BlogHouse Ireland for me (and whether it’s for you)

The one thing that keeps coming up when I talk to people about my Dublin trip is this little thing called BlogHouse that I went up there for. If you’ve seen some of the previous posts, you’ll have an idea on what that is, but for those scratching their heads, here’s more explanation:


All wrapped up but you can’t see here that I was actually in slippers and my toes were freezing


What on earth is a ‘BlogHouse’?

BlogHouse Ireland Dublin 2013
I like using the picture because it encapsulates about 80% if what we were doing in BlogHouse.

In short, it’s a little intensive training camp of sorts organized by the bloggers of Navigate Media Group, who select a small group of interested travel bloggers from a pool of applicants and bring them together to teach them how to get their travel blogging act together.

You could say it’s a course on “How to be a travel blogger”, though I think more accurately it asks of you “What type of travel blogger do you want to be“, and with those goals in mind, then shows you how to accomplish that with the least amount of hair tearing. (Obviously you can tell who’s been blogging for the longest from the amount of hair they have left, hahaha sorry Andrew :P)

BlogHouse School – the table we gathered around every morning. I was close to the window on the right where I would stare out longingly when the sun came out

This time around there were 10 of us newbies (“noobs”), put through 3 intensive days of workshops on various subjects related to travel blogging, all conducted personally by bloggers who’ve been around the block. I say intensive because it felt like being back in school on a day with a full timetable – the lessons were back to back from morning till evening, with short breaks in-between and lunch, we were all set up in one of the dining rooms – armed with our laptops and phones and wailing when the wifi went down. It was conducted like a seminar, a brief lecture and lots of QnA.

But of course it wasn’t just all formal lessons and study – a lot of valuable takeaways also happened in between sessions, just by hanging out and talking to all these different folk in the house, you’re bound to come away with some incredible ideas. Who knew that travel blogging inspiration could spread so quickly? Now that’s one virus I don’t mind catching.


Wait a minute, you need to learn travel blogging?

Well the truth is, anyone can blog, which is the whole point of the internet in the first place – that within 5 minutes, you can have a page set-up and start calling yourself a blogger. Travel blogging has pretty much exploded in the past few years, and everyone (and their mother) has either read a travel blog or owns one of their own.

This photo is actually one of the more content-focused things that we worked on – how to take better pictures. We’re behind the castle here – what you don’t see is me and Michael perched precariously on some scaffolding and peering at walls like crazy people… or photographers

BlogHouse isn’t for you if you just want to put up your pictures and tell your story for your friends and family – you don’t need anyone to teach you that. The Navigate Media folk are people who’ve figured out and largely succeeded at turning their travel blog into a viable source of income, and they have a wealth of different experiences between them that make for some fascinating stories on how they’ve reached where they are now. The focus is very much on the nitty gritty things like building your audience and how to monetize your blog, it takes a lot of work beyond just producing good writing/photographs for your blog to become successful – these perks you see bloggers enjoying, they don’t just fall at your feet!

Quite bluntly put, if you have a business goal in mind for your blog, whether it’s to make money, get free trips to travel more or just spread the word about a cause you believe in, BlogHouse would probably be very useful for you. I don’t foresee myself making a living solely off my blog in future, but it’s given me some new perspectives as to why and how I’ve been blogging, and where I want my little blog to go in future.

Bloggers behind the scenes – how glamourous :p These are most of the BlogHouse noobs – Jo is hiding off to the right and Lance is outside.

It also teaches a lot of practical skills that extend beyond travel blogging, like self-branding and pitching and establishing partnerships – practical people skills which are useful for anyone, entrepreneur or not, to know. Also, there were pretty good networking opportunities with both industry folk and other travel bloggers out there. It’s quite rare you get to meet these folk face-to-face these days with email, so it’s a good way to build networks.


Wow, that doesn’t sound like it should be fun…

The thing about travel blogging is that it’s usually quite a solitary affair, and you’re always focused on what you’re trying to do. Being in a room with travel bloggers from all over the world (well, mostly North America and Europe, I was and apparently am the only Asian so far, whee!) who blog so differently and for myriad reasons but who all just love travel – that’s really enough isn’t it? You can come with an open mind and you’re still bound to leave with it too full to stuff in any more new ideas.

Bloggers being Bloggers – Michael’s filming a Vine of Brendon gulping down a Bulmers Cider, while Lance provides technical support.

Also, you don’t put 16 travel bloggers in a house and not expect to have some crazy moments, especially from being cooped up for too long. The word of the week (that will surely bring me some weird search traffic): Double-Fisting. I leave you to ponder that for yourselves what we got up to.

We did get out of the house once in awhile, and of course we found Nellies, best pub in Bansha with the coolest little old lady running it. Ask any of the BlogHouse folk about Nellies and you’re likely to just get a sigh, a smile, and “She’s awesome!”

