How to Travel The World on a Discount
As you sit in your office cubicle surrounded by pictures of exotic destinations and adrenaline-fueled activities, you begin to daydream about how exciting it would be to not only travel the world but to do so for free. You then learn that there are groups of people out there whose jobs are to not only travel the world and write about their adventures but get paid (or at least compensated) to do so. If you are interested in joining their ranks, here are some tips to help you get started as a travel blogger.
Start a Travel Blog
The first step in turning your dream of being a travel blogger into a reality is to start a travel blog. Before you put pen to paper, you first need to ask yourself this simple, yet thought-provoking, question. “What is your passion?” Your answer will help determine what your blogging niche will be, and therefore what you will begin writing about. Now don’t worry…it’s okay if your passions change. As you explore and write about different topics, you may learn that you prefer writing about things you previously didn’t even know existed.
So, start with figuring out what keeps you interested. Do you love finding the best deals? Are you a fan of trying out new foods? Is your goal in life to scale every mountain and help others do the same? Writing travel blogs about the “Top 5 things to do in City X”, is a generic post that may not keep you interested for long and won’t garner a lot of enthusiasm from your readers. However, if you have a passion about something and you use that passion to put a new spin on all your posts, your readers will not only keep coming back for more but will also start to see you as an authority on this topic and trust your opinion.
If you are just starting out, begin by writing about what you know. You could try writing about places in your hometown, places you have traveled to, or tips and tricks for anything travel related. If you haven’t written publicly before, don’t worry. The more you write about different topics, the sooner you will find your voice and will discover what resonates with your audience.
Build a Following
Building a following is a key next step in helping you get free perks as a travel blogger. The bigger your following, the better your chances are for being compensated. When you start out, your only audience may be your parents and close friends. But don’t worry… as you grow your post repertoire and increase your digital presence, your following will grow.
In building your following, it is important to focus on building your social media presence. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest will all help drive traffic to your site. While you can use promoted posts to build your audience, growing your following organically is also possible. For tips on how to grow your audience organically, click here.
Another way to build your following is to write guest posts for larger publications. If larger publications, be they print or online, pick up your guest submissions, your credibility as a blogger increases and so will your following.
Develop Your Pitch
Before you begin asking companies to partner with you and your travel blog, you need to come up with an idea to pitch (what will you be writing about). If you are visiting a new city, your post might be “See City X in 24 hours”. If you are all about the food, your post could be something like “Best First Date Restaurants in City X”. While developing your pitch, keep in mind that more specific a post idea is, the better the response rate it will generally receive as companies will know ahead of time the type of article they can expect from you. For ideas on how to improve your pitch idea (as well as other travel blog advice), check out the site Travel Blog Success.
Once you have a pitch ready, you are ready to start contacting brand partners (companies willing to compensate you in exchange for media exposure to your audience). Julie Smith from Driveontheleft.com suggests doing a Google for the words “all opinions are my own”, the name of the city you are interested in, and the word “blog”. When travel bloggers have received some sort of compensation for their post content, they usually add the disclaimer that they thank the partner for their support but all opinions expressed are those of the blogger. In doing the Google search, you can learn which companies have worked with a travel blogger in the past and may be willing to do so again.
After you have completed the search, make a list of all the companies that would fit your pitch idea. For example, if your idea is to write about a new city, jot down the names of hotels, restaurants, tour companies, attractions and so on that appeared in your Google search. With this list in hand email each one, preferably through their PR or marketing department with your pitch idea. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by just asking for the opportunity to work with them.
In composing your email, make sure to include a brief summary of your professional background, a brief description of your blog, the type of media exposure you will provide, and an idea about what you are planning to write about. Towards the end of your email, make sure to incorporate the phrase “provide support to bloggers” to indicate that you are looking for some type of compensation but are leaving the choice of compensation up to the company. By leaving the compensation decision up to the company, you are increasing your chances of getting at least part of the activity discounted, if not entirely for free.
Another way to make contact with brand partners is to review job boards aimed at travel bloggers and journalists. One such site, called Media Kitty, is an online community that allows a travel bogger to connect and learn about upcoming jobs.
One of the possible postings that you may run across is for press trips. Press trips are when places like the tourism boards or PR firms will partner with journalists and bloggers to help promote one of their outlets. In exchange for getting extensive media coverage, the journalist/blogger often receives free airfare, hotels, meals, and activities.
Write Your Posts
In all the excitement of traveling the world for free, it can be easy to forget that this is a work trip and not a vacation. When you have finished your trip, it is very important that you write a note thanking all your brand partners and contacts and giving them an estimated timeline on when your post will be published. Being a travel blogger, your reputation is vital so keep your communication consistent.
In writing your article, it is important to disclose your partnership with the company, but to also stay true to your audience by writing the truth. If you stayed for free at a hotel that had several problems, be honest with your audience and tell the truth, but do it in a professional way and frame the article in a respectful tone. If your stay, however, was fantastic make sure you tell the world how great they were.
Once the post goes live, make sure you tag and link the company on all your social media platforms. You will probably find that the company will also tag you on their social media platforms to help promote your post. In the end, this can be the cherry on top in your fun travel experience. Not only did you get to travel for free (or mostly for free), but you have increased your online presence. Now you can make a future pitch with an even bigger following and hopefully land even more free trips.
Are You a Travel Blogger?
Are you a travel blogger? Share your tips in the comments!
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