Sitting in the shadow of the Austrian Alps, the picturesque town of Innsbruck was the location for the second Travel Bloggers Unite Conference.
I'd approached the conference in Manchester earlier this year with some trepidation as I was a new blogger in a pool of more experienced writers and photographers. It was at this event that I learnt that travel bloggers are some of the nicest and friendliest people on the planet and I felt accepted as part of the ever expanding community.
When the Innsbruck conference was announced I knew that I had to go. With the prospect of learning more about the blogging world and meeting up with people I had met, I knew it was an opportunity not to be missed.
So what did I get from this conference?
The city of Innsbruck, Austria
How wrong was I. With tall narrow streets, palaces and cobbled streets, all overlooked by snow capped mountains, Innsbruck is simply intoxicating. I was taken aback by it's beauty and would love to go back at some point, whether it's in winter or summer.
Lessons in Photography
A new feature at TBU Innsbruck was two photography tours given by excellent travel photographers, Kirsten Alana and Ken Kaminesky. I opted for the latter mainly as Ken was showing us how to use digital cameras. I felt a complete novice as I'd also borrowed an SLR camera but some of the tips he gave were inspirational and I'll definitely be putting them to good use.
Kirsten's tour involved using cameras on an iPhone and using apps such as Instagram. I've seen some of the results of fellow bloggers and I'll definitely be looking into iPhonography!
The TBU workshops
There were some familiar speakers in Innsbruck, that had spoken in Manchester, along with a couple of people I'd only spoken to or read about on Twitter and Facebook.
I can honestly say I took something from every workshop.
The ever brilliant John O'Nolan opened my eyes in his Pro workshop to the sheer power of WordPress and how I can adapt it to my needs. I left the room wanting to instantly open up the MacBook and start recoding this site.
Working with PR companies hasn't been a factor so early in my blog so I was interested in the talk by Ruth from the PR company Four BGB. Dealing with PR companies appears to be something new for all bloggers so everyone appeared to get something out of it - me, I now need to work on my media pack.
With a background in print media, as well as a doctor, Abigail King spoke about lessons we can learn from print. Abigail's writing is some of the best around in my opinion so many notes were taken.
As with Ruth's workshop, Janice Waugh & Keith Jenkins' presentation on making money from a blog wasn't something I'd given much consideration to so early in this blog's life. It was good to find out how far I've come in such little time and that I'm cruising along in the right direction.
Last but certainly not least was Andy Hayes who informed us of how to use email newsletters. I've some experience of using them in my job but more as a designer rather than the content producer. Andy has certainly inspired me to think more about this in the future.
What surprised me the most is that people recognise or remember me. These are people who I only speak to on Twitter or I'd previously met in Manchester and being a genuinely shy person I'm confused when I've made an impact on people.
On the first day it was great to say hello to those I'd met before as well as introducing myself to bloggers who wanted to say hello.
On a professional level I struggled with the session where we had to pitch ourselves to PR companies and tourist boards. Never a great seller of myself I approached the girls of Four BGB first mainly as I'd met them before. Talking to them put me at ease and gave me the confidence to sit at a couple more tables before leaving.
What I really gained from TBUIBK
When I left the Manchester conference I'd learnt about what I could do to improve my blog which was essential as a newbie.
Though I left Innsbruck with even more inspiration about which direction to take there was a bigger reward for attending the conference.... friends.
Over the next few days we all seemed to gravitate towards each other and they genuinely made the trip a more memorable experience for me.
Despite Anthony leaving before the post-conference trips, I was lucky enough to spend more time with Mike and Kate on our two-day action adventure trip, more of which I'll tell you about later.