This picture very aptly describes what Brendon had taken to calling Nelly – Blurry Nellies

And we were staying in a &%*&^ CASTLE. Granted it’s not the turrets and moats type of castle, but Bansha Castle is still a pretty cool house out in the quiet countryside of Tipperary, Ireland. That place was like a maze, it has like a zillion rooms and doors, and it even has a snooker table though I don’t think we ever got around to playing that.

Ze Bansha castle – it was pretty overcast, hence the white sky!
My sketch of the castle – my room was The Castle Room, on the the 2nd level on the right of the main entrance
Greenery of Bansha
Here’s the view from the doorway and what my room overlooked – the greenery on a good sunny day


BlogHouse happened before the travel blogging conference TBEX, which was an extremely useful primer as it was easier to articulate and pitch ourselves and our blogs after help from BlogHouse. Also, it made TBEX a lot more fun just because we’d already met each other, and it was nice to randomly run into each other throughout the day, have someone to sit with for lunch and sessions, and then hang out at the parties with after. I’m pretty sure my time in Dublin wouldn’t have been as fun (or as boozy) without this great bunch of folk!

For travel bloggers out there with questions about BlogHouse, drop a comment here or email me privately if you prefer, I’d love to answer any questions you might have if you’re thinking of signing up!


The list of people to thank is incredibly long, but here goes…

BlogHouse Ireland 2013!

Fellow Bloghouse Ireland noobs:

Helen in Wonderlust: Helen my darling roomie who let me have the big bed and the original party queen

A Passport Affair: Megan with her dry humour and constant need for coffee, also coolest mum ever

Indiana Jo: the effervescent Jo who bravely asked all the questions we were too shy to ask and has enough personality for everyone in the room

True Travellers: Andrew who I could always count on to hang out with and a genuinely friendly guy with a really infectious laugh

Travel Addicts: Lance (and Laura by extension) for being the paparazzo collecting the quotatble quotes and having some great travel tips

Sateless Suitcase: Julika, the surprising art historian lover who can seriously bust a dance move

Eille La Cheap: the fabulous Beatrice whose undying love for Hanson and 90s boybands is legendary

The Wanderfull Traveler: Murissa my fellow table-end mate and a breath of sanity from some of the madness happening around us

Nerd Travels: Brendon who honestly doesn’t look anything nerdy and is always ready to get down and dirty


Navigate Media folk and our mentors who painstakingly groomed and grilled us over the 3 days:

Hecktic Travels: Pete and Dalene, the wonderful and lovely couple who kept us well fed

Go See Write: Michael aka “Who wants to be NICHED” *cue evil laugh*

Bacon is Magic: Ayngelina aka “You should be tweeting this…” *raises scary eyebrow*

and guest stars Indie Travel Media: Craig and Linda the Kiwi couple


Sponsors: This also couldn’t have happened without the support of Flipkey, Hostelworld, Hostelbookers and Trivago.

Other great people: The Bansha Castle owners John, Teresa and their 2 cute doggies including my namesake Jacky, Leah and Isabel from Hostelworld who came to hang out and were great ladies to talk to, all the other bloggers, companies and BlogHouse alumni who we got to meet like Brendan, Stephanie, Naomi, etc.

Jacky! We bonded instantly with our common name 🙂
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17 comments to BlogHouse Ireland for me (and whether it’s for you)

  1. Your post made me miss my time at BlogHouse Toronto. I left there so inspired and with some new confidence to start treating my blog like a side job rather than just a hobby. And as a lasting benefit, each time they put off a new one I get introduced to new blogs like yours. Whee!

    • Heh I always say that my blog is my night job (it’s 3am here, eep), but I love it 🙂

      Well the BlogHouse family’s going to keep growing and growing! I agree it’s inspired me in so many ways and I’m really happy that it’s let me meet and discover so many other awesome travel bloggers too 🙂

    • ahahaha you’re still awesome Andrew – I wanna see a picture of you rocking the ‘fro like that exchange student in Dublin – I can’t really imagine you with that poofy cloud of hair (and Jo patting it going ‘it’s so soft!’)

    • MMMBOP lalalala SHUUBOP I’ll let Beatrice sing the rest haha

      I did enjoy our night out at The Bleeding Horse very much Jo, you me and Andrew and our random DJ and student friends. That was fun and really the type of travel that I love best!

  2. Not gonna lie – I laughed out loud many, many times reading this. It was an absolute pleasure to double-fist with you (whaaat?!) & make you (re-)discover Hanson.

    Great sketch of the castle, btw!

    • heh glad you liked it Beatrice! I have to say your 90s hitlist is pretty impressive (and stuff of my youth 😛 I will admit to having those backstreet boys and spice girls CDs though I don’t think I was ever as big a fan as you were, back then)


  3. Seems like you had a really great time…BlogHouse just seems to get better every year. Looking forward to seeing where your blog goes from here (I know how it is with that huge pile of things to do post-BlogHouse!). Good luck with everything!

    xoxo A BlogHouse Veteran

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