Last weekend the fourth annual Writers and Bloggers About Spain conference, #WABAS15, took place in Antequera. Where, I hear you asking? Antequera! It’s a lovely place nestled in the hills above Malaga currently looking to become a World heritage site but more of that later. This is something I started four years ago after a couple of years of existence of the group on Facebook as a response to the ridiculously negative press Spain was getting at the time from misinformed journalists, (Yes, I am looking at you Trevor McDonald) and in general as the crisis bit like a rabies infected doberman with an attitude problem. Spain needed to get out news about the good bits and what better way than through the medium of those living here and enjoying that experience.
Over the years WABAS the group has grown to around 125 members who regularly write about Spain and their lives and experiences here and around 30 of those writers found themselves in the rather swish surroundings of the Parador in Antequera overlooking some pretty awesome views and sharing experiences and stories about their adopted and mostly loved new country. The meet up was helped along by many local businesses in Antequera as you will see clicking on the links in this article.
Friday night was a bit of a getting to know you thing. We started with a TV interview on local Antequera station about what on Earth a load of foreign bloggers were doing in Antequera (Link to follow once the interview is up on Youtube). The responsibility for this lies squarely at the feet of organisers supreme Alicia Shelley and Diana Berryman (Whose article about the event can be seen here) The host for the night was the excellent Reina Restaurant in Antequera and we were well served with copious Tapas and quantities of wine.
A fantastic programme using the expertise of the various attendees made sure that despite the inevitable late nights spent discussing various aspects of writing and social media promotion, and drinking and eating of course, there were no evident hangovers or disinterest.
Before discussing the various presentations by the attendees though let’s look at the why.
There is something magical that happens when people with similar or common goals and an open mind get together. The four events have proved that totally. You can spend all your year chatting online but the WABAS meetups annually, and the local informal meetups, constantly drive more innovation, business and collaborations. A quick straw poll at the event confirmed that everyone without exception was doing better both personally and professionally than last year and much of that was down to those participating having shared ideas, business projects and the confidence of having a supportive network surrounding them to talk about their new ideas and goals and egg them on morally and also with contacts and ideas.
Saturday started with an introduction to Antequera from Diana and Alicia and exploded with what personally I thought the most relevant presentation for me persoanlly by Anna Kemp about her Crowdfunding experience for #UnTeatroEntreTodos. Some people think that crowdfunding is easy. The story of the open air amphitheatre on a remote Spanish mountainside in a town of just 600 people is inspirational to say the least and illustrated the challenges and mistakes that some make when looking to crowdfund. Take a look at the initial video for the project and take a look at the full post about crowdfunding written by an attendee, Jennifer Riggins, here.
The morning continued with Paul Read talking about creating your online personality or brand and bringing us the radical new concept of the Pen, Notebook and plenty of storage space along with a two finger swipe for changing screens/pages for keeping those ideas flowing. Ben Cooper then virtually appeared assisted by the lovely DebbieMcGee… no sorry @spain4pleasure and SEO’d the hell out of the attendees via Google Hangout with Skype voice as Hangout was flakey (As it usually is)
We were then whacked out of our online complacency by Jennifer Riggins providing a transatlantic kick up the arse to our collective LinkedIn profiles. The ebranding ninja got everybody taking down notes and rushing back to their various parts of Spain to change our totally underused and inadequate profiles on the business network. You can see it here
We then did group work troubleshooting any issues or problems that other members of the group had and came up with excellent lists for progressing for each other. Lots of homework for everyone to do and put into action. As I mentioned earlier the hive mind of groups can work in a very different way and open up new paths for us all.
Some of us finished very late including a visit to the World’s Worst Irish Bar that played Bachata at industrial drill levels, had a shield from Preston North End hanging from the roof and had a coca cola van parked inside. I guess we weren’t the target market for them and they definitely need some help from Jennifer on Branding 😉
The Sunday started early as we only had the morning available, as Spain is a big country to get back from, and attendees from Barcelona, Asturias, Valencia, Madrid and more had trains, planes and cars to catch. The huge success of the 1 on 1 speed idea networking should be repeated next year as ideas were discussed, dissected and put forward in four minute spells moving from one person to another. Next year even more time for this as it seems that everyone got a lot out of it and again there were plenty of steps and ideas given which need putting into practice this week.
Jo Styles started the presentations with an overview of bringing an app to market, hers is the Guide To Malaga (Android Link) which is a guidebook in app format. She gave a comparison between the process for getting it into the Apple App Store and Google Play in which Google Play came out very well. The process was not painless. Everyone says get an app it’s easy, well Joanna gave us the nitty gritty, the too optimistic timelines and the costings along with the bugs and issues. Well worth thinking about when someone blithely suggests getting yourself an app done. It’s not quite that easy.
Jacqui Malpass then gave a writing presentation on making your personal story work for you. Great ideas about how to separate yourself from the actual events but still use them as a catharsis perhaps. You can see the slides here
— Jacqui Malpass (@jacquimalpass) November 9, 2015
And finally it was time for me with my presentation of “How Ideas Work For Me” in a group setting and a following Q+A about the value of ideas in terms of money and creativity. Yes, that dirty word money. You can see the presentation here in Canva. If you have any questions about the ideas process then feel free to contact me on Twitter
Thanks to Alicia, Diana, The Parador, Reina Restaurants, DeCoop, El Arte de Cozina, La Antequerana, Molletes San Roque and all of the attendees and presenters and looking forward to #WABAS16 which looks like it will be in… well if Jennifer has anything to do with it the untrodden lands of Valladolid are looking favourite.
Oh and finally, why does Antequera want to be a World Heritage Site? Read about the town here and this picture may make some sense