If working with brands is a goal of yours, and you’d like to use your online influence to turn your blog into a profitable business, then you’ll want to keep reading.
Making money from your blog isn’t as difficult as it may sound. Sure, it can be challenging; but it’s not an impossible venture. This is especially true if you’re looking to collaborate with brands and tourism boards.
To prove this, Jessie on a Journey asked 14 travel bloggers to share their favorite way of working with brands to grow their blogging income.
Check out their answers below!
Psst! Don’t forget to pin this post for later!
How To Approach Brands As An Influencer
Before we dive into how travel bloggers work with tourism boards and brands, I want to share with you a short video I made teaching a four-step strategy for working with brands and using your online influence ethically.
You can watch the influencer strategy video here:
If you’ve never heard of influencer networks, these are online groups where you sign up for free, create a profile, connect your social media accounts and blogs. From there, the network finds the appropriate brand campaigns that are a fit for you.
Instead of spending hours trying to find brands and tourism boards to pitch, the influencer network does the work for you.
The best part:
I’ve created a FREE list of 31 Must-Join Influencer Networks For Travel & Lifestyle Bloggers. Click to subscribe and snag it for yourself!
Once you sign up, it’ll be immediately sent to your inbox. Whether you’re a social media influencer or travel / lifestyle blogger, I recommend signing up for as many as you can to increase your chances of landing paid brand partnerships.
Working With Brands: 14 Clever Influencer Strategy Ideas
1) Joining Lucrative Affiliate Programs
“We work with brands in a number of different ways, and whereas some involve getting paid directly, some we work with to earn money from selling a company’s product.
This is called earning affiliate income, and we write about or advertise brand’s products and then receive commission payments for sales made by our readers who click on related links or ads.
Bloggers interested in working with brands can join large affiliate networks that provide access to loads of brands. Some of the best affiliate networks include ShareASale, AWin, Commission Junction.
Additionally, bloggers can join an affiliate program run by just one brand — like Amazon, Booking.com or Tripadvisor — or sometimes brands will just track it internally by giving bloggers a specific tracking link to determine sales.
We personally focus on a few different affiliate programs and write about companies and products we have genuinely used and enjoy. Often, these include travel clothing, tours and hotels.
This past year we focused more on affiliate income for the first time and were able to double our income from affiliate sales. Our affiliate income covered all our web operating costs as well as most of our living costs for the year, including the rent on our apartment.”Have you tried all 14 of these clever ways to work with brands? #blogging #influencer Click To Tweet
2) Working With Brands Through Linking
“My approach to working with brands isn’t linear. I am very selective and I like to work with companies that fit with my brand values and my viewers.
Once I’ve got a brand that fits the criteria, we will discuss the objective of the campaign on both ends so there is a mutual benefit.
If the brand is trying to sell a product, we will discuss affiliate linking on my blogs and build a campaign around that where I earn a percentage off of each sale.
Other times, it may be a one-off post where I get paid for each post that promotes the product.
Whenever I work with a brand, I find a way to incorporate the brand into the content I consistently produce. I never take away from the experience of my readers with brand deals.”
3) Exchanging Services
“As travel bloggers, we usually exchange services instead of monetary payments when working with a brand.
For example, I recently partnered with a luxury chain of hotels to promote them on my blog and social media.
In exchange they offered us a two-night stay at one of their gorgeous hotels in a cool tourist destination that we chose.
It is a win-win for both of us. We will provide them one blog post mentioning their accommodation and two posts in Facebook and Instagram. We received the media stay for two nights voucher already.”
4) Taking Part In Brand Ambassor Programs
“One of my favorite ways to work with brands is as a brand ambassador.
For example, I’ve been an ambassador with Vanguard World since 2013. Vanguard World are a manufacturer of photo/video accessories, and as I’m a professional photographer as well as a travel blogger, they are an excellent fit for me.
We work together in a number of ways. Usually it’s fairly organic, where I’ll mention their products naturally when I’m talking about specific photos I’ve taken.
