italy? Conferences are great for networking, making new friends, becoming a part of community, creating new opportunities, learning about skills you need in your profession/hobby, improving your pitching skills – and they are a lot of fun in general. They’ll help you to decide where you want to be and hopefully how you’ll get there. For me, it was a great push forward, and since Italy, I’ve been on a blogger trip to India, and have a few more lined up. I am going to my next conference soon, and looking forward to meeting those friends made in TBD Italy and making new ones. So no matter if we are talking about a career, hobby or passion, it’s good to stop once in a while and take a good look at what you’re doing, what the others are doing and where you’d like to be and go find a suitable conference or event to find that inspiration and guidance: go find others to talk about it, to reflect your ideas and get new direction, be it blogging, sewing, triathlon or something else. The world is your oyster, and you will find support and fresh direction for your passion! you are travel blogger though, the good news are that TBD Italy has sponsored every year a pretty large number of people from all over the world to come to Italy – and not just for the conference itself, but also to participate in post-conference trips to nearby regions. Last year TBD Italy sponsored groups included writers from pure travel to food, fashion and cultural writers. So check out their site this spring, create or polish your existing media kit and you might find yourself in Italy 8-10th October!