Small Blogger Tips: How to Get Paid and Sponsored Travel

Updated: Oct 22, 2019

Are you a small travel blogger looking to pitch hotels and companies for sponsored travel? Want ways to land sponsored travel and even PAID travel? Need to know what it is and how to do it? Then this is the post for you. We are giving you real tips that we use in order to help you grow and travel as a small blogger!





We are so excited to finally write this post for you. For years, we thought we weren’t “big enough” to go on sponsored press trips. Man, we were wrong! As small bloggers, we might not have the biggest audience but we have an INCREDIBLE AUDIENCE THAT IS ENGAGED. We have a supportive audience reach of 5,000 - 100,000. This provides tons of value to brands.


We started getting more serious about going on sponsored trips in January of 2019 and it has been a whirlwind. We have been to Napa, Portland, Austin (two times), New Orleans, New York and places around Dallas (where we live). There are so many things about travel that people don’t tell you as small blogger. Let’s face it, how we pitch brands for sponsored travel is going to look different from bigger, macro bloggers with a reach of 500,000 and up. We are smaller so we have to keep that in mind when pitching.


In this post we will discuss the success we had pitching to different hotels, tourism boards, and activities without a PR Agent! We coordinate all of our press trips on our own so we pretty much know what works for us and what doesn’t.


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Reminder, there is not a magical formula for getting sponsored gigs as a small blogger. What works for us may not work for you, but we hope that these paid and sponsored travel tips will guide you. Here’s what we will discuss in the post:

  • What type of press trips/sponsored travel are available

  • How to start planning

  • Format of an email pitch

  • Tips that help us land paid or sponsored travel

  • Frequently asked questions about sponsored travel as a small blogger




What type of press trips/sponsored travel are available?


There are two ways you can go about sponsored travel:


1) Get invited by a brand - A press trip is a trip that is paid for by another brand in exchange for content creation on your end. Press trips are usually organized by PR agencies and or private brands. This type of travel could also be called a familiarization trips (aka FAM trips). These trips are all-expenses paid, flight, food, activities, and accommodations...for the most part.


There are limitations to FAM trips. For one, the itinerary and dates may not line up with your brand and availability. You can’t pick and choose the details of the trip. You wake up at the time they say, eat at the restaurants they choose and do their activities...even if they don’t interest you.


2) DIY press trips - If you want to control the details and/or you are not getting invited by PR agencies, then you can create your own press trip. This is what we will talk about in the post!




How to start planning


Phase 1


Pick where you are going and when.


Phase 2


Google “All opinions remain my own [insert name of your destination] blog.” This search will show you which hotels and brands have already collaborated with bloggers.


How do we know this? Well if a person has a sponsored travel post on their blog they have to include the saying, “All opinions remain my own…” So, when you look up these keywords or phrases you’ll find companies that you can reach out to.


When you click on the blogger’s link in google, scroll through their post and see where they went. This will give you an idea of what brands work with bloggers in your desired city. Some posts will have details like the person of contact, hotel owner and etc.


Phase 3


As you are researching, open up a google spreadsheet and title it “[Insert Name of Your Destination] Pitch Contacts." This will be the place where you keep all the links and contacts you find.


We like to have columns that list the name of the brand, website, contact email or number and notes.


Phase 4


Finding the contact information could be easy or hard. For example, we spent weeks searching for all of our contacts for our New Orleans press trip. You just have to be patient and willing to dig deep into that brand’s site to find the right contact. We typically like to look for an email address to the owner or press director of that brand or contact information to that city’s tourism board.


It is important that you don’t email every contact that you find and see who will sponsor you. Always read Google reviews and make sure the hotel or company is aligned with your blog’s mission and goals. For example, we are vegans here at What Taylor Likes (WTL). You will not find us sending pitch emails to a BBQ place unless they have great vegan options.


If you can’t find an email address, never email their general info account. We had a few successes emailing info@blahblahblah.com but it is a shot in the dark. It is better to just find them on social media and send them a DM introducing yourself and requesting an email or phone number to their PR rep. Most people they are pretty good about responding.





Format of an email pitch


First let us say this, DO NOT COPY AN EMAIL TEMPLATE THAT IS ON THE INTERNET. You will get rejected and it looks fishy af. Instead of giving you our exact email word for word, we will tell you how to structure your email. Our pitch is super professional with tons of WTL flair. However, you can use this basic template as a skeleton and add your own creativity to it.


Nobody wants to read a boring email, so research all that you can and personalize/tailor the email to them:


Hi [Contact Name},


Introduction (2-3 sentences): Talk who you are and what you want. Don’t be shy. Include dates and times you will be the area.


