TBEX Dublin: It’s Not About You

Dublin By Night

What’s the story here?

This is about the business of travel blogging. If you’re here for the tragic stories of humiliating disaster, here’s one about getting robbed in Germany

A few weeks ago, I was sat in the audience as legendary travel writer Don George spoke to a packed audience. He shared some of his guiding questions – the things he always asked himself when he arrived in a new place. What was he learning? Where and how could he write stuff down? (Paul Theroux favours toilets.) What details spoke volumes? What angle (read: subjective focus) would he take, and why him? And above all these things, unifying them into one guiding mission statement: what’s the story here?”

I look back at TBEX Dublin (my second TBEX of the year), and I think “what’s the story here?” There’s something I felt in the air, and I may have imagined it…but I definitely felt it.

It was the feeling that everyone knew they weren’t the most important people in the room.

TBEX is a conference for travel bloggers, and travel requires self-confidence. Approaching blogging as a business requires even more confidence. Put the two together and you could easily end up with a cheap-day ticket to unbridled arrogance. “Do you know who I am?” I hate it when I see it, and I’ve caught myself edging towards it a few times (which is hilarious because even I don’t really know who I am). You have to be a little cocky, a wee bit cheeky, to get noticed – and you have to believe in what you’re doing (which is why it’s important to do the things you love, which require no effort whatsoever to believe in). As a result, it’s easy to get trapped in your own orbit.

TBEX Dublin felt like a lot of folk looking around at the other talented people in the room and thinking, “holy crap, what am I doing? I should be listening to these people, not waving my own flag. Shut up.”

I’m still thinking through a lot of things. I’m still thinking about Don’s talk, about David Farley‘s advice on freelancing after I threw the microphone at him in a breakout session I was leading, about Lola’s Akinmade-Åkerström’s smart thoughts on backyard blogging, and on a cheer-inducing closing keynote from Uncornered Market which was everything I’ve wanted to hear about how storytelling and travel are a force for doing some good in the world, and why everyone (including sponsors) should have a part to play in that tale. I’m still thinking. I’m still processing. More on those soon.

But the story of TBEX Dublin? I reckon I’m with Lola.

Stay humble.”


Here are the slides from my presentation about online storytelling…

  • Interesting how you need to combine two opposites to make a good thing. Being cocky and humble at the same time…you might just get two conflicting personalities inside.

    • Conflicted is a good way to be. :)

      If your confidence is being kept in check by your humbleness, and if your natural reluctance to sing your own praises is stopping your voice from being heard, I reckon conflicted is exactly the right way to be…

  • Very interesting post dude………

  • Damn, sounds like I missed a good one. Nice job on the slides, but when are you going to start YouTubing your talks for me? I can’t go to every TBEX!

    • Toying with the idea of podcasting a few things. Watch this space. Or listen to it. Or something. But there’ll be more detailed writeups soon!

      And yes, you were missed. But you just HAD to go off round the world on the adventure of a lifetime. Harrumph. Well, that’ll learn yer.

  • This site is awesome with very interesting information.

  • Hi Mike, I missed your talk so thank you very much for the slides! I love the last ones most, because that is an important lesson for me. Love the idea of sending my readers to explore. I guess I have to figure out the role of each social media channel I use individually. It is a provess though.

  • I supposed to come, but got stuck in travels! This year I must finally try it :)