Confession time: I struggled to gather up the courage to contact sponsors for my last trip to Lisbon.
I felt my social media following wasn’t big enough to give it a try…
I thought that companies were only interesting in working with big bloggers…
I believed they would be able to block me from the face of the internet for being “delusional”…
Basically, I filled up my head with fear and excuses.
One day I decided that I was not going to go another day without knowing what would have happened. So after lots of research, hustle, and mistakes, I found a way to make it work with my numbers!
Believe me, these are the time for the mid-tier bloggers. Those bloggers that might not have the biggest following or traffic, but that have an amazing engaged audience!
Here are my 6 tips on how to get your very first travel blog sponsorship (even if you have less than 10k followers!):
1| Google “All opinions remain my own [insert name of your destination] blog”
These keywords will show you which hotels and brands have already collaborated with bloggers. I quickly realized that even if they didn’t have the largest of the following, some of these bloggers had over 20 or more real comments and conversations happening across their social media channels. What is even more useful is that some of these posts will even contain the details of the person they contacted, like the name AND email of tour guide, hotel owner or member of the Tourism board.
2| Custom your TripAdvisor search with brands that are the most suitable for your audience
I had a feeling of what kind of lodging experience my audience preferred because 1) They mostly match my own preferences and 2) I did a reader survey at the beginning of the year where I asked them about their travel preferences. This allowed me to filter out luxury accommodations and traditional hotels from the beginning. I had about 50 locations by the end of my search, which might sound like a huge number but there are about hundred thousands of lodging options in any huge city. So imagine the task that I had ahead of me with Lisbon!
Filtering out what will not work for your audience, not only does gives you a clear path to follow, it also optimizes your chances of finding a better fit for your blog!
3| Prepare a spreadsheet with all the hotels’ essential information
Include the name of the hotel, company or brand, their website, and social media following data. I chose to monitor Facebook and Instagram because those are the channels where my audience interacts the most. Select the social media channels that work for YOUR audience and identify which brands have a similar or smaller social media following than yours. Blogging is a powerful tool that can help them spread the word around, and you can leverage to your advantage!
And last but not least important (actually this is the most important part), identify who will be your contact person. Preferably contact the owner or marketing and sales director. Search through LinkedIn if it’s necessary, even if you only find the receptionist. Ask him or her to referrer you to the person in charge of the marketing and sales department. It doesn’t hurt to ask!
4| Personalize your email as much as you can
No one want to read a generic e-mail, so make sure you referrer to the person by their name and brand. What is more is that after all the research you’ve done, you already have all the basic information to form a critical opinion of why you want to reach out to this company.
You already have your reasons to feel excited about working with them, let that shine on your email!
5| Introduce yourself and be clear about your goals
State who you are, where you come from, as well as the name of your blog and its mission statement. Include the basic demographic data of your blog’s audience and use key insights that connect your blog to their brand. Don’t forget to clarify the duration of your trip and dates of your stay. And also make sure you set out the intentions of your project: is it to document via pictures and social media channels? Via video?
6| Include this vital call to action: “I am reaching out to inquire if you provide support for bloggers”
In all honesty, 90% of the hotels and tours I contacted didn’t reply back. But that is something that shouldn’t discourage you! Because those who did answer immediately said, “Yes, we offer support for bloggers in the form of this, x and y and we will kindly offer a complimentary stay or tour in exchange of this, x and y. We can welcome you on this date at this time.” HOW AWESOME IS THAT!?
Example of the e-mail:
Hello Bruno from We Hate Tourism,
First of all, let me tell you we love the name of We Hate Tourism and the story behind it. With your compelling anti-marketing strategy, you have us hooked!
We are writing to you about our upcoming visit to Lisbon. We are an international couple living in Slovenia, my husband is Slovenian and I come from Mexico! We document our experiences our trips around Slovenia and the world in our blog, www.thesunnysideofthis.com. Our blog’s aim is to inspire our readers -traveling couples, and expats- to visit the hidden gems and off the beaten path destinations in Europe & the world. Our audience is mainly based in the USA, Mexico, Canada, Australia, and Europe.
For our upcoming trip to Lisbon, we plan to document via the blog, pictures, and social media, the best way to experience the city, and Portugal. We like to focus on cultural experiences, the local food scene, accommodations, and unique activities.
For this project, I am reaching out to inquire if you provide support to bloggers. Our visit will be from the 20th to 26th of May, 2016.
If you want to check out our current media kit and stats please click here.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Isabel Munguia & Miha Zorec
BONUS: Keep your reader in mind!
Imagine you are a business owner or marketing chief officer working in the crazy busy hospitality industry with just around 10 minutes a day to check your email. People who actually book your service or hotel are your TOP priority. Then a blogger comes and asks you for a discount or complimentary stay in exchange of a review… you basically gave me an extra task to do.
I don’t have the time to arrange that right now. I have a business to run and blogging-whatever-that-is, is not something that was part of my plan.
When you simply ask if they do support bloggers, you basically filtered out those who DO have a program already set up for you. Meaning that you will collaborate with someone who DOES see the value of what you do and is ready to welcome you! A win-win for both of you :)
- Engage through social media with your sponsors prior (and after) your trip
- Check in with sponsors a week before your arrival (some hotels might even ask you for your flight details to make sure everything runs smoothly)
- Once you are ready to share the post tag their social media handles on your social media promotion activities and send them a personalized email with the link
- Also ask them if they will like to add something else to the post like a discount code, specific link or any other additional information
This might sound like a lot of ground work, but believe me, you will end up being more satisfied about the content you put out there for two reasons:
#1 You will be excited and engaged to produce and promote something you believe in!
#2 Your audience will be as excited and engaged as you, because you’ll be showing them something they LOVE and believe in, too!
Hope this inspires you to make the move. Believe me, I was scared and nervous when I first did this too. But once you put myself out there, you will realize that you have nothing to lose!