Tips for Getting Your Travel Sponsored
The marketing world is seeing a shift from partnering exclusively with traditional opinion leaders to also engaging what has become known as micro-influencers. You don’t have to have millions of followers for a brand to find value in investing in you with free products, discounts, or even sponsorship.
The travel industry is no different. A well-articulated review for a hotel, airline, or restaurant can serve as social proof to potential customers, not to mention the word-of-mouth marketing they achieve when getting mentions on social media and websites.
How can you profit from this trend by establishing yourself as a micro-influencer? Here are a few tips to get you started.
#1. Build A Following
A micro-influencer is typically someone who has between 1,000-10,000 followers. It may be in total, or per platform, but either way, you need to have at least some following to capture the attention of your intended brand partner.
Use appropriate hashtags, join groups, and add other travelers you meet along the way to build your following. If you have a few dollars to spend to promote an excellent post or run a small ad sharing your epic adventures, that can pay off in the long run by gaining new followers.
#2. Engage Your Audience
Once you have an audience, make sure that you engage them so that you don’t decide to unfollow you. Part of the perceived value in sponsoring a micro-influencer is that they are more likely to have personal relationships with their audience; make sure you can provide that benefit. Approach building your influence like a job, spending at least an hour a day just engaging with your followers, commenting on other people’s images to grow your audience, and develop relationships with other travel influencers to learn from them and tap into their networks.
#3. Explore New Social Media Platforms
This strategy doesn’t always work, but when it does, the payoff can be significant. When you hear about a new social media platform, create an account, and experiment with posting in that space. You may not gain traction very quickly, however, if you can have a comparatively broad audience on a small, budding platform, that makes you appealing to sponsors wanting to reach those on this new platform. Furthermore, if the app does take off, you have a distinct advantage over newcomers as you’ve already established your audience of other early adopters.
#4. Make Great Content
You’re unlikely to gain new followers if you’re boring. Take great pictures, tell amazing stories of your journeys, come up with witty captions, and get creative with your hashtags. Finding smaller hashtag trends to connect your content with may be better than trying to insert yourself into the flood of content that comes with popular trends.
Even if you aren’t getting sponsored yet, think through posting some of your visits or new product discoveries as if you sponsored. Not only will this provide you with the right amount of practice in writing these types of posts, but it also helps potential sponsors see what your content would look like if they collaborated with you.
#5. Create A Website
Building a website gives you a static place to link all of your social to and potentially even host a blog. Having a digital homestead comes in handy since most of your posts will have reached their audience within a matter of hours; however, the content on your website offers a lot more control.
You may decide to create a WordPress site or use a templated site builder, but either way, you are building your value to potential brands by having more platforms to share their content on. There may be a little bit of cost associated with creating and maintaining a website, but if you are looking at being a micro-influencer like an entrepreneur, it’s a small price to pay to build a business. Additionally, as you increase your reputation online, links from your website have potential SEO value, which is very attractive to potential corporate partners.
#6. Understand Basic SEO for Writing
If you’ve heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), chances are most of the conversations have revolved around Google. But what about the SEO value provided by reviews?
Your review on Yelp, GoogleMaps, or otherwise may be worth more to a potential sponsor if you understand, and can articulate, the value in the words you use. For example, if you eat at a restaurant, writing a review that includes the phrase “good food” doesn’t have as much value as describing your “juicy steak.”
More descriptive phrases are not only useful for tantalizing the taste buds of potential visitors, but it also helps teach search engines of all types what that restaurant serves. The same goes for when people are searching for an “indoor pool” for hotels or “comfortable legroom” on a flight. If you can premeditate the types of things, a potential customer might be searching for to find that business or service, a review that includes these types of keyword-rich phrases has a lot of potential value to a brand… if you know how to articulate that value.
#7. Find A Influencer Agent
Once you’ve built your audience of 1,000+ followers, ideally on several platforms, there are a lot of services out there that will connect you with sponsors. Websites like BzzAgent, Crowdtap, and Influenster all have different levels of services that help you connect with businesses. They do get compensation for their services, either from you or from the sponsor, but having someone facilitate those partnerships is a great way to outsource some of the more mundane tasks so that you can focus on what you’ve set out to do: see the world.
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