So you’ve got this bright idea to start a travel blog so you can write and be free, travel the world on someone else’s dime, and make a shit ton of money. God that sounds amazing, why didn’t I think of that. Newsflash. You have a long road of free-labor ahead of you, free-labor and failure. But nothing that amazing comes easy now does it?
Travel blogging is in fact a skill, and a very technical one at that. If you don’t already know it involves web development, social media management, cutting-edge and resource based marketing strategies, professionalism, creativity, writing skills, photography skills, an understanding of how the back-end of the travel and tourism industry works, an understanding of SEO, brand development, networking, networking and more networking, and of course, traveling. But that’s the fun part right?
Getting from point A to point B is not by any means a simple task. There are a host of great sites out there that can offer you the right answers, consulting services, even all out schools for blogging. There’s so many it’s overwhelming. Perhaps you’ve done that, or maybe you’re too conservative to make the investment. Either way, for whatever reason, you are probably here because you’re already a blogger who’s looking for something more. Like how travel bloggers get on press trips.
I’m going to be dead on with you, you don’t just get them. You have to work for them. ROI (return on investment) is a very real thing, and a very real thing that very real DMO’s (Destination Marketing Organizations) care about, a very real thing that hoteliers and tour operators care about. So you have to ask yourself this question before you can ask about free press trips, “How can I provide a reasonable ROI?”. Before we can answer the question how travel bloggers get on press trips, let’s ask this:
What’s Your Blog Worth?
Let’s start at the very basic of basic, your travel blog, with a minimum of 50 posts, a nice user-friendly design, and a logo. At this very bottom, your value is about $150 / post. Now this doesn’t mean you can charge someone $150 for freelancing, this is just a gauge for you. Do you think you can reach out to a tourism PR rep and ask for flights, hotels, rental car, food, and tours? No, because that costs way more than what your worth. This doesn’t mean it’s a flop. Start small.
How can you increase your value?
You increase your value with traffic, domain authority, page rank, global rank and the rank you hold in your main audience country, social media following, and networking. Overwhelming? Tell me about it. There is no short cut to this, but here are some sure-fire ways to get there:
- Quality content
- Good SEO (I recommend Yoast plugin)
- Sharing threads in facebook groups (pick 3 and stick to those groups or you will spontaneously explode).
- Link ups. This gives great comment love, link juice and traction with social media and traffic which builds page rank, domain authority and global / local rank.
- Be active in your facebook communities so people know you.
- Great pictures in all your tweets, facebook posts, google+ and pins. Use questions to engage.
These are My Favorite Go to Sites for Everything Blogging, Growing and Digital Influence
I’ve been reading content from these guys for years. Some of it I flip through, some of it applies to me, but it is all accurate. You can thank me later. You now don’t have to ask yourself where to find the answers to everything. All three of these sites are great for making that leap to monetizing your blog.
- Digital Marketer – I love this site for its easy-to-understand and affordable tutorials.
- Razor Social – Ian Cleary rounds up the best tools on the web to get your work done faster.
- Quick Sprout – Where you go when you want to understand how SEO works and how to get traffic.
How Travel Bloggers Get on Press Trips
While you are growing these things like a perfect garden, you can be traveling in your local areas, and places you’re willing to pay the transport to, and reaching out to hotels. Remember, keep yourself in that value range. You can get by in your first year working with destinations if you are willing to pay the airfare or gas to get there. Seasoned travel bloggers get on press trips through press trip announcements on industry sites, by invitation (through referral and reputation), or by pitching to areas they want to visit for the next year. You don’t want to race the car without the engine. Slow down.
CVBs (Convention and Visitor’s Bureaus) will work with you if you are already going to be there. Nine times out of ten they will give you a media pass and a few hotel names to reach out to on your own. Nine times out of ten if you’re not calling the Plaza in NYC, you’ll get in. Reach out to historic B&B’s, and boutique hotels. Research their brand and tell them why you’d like to share them, not just because you need a hot shower and a fluffy pillow. This is going to be the first year of your blogging life so you need to get used to that. Most importantly, deliver, deliver, and deliver on time! These brands will take care of you in the future as you grow if you do right by them.
Travel blogging takes a lot of patience. The Travel Bloggers Network on facebook is an amazing community of bloggers on all levels that are at your fingertips. Pay attention to the focus points by day, ask questions, and don’t ever assume that everything you hear is truth. ALWAYS be diligent in researching the info afterwards. You don’t just get press trips, you have to be involved in circles of bloggers and PR reps who offer them by networking and applying to places like Media Kitty. At the end of the day, if you don’t have the value to back up the pitch, you’re beat. Stick to the smaller adventures while you grow your reputation, and you can only go up from there.