Additionally, we collaborate on paid campaigns when they launch new products. For example, on the launch of their travel focused VEO and VEO 2 tripods, I provided photography that they used on product packaging, as well as blog posts and social media coverage on my outlets.
It’s a win-win brand partnership too. They are super supportive of what I’m doing, provide me with lots of gear, and always share my content on their channels, as well.”
5) Working With Brands via Product Reviews
“I am a full time travel blogger — as of January! — and one of my revenue sources comes from working directly with brands.
I’ve been paid by destination marketing boards and tourism boards for trips, and I’ve been paid by companies that sell travel-related products and services.
During the last holiday season I was compiling a Christmas Gift List post and requested samples for consideration.
One of the products I received truly stood out. It was a great travel product, and I could already tell it would become one of my new travel staples. I was genuinely excited to share this product with my readers!
When I shared my excitement with the brand, they expressed interest in a full feature on my site.
A full feature post requires quite a bit more work than a mention in a gift guide, so I requested payment, and we negotiated. The brand ended up paying me for my post and sending me additional products, and my hope is that we’ve established a relationship that will grow into the future.
If you find a product you truly love and think would resonate with your readers, reach out with a pitch! Think beyond DMO’s and tourism boards and you’ll find tons of brands that offer travel related products and services.”Here are 14 ways #bloggers work with #brands. Tip #4 even shows you how to turn an unpaid partnership into a paid gig! Click To Tweet
6) Selling Photography
“My travel blog and curious mind takes me to amazing places around the world.
One way of making my blogging business profitable and possible to do long-term is the fact that I sell photos and create content for various brands on the go.
By constantly traveling I can provide interesting new locations, while still offering the same high-quality and style that brands know they will get from me.
Since video is becoming the next big thing, there is also a demand for creating videos for brands to showcase their products. So it’s a growing niche with a lot of potential to make good money.”
7) Crafting Valuable Press Trip Campaigns
“I specialize in creating and doing blog marketing campaigns for tourism boards, both national and more regional ones.
Based on the destination’s marketing goals, the focus of my blog and the interests of my readers, I put together a trip program and a content package that serves to promote the destination and introduce it to my readers.
Such a package consists of live social media while I’m on the trip, blog content after the trip and social media promotion of that blog content, as well as a feature in my newsletter.
Sometimes these campaigns are planned months in advance, but they’re sometimes also very last-minute. I charge a set project marketing fee for every campaign that I do.”
8) Publishing Sponsored Content
“We’ve worked with brands in a number of different ways and also maintain a database of travel bloggers to help brands collaborate with multiple travel bloggers with a single campaign.
One such example was a campaign we did this year for Hertz.
Hertz wanted us and five other travel bloggers to write about unusual food experiences that were off-the-beaten-track in six countries across Europe, using a Hertz car hire as the means to facilitate this.
This was all documented on their website, on the respective bloggers’ web sites in their local languages and on A Luxury Travel Blog in English, as well as on multiple different social accounts across many different social networks.
On A Luxury Travel Blog alone this resulted in more than 4,000 social shares of the blog posts written, and more than 10x that figure in page views.”
9) Producing & Organizing Social Media Influencer Campaigns
“A lot of bloggers wonder how to work with brands on Instagram. As a social media influencer, I collaborate with brands on influencer campaigns; but if they’re looking for additional bloggers or a niche that’s not my primary focus, I have also served as a campaign manager to connect them to the right people that can spread their message.
I run an influencer collective full of highly vetted social media personalities and can be their point person for contract negotiations, scheduling and logistics, and content delivery so they don’t have to email 100 different people — they just come to me for all their influencer needs.”
10) Working With Tourism Boards
“We, as a blog and brand, do cooperate with other brands to share great products with our users.
We worked, for instance, with the tourism board in Amsterdam.
The cooperation was simple. Our team had a list of articles we wanted to produce, and shared it with the tourism board. They liked the idea and sponsored tickets as well as transport.
