Last year I wrote a post offering some insights into the difficulties of blogging as a career, and a TON of people asked me to share more about the industry. That's a little ironic since my post pretty much boiled down to me being burned out on the internet noise.
That was almost a year now, and I still get people asking for my ideas about blogging. I've found ways to be more efficient with my time, scheduling things out and being extremely focused in my efforts, and I'm not quite as overwhelmed. So I guess now is as good a time as ever to kick off a series sharing thoughts on balancing work and biz. I don't know if this will be a weekly thing or a monthly thing or maybe evolve into a whole separate blog. We'll see. If you have any questions related to any of this, don't hesitate to shoot us a tweet or email or Instagram or Facebook message!
Our Travel Blogging Background
Here at Someday I'll Learn, Nate and I co-run this family adventure lifestyle blog that affords us the opportunity to have awesomely varied adventures from week-to-week. One day we'll be living it up in a five-star resort, and the next night we're camping cliffside. We go against the grain and don't really do the niche thing that so many people recommend, but travel brands have trusted us to create photos and stories for them because we offer up the ability to take aspirational content and make it relatable and real. The common threads? Our family, our voice, and our unceasing desire to try new things.
Are you interested in creating content for travel brands? Here are our biggest lessons after eight years in the industry.
Think outside the box.
If you're still trying to break into the travel industry but you keep getting offers to work with food companies or beauty items, pitch those brands ideas that take the conversation about their item into an on-the-road setting. Talking about a fashion line? Pack it up and focus on its wrinkle-free features that lend to travel, weaving in personal anecdotes about the trip you took it on. You can also start incorporating travel – even on a very low budget – without sponsorship. Start by featuring your local picks, and branch out from there.
Learn what specific features the brand is looking to highlight. Is there a new pool or restaurant on-site that they're trying to leverage? Brands usually have general messaging in mind, with a list of amenities that are big selling points for them. Conversely, it's important to be clear about your own expectations – especially when it involves your time and comfort. Discussions about payment, transportation and meals should be had up-front as well and you should clearly communicate media and coverage you can provide in return. You may have additional considerations such as medical restrictions or activities that aren't a fit. For example, if you're afraid of heights you probably don't want to take part in helicopter excursions or zip-lining! We've gone as far as creating a press trip page explaining our family's personal needs, since we've encountered some tricky situations traveling with four young kids.
Find your common thread.
The simple fact that you are you and not somebody else sets you apart. Figure out what your special angle or perspective is and approach travel brands with your story. Perhaps you're a foodie who delights in specialty items. Maybe you're an expert at navigating the world with a certain disability. Maybe you have a big, trendsetting family and everyone is constantly asking you for parenting advice. There is something that makes your audience a little different and unique and perfect for the travel brand you want to work with.
I'm not good at everything, and neither are you. That's okay. Once you've worked at travel content for awhile, you'll learn that it's humanly impossible to be doing all the live-sharing, photography, editing, content production and responding that the influencer space demands…especially when you have a family and personal life to tend to. Ask friends and family for help with the kids. Get a meal delivery service or hire a housekeeper to free up some of your time. Once you get to the point where brands are paying a good amount for your content, you'll definitely want to earmark some of that money for an assistant or two to manage emails and other busywork.
Take fifty kajillion pictures.
Even if you plan ahead and ask brands about their restrictions and priorities, you can't be a mind reader and you may inadvertently go a different direction with your story than they had envisioned. Hiccups happen. Be prepared by having an alternate angle or a different slant that is still authentic to you but may better highlight the features they were looking to show off. The best way you can do this is by keeping an open mind while traveling as opposed to going in hyper-targeted on catering your content towards one storyline. For example, the photo above was nixed by the sponsoring brand due to concerns that featuring our kids on a dock without a life vest could lead to safety incidents for other families. If I'd had my heart set on only telling a story about my kids' dockside adventures, the whole story would have been shot. Lucky for us, we took plenty of other photos that were able to be swapped in and we steered the story in a slightly less child-focused direction.
Have you been able to create content that fits your unique travel style?