There are so many blogging conferences happening, it’s really hard to pick a good fit. Blog conferences offer workshops, variable level speakers and interesting venues. A conference aimed at bloggers, vloggers and social influencers is often filled with a choice of sessions on improving writing, photography, videography skills, strategies for social media, search engine strategies and strategies for making money. I’ve been to a fair few and have come away with my mind buzzing, having learned so much, picked up so many ideas ….and then feeling totally overwhelmed by where to start!
Flea Retreat 2018
This weekend I’ve been to a different sort of blogging conference.
This past weekend I was at the Flea Retreat, which was about delving back into the basics- the photography, videography and writing-, finding your blogging mojo and getting awesome tips and tricks to excel at these basics. There were no sessions on social media, SEO or money making strategies. We were there to make us better storytellers, whatever our chosen platform.
Croydon Hall- tucked among the Somerset hills just a couple of miles from the sea in South-west England
(Image courtesy of Emma Islandliving365.com, who writes about the beautiful Jersey.)
We were hidden away, 20 minutes from the nearest town, Minehead, in a gorgeous rolling hills of Somerset at a self-catering manor house- Croydon Hall. It was just us, surrounded by nature, beautiful grounds, a sauna, jacuzzi and swimming pool. There were no distractions, just 55 people wanting to grow and improve.
The weekend started with a relaxing yoga sesssion, where we were asked to set our expectations and our intentions for the weekend. It was lovely to lie in deep meditation on the sun-filled lawn with birds singing and a soft breeze blowing. Spending those 15 minutes reflecting where we are on our blogging journey and where we want to be was a great way to start.
Over the weekend we enjoyed lovely meals, gorgeous cakes and plenty of snacks. Some alcohol may have been involved… but not much.
… Oh, there were none!
We had workshops, all hands on, learning while doing, from experts in their arena: a Videographer, working for a charity taking on big and small projects, photographers with successful smaller and larger businesses, varied backgrounds. There was product photography, teaching hands on skills, cooking video production and fashion shoots. We were trained by long-time QVC presenters, who work with Good Morning breakfast presenters. If you felt your writing has slipped down a slippery slop of PR and SEO- driven narrative, Kirstie, was holding workshops on being writing beautiful prose that captured the imagination and made people want to follow your footsteps, heed your advice.
Our photos and videos were critiqued… and properly, not just polite comments.
Over the weekend, because we were all sharing this beautiful manor house, we had a chance to relax with friend- ones we’ve known for years and ones we just met- and really sink into conversations. We shared ideas and hatched new plans, inspiring others and being inspired by others.
There was some sleep involved, but with 5 am sunrise shoots optional and the great company of fellow bloggers and vloggers it was hard to go to bed early. I loved that we were all staying in one location, no one had different hotels to dash off to, all meals were arranged.
Those who wanted to be active were given a chance to take photos and video while riding a mountain bike, paddling on a SUP or walking on a picturesque beach.
What did I take away from the Flea Retreat?
- In today’s world with so much “noise”, so much content out there, it’s important to find our own “tribe”, our own passion and create from there.
- Have a personality and be yourself, because what’s your USP that no one can replicate? “You are the best in being you!”
- The harder you try getting it perfect, the worse you get at it!
- … I feel more confident about vlogging and will be playing with my camera on full manual a lot in the next few weeks.
- I’ve met old friends and made new ones.
- I also took away a couple of wonderful compliments, from the final positivity session, to really boost my confidence. (Thanks especially to Penny!)
… and as it is with these sort of events, for some things the rules apply: “What happened at the Retreat, stays at the Retreat!” (Right Jane, Claire and Molly?… an awesome bunch of ladies with more awesome blogs.)
L’art pour l’art bloggers and vloggers
The Flea Retreat was not the be all and end all of blogger conferences, for it did not cover lots of areas- like how to win at Instagram, how to get more YouTube subscribers and so on.
The Flea Retreat did, however, leave participants enthusiastic about the work they are doing day to day, which some have found to become jaded of late. It was refreshing focusing on self-appreciation and self-fulfilment in work. We repeatedly touched on how it’s okay to create “art for the sake of art”, blog from our passion, trying something different, instead of being formulaic just to please the masses, but also become invisible in the sea of sameness.
I’m really looking forward to the Retreat being an annual event giving much needed boost.
My only criticism for the organisers: we really could’ve done with a masseuse in the spa for the ultimate relaxation 😉
Have you been to a blogging conference recently? What did you value in it the most?
The Flea Retreat was organised by Sally Whittle and her amazing Tots100 crew and I was lucky enough to parachute in last minute as a helper. What fun that was!
See more pictures of our Blog Retreat