TBEX Dublin: It’s Not About You

MikeachimBlogging, Travel8 Comments

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…

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