Shifting from in-kind collaborations to sponsored post collaborations with brands & paid media trips can be a hard transition for travel bloggers. This podcast episode focuses on what to include in a travel blogger media kit, how to know if you are ready to pitch brands, advice for bloggers who think they are ready to pitch collaborations, what to provide when pitching a brand, getting past no and so much more!
My guest is travel blogger Jordan Campbell.
Sponsored Post Collaborations & Paid Media Trips
Listen to today’s episode where Jordan and I chat about blog collaboration ideas with brands as well as destinations.
About Jordan Campbell
Jordan Campbell, a DC-based blogger and founder of the travel website, Global Debauchery. Jordan’s a flashpacking road-tripper who loves off-the-beaten-path misadventures, plus super tasty libations along the way. She loves featuring and visiting “2nd” cities for her website.
She absolutely lives to help people travel deeper. She’s traveled to 52 countries and all 50 states and firmly believes in doing one thing every trip that scares her!
Break Into Travel Writing: A podcast and website designed to help you build a travel blog your readers love as well as help you achieve your goals as a travel writer or blogger.
In this podcast episode, Jordan and I chat about moving into paid sponsorships and away from in-kind collaborations and how to find paid media trips.
Shifting From In-Kind Collaborations to Paid Sponsorships & Paid Media Trips
Jordan and I chat about how and when to make the shift from in-kind collaborations to paid sponsorships & paid media trips. This is an area that is a bit of a mystery for a lot of bloggers and influencers to move into and many just don’t know what to do, when to do it, how much to charge and how to negotiate.
One of the reasons I was excited to chat with Jordan is that she is in the midst of this shift. Jordan shared with me that she is moving into paid sponsorships and away from in-kind collaborations and actively seeking paid media trips.
Landing a Sponsored Post & Collaborations For Travel Bloggers
What is a sponsored post?
Content that’s created and published by an influencer or bloggers on their website or social account in exchange for some sort of compensation.
Jordan and I begin our chat focusing on the process to land collaborations and sponsored posts for bloggers. This is the first step in earning income, beyond affiliate income for most bloggers who are working on their website as a business vs a hobby and generally comes before paid media trips.
It’s important to acknowledge that building a website or online presence is a big part of this equation. Few to no first-time bloggers start a website, podcast or social channel with sponsored work.
Also, just because a website has been live for a period of time, whether is months or more years, doesn’t mean it ‘deserves’ or has earned paid collaborations and sponsored posts.
Jordan shared when she knew she was ready for this leap to paid collaborations.
Jordan shared it was when her follower count and website page views were high enough that she knew she could provide value. She also built up her portfolio with in-kind collaborations so she knew the value she could provide to brands. By creating a portfolio of her in-kind collaborations, she could also show brands what she has been able to deliver.
Tips for Pitching Brands for Collaborations
There are many different kinds of collaborations for bloggers and travel writers. The most common to focus on are blog collaborations or social media collaborations. Currently some of the most sought-after are sponsored posts on Instagram.
Know your audience and know where they engage the most with your brand (a particular social platform or commenting on your site, etc). On the flip side, once you get up and running with paid collaborations that you must be deliberate about balancing your time. Ask yourself if this collaboration or sponsorship at this price moves you in the direction you want to move. Also, make sure the return on investment is worth it to you.
What to Include in a Travel Blogger Media Kit
Include the stats that showcase your strongest social followers and engagement as well as strong web stats. You can leave off any social platforms that don’t help your numbers or don’t look impressive. Focus on what is most impressive in your arsenal and leave off what isn’t.
The key elements Jordan includes in her media kit:
- Domain Authority (DA)
- Monthly Web Traffic
- SEO Performance Rates (for articles)
- Instagram numbers
- Facebook numbers
- Contact Info
Should You Add Your Rates to a Media Kit?
There are many ways to show your rates. Some add them to a media kit, some bloggers have a rate sheet and some customize packages based on client deliverables.
Jordan shares that she does not include her rates on her media kit or in her initial pitch. Every sponsored post for bloggers or job is different and may include different deliverables. Budgets vary as well. In some cases, the brand has a set fee (which may be higher than your current rate). Treat each individual collaboration as a separate negotiation.
How to Know If You Are Ready to Pitch Brands?
For bloggers or travel writers with a website; knowing how to gauge if the site or social channel are built up enough to pitch paid collaborations can be really hard.
Jordan’s advice is to know your numbers, understand what good engagement is and be confident that you can provide value.
Remember, adding value isn’t about how long your site has been around. Value is pitching a collaboration because your site niche aligns with a brand or your audience is perfect for the brand. Be ready to explain the advantages of working with you and why their product or service is a great fit for your audience or site focus.
Advice for Bloggers Who Are Ready to Pitch Blog Collaborations
I asked Jordan, her best advice for bloggers, who think they have built enough traffic or have a great niche and feel like they know a product or service perfect for their audience.
Jordan shares her advice for getting your foot in the door to begin landing a blog collaboration and sponsored posts. This includes:
- #1 is to go for it! Because you don’t get what you don’t ask for.
