Last Saturday, I joined a large group of bloggers from all over the country to attend what is now a regular event in my social calendar – the icelolly.com Blog at the Beach event.
No, it’s not at a beach. No, we don’t blog whilst we’re there. We basically gather at a destination, usually in Leeds and enjoy a day of networking, talks and lunch hosted by the fabulous icelolly team. In the past I’ve never really thought to blog about it, as the event is exclusively for bloggers.
But I don’t know, something kind of made me want to write about it this time around, but I’m not sure why…
Was it because of the talks?
This year we had talks from three bloggers: Bee, Kirsty and Kaye. To be honest, I didn’t know much about them. They were all great on stage: engaging, real and very honest about their advice on this crazy blogosphere we all find ourselves in. There were some inspirational quotes, some handy tips and a lot of valuable insight into how they have got themselves into the position they’re in today. There were lots of laughs too, Bee’s reaction to the mysterious missing letters in her presentation was particularly hilarious, she took the computer compatibility mishaps in her stride, it was fab.
Yes I enjoyed all three talks, but I don’t think this was my reason. I’ve heard many good talks here at Blog at the Beach in the past and I can’t think of any year that stands out as better than any others. Each one is different and special in it’s own way.
Maybe it was the company?
With the blogging community growing at mad speeds, every event these days is filled with new faces. But over the years there are a staple few who I’ve met and who I reconnect with on each visit. I was sad that I missed out on seeing the lovely Kirsten from Kookytraveller, but it was nice to catch up with Michaela, Ed and Dave in between talks.
Or perhaps it was because I come here often?
When I sat down and listened to Chief Marketing Officer, Ross, welcome us and Brand Director, Suniel, talk us briefly through where icelolly was at right now, I realised this was in fact my fourth time attending Blog at the Beach. It’s the only brand-hosted event that sits as a staple in my schedule. This was the first time I’d seen little kiddies at the event though and Ross’ fan club shouting his support at the end definitely brought a huge smile to my face, and to many others I’m sure! Was that cute show of support enough though…?
Freebies? Everyone loves a freebie…
Come on, who doesn’t? But there are no real freebies here. There’s a chance to win some great prizes, i.e city break and there were some stunning watches. But for us non-winners the freebie on offer is really their time and some grub. It was good grub though (that butternut squash bite was yuuuum, looked like an Indian sweet snack but it was savoury and delightful and if any food bloggers have a recipe for this please share it with me so I can make my sister cook it LOL)
Ok, yes there’s good food, but no that’s still not it.
I’ve been sat at my desk for the last hour racking my brain, going through every detail of the day and trying to figure out what little important detail I’ve missed…
I’ve got it.
Today, I attended a service to celebrate the life of truly inspirational man. It was a morning of sadness, tinged with a deep feeling of love, optimism and determination. As the list of accomplishments, both professional and personal flooded out, I was in awe of how this one wonderful human being had truly pushed to be the best he could be. And as I looked around at his friends and family, I realised that same character, that grit and personality was in it’s own way being passed down through the generations.
Yup thats it.
That’s why I had to write this post.
If there’s one thing I’ve come to learn over the last few years it’s that there are many different people in life. I’m not going to list them all, but I will tell you the type I have begun to surround myself with. I call them:
It’s not a new word, it’s not a sexy word either. But it’s a word that sums up this event and anyone who truly means something to me tends to fall under this title.
We don’t need to knock people down. We can compete, but don’t be afraid to lose, don’t be afraid to celebrate someone else’s win. There’s no need to be nasty. To bad mouth. To spread ill-feeling. If you have information that can help someone, why not help them!?!?
Kirsty, Bee and Kaye both got up on that stage today, probably gave away trade secrets as they passionately encouraged everyone to push their blogs to become successful. They were there to share their stories and to genuinely help others get themselves into a stronger position. I watched two bloggers who had only ever spoken online, meet, make friends and share valuable travel information needed for an upcoming trip one of them was taking next week. How amazing that we can do that?? Icelolly have created a meet up and networking opportunity that is exclusively tailored to bloggers.
Oh, now wait, I know what you’re thinking…
Clever, clever company, putting on a yearly social, calling bloggers to join them in celebrating what they do for some great exposure, channelling on our readership and audience. Well, if that’s their intention then first of all, they hide it quite well. But I assure you it’s not. Because if there’s one thing icelolly know how to do it’s collaborate.
Yes, they do get some decent reach, the #BlogAtTheBeach hashtag was trending quite nicely during the day, but hey what’s wrong with a little awareness? icelolly.com are a search comparison website, so they’re not directly selling a product. But yes, they’re trying to convince you to travel and who better to help them do that than travel bloggers? These guys know and understand that times are changing and that the voice of an honest person is better than that of a fancy brochure.
So, here they have mastered the title of ‘collaborator’ and created a day where bloggers and brand can meet, talk, brainstorm and idea-bounce, all to push each other and to help each other succeed. Using regular travellers to feedback on website user experience, on what works and what doesn’t, on what’s hot and what’s not. It’s a wonderful environment to be in.
And of course, the most important part of the day was that there’s always an element of TRAVEL talk. As a travel blogger that’s pretty important, especially as my travel game has been pretty poor over the last few months. Especially on here.
I’m pleased to say my first trip is BOOKED and I’m looking forward to another year of adventure – professionally in the day job and the blog job, and personally in the journeys I plan on undertaking.
I only hope that in years to come, when I am looking back on my achievements, they are half as good. That the people around me, are just as inspirational and that the words I’ve shared are half as meaningful as those of the magnificent man we celebrated today.
*** Thank you to the icelolly.com BlogAtTheBeach team for hosting another successful event. All pictures and opinions are mine and mine alone. And finally, I know a number of my dear friends and family are going through some tough times already this year, my prayers and love are always with you. ***