The Hive 2013, Berlin

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

**Warning - mammoth post and crappy iPhone pics ensue!**

If you follow my Instagram feed you'd know at the end of last month I was in Berlin attending The Hive, the European blog conference. 200+ bloggers from all around the world took over the incredible co-working space Betahaus to hear both online experts and blogging colleagues speak about what it takes to produce a great blog and to also connect in person with fellow bloggers - some already good friends, some only online acquaintances, some strangers. The two day conference was anchored by key note presentations by renowned companies such as Pantone and Canon and down times were spent making lipsalves with Etsy Germany and having our pictures taken with blog network Styebook BlogStars.

Calm before the storm. Betahaus | Café. Image: The Hive Flickr

'The Hive' was born from a text sent from Peggy to Yvonne back in November 2011. Both were bemoaning that there was nothing like the wildly-successful Alt Summit conference that happens a couple of times a year in the US. Taking on the notion that if you want something done you've got to do it yourself, Yvonne and Peggy sent out to create the first European-based blogging conference and launched last year to great reception. Now that the second is done and dusted they've just announced an offshoot conference, smaller and more hands-on, will be held later this year in Copenhagen.

 Yvonne and Peggy. Image: The Hive Instagram
The timetable was arranged so that, apart from the keynote speeches and the intensive workshop on the second day, there were multiple talks at the same time and you could float through the building to sit in on whichever struck your fancy. I had the privilege of hearing from some wonderful speakers and bloggers.

Day one started with Tiffany Muehlbauer talking us through how newsletters are useful to your blog and business, which I found particularly helpful as I really have trouble liking newsletters! We then listened to Tina Fussel, aka Travelling Mama, speak about blogging for the fun of it; this one put the biggest smile on my face, was so beautifully presented and so well shared. Tina is one funny lady! I then listened to Eleanor Mayhofer from e.m.papers speak about blogging for your business, which will come in handy soon - wink, wink - and then Google on the inner workings of Google Analytics. Pantone talked us through how Emerald was chosen to be put on its yearly pedestal and I caught the end of The Wednesday Chef Luisa Weiss' presentation on how to organise your on- and offline life and the benefits of an editorial calendar.
We then split into mini discussions and I joined Emily Meyer's group on how to find great and innovative content. Emily, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Tea Collection, a US-based clothing line for kids, talked us through her inspirations and how easily translatable they were for the blogging world; her passion for travel, creativity and people was infectiously delightful. She is one of the warmest people I have ever met, I was really very pleased to have had the opportunity. After this discussion I caught the end of museum maven Jenni Fuchs' presentation on niche blogging, which I'm go glad as she finished with a super cute video of her favourite museum.
We were then so very lucky to hear from Erin Loechner, creator of super-blog Design for Mankind, via Google Hangouts. The level of detail she went into describing her ups and downs and the amount of insight into her success that she was willing to share was so kind it blew me away. Listening to her keep it real was a definite highlight. To finish off that first day I listened to Kajta Hentschel from the successful travel site Travelettes talk travel blogging, from which I took away one of my favourite quotes from the weekend. 

Sunday opened with Kristen Jassies introducing us to blog networks, how they operate and how they benefit bloggers. A former mag girl, Kristen described her career from setting up online presences for her titles and then making the transition to the web; a path I easily related to!
Then, then!, it was time for what I had been looking forward to the most; Dietlind Wolf's styling workshop. (I got so much out of Dietlind's workshop that I'm going to save it all for another post. It deserves one).
I walked away to lunch, happily by chance chatting to Dietlind, so thankful for not only the practical skills she bestowed us with but also her stories and the really personal advice she shared. The final day ended with graphic designer Janna Krupinski talking us through how to "pretty up" our blog posts with use of simple graphics and motifs and then a heated discussion with the whole group on how to turn a blog into a brand.

Apart from Danielle, whom I'd briefly met the week before, and Anne, whose map making class I am enrolled in online, I knew no one at the conference, however some really lovely moments meeting some really lovely people stood out and these are what made the conference so special to me.

