Becoming a travel influencer and getting paid to travel
After all those Facebook ads of young travelers living amazing lives traveling the world and seamlessly making money while doing it, you have decided that you also want to have what they have.
If it were only that easy, those travelers you see also happen to be incredibly hard-working, marketing masterminds and experts of their trade. Although their lives look lavish and carefree this is hardly the reality, but they do get to travel the world, receive tons of perks, and do in fact get paid to do it.
I know this because, after many years of hard work, it’s paid off and I often go on paid trips around the world. It didn’t come easy though, but with dedication and a lot of passion (patience as well), it is a realistic goal that many can achieve.
This post is to help all of you who are thinking about jumping into the Travel Influencer industry, hoping to climb your way to the top so that you can get paid to travel the world!
Picking a Travel Niche You’re Passionate About
You’ve decided you’re ready! Now what? The first step is to pick what kind of travel niche you would like to focus on.
By picking a niche you’re deciding to be an expert in one area of traveling. This doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself all of the time to this specific category, but those who center their expertise on one kind of travel tend to get noticed a lot more than the average travel influencer.
For example, my blog Uncharted Backpacker specializes in destinations less traveled or places considered off the beaten track.
This doesn’t mean I have to exclusively travel only to places like Afghanistan or North Korea, but I tend to dig deeper than the average traveler in many well-known destinations finding new sights for travelers to explore.
As an Adventure Travel Influencer, I can also branch into budget travel as this style of travel can be expensive, but there are ways to make it cheap and I can also write about photography as traveling off the beaten track leads to some amazingly photogenic destinations.
Your audience tends to trust someone who dedicates themselves to one specific niche as well. As a Travel Influencer, you will be seen as a professional of your trade by being the best at your niche.
Starting a Travel Blog
Once you’ve decided on the niche of travel you want to head towards it’s time to build your empire. Not all Travel Influencers have blogs or websites, but those who do have a better platform to expand on what they can do.
Having a blog is a testament to the quality of your craft. It’s your very own personal resume that displays all of your accomplishments. It’s also a place where you can sell/endorse products, network with other like-minded travel influencers and build your passion.
Starting a blog requires a lot of information, but to break it down into steps it looks something like this.
Step 1 – Pick a domain name and title for your blog.
Step 2 – Choose a web host and install WordPress.
Step 3 – Make it aesthetically pleasing with a theme
Step 4 – Write content
It’s actually a pretty quick and easy process aside from the writing content part of it. The majority of your time will be spent creating content, and you will need to continually be creating it if you want to keep growing.
Here is a more detailed guide into getting your first blog up and running, even if you’ve never done anything like it before.
How to choose a domain name and web hosting provider
I will combine these steps into one part as they can both be done at the same time.
When choosing your first web host, I’d usually advise people to go with one of the ones that most people recommend such as Bluehost.
Bluehost is cheap and super easy to use for a beginner. It will also have everything you need to get up and running, including a domain name to go along with it.
To get started, all you need to do is head over to Bluehost and sign up.
Once on the Bluehost frontpage click the button that says ‘get started’.
You will then be brought to a page where you can select from different hosting plans and packages. For beginners I’d recommend just going with the cheapest package. If you decide you need more features later on you can easily upgrade your plan as needed.
You can also select the length of your plan across the top of these packages. You get a cheaper price the longer the plan you agree to, but if you want to pay less up front the shorter plan can do that for you.
Next, you’ll be brought to a page where you can choose your domain name. This is address people will type in to find your blog. I recommend going with a .com domain when possible. If you can’t think of anything right now, you can also click “I’ll create my domain later” below this and continue the set up process.
The next page will be for filling out your billing information. The one thing to note here is that under the section called “package extras” there will be some checkboxes with optional add-ons. I’d recommend just deselecting all of these extras, they are not really needed. Then click the terms and conditions box at the bottom of the page and submit.
You now have your own little home on the internet. Congratulations!
How to install WordPress on your hosting account
The next page will want you to create a password. Follow the instructions it gives to complete the signup process.
Now when you finally log in to your Bluehost dashboard there should be a menu on the left that says ‘my sites’. Click on that and you will be given the option to create a new WordPress site.
Follow the setup wizard provided, filling out all the details as required to install WordPress on your hosting account.
Once you complete the setup, you should be greeted with a page that says ‘Congratulations, WordPress installed successfully’. There will also be important login information below that which is used to get into your WordPress site from now on.
You can now click ‘login to WordPress’ from this page to be brought to your WordPress dashboard.
And that’s about it! You are now on WordPress where you can go ahead and add blog posts and create content for your new website!
If you’ve never used WordPress before, I recommend watching one of the free tutorials on Youtube such as the one below to get a rundown on the basics of everything.
Choosing a theme for your blog
Now that you’ve got your blog set up and you know the basics of using WordPress, it’s time to make your blog a little more visually appealing.
This can be done pretty easily by getting a premium theme. While there are a few good free themes, I find that the premium ones just look so much more professional and eye catching.
Building Social Media Travel Pages
Assuming that you now have a blog and you decide to be a travel social media influencer let’s move onto the power of social media.
The days of having a blog and getting famous fast are long gone. It’s competitive and very saturated. Those that come to success as a Travel Influencer this day in age usually come by it through mastering social media.
Many Travel Influencers base their entire brand on Social Media and do not have a blog, but to increase your chances of success I recommend doing both.