Body (Cut to the chase here):

  • Go into detail about your blog and social media. Highlight your biggest accounts first.

  • Past travel work. You need examples of previous trips WITH ANALYTICS so that the brand can know what you are about. But wait, what if you've never been on a trip before? How can you include this? SEE MEDIA KIT SECTION.

  • What you can offer - This is the time to highlight your biggest accounts with the most metrics again. Have a special thing about you? Play it up. Insert your media kit via link or attachment.

  • What you want - This is where you will say what you want, sponsorships or money, in exchange for xyz.

Conclusion (1-2): Keep it short and close off the pitch.



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Tips that help us land paid or sponsored travel


Media Kit


Just because you have a blog, doesn’t mean you deserve sponsored travel. Everyone and their mom has a blog. In order to land paid or sponsored travel, you need to show value. Brands love to see Return of Investment (ROI). So show them what you are worth! You are saying, “Hey if you host me, I can provide value to your brand through my work.”


This is where your media kit comes in. Remember we mentioned that in the email pitch? Your media kit is like your resume. Our media kit is digital so in the email we place links to our overall media report and media reports to each city we’ve been to in that calendar year. In this report it lists analytics for impressions, views, engagement, hours spent reading the blog and etc.


In the past, we made media kits on Canva, a graphic-desgin tool. It is free and easy to use. Include metrics from your blog’s Google Analytics and social media. We would also list past collaborations in the kit. If you design it on Canva, keep your kit to 1-2 pages max.


It is industry standard to refrain from approaching brands for sponsored travel until you have value that you can offer in return. For example, if you want to stay at a hotel for one night and it costs $800 per night, you need to provide $800 worth of services that you can offer them. We like to offer above and beyond so think $1000+. If you have a new blog with zero page views and under 1K following on social media, brands will not see any value in you because your audience reach is small. However, you can build this up.


Which brings us to our next point! If you don’t have any metrics to put in your email or media kit then we advise that you gather and showcase unsponsored travel related work that you have done before. Maybe you have blog posts that you've written that have done really well. Find the analytics for it. For example, we have been doing unsponsored travel since 2015. Here are some of the places we have been:

When we first started pitching, we picked a few posts that did well and included the data from them in the email.




Follow up


After you sent your pitch email, follow up with your contact after one week if you haven’t heard from them.


PLEASE ONLY SEND ONE FOLLOW UP EMAIL. If they do not email you back, then assume they declined your offer.


Expect to people to tell you no


For every trip, we email 30-60 contacts. Out of all those emails, we get a “yes” one out of ten times. So do not be discouraged when you get turned down. Brands cannot work with everyone who contacts them...for a multitude of reasons.


Network, network, network


80% of our sponsored travel contacts come from us networking and keeping in contact with brands we already worked with in the past. In addition, we go to expos, forums, and blogging conferences that are applicable to our experience and plans for the future.




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Frequently asked questions about sponsored travel as a small blogger


A lot of our followers had questions about travel and sent them to us on Instagram. We answered these questions below:


What type of travel sponsorship should you expect as a small blogger?


As a small blogger, we would recommend that you reach out to tourism boards and create your own press trips. When you reach out to boards, keep in mind that they may ask to have access to your Google Analytics to look at your pageviews. Another tip for you is to aim to have 50% of your trip sponsored when you are just starting out. For example, out of the hotel, car, food, drink and acitivities you plan, aim to have 50% of it sponsored. As you get more experience, you can aim to have 100% of the trip sponsored.


How do I get a hotel sponsorship as a smaller blogger?


In addition to pitching and using our tips, only pitch to brands that are a good fit for your blog and metrics. Remember you need to provide ROI to them. Look at how much their rooms cost per night and see if you can provide value that goes above and beyond that price.





What metric should I highlight the most?


Comment from glitzandgritz on our Instagram post:

“Sometimes smaller bloggers don’t have the biggest pageviews. But, say they rock Instagram or they rock Pinterest. They could lead with that and talk about how maybe they get so many impressions a month on Pinterest or so many impressions a month on Instagram etc. And how they would focus on that for the travel board or hotel and then write a blog post along with it.”


Is a media kit really needed even if you’re small or new blogger?


Yes! Like we said in our “Media Kit Section," if you don’t have any metrics to put in your email or media kit then we advise that you gather and showcase unsponsored travel related work that you have done before. Maybe you have blog posts the you written that have done really well. Find the analytics for it!


Hope this post inspires you to travel and reach out to brands! Let us know what you think in the comment section.


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Until Next Time,


Tay


"Your life is happening now. Make it amazing!"