Being paid to travel is a dream for many writers, but for Amy Sherman and Jessica Van Dop DeJesus, it’s a reality. Amy, who blogs at Cooking with Amy, and Jessica of The Dining Traveler were joined by Jennifer Sweeney, Director of Public Relations for Visit California, at the Culinary Travel Writing panel at last month’s 2016 International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) in Sacramento, California.
If you, too, dream of getting paid to travel, check out these tips and tricks.
Jennifer of Visit California was an inspiration. She works with writers from all over the world and is hosting events all the time. While California is known for our food and wine, she also wants to showcase some of our off-the-beaten path experiences.
Read on for Jennifer’s advice to bloggers looking to connect with Visit California:
- Have an agreement in place so that both you and the destination (whether it’s a hotel, restaurant or tour company) know the expectations going in.
- Maintain editorial control over your content.
- Be honest up front about what you will and won’t do. For example, don’t take a free hotel if you don’t plan to write about the hotel.
- Use the host’s handles and hashtags during your experience to share every moment with your readers.
- Don’t flake on commitments. There is time and money going into your experience so don’t back out on the trip without letting people know well in advance.
- Don’t stop the conversation. Be sure to stay engaged with the people you’ve worked with.
Jessica of The Dining Traveler is very polished and professional, which shows in her blog and her advice. Successful travel bloggers:
- Have a detailed pitch. Make your pitch different because destinations/brands get a lot of requests.
- Have a media kit with details about your brand, stats and features/press. If you’re starting out but you’ve already got a trip planned (i.e. paid for), contact the destination boards and ask to get connected with experiences or restaurants.
- Deliver what you promised in a timely manner. After your content is created, send links to posts, related articles, and social media posts.
- Exchange expectations with the brand before the trip so you can be sure that you can deliver what they want.
- Send a thank you note after the press trip. Consider printing blog-specific stationary and send out a real note.
- Invest in a good quality DSLR to document your travels. Food is visual, and travel is visual. A destination can use your photos for commercial purposes (but be sure to work out an agreement ahead of time).
And here’s what they don’t do:
- Don’t be shy. Call destinations that you’re interested in to find the right point of contact.
- Don’t be high maintenance. Manage your expectations. The destination PR community is close knit – just like bloggers!
- Don’t lie about your blog numbers or use fake followers on social media. A savvy PR pro knows how to get a rough estimate of your stats.
- Don’t treat a media trip like a “free trip.” A media trip is business travel—you’re there to learn as much as possible about the destination in order to share with your readers.
- Don’t be disrespectful to the locals you encounter during your trip.
Just Getting Started?
Amy of Cooking with Amy shares these tips for those of us just getting started:
- Do blog about vacations. This is the best way to get started in culinary travel blogging because it gives you clips to share with PR. So share your amazing food and tour experiences on your blog.
- Do reach out to convention visitor bureaus. Think in terms of smaller destinations that are off the beaten path; they may be more interested in working with emerging voices.
- Do pay attention to your host. During a talk or walk, don’t stare at your smartphone the entire time.
- Do be courteous and on time.
- Do plan on tipping.
- Do ask your host for hashtags.
- Do share links to your content.
- Don’t be the bad egg on the trip.
If you’re not sure where to start or want even more tips, check out these resources:
- The Art of Pitching to Travel Brands
- How to Work with Tourism Boards
- Designing a Media Kit
- How to Get your First Sponsored Trip
- A Guide to Press Trips for Bloggers
With these tips, getting paid to eat croissants in Paris, sip beer in Germany or mind the gap in London may just be closer than you think. Happy travels!
Disclosure : As an IFBC Citizen Blogger, I received a reduced conference rate in exchange for sharing three posts about my experience. As always, content, photos and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links meaning I may receive compensation if you use those links.