You can also link the affiliate programs you’re in on these articles — for instance, when promoting where to stay in Amsterdam — as well as place advertisements. This way a blog can be monetized without compromising its quality.”
11) Working With Brands Through Giveaways
“Most travel bloggers reach out to small and big brands via e-mail, which is vastly less productive than other ways.
I favor a simple call. It’s way easier and you actually have someone to talk to.
At the moment I don’t really look for ads, social media campaigns or paid posts. I’d currently rather focus on prize games, as they are highly effective for the brand and myself.
As they’re engaging, they increase the traffic to my and the brand’s website, plus both gain a lot new followers. It almost always works; you just need to do it continuously.”
12) Working With Local Tour Operators
“I run a travel blog about Scandinavia called Routes North, which aims to show people how to travel to a pretty expensive but very beautiful region on a budget.
We’ve had a lot of success through partnering with local tour companies, who are increasingly choosing to list their guided tours with us.
It’s a win-win situation. Small local guiding companies can reach tourists who are already planning a visit, and readers really seem to like getting targeted recommendations for tours that can help them get off the beaten track.
Although there are challenges when it comes to calendars, rates and availability, we’ve found that it can be a good way to diversify beyond the usual revenue streams.
Steve from Routes North
13) Creating Facebook Live Videos
“I’ve worked with brands on a couple of occasions through Facebook Live chats as well as public appearances with the video going to Facebook.
I thought the Facebook Live idea was very creative and unlike anything I’ve done before.
For instance, we went live on my Facebook page to promote an event called #TravelShare with Kanetix a month ahead of time. On the actual day, I went live with the company on their Facebook page, discussing the top 150 things to do in Toronto (in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday), and we gave away prizes throughout.
With Facebook’s video cross-posting, we were able to share the video on both of our pages after the fact.
14) Recommending House Sitting
“We make money via recommending house sitting on trustedhousesitters.com as an affiliate partner; which we love, because it’s truly a great way to travel the world rent-free.
Every time someone purchases a membership, we get a percentage of the sale. House sitting basically means looking after someone’s home and pets while they are away on a business trip or holiday.”
Brand Collaboration Proposal Tips
Wondering how to reach out to brands as an influencer or blogger?
Keep these helpful brand collaboration proposal tips in mind as you work on landing Instagram sponsorships and blogger campaigns:
Utilize influencer networks. As stated above, these make working with brands and landing paid press trips much easier — and will save you a ton of time.
Find alignment. It can be so easy to become a “yes (wo)man” when a brand is offering you money; but eventually, your audience will see right through this inauthenticity and you’ll be left without a community (meaning in the long-run, you won’t be an asset to brands or your readers).
Instead, find brands that share your beliefs and values so you can naturally promote them.
Consider your value. Yes, numbers like unique visitors per month and Instagram followers are important when working with brands; but there are other ways to show a brand or tourism board you’d be a great asset for a brand influencer collaboration.
Consider your unique skills, voice and interests, or if there are extra deliverables you can provide.
For instance, if you have a small community but can make a drone video for them to use on their social channels, that will be valuable.
Remember, you’re trying to show the brand you have something you can bring to the table that they can’t themselves.
Keep your initial pitch short, sweet and conversational. Don’t send the brand or their public relations representative a long-winded email that sounds like you’re a sales(wo)man trying to sell a package.
Instead, be human and try to start a relationship.
Saying something like “I love your adventurous edge, as it perfectly aligns with my audience. Let’s explore how we can work together!” sounds much better than “I have 20,000 Instagram followers and want to promote your backpack. I want the green one. This will cost you $500 for one Instagram share!”
Do your homework. I have a lot of friends in public relations, and all of them laugh about how bloggers and influencers pitch campaigns that would be of no interest to their audience.
If you see a brand doesn’t have an Instagram account and posts to Facebook once per month, pitching a social media campaign isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Make sure to follow the brand on social media, subscribe to their newsletter and do some digging into what they’re promoting, how and to who.
Do you have any working with brands strategies to add to this list? Please share in the comments below!
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