- Continuously refine your pitch.
- Include an introduction to yourself in the pitch.
- Include names of brands previously worked with in the pitch.
- If you get the collab and when it’s appropriate, ask for feedback about your media kit.
- If you don’t get the collab, but the brand responded, ask if you could get feedback on why, so you know what they are looking for and why you weren’t a good fit.
- Know your niche.
- Know what value you provide.
- Know why you stand out.
- Work on engagement rates with your social accounts.
- Follow the brand you are pitching on all their social channels.
- Ask to be added to the brand’s ‘blogger’ or ‘media’ email list and sign up for the regular email list.
- Track your campaign stats and results.
- When the collaboration is complete, create a report or case study to show other brands.
What to Provide When Pitching a Brand
Here are the pieces of the puzzle to share to entice a brand to work with you during a pitch.
Jordan shares that the number one thing to make you look professional is a media kit. Continuously update the media kit as you work on more in-kind or paid collaborations. The information you include in the kit should be dependent on your best-performing social accounts or best web stats.
Understand what good engagement rates are for each social platform and a good email open rate. You may be surprised they aren’t higher!
Include In A Pitch:
- An upbeat introduction to your website.
- Links to your website and social accounts.
- Specify how you want to work with the brand.
- Media kit.
How Much to Charge for a Collaboration
There is a great resource called Social Bluebook that shows you how to determine a sponsored blog post rate, value yourself as a creator, grow your worth, and get paid to work with your favorite brands.
We also discuss the general rule of thumb for Instagram is to get paid $0.1 for each follower (or $100 for every 10,000).
Keep in mind, budget for a collaboration depends on several things including 1) brand budget 2) where you are in your ‘influence’ with your audience.
There are no average ‘rates’ for bloggers. Each blogger has a different experience, audience, followers, etc.
There are so many variables when it comes to defining value.
On the flip side, there could be huge value in working with a brand for exposure or just to add it to your portfolio when you are starting out with brand collaborations.
The Importance of Networking To Build Personal Brand
Your blog is a reflection of your brand. Don’t underestimate the power of networking to get your name out there, build relationships and get in front of potential businesses or bloggers who may want to collaborate.
Online Networking Suggestions from Jordan
Conferences Jordan Recommends for In-Person Networking
We chat about the benefits of conferences for beginners to seasoned travel bloggers and writers.
Two other suggestions Jordan has is to take online workshops where you can get personalized help and have questions answered. Also, to follow Instagram accounts that specialize in influencer marketing.
Influencer & Blogging Networks
Is the influencer marketing space currently growing for bloggers?
Jordan believes influencer marketing is huge right now and ‘now’ is the time to get into collaborations if you are interested and your site and social are established. She believes it is the era of the micro-influencer. In her experience, brands are more interested in engagement, than followers. So, if you have good engagement on one of your social platforms, you could do really well with collaborations.
Brands are seeing the benefits beyond a follower count on Instagram and seeing the benefits of working with established bloggers.
Why Niche Matters When Pitching Collaborations and Media Trips
Jordan and I discuss why honing in on a niche makes a huge difference in landing media trips and paid collaborations.
Jordan shares that it took her a long time to figure out her niche, but once she did, she locked in. Honing in her niche has made all the difference in her confidence in pitching and understanding the value of her website and social channels.
Knowing her niche of ‘off the beaten path’ attractions and second city locations have allowed her to provide value to her audience. A shift to not ‘post just to post’ and only adding actionable and useful information to her audience has also been a big shift in adding value.
In turn, this allowed her to know what value she provides for certain products or services.
Paid Media Trips
Let’s jump into the world of Paid media trips. Previous to our interview, Jordan shared with me she plans to focus on working with destinations for fully paid press trips and is a top goal of hers moving into next year.
I think this is a point where a lot of bloggers ‘get stuck’. Like sponsored posts, I think a lot of bloggers just don’t know what to do, when to do it, how much to charge and how to negotiate.
Jordan and I chat about her process and plans to make paid media trips happen for her in 2022. We also chat about the difference between media trips where some expenses are paid, all expenses are paid as well as media trips that also include payment for coverage. We also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of do-it-yourself media trips vs. group press trips.
Many destinations don’t have budgets to support more than a trade for coverage. What is a process to find destinations with a budget for paid media trips?
Why Second Cities are easier to work with and more excited to work with bloggers.
Getting past No
I think the fear of hearing no, stops a lot of bloggers from trying to pitch, ask for an in-kind collaboration or trip or paid media trip. This is all about a state of mind and how do you handle getting past the inevitable ‘no thank you’?
Jordan’s advice is to shrug off the no’s and keep going. You won’t get yes’ without pitching and getting some no’s.
Before we go, I know you have picked up a lot of do’s and don’ts for collaborations. What are a few of the top things to do and not do when working with brands, pr, and destinations?
Landing sponsored posts for bloggers should be an ongoing focus. Keep applying, keep pitching. Continue to modify your pitch and ask questions. Ask the brands and destinations what you can do better.
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