After almost two entire years of blogging as a hobby, I decided it was time to swallow my pride and start pitching to companies. With an upcoming trip to Sri Lanka and extremely tight budget for it, I thought it would be at least worth sending out some feelers to see if my blog possessed the necessary stats to be approved for any type of collaboration.
- Be realistic: The goal of most travel bloggers is to eventually travel for free, or even better to get paid for doing so. I think a common misconception about blogging is that it’s fun and easy, when in fact it takes hours and hours of networking, growing social media platforms, trying to get your blog a readership and a whole lot of writing and taking photographs. It’s time consuming, and undoubtedly the more time you put into your blog, the more you get in return. I didn’t take my blog seriously for the first year and a half or so of having it, but in the last few months I’ve really tried to grow it both in terms of statistics but more importantly, for me, in terms of quality. I’ve rebranded all of my social media, redesigned my website and have begun writing more about various aspects of travel such as airlines, hotels and ways to save while travelling. I know I’m a long way away from free travel, but the hard work I’ve put in now has certainly helped me in acquiring partnerships.
- Stay on topic: I began the redesign of my website so that when the time came for me to begin doing sponsored or collaborative posts, they would be in tune with the existing content on my page. Now, if I pitch to a restaurant, all they need to do is search ‘restaurants’ and read some previous reviews. If my pitch is successful and I do write a review or post about them, my existing readers won’t find it odd that I’ve started reviewing restaurants. Consistency is important, and it makes sponsored posts seem a lot more authentic.
- Know what you want: It’s important when you’re pitching to a company to know exactly what you’re looking for. Companies might be put off if your pitching email or letter is too vague, so be sure to be explicit in what you hope to gain from the collaboration or sponsorship and what you wish to give in return. Companies can always come back with a counter-offer, so be sure you know exactly how much or how little you’re willing to work, pay or write for a collaboration before enquiring about one.
- Don’t offer too much: Blogs can take a long time to write, especially if you want to write them well. Editing and planning photographs to accompany them, gathering information and redrafting them all add up, so be sure not to stretch yourself too thin when organising a collaboration with a company. Some hotels, for example, ask for credit card details from beginner bloggers in case your end of the bargain isn’t held up, so make sure you don’t go to the trouble of writing several substandard pieces to be charged anyway.
- Just ask: The way I see it is if a company doesn’t respond or responds with a no to any of my pitches, I’m only in the same position I was in to begin with. If you have a trip planned already and are already intending on paying for a hotel, then all that happens if you can’t find one to collaborate with then you still need to pay. Successful pitches are a bonus, not a given, and you need to put yourself out there to companies in order for them to come about.
I now have 5 of mine and Paul’s 13 nights in Sri Lanka completely free, and another 4 at half the cost advertised online, saving me over $350 so far. I will continue to send out these emails to hotels for the remainder of my stay and have begun contacting excursion and transfer companies to see if there’s any possibility of saving even further.