If you’re a frequent traveler, you know what a joy it can be. You get to explore new places, experience new foods and cultures, but sometimes that doesn’t come at a small price. Many travelers today have figured out ways to get companies to pay for their travel expenses, or at the very least, help offset some of the costs.
To someone looking from the outside-in, it can seem confusing and difficult. However, by implementing some of the tips below, you can be well on way to working with companies to help increase their exposure while getting paid to do what you love.
Now before we dive into any of the tips, first things first: you need to have an audience. It’s a popularity contest and the bigger and more engaged following, the better. One of the easiest ways to do this is to be active on all the popular social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and maybe even Snapchat!
Tip 1: Make Your Content Better
When you’re starting out, just focus on getting posts, images, and anything out on a regular basis. As you progress you may want to consider dedicating more time to create better content. This means editing your photos in Photoshop or Lightroom or doing some basic video editing before posting to Facebook or Instagram.
Start by making small changes at first. Write longer descriptions that give a back story to the image or provide some sort of value. Add 15-20 relevant hashtags and follow others who are using those hashtags as well.
Tip 2: Start Leveraging Ads
You don’t need a huge budget to start running ads. Facebook has made it incredibly easy to run ads, even if you only want to spend $10 (or less) a week! Ads are a wonderful way to reach people who otherwise wouldn’t have any idea your page exists.
Start by creating a well-written and thought out post. Think of the ideal person that would like your account and target that demographic. Include a CTA in the description and link in your bio to the same URL the ad points to. Spend whatever amount you’re comfortable with and let the ad run for a few days.
I did a test a couple months ago of a picture of my friends and I at a bar (not even travel related!). The description read, “I paid $$$ for this ad, this least you could do is give me a follow…” I set it to run for 3 days and spent $10. I ended up gaining 17 followers from that post, so a little over $.50 a follower, which isn’t a horrible tradeoff considering the low budget.
Under the theory of economies of scale, that cost per follower is likely to dramatically decrease with a larger budget, which has proved true in my professional endeavors.
Tip 3: Make your Posts Timely
As your account grows, you’ll get a better sample size of what your followers like and when they like to see it. Pay attention to these metrics. You’re marketing yourself and your account and one of the mantras of marketing is, “The right product, in the right place, at the right time.” Your post, in the right social media channel, at the right time.
Keep a simple excel document and track when you post, engagement metrics (likes, comments, etc.), and anything else you mind find useful later. Over time, you’ll start to notice patterns you can optimize for. A software like HootSuite might be ideal if you have a larger following over multiple accounts.
Tip 4: Do a Giveaway!
I suggest doing this on Instagram or Twitter, and waiting until you have at least 5,000 or more followers. The reason being is you want to get the most bang for your buck. Spending $100 on a prize for 500 followers is nice, but it probably won’t get as much exposure as if you had 5,000 followers.
Start small and be sure the action required is worth the prize. For example, if you’re giving away a $25-$50 product, users should probably only be required to like the photo. However if you’re doing a larger prize, like a carry-on bag, you may require them to follow you, tag 3 friends, sign up through a link for an email, or some combination of all of the above.
If you have the budget to spend, promote the giveaway post through an ad. This is a great option if you don’t want to wait for your account to grow naturally. Just be sure to require those who enter to follow you so they can see your future posts.
You’ve put in the leg work and you have a strong follower base. They love your content and are eagerly awaiting your next post, now what? While you’re never done marketing yourself, it’s time to start selling yourself to companies with these magical things called ‘marketing budgets’.
Tip 5: Create a Media Kit
Before you even think about reaching out to any company, make yourself a media kit. A media kit is basically a one or two-sheeter that gives basic info on yourself, your audience, and what kind of exposure a partner can expect from you. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy and by simply Googling, “media kit template,” you can find all sorts of options from free to paid.
Tip 6: Start Reaching Out
Like dating, it’s a numbers game here. By now you probably know what companies are in your industry. Create a spreadsheet of the 10 up and coming brands you think you’d like to work with and start by reaching out to them via their social media pages. Don’t worry about the bigger companies just yet, start building up your reputation and portfolio before going after the big fish.
All you need is something simple. Something along the lines of…
My name is [name] and I would be incredibly interested in working with [brand name] to help promote your products and mission. Over the past several months I’ve built up my social media presence and believe we could work together to promote your products or brand to my audience.
If this would be of something of interest, I would love to email my media kit to help you give a 20,000 foot view of my entire online presence.
I look forward to hearing from you.
If you’re interested in getting directly in their inbox, use a tool like http://hunter.io to find email addresses within that company. Most will be interested in your media kit and at least give you their email address to send it out to. If you don’t get a response at first, wait at least 2 or 3 days before reaching out again.
Tip 7: Connect with Other Influencers
Find other influencers who are working with companies you’d like to work with. There are probably a bunch you already follow, so this shouldn’t be a time intensive task. Reach out to these influencers and see if they’d be interested in doing a simple, post for post kind of deal. They take one of your pieces of content, show it to their followers and simply recommend they follow you, you do the same on your end.
Something as basic as this is a fantastic way to build followers, but also helps build rapport with other influencers in your community. Once you’ve built some relationships, you may want to reach out to your new-found friends and ask if they’d be willing to make a recommendation to their sponsors. Most will and if they’re hesitant, offer to give them a small portion of your commissions or pay for their time.
These are just a handful of tips I have used personally and seen in my professional career of building a social media presence. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your work or promotions. Remember, it’s all about GREAT and relevant content. Focus on the content and the rest of the process will fall into place with a little more effort.