Are you a travel blogger looking to learn how to leverage your blog numbers and social media following to earn free hotel stays, meals, and activities on your next trip? You’ve come to the right place!
Travel is an addiction. Once you’ve seen one amazing place, tried an exotic dish, or made a friend on the other side of the world, you’re drawn to return. Planning a trip is always a battle between returning to the once-foreign places you’ve come to love and trying something new that you will soon appreciate just as much.
And travel is expensive, making these decisions heart-wrenching at times. Choosing to return to Aruba rather than giving Norway a try could mean that it will be years before you get to see the Northern Lights. For someone with a serious case of wanderlust, that can be a big deal. When your funds are limited, you have to choose a vacation very carefully.
But what if I told you that your hard work as a travel blogger could pay off in a big way on your next vacation? Maybe even making it so you could take more trips?
Guess what? I’m telling you that now.
If you blog about the things you eat and the places you go, you’re well on your way to earning free things the next time you travel. If you are active on a social media account (or accounts) tied to your blog, you’re in even better shape. And, of course, the higher your blog statistics and social follower counts, the better off you are, as well.
See, it’s to the benefit of restaurants, hotels, and attractions to lend bloggers a hand financially. If you write a post about their business and 1,000 people see it, that’s wonderful advertising! If all they have to do is comp your dinner or give you a free pass to a castle, that’s even better. Just think how much money they might make as a result of your post. Many businesses are more than willing to offer free or discounted meals, stays, and entry if you are willing to write a thorough review of your experience and/or post high-quality photos to your social media channels.
But what do you have to do or say to arrange this sort of thing? And how do you even find out which places like to collaborate with bloggers?
1. The right Google search.
Once you’ve picked a vacation destination, give this a try. Type “all opinions are my own” + “[your destination]” + “blog” into Google. Your search should yield a list of blog posts by other travel writers who have done something similar to what you are looking to do. Read through the posts and see where the writers have had successful collaborations. Then, reach out to those places and pitch them!
2. The right pitch.
Your pitch should be detailed yet to-the-point. Here’s a sample email to work off of:
I’m writing to you about my upcoming visit to [your destination]. I am a travel blogger, and I document my experiences on my blog, [your blog’s website], as well as through my social media channels. I like to highlight my favorite hotels, restaurants, and experiences in each place I visit. [Talk about your audience size, demographics, and level of engagement.]
For my upcoming trip to [your destination], I plan to document, via articles, photography, and social media posts, how best to experience [your destination].
Given this project, I am reaching out to inquire whether you provide support to bloggers. We will be in [your destination] from [date] to [date]. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
3. The right time.
If it’s high season in your destination, you may not get the response you’re hoping for. Heading off on a trip in the heat of summer and expecting free rooms at Disney World probably isn’t going to work out. Consider when hotels and tourist attractions at your chosen vacation spot might be less busy, and plan your trip accordingly.
4. The right targets.
If you only ever write about restaurants, you may not have much luck pitching hotels. If you’re not a travel blogger, you may not be able to collaborate with a tour group company. And if you’re just starting out, you may not have the numbers needed to catch the attention of some of the hottest attractions or places to stay. I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t ask, but be ready for rejections.
Actually, be ready for a lot of “no”s and a general lack of responses, regardless of your digital imprint. If you get one “yes” out of twenty emails, you should feel like you’ve accomplished something. Pitching isn’t easy. You also shouldn’t give up, however. There’s bound to be someone out there who would be a great fit for you and your blog.
To that end, it isn't a bad idea, once you've completed the first item on this list, to also send your pitch email to every business you can identify as being in your target destination, provided you'd be willing to collaborate with them. The more pitch emails you send, the better your chances of securing a partnership.
5. The right mindset.
If you’re going to commit to writing a blog post or creating social media content based on a travel experience, you need to put yourself in the right mindset. This is work. Enjoy the experience while you’re in it. Take tons of photos. As soon as you leave, jot down a few notes, if you can. Get your posts done as soon as possible, and write a thank-you note to the host site along with links to your work. You owe it to them, and yourself, to be professional and treat this like a gig. Doing a few of these collaborations will also help you to earn more opportunities of the same kind in the future. So have a great time and then get to work! You’ve earned this chance.
What travel collaborations have you secured? What strategies work best for you? Share them below!