5 days. 5 cities. 12 uber-influencers... and me.
Imagine my delight (pardon the pun) when I got invited to visit and explore the Mugla region of Turkey with a group of social media stars and PRBoxPR. I was intrigued to see just how these bloggers and vloggers operate and maintain their online brands, presence and personas in what has become a very lucrative business.
So here's a little insight into the hard work (yes really!) that goes into the careers that have amassed this lot hundreds of thousands of followers and their ability to reach out to a combined audience of over 60 million hits across the globe!
off it became very apparent that this wasn't a holiday and the blogging crew were grafters - ready to put in the effort to get their content 'that photo'. I was about to get a crash course in the importance of angles and sunrise starts to capture the right light (that's 5.58am this time of the year in Mugla)
My eye-opener as to how hard these guys work began at the Radisson Blu Hotel Stansted where we all met the night before our flight.
We'd not even checked our bags in before the group were being stopped for autographs and selfies with fans and families. And so the journey began...
Day 1 - Orka
SunLife Hotel - Fethiye
As I headed to breakfast I was greeted by some of the girls who were already on their second outfit change of the day doing
photo shoots by the pool.
They were buddying up which was refreshing to see how open they were to working together. I'd wrongly assumed they would be competitive.
A few hours later we found ourselves watching paragliders throwing themselves off Babadag the highest mountain in Fethiye. As we gazed below at the
turquoise waters and beach the cameras came out again.
The Mugla region is a real mix of old historical sites and new resorts. As we travelled down to the Marina in Fethiye there were breathtaking views and a stop off to see the ghost town of Kayakoy.
A quick ice-cream break and we were off to our second stop - Dalyan.
Day 2 - Dalyan Resort & Spa Hotel
I wake as daylight breaks to the sounds of a
full on photoshoot with @lailaloves and photographer Husam Al-Deen working it by the pool.
Laila is one of the hottest stars on YouTube and her channel with her sister Yasmin gets over 750,000 subscribers. There are few A-listers I've not had the pleasure of interviewing over the years but I've never experienced the hysteria from my best friends daughter (who nearly combusted) when she discovered I was travelling with these girls. Knowing exactly what their audience wants to see - a mix of luxury lifestyle, fashion and fun – they capture the essence of our trip in a few snaps. What we don't see is that for every one photo there are 20 almost identical ones that don't make the cut. #perfection
Dalyan is simply beautiful and you'd be forgiven for thinking you were in Vietnam with its lush, green countryside. As we took a boat trip down the Dalyan River to Iztuzu (Turtle) Beach (where we were greeted by local fisherman) we got to see the facades of Lycian rock tombs that date back 400 BC.
dinner the conversation turns to creativity. Ideas for the next day’s shoots are being discussed. It's an ongoing process for these guys coming up with fresh content and making it different and so it stands out. They're constantly brainstorming and bouncing ideas off one another while keeping across the competition online.
As we arrive at the Green Nature Diamond Resort in Marmaris, holidaymakers are looking on amused as we pose by the pool. I've thrown caution to the wind now and I'm getting into this. Yes - it only took 3 days and I’m now Insta-obsessed.
Marmaris is our third resort and has a beautiful marina and castle. The backstreets are
with stores selling locally produced crafts and gifts as well as an abundance of stores where you selling genuine fakes for handbag lovers! It's also worth taking a trip to the nearby food market that is full of colour and rich smells.
Turkey is famed for
it's impressive beaches and Kizkumu beach is one with a difference as visitors are able to walk on water. Well, sort of! A 600 metre long and 2m wide strip of sand means you can walk through the sea. Turkish locals love their folklore and local legend has it that the daughter of the king fell in love with a fisherman. The king didn't approve and ordered that they be captured if they ever met. While they were running away a miracle happened and the sea formed a path for their escape.
That evening as I think the evening is ending instead of “goodnight” it's “see you at
11pm”. Timings of posting are crucial for maximum exposure and interaction with followers ( 9am and 6pm BST are optimum I'm told - unless you're catering to your US fan base – of course!). No after dinner naps as any free time and it's a case of editing and writing up material.
Day 4 Demircloglu Park Hotel - Mugla
Our stay in Mugla's newest hotel confirmed what I already knew. There's never a moment when they gang aren't prepared for that moment that needs capturing. Toni Tran (@fashitect) even comes down to breakfast suited and booted with his camera and tripod in hand. I later stumble upon him self-shooting his photos on a timer as he poses casually in a hotel corridor. #Amazing.
This was all before what was possibly our busiest day.
First stop a visit to meet the Mayor of Mugla Metropolitan Municipality,
Dr. Osman Gurun. He's a bit of a legend in Turkey and plastered over billboards. Security is tight but once inside he greets us with enthusiasm keen to learn more about what we do.
Turkey is very proud of its heritage so we take a quick trip to the Mugla Museum to learn a bit more about the history and customs of its people. I could people watch the group all day. @_carms @zeenaxena @xthuyle and @lifeofablueberry are in a league of their own when it comes to creating the stunning photos. I wonder why they've not all been signed up for
high profile ad campaigns.
I'm fascinated that the bloggers are so acutely aware of angles and know exactly how to pose to create the perfect picture. I'm given a few lessons from Toni and Husam. Think I've still got a lot to learn...
In the afternoon we take a short bus ride to visit the town of Milas as then the ruins of the Lagina Temple. One of the world’s largest places of worship for pagans this ancient sanctuary sits in the western province of Mugla's
Yataga. Next and final stop, Bodrum...
Day 5 Wow Bodrum Resort - Bodrum
Our final destination of the trip saw us arrive in what's possibly the most touristy of the cities and one a lot of British families are most familiar with - Bodrum.
The port city is bustling with market stalls and shops nestled around the busy marina and in the shadow of the 15th century Bodrum Castle.
After a week of
travelling there's only one thing for it - time to enjoy the beach and take advantage of the hot weather.
My Mugla makeover is nearly complete as the group get ready for our last night together.
As we head home I reflect on a week of new experiences, with new friends and leave with an insight into this extraordinary group of bloggers who have the ability to shape the mindset and influence a generation.
Turkey – I’ll be back.