Never did I expect in the height of winter on a cold, icy Manchester morning to be queuing up in Starbucks for a large vanilla latte (with an extra shot), ready to hop on the 09:26 to Leeds for an event called Blog At The Beach… but I blumming did. icelolly.com hosted nearly 100 bloggers & influencers at their fifth and biggest yet Blog At The Beach event at Duke Studios in Leeds. We managed to get #blogatthebeach trending top in the UK, had a few hot toddies and enjoyed this year’s ski lodge-themed get together with great talks, a spot of networking and some good old fashioned blogger chat.
I’ll go into my personal experience of the event a little later but first, I wanted to go into a little bit about our host. From what I could see online and had heard from the team on the day, this wasn’t their first rodeo. (I’m sorry, I’ve always wanted to say that and I feel like I would never get another opportunity so rodeo stays). The planning of the event was top, and hat’s off to Hayley for doing such a cracking job. Hayley was kind enough to offer me a ticket as other bloggers began dropping out last minute.
The team at icelolly.com were very warm, welcoming and interested in creative ideas from everyone at Blog at the Beach. This really was a breath of fresh air; whilst I haven’t been blogging for too long, it’s clear that some brands will often only see a blogger or influencer as a tool, a one-trick pony, simply an amplification tool, rather than the actual content creators we all are. icelolly.com have clearly clocked on and realised that there is a lot of value in influencers with ideas and were very open and confident in discussing this.
With a little background in marketing, influencer marketing was certainly one of the avenues I explored, so I like to think I have some kind of idea on the topic, or at least a few semi-educated opinions. I know first hand what stops brands working with influencers, why brands don’t want to pay, why brands simply can’t pay and why we will see more brands acting like that Irish hotel owner with that influencer if we don’t start (politely) educating businesses on influencers value in business terms.
After a very frank conversation about influencer ROI and digital marketing as a whole after a cocktail or two at the Alchemist, I was really pleased to hear a brand being honest and upfront in their position and intentions. I think that’s something that just doesn’t happen enough. It’s safe to say, if you’re out for a free holiday after writing a blog post or two, then icelolly.com might not be the brand for you, along with every other holiday comparison site for that matter. It’s no secret that when a brand such as icelolly.com holds an event, that people will undoubtedly flock with the hopes of a free holiday. I won’t get into that today but their position on this was really refreshing.
How To Work With icelolly.com
This is the mantra, verbatim “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”. Since the dawn of time, this has been a perfectly reasonable exchange of goods and services throughout the world and in this world of social media and influencers, I think, it shouldn’t be any different. Sure, it may work in icelolly.com’s favour to gift or contribute a small percentage to your trip for a mention to a massive audience but the idea is, it needs to be mutually beneficial and that’s a balance that is up to you to agree upon with any brand. Working for free in my book is you not receiving anything in return.
Offering your ideas, your content, your pitch; this is how you work with icelolly.com or many other brands out there. Whilst you may have great stats, a brand making a decision to put you out there as a face of the brand is a MAJOR decision for them. They want to know YOU, what you can do and what you can offer.
To be clear, I do not believe that working for free is useful or helpful for the industry as a whole. It’s important that whilst working with a brand, it is a labour of love and you are benefiting by other means if it is clear they will also be benefiting. If you don’t believe you are, you should either request some form of payment or negotiate something else or simply don’t do it. I worked for free for a long time and it’s one of the worst things I ever did.
TOP TIP: Something I heard the team nattering about – They seem to be on the hunt for vloggers this year, so make sure on your next trip, you bring your camera with you and let them know! If you let them know you are off on your jollies, maybe icelolly.com can pay for your banana boat trip in exchange for a mention in your vlog or blog post – the possibilities are endless.
On the topic of travel vlogging, I put together a mini vlog back in January 2017 (before I even started Aurelia Blush!) after a short trip to Berlin. I uploaded this to my old personal youtube account (where I used to upload my videos I would produce for clients) and I was too bothered about losing my view count by uploading it to Aurelia Blush but Blog at the Beach gave me that well-needed kick up the tush to just DO IT! Meeting with the team at icelolly.com got me SO EXCITED to shoot more travel content this year, you can see more about my 36 Hours in Berlin here.
I jumped at the chance to come along to the event, so much so that I didn’t know a single soul there. I reached out to Katie on Twitter whilst I was roaming around the train station like a lost puppy; we managed to form a little impromptu blogger meet up in the station which was hilarious to be honest, especially trying to navigate our way there.
I met so many wonderful girls at the event and yeah I know everyone always says that but I legit did – Katie, Nicola, Charlotte, Sarah & Amanda are just a few of the girls I could track down after leaving the event. (If I met you please say hello below so I can follow ya and we can natter!!)
Kaye, Bee & Kirsty were kind enough to share their tips in a lot of different areas. From stepping up your photography game to pitching to brands to juggling the work-life-blog balance. Not only did I really enjoy meeting and hearing from the girls, it really did give me a lot of inspiration to not only reach out to brands but to also begin working on more of my own little side hustles – so watch this space (I feel the need to add a cheeky face emjoi here).
How Do I Sign Up?!
You can pop over to the icelolly.com Influencer Hub for more details on how to get involved, upcoming Blog At The Beach events, influencer stays, Instagram takeovers, Twitter chats and more!
All in all, I met some awesome gals, had some really exciting talks with icelolly.com (who I wholeheartedly recommend getting in touch with if you have travel content ideas) and now I am buzzing with ideas for the future. Not too shabby for an icy morning in Manchester ai?