Social Media can be an amazing tool when used right. It can take a new post that you wrote and be seen by thousands without the need of SEO (search engine optimization) or years of being online. It gives those of us a chance to be seen in the sea of thousands of Travel Influencers.
When it comes to Social Media channels there are so many to pick from! Pinterest, Flikr, Facebook, YouTube are just some to name. For this post, I am going to focus on just two which in my opinion are the most beneficial and are the largest of the social media channels.
Good old Facebook. This is the master of all Social Media. Even though its riddled with controversy over privacy issues and a bit outdated it still reigns supreme.
Facebook also happens to be one of the channels that is the hardest to build an honest following through, but if you can succeed it converts into more readers on your blog, by a landslide, far more than any other channel.
The key is to promote your brand with several different angles. These being, photo posts, blog posts, and video posts. Videos get the most views, photos the most likes, and blog posts get the most users on your website. Use a healthy combination of the three to help grow your page!
This is my favourite branch of Social Media. Now owned by Facebook, Instagram is well connected to its big brother making cross-promoting a sinch!
Instagram is a place where you can show off your photos with fascinating stories. It’s much easier to build a following, but much harder to get that following to click on your website.
I use Instagram more so as a way to get my name out there rather than website clicks. By doing this I have connected with so many like-minded bloggers and built great relationships benefiting me in the long run.
Paying for Advertisement or Followers?
This is something that many travel influencers get hung up on. Paying for advertisement and followers is a big topic, but to break it down super quick it looks like this:
Paying for Advertisement – Paying for advertisement with Instagram and Facebook can be extremely beneficial if your ads are well put together that is. Your odds of a successful ad will vary depending on if it is shown to the right age group, countries, and if it is a current trend.
In the past advertisement was cheaper and usually a lot more successful, but from my experience lately, the value of paid ads has not been good. My advice is to pay for ads, but only for the content you are very certain is the best of your quality.
Paying for Followers – Having a large following can seriously benefit a travel influencer. A fake following will not only result in zero activity on your accounts, but will be easy to spot and will only discredit your brand. There are so many fake followings out there and companies can easily spot them now.
Want to see for yourself? It’s simple, see if the amount of followers an account has matched up to comments and likes. I’ve seen so many accounts with 30 000+ followers who get maybe 100 likes on Instagram…. clearly a bogus following, whatever you do, don’t buy followers.
Getting Major Press Features
This can make a small-time influencer into a media hit overnight depending on the feature you can get. Partly the reason my website became so popular was because of my features on major press releases such as Business Insider and Huffington Post.
I went from a popular blog to thousands upon thousands of followers overnight just because Business Insider featured my Afghanistan trip!
Major Press companies do sometimes reach out to bloggers and travel influencers, but for the most part, you need to reach out to them. This is where developing a great pitch is key.
Pitching Yourself as a Travel Influencer
A great pitch will ultimately decide whether you will succeed in marketing yourself. A pitch can get you sponsored trips, products, and even jobs.
The most important thing when it comes to pitching is catching people’s attention quickly and offering high quality and valuable work to a company.
I have talked to so many companies that receive hundreds of pitches a day, but they don’t accept many. This is because if you don’t offer something that will truly value and help their company than why would they? Companies will also be able to tell if you fabricate information about yourself or your brand, so don’t mess around it will only hurt you in the long run.
The Travel Influencer Pitch
A great pitch can be broken into categories like this:
Intro – This needs to be short, precise, and captivating. This is where you brag about your accomplishments and your talent, first impressions will be the deciding factor if you get a sponsored trip or not.
Your Pitch – At this point you need to provide what you are looking for. Make it clear and precise what you want, for example, a sponsored trip, product or if you’re seeking paid work.
What you offer – The greater amount of skill you can offer the more valuable you will be seen. I like to offer Social media posts, website links, photography, videos, and high-quality writing. Anything more I can offer I do, because I want my sponsor to be happy with my work.
Website and SEO/Reach – This section is optional. I don’t always provide my SEO and Social Media stats as companies can look these up themselves with SEO Tools, but when your stats are impressive it’s always nice to show exactly how far your influence reaches.
What you require – Nearing the end of the pitch you need to pinpoint exactly what you want from them. For example, when I pitch for sponsored trips I usually ask that the tour is paid for, but I will pay for my own food and flights. This doesn’t mean you can’t get tours that include everything as I have received all-inclusive ones in the past, but it helps to specify exactly what you need to help your chances of getting sponsored and so that there are no problems.
Closing remarks – this is where you end the pitch by thanking them and talking about how you look forward to working with their company. It’s also a good place to leave a few links to pages displaying your previous work.
Travel Influencer Media Kit
After many pitches, I have been asked for a media kit. A media kit is very similar to a pitch apart from you provide a lot more statistics about your blog and self.
In the media kit, it’s nice to give links to previous articles you have written for others, featured photography, large media publications and of course your website SEO, reach, age range etc.
Many Influencers attach their media kit right into their pitch, but for me, I find delivering the pitch first then providing the media kit separate works best because I can make sure my stats are up to date, plus not all companies need a media kit.
Become a Travel Influencer!
That’s it! With following these steps and utilizing the tips I’ve provided you will be well on your way to success. Do not expect it overnight, however.
You might read about some bloggers getting success instantly, but for the majority of us, it came with years of hard work, making connections and developing your skills. Keep a positive outlook and don’t give up when your goals don’t exactly make it, just push harder for success!
Good luck in the Travel Influencer world!