Bloghouse Milwaukee 2015

There are few things that excite me more in the world than researching a destination for the first time.

What unknown delights will my destination be famous for? What are the must eat things? What should I do when I’m there?

I’ve googled some obscure destinations in my time, most recently Mount Rinjani in Indonesia as we plan our adventure there in October. So imagine my delight when I began researching Milwaukee in Wisconsin, USA.

My jaw nearly hit the floor as I realised the place was famous for two very, very delicious things: craft beer and deep fried cheese.

As a duo, it doesn’t come much better than that. Like Sonny and Cher, Simon & Garfunkel and Mickey and Minnie, I found myself drooling all the way across the Atlantic in anticipation of what was to come.

You’re probably wondering why I was heading to Milwaukee in the first place? What adventures was I going for? Well, I was actually headed to a small conference called Bloghouse, where a select few chosen bloggers spend 4 days learning more about blogging and how to improve their own. I was delighted to be accepted in, and before I knew it I was landing in General Mitchell airport for a whirlwind few days in Milwaukee.

I was staying at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, and realised I was in for a treat after receiving this tweet from the hotel:

 

Looks like I could be in for a busy few days.

Arriving in craft beer central, I was keen to add my list of Worldly Beers (a chronicle of all the beers I’ve tried on my travels), so I headed into the centre of Milwaukee to Rock Bottom Brewery, an awesome brewery and sipped a few cold ones. Turns out they had a free keg on that afternoon, so I helped myself to the stout on offer and put the world to rights with a 75 year old new pal at the bar.

rock bottom brewery milwaukee
rock bottom brewery milwaukee

The next day it was time for some Bloghouse action. But beforehand, how about a massive bloody mary and burger to fuel the day? Thankfully, Sobelmans was nearby – how you can you say no to this for lunch?!

We don’t write much about the blogging side of Worldly Nomads on these hallowed pages, but Bloghouse Milwaukee is certainly something to write home about.

Organised by the Navigate Media Group, Cailin from Travel Yourself, Michael from Art of Adventuring, Stephanie from Twenty Something Travel, Kate from Adventurous Kate and Lisa from LL World Tour ran various sessions on blogging, social media, partnerships and everything else about creating and running a successful blog. Such a small group means good discussions and one to one time.

Bloghouse Milwaukee was sponsored by Visit Milwaukee, Travel Wisconsin, Flipkey, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino & Bartolotta restaurants. Meeting and talking with the industry members was one of my highlights, getting an insight from the source on what the industry is looking for from bloggers in the form of partnerships. It left me with a renewed sense of vigour on partnering with tourism boards who share our approach to travel and adventure.

Contrary to what the other pictures portray, this is evidence of us actually busy at work!

Each day at the conference was intense, with sessions starting at 830am and finishing around 5pm, after which we would rush to get changed for the evening activities. The first night we were hosted by Potawatomi in the presidential suite, where we got to sample different dishes from the various restaurants in the hotel.

I may have over indulged on the fresh spring rolls, I really have no concept of how much I eat when in a buffet type situation. I also took a step away from my beer tasting to try the Wisconsin old fashioned, made from brandy, soda water, cinnamon, sugar and bitter. Deelish!

The second evening we were treated to a private tour after closing at the Harley Davidson museum. Despite not being much of a motorbike fan, it was genuinely interesting to hear about the story of Harley Davidson, its role in the wars and the heartwarming and heartbreaking story of this Harley which ended up in British Columbia after a Tsunami hit Japan.

Definitely worth a tour if you’re in Milwaukee.

After the brief interlude away from cheese and beer, it was back to the serious business of ticking off a few more beers (and cheese) from my list. So we hit up the cheese factory, and then took a brewery tour at Lakeside brewery. The tour here is brilliant, funny and full of energy (plus you get to drink beer as you go around!).

I also ended up hugging the tour guide (not my idea) but I did get an extra free beer out of it so all’s well that ends well. I think he was demonstrating something to do with the chemical bonds in beer, I don’t know if I was too busy hanging onto his back. It was never like that in my science classes at school.

The frivolity of Bloghouse would usually end around 9pm, but always the sucker for another beer, most of the Bloghouse crew would hit up a bar or the casino to make our millions (no-one managed it but a few made some cash).

The best part of the Bloghouse for me was having experts on tap to ask and probe about our blog and indeed the blogging business in general. I figured out some of our best blog changes and strategies in the bar late into the evening when most good ideas are formed. Whenever an idea or question popped into my head, I had no hesitation in asking one of the expert bloggers their opinion which was really useful. 

Should You Apply For Bloghouse?

If you’re a travel blogger, and you want to get serious about blogging, I would highly reccomend you consider Bloghouse.

The panel is usually from a diverse range of backgrounds. Cailin and Lisa focused on video, which for the Worldly Nomads is going to be our main focus in the future, so I exhausted our list of questions on that topic. Michael from Art of Adventuring focused on the tech side, and secured our site from nasty intruders including finding 16,000 users we had to delete from our account which was helpful. And then there was Kate and Steph whom I mostly interacted with on the business side of blogging (e.g. affiliates, partnerships) so there was something for everyone there.

In addition to the ‘experts’, I also enjoyed meeting the 11 fellow bloggers who had successfully applied for the conference:

Bloghouse is a great way to begin building a small network of bloggers to grow with, especially in what can sometimes be a lonely blogging world. 

What started as excitement over never ending supplies of craft beer and deep fried cheese in Milwaukee turned into 4 days of intense learning, network building, and dare I say it, fun times with a group of like-minded travel bloggers all eager to grow and develop their sites into something stronger.

With thanks to Visit Milwaukee, Travel Wisconsin, Flipkey, Potowatomini Hotel & Casino & Bartolotta restaurants for sponsoring our stay and activities whilst in Milwaukee!