+ Erin, who along with her sister Emily above, were the first people I spoke to at the conference and set the tone for the whole weekend for me. They turned around, said hello and asked me where I was from. I was really put off guard as life in Paris doesn't prepare you for that kind of interaction, where everyone keeps to themselves. They helped me open right up straight away and I thank them for it.
+ Holly from Avenue Lifestyle I met right after Dietlind's workshop while I was taking some pics. As soon as she said "Oh, I'm sorry, was my foot in your shot?" I knew she was a lovely Australian! She now lives in picturesque Delft with her little, gorgeous family and takes beautiful pictures of really stunning houses.
+ Also at the end of Dietlind's workshop I mustered the courage to go say hello to Anne from Anne's Kitchen. I'd commented on a post saying I would do so, which was not only the first post of hers I read but was also a recap of the cover story she'd recently done for a magazine I'd just recently discovered and loved, The Simple Things. I was so happy to have come across her, her blog and the chance to say hi in person at the conference. Do yourself a favour and clear 2 and a half minutes to watch this gorgeous video of her preparing a macaron recipe post. She's currently self-producing a television series on eating and cooking in London for her home country Luxembourg which I love following 'behind-the-scenes' on her Instagram.
+ Bronwyn, who produces the cutest travel log book for mini travellers, sat next to me one session and of course quickly we worked out we were both Australian, also, and flew into a discussion comparing blogging reception in Europe to home. Her log books, 'Simply for Flying' were in everyone's goody bags so I luckily have one to give to my nephew.
+ Judith from Joelix.com mentioned me in a Tweet (as to why I won't mention now, but the tweet does give it  away) and I "thank-you" replied saying that I'd love to do it in person, so she invited me to look out for someone wearing pink glasses. She was someone I'd been following on Twitter for a while and had admired from afar so I was really nervous to approach her but she was so sweet I'm really glad I did.
+ Scrolling through the #hive13 tag on Instagram I came across this pic, which stopped me in my tracks! How could someone's notes be that awesome! I was so very embarrassed by my scribbles. And then, a little while later, I was sitting on some raised seating and I look down and there was more of the same amazing notes! So I poked the woman holding the pen and she happened to be Elise, a French woman living in Copenhagen and one really beautiful creative lady.
+ Waiting for Dietlind to start I sat next to the really sweet Giova from One Bunting Away, who had the most adorable sewing-machine stitched business card. While chatting to her, her friend beside her asked what my name was and after I gave it she said "Oh, we follow each other on Instagram! I'm Jillian in Italy!" She then gave me her fun button magnet "card". I'm still in awe at how brilliantly crafty these two women are and how (seemingly) easily they travel with their families!
+ As we waited for day two to start I sat next to a pretty girl in a hot pink blazer. I was wearing my cherry-red blazer and I told her that I liked how our blazers looked together. At the end of the day, when the conference was over, she sought me out and said she'd wanted to meet me (again, for a reason I won't delve into now) and that she didn't realise it was me sitting next to her that morning. Her name was Andreea, which is also my sister's name, and runs a very cute fashion and lifestyle blog, Stylish Dreams.
+ Lastly, Danielle and I had the pleasure of meeting Tobia from Craftaliciousme, a newby to blogging like me, but so friendly and enthusiastic. She was so kind, she helped Danielle and I around on the U-Bahn at the end of the conference so we could go play tourist without getting horribly lost.

Erin Loechner via Google Hangout
All the food you could fit into your stomach and as many bottles of yummy soda you could pop open were provided by the Betahaus team both days, and on the Saturday evening they called in reinforcements to put on a bbq dinner for those at the conference that wanted to spend more time connecting with each other. (What actually happened was that Anne, Danielle and I went for a margarita apéro and then, back at the dinner, Danielle and I sat in a corner talking each others ears off and gossiping. But, that in itself was really very fun.)


Never in all my life had I been in the presence of such a kind, inspiring and encouraging group of women. It astounded me how willing each attendee was to give up any snippet of knowledge they possessed to support the person sitting next to them and how easily well-known, established bloggers mixed and mingled with those just starting out. Nobody was too important or too established - everyone was there to have a great time and celebrate something that we all love to do - blog, share and be creative.

xx

14 comments :

  1. What an international bunch they all sound! And great experience it must've been!

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    1. We were from everywhere, although a good chunk of attendees were from Germany. It really was a wonderful experience. So encouraging.

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  2. Hey Lauren,

    I just wanted to say thank you for leaving such a nice comment on my blog. You ARE Lauren from News Mags! I love your photographs and the craft tutorials. You look as gorgeous and cheery as I remember. Good luck with the map and the road trip. I'll keep coming back to see how you're going..

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    1. Hi Grace! Thank you for coming over to visit! Yes, 'tis me from level two, once upon a time! Thank you so much for your kind words, they mean a lot! See you soon on the interweb! L xx

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  3. Awww you're such a sweetheart Lauren! No need to be nervous to meet me though, I'm very human ;) I'm glad you found me, it was so nice to talk to you, wish there was more time! Maybe we can do it again in Paris some time?

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    1. Hi Judith!! Thank you for visiting! It was so nice to talk to you, too, I'm glad I said hello. I'd love to see you when you're in Paris next, that would be lovely! Hope it's not as rainy today up in Oise as it is in Paris! xx

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  4. Sure sound tons of fun! When you first mentioned you'd be there, I pondered for a second if I'll sign up too, especially since I've read of Anne's adventures last year. Sadly with all the travels we've got this summer, it just wasn't feasible for me to hop along. Maybe I should keep an eye out on the event in Copenhagen!

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    1. Yes, you definitely should! I highly recommend it! Follow on Twitter to get updates @TheHive_Berlin xx

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  5. It was such a blast, wasn't it? I am already excited about the next one! Will you be able to make it to Copenhagen?

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    1. Yes, it was so great! You were fab!! Great way to kick off the conference! Yes, I really do hope I get to Copenhagen! See you there?! xx

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  6. It was so great spending time with you and Danielle. And I'm glad you had some fun Berlin Sightseeing time after the conference. If you're back in Berlin let me know - there a few other places i could direct you to.

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    1. Hi Tobia! It was so lovely to have met you and thank you again for helping us get into Berlin! We would have been completely lost!! Hope to see you next year! xx

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  7. Hehe, "museum maven", I like it :) Glad you enjoyed my little film. Thanks, Jenni

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    1. Oh, I'm glad you're ok with being called that! Your film is great!! Thanks for stopping by! xx

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