“Life opens up opportunities to you and you either take them or you stay afraid of taking them,”…Jim Carrey

The best laid plans often go off course to remind you that life itself is truly out of your control.

I’d just spent the first two days of my much anticipated return trip to the Nordic Bloggers Experience (NBE) #NBEFinland experience during the MATKA travel fair in Helsinki, Finland.

In addition to intense training sessions with colleagues and friends, I was also going to explore Finland’s winter outdoor lifestyles and landscapes in Espoo as well as hop on a ferry, break the ice, and sail across for an immersive trip in Estonia.

My camera and favorite lenses were packed. I was ready to scan the horizon for those ever elusive Northern Lights as I was going to be tramping around in subzero temperatures. Think -20 degrees Celsius.

And I was excited, ecstatic…

Until I got the unexpected message from home. My son had pneumonia. At the news, everything else became a blur. He’d already started on antibiotics and we were monitoring his fever, me remotely, my darling husband by his side but by the second day, his fever still hadn’t broken and I was on the early flight back home.

While my exit from NBE had been dramatic, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment I got to spend with colleagues and friends, learning and absorbing, networking, as well as co-moderating the keynote panel (though, as you can imagine, my mind kept wandering back to my sick son while on stage).

So I wanted to share this summary post including some of my takeaways from the blog labs I attended as well as the very few photos I could create while at MATKA/NBE.

NOTE – Most of these photos were shot with my phone.

Key takeaways from the #NBEFinland Blog Labs

Nordic Bloggers Experience - #NBEFinland

I attended three superb blog labs taught by friends Sarah & Terry Lee of LiveShareTravel, Angelika Schwaff of Reisefreunde, and Erik van Erp of Around the Globe that covered running your blog as a business, collaborating with brands, and navigating SEO respectively.

Recognize your power – As with many artists who have a hard time placing value or worth on their work, bloggers are guilty of the same. That’s also one of the reasons why I teamed up to launch the NordicTB collective to work smartly and effectively with brands while leveraging the storytelling strengths of bloggers and social media influencers.

Know your unique selling point (USP) – What makes you different? Special? What are your own storytelling strengths as a travel blogger? For me, it’s right in the tagline above – “Exploring culture through food, lifestyles, and tradition” and I do this visually through photography and sometimes video. It’s all about getting to the core of the cultural logic behind whatever it is I’m experiencing.

You teach people how to treat you – And this goes back to the first point where if you don’t know your own business value, the client will take advantage, treat you accordingly, and reserve bigger and more important projects for those whose value has been well communicated and received.

For more takeaways, read this fantastic post by my friend Nienke titled “7 Signs you might be a Professional Blogger – Lessons Learned from Nordic Bloggers Experience in Finland”.

MATKA in Photos

I barely got to explore the exhibition booths as I did the previous time I was at MATKA. I love taking portraits of the various exhibitors there to show the more human over business side of the conference. After a wonderful rustic lunch hosted by Finnish Archipelago, I had about 45 minutes to quickly mill around and snap a few shots before going to co-moderate the opening keynote.
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Comfortable Digs by Radisson Blu

Special thanks to Radisson Blu Royal Helsinki for hosting the speakers in style and comfort. Its location right across the from Kampi metro station made getting to the train station and conference center a breeze for me.

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Above all

But for me, it was about connecting and reconnecting, meeting old friends and making new ones.

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Additional thanks

To Finnair for the complimentary access to the lounge so I could relax before catching the early flight back home to Stockholm.

To the Nordic Bloggers Experience for inviting me to be a participant. I’m really looking forward to NBE in 2017 and hope things work out the next time around.

Nordic Bloggers Experience - #NBEFinland

Stories and photos from past NBE

I was part of the inaugural NBE program which launched in 2014 and I got to explore Helsinki’s food scene in addition to participating in the conference. Here are some of my experiences: