Travel blogging is big business. So big, in fact, that it pays to be a local blogger now more than ever. There are so many more opportunities for travel bloggers of all sizes of followings to make an impact. In this post, I’ll explain how to land local sponsorships as a travel blogger!
I partnered up with Amy, a travel blogger from the Space Coast, to talk all about landing local sponsorships as a travel blogger on this week’s episode of Offbeat Grad: the Millennial Money-Making podcast. Listen here or with the player below for all of her tips!
Why Land Local Sponsorships?
What exactly are local sponsorships and how do they differ from other blog sponsorships? Simply put, local sponsorships are any sponsorship or collaboration with a local brand. Common examples of local sponsorships include:
- Attending a local event
- Being invited to a press/influencer event at a business
- Partnering with a local travel organization or tourism agency
- Free local activities or tickets
- A free meal hosted by a local restaurant
These are the most common, but there are certainly other forms of sponsorship. Bigger partnerships might be in larger cities, with big-name companies, or large travel corporations, like airlines or hotel chains.
If you’re a local blogger with local ties, it helps to work with local brands. As you build a relationship with the community, you’ll position yourself as an expert other community members can trust. Both locals and travelers alike look to local bloggers for ideas, recommendations, and inspiration. Local businesses can tap into this power through collaboration.
Travel Blogging by the Numbers
Let’s look at some stats to get a better understanding of the travel industry. I know that I personally love using travel blogs as a resource when I visit somewhere new. Local bloggers have an insider look at their city or region, and I value this information both where I live and when I’m far from home.
If you want to land local sponsorships as a travel blogger, you need to know the stats. Here are some interesting facts and figures about the world of travel blogging:
- Travelers under 30 years old represented 23% of all international arrivals in 2017.
- 53% of travelers find holiday inspiration on Facebook, and 40% get inspiration from peers.
- Pinterest reaches almost 2X more online travelers than top agency sites.
- 90% of Millennials say brand authenticity is important, proving that younger consumers prefer ‘real’ over ‘perfect’.
As you can see, travel blogging is more important now than ever before. As more and more travelers look to bloggers for information, this wave of new local bloggers will need to rise to meet this demand.
The Harsh Reality of Travel Sponsorships
Before we go any further, I need to talk some truth at you. On Facebook a while back there were a number of posts that went viral that involved brands shaming influencers who reached out asking for free stuff. While I don’t think publicly shaming anyone on the internet is the way to go, I understand the frustration of these brands.
That’s why I wanted to clear some things up right away:
#1 You need the right intentions.
If you don’t have the right intentions, this isn’t for you. If you’re just doing this to get something for free or to attend a local event for free, this is undermining the entire industry. Of course, you can be excited about local events and enjoying these businesses, but there needs to be value in it for the business as well.
#2 People will say no.
If you start pitching brands, you’re going to hear no. Some brands won’t be open to collaboration, and that’s totally okay. In my experience, brands are very polite and considered even if they’re not willing to work with you at this time. There isn’t anything to be afraid of unless you’re asking for too much or being rude.
#3 There will be work to do.
Traveling with a sponsorship, attending a local event, or collaborating with a local business isn’t the same as simply enjoying these things on your own. They’re still a form of work. You’ll need to focus on storytelling, posting on social media, collecting information for blog posts, taking photos, and so much more.
#4 You aren’t entitled to anything.
Most importantly, as a blogger, you’re never entitled to anything. No matter how big or small your platform is, no brand is obligated to provide you anything. You need to demonstrate your worth by being authentic, trustworthy, and providing value. Anyone can start a blog nowadays and make money online. What makes you different?
How to Land Local Sponsorships
Now let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this post (or if you’re a vegetarian like me, just the potatoes). Landing sponsorships are an effective way to make money online, but it’s also not something that’s going to happen overnight.
If you’re in this whole blogging business to get rich quick, I won’t be the first to tell you that’s not going to happen. You’ll need to put in the work with these things below before you start making money online as a travel blogger:
- A self-hosted blog and domain name (Here’s my guide on how to get started in minutes!)
- Social media channels for your blog
- An understanding of the FTC’s rules and guidelines
- 10 travel or local-related posts
Why do you need posts to get started? While there’s no limit to how many you need, I think 10 is a good number to aim for before you start pitching brands. Why do they need to be travel-focused? Basically, you need to show you’re a part of the local community, and that means you need to share some community travel content.
In addition, those posts will be a great resource when you’re pitching brands and you need some examples to show! From there, you can start the process of trying to land local sponsorships as a travel blogger.
1. Become Active in the Community
First, before you start pitching, you need to become active in the community. For instance, as a blogger in the Space Coast, Amy focused on connecting with the brands and businesses she saw in her local area.
She followed restaurants, coffee shops, tourism pages, and more on social media and interacted with their posts. She posted local reviews and travel suggestions for people visiting the area. These might seem like small things, but they help brands start to take notice of you. If they see you commenting on their weekly posts, they’ll start to interact back, and they might even want to partner right away.
2. Focus on SEO
When it comes to ranking for popular travel destinations, it’s hard to make an impact. With smaller keywords, however, you have the real potential to shine.
If you’re a local blogger, take the time to target those smaller keywords. What’s a keyword? It’s what someone searches into Google. I have a Disney World blog, and I often target the keyword “Disney World budget tips” since that’s the type of audience I’m reaching.
Think about your own local location and focus on related keywords. If you’re in an area that doesn’t have many (or any!) travel blogs, you can really stand out. This is how brands will find you!
3. Be Helpful
This should go without saying, but as a travel blogger, you should help people plan their own travel. Become active on local community pages. A great place to find these is on Facebook. There are communities and groups of just about anything travel related.
Unless you live in the middle of nowhere (and even then), you should be able to find local travel groups and tourism pages. Join these pages and become an active member!
I don’t mean you should spam the community wall with your new posts every day of the week, but I would recommend taking the time to answer questions and show that you know your stuff. Then, when you do get the opportunity to link to your content, people will be more likely to trust what you have to say.
4. Reach Out to Brands
Now’s the fun part. Sometimes you have to reach out to brands to get what you want. Don’t worry! It doesn’t have to be scary. If you’ve done all of the steps above, it should feel natural.
First, give some thought to what type of collaboration you want. If there’s a local event, you might want to ask for a press pass. If a new shop is opening up, ask if they’re open to collaborating. Remember that not feeling entitled rule? This is where it comes to play.
Here’s the nitty-gritty of pitching as a travel blogger:
- Locate local companies, brands, or events – Look for businesses that seem like a good fit for your audience, and those who are more likely to be open to collaboration. For instance, new businesses or any new events are usually open to collaboration. In addition, see if they’ve worked with influencers before.
- Find the right contact – Next, locate the right contact. Many events and tourism agencies have a press contact, and this should be your go-to. Otherwise, look for a general contact number or marketing supervisor.
- Prepare your pitch – Every pitch should be personalized for the brand. This doesn’t have to be your life story. A short introduction to who you are and what your blog is about will do, followed by your pitch idea. Check below for an example.
- Wait patiently! – Finally, wait patiently for a response, following up weekly as-needed. Don’t be annoying, but it’s okay to follow up if you haven’t heard back in a while.
That’s all there is to it! Sometimes, brands will come to you. Other times you have to go to them. If you’ve got a good idea for a collaboration, go for it!
Travel Blog Pitch Template
Not sure how to pitch? There’s a simple formula to follow that I’ve developed from my years working online as a freelancer: Introduce yourself + introduce your blog + why you want to work with the brand/event + what you’ll provide + your statistics. That’s it!
Here’s an example. Let’s say I’m an Orlando blogger pitching a local food & wine festival. Here’s how I’d pitch the press contact:
My name is Sam, and I’m the Orlando local behind Website. I’ve been blogging about Orlando travel and dining since 2015, and I’ve built a strong community around my little corner of the web.
With the upcoming Food & Wine Festival, I wanted to reach out about a potential collaboration. Since this is the first Food & Wine Festival, I wanted to produce a comprehensive blog post (1500+ words) sharing how to make the most of the festival complete with tasting recommendations, accomodations, transportation, and more. In addition, I would like to cover the event on my Instagram Account through 2 posts leading up to the event and Stories throughout the day featuring my favorite food finds.
I’ve atached my media kit with my stats to this email, but here are two similar posts I’ve done for local events in the past year:
– 10 Things to Know About Fishing Fest
– Music Festival Lineup for 2020
Thanks for your consideration! I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
That’s it! See how this one shared exactly what was in it for the event. They get some publicity before the event as well as real-time coverage from a local influencer. This is a win/win!
Are You Ready to Land Local Sponsorships?
It’s time to take these tips on for yourself! There are no limits to when you can start pitching brands as a travel blogger. If you have an audience, you have something to offer brands.
As a local blogger, you have a lot of power. Yield it wisely with these tips above! There’s nothing getting in your way from landing local sponsorships as a travel blogger. Have you ever pitched local brands as a local blogger?