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Dear New Travel Bloggers: Mind Your Manners

advice for new travel bloggers

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a letter to new travel bloggers. (If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, read this post and that post). Yesterday I finally had a spare moment to write my monthly goals for Blond Wayfarer. So it’s no surprise I had blogging on the brain and decided to share more tips with you guys.

Honestly this letter won’t be as upbeat. Sorry, wayfarers. I don’t know if I’m cranky from driving on chaotic and crowded New Jersey highways or what, but I want to rant.

New travel bloggers are generally awesome and ambitious people. I love searching for new faces and fresh ideas. As someone who only started blogging in May 2015, it’s inspiring that other writers are taking a leap of faith and sharing their passions online.

Yet I’ve seen some super shady behavior and need to speak out. Below are five things you, as a new blogger, should not, not, NOT do. Avoiding them will save your reputation, sanity, and industry. Trust me.

So take this advice, all new travel bloggers, and ponder it.

advice for new travel bloggers

I bet everyone in TBS will give me allllll their contacts. If I ask nicely.

1. Email Established Bloggers for PR Contacts.

In general, it’s not a good idea to email famous travel bloggers for brand and tourism board contacts – ESPECIALLY if you’re not already a regular commenter on their blogs.

These bloggers may appear like overnight success stories, living the jetsetter existence of your dreams, but I’m willing to bet they worked hard for their contacts and partnerships. Some have been writing for over six years. Why would they hand over precious information to you, a total internet stranger? They’d put themselves at a major risk if you didn’t deliver.

Instead of shooting off embarrassing emails, I suggest you take a blogger course, attend travel trade shows, produce good content, cultivate your audience, and make your own connections in the industry. It’s hard work, but we all gotta do it – myself included!

advice for new travel bloggers

Photo credit Skye Travels.

2. Offer the World but Fail to Deliver.

Ugh, don’t claim you have an engaged audience, and then fail to do the posts (on your blog and social media channels) you promised your client.

At TBEX Stockholm, despite meeting inspiring people, I was actually pretty disgusted with some blogger behavior. For example, signing up for tours and then not showing up for them at the last minute. These “Prebex” tours were fully booked weeks in advance. Other bloggers would’ve loved those spots. Plus don’t even get me started on how skipping tours looks to sponsors. Think about it. Would you just not show up for work without notifying your boss? No.

I also chatted with someone (anonymous) who told me about a blogger she knew who went on a sponsored trip and then never wrote a single post. Not one. Talk about destroying the industry.

Believe me, PRs talk and you can find yourself on a blacklist.

Also be honest about your social media numbers, pageviews, and audience. I’m still growing my readership so I’m not going to claim “despite my small size, I have Lonely Planet’s influence in the niche of literary travel.” Give me a break.

advice for new travel bloggers

Gimme a free snorkeling tour, please!

3. Ask for “Freebies” in your Pitches.

Confession: I haven’t pitched companies, tourism boards, anyone yet. Still growing my audience, remember?

But, if Travel Blog Success taught me one thing, it’s not to ask for “freebies” in emails to PRs. Instead you ought present a comprehensive business plan that’s mutually agreeable to you and your client. You should also attach a media kit that includes statistics from Google Analytics, your social media numbers, any reader testimonials and previous sponsored trips, and your blog’s mission.

At the end of the day, your blog is a business. A fun business, but a business nonetheless. And the business world doesn’t do “free.”

A simple “can I have a free vacation to Japan?” email may not mean much to you – except for a wasted ten minutes – but you could potentially damage the industry in the long run.

advice for new travel bloggers

4. Hate on Success Rather than Focus on Yourself.

As you know, I attended Bloghouse in Philadelphia. Some of my fellow blogger pals have gone on to do awesome stuff – like earning money and taking press trips. Same for the bloggers I met at TBEX. Do I make passive aggressive comments on social media? Hell no. I’m happy for them.

Travel blogging is packed, sure, but I think the industry still has room for everyone. Instead of comparing yourself to other bloggers, focus on what makes your website unique and create realistic goals to grow your influence.

It’s natural to be jealous of others in our fields. I get it. I’m a very jealous person and it sucks. But don’t allow envy to consume you. Comparison doesn’t lead to bigger numbers and projects. So why bother?

advice for new travel bloggers

5. Game Social Media.

Gaming social media doesn’t work. Repeat. Gaming social media doesn’t work. If it did, everyone would do it, get amazing partnerships, and jet around the world like superstars.

As for me, I notice when the same people follow and unfollow me on Twitter and Instagram. Again. Again. And again. I’ve started outright blocking repeat offenders because endless alerts on my phone annoy me. True story.

Games on social media don’t grow an engaged audience either. Trust me, PR people know all about playing unfollow/follow games and buying thousands of empty followers. It’s pretty obvious if you have 10,000 facebook followers and maybe 2 likes per post. No one’s impressed.

advice for new travel bloggers

Uh, wow, that was mean.

You might be thinking: wow, Rachel, you need a chill pill.

I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings.

New bloggers aren’t the only ones with bad manners. I can’t even count the number of spammy emails I receive from start-up companies wanting me to promote them for free in exchange for “exposure.” Ha, exposure? To what audience?

However, I’m a blogger who cares a lot about the industry, which is a super exciting place. I want new travel bloggers to thrive and inspire by sharing all these incredible places around the world. Since travel blogging is very “new,” a lot of self-policing needs to be done so we can all be taken seriously and accomplish our goals.

So mind your manners, all!

What bad manners have you seen from bloggers? What advice would you give to new travel bloggers? Share any experiences or thoughts in the comments. Travel Blog Success links = affiliate links.

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9 Responses to Dear New Travel Bloggers: Mind Your Manners

  1. Stacey October 1, 2016 at 8:22 am #

    I don’t think you sound mean at all, just realistic and honest. I agree with all your points and good manners do go a long way.

    I’m a firm believer in your reap what you sow so if you sow the seeds of negativity and dishonesty (like inflating social media numbers with fake followers) then that’s what you’ll sow, even if doesn’t happen right away it’ll catch up to you. On the other hand, honesty, patience, and positive words and actions, will build a great audience that is loyal to your brand and that you will enjoy as the blogger getting to know them and socialize with the. I think travel brands and PR do their homework now and will see all of this.

    Keep up the great advice for all travel bloggers, even the not so new ones can benefit from it. 🙂

    • Rachel Elizabeth October 1, 2016 at 10:15 am #

      Stacey —

      You always leave such insightful comments. Thank you!

      And I agree with the saying “you reap what you sow.” We need to support each other and be proud of each others accomplishments. Jealousy will only tear down the industry. I agree focusing on great content and your audience is the best path to take.

  2. Jessica C October 2, 2016 at 10:59 am #

    Yes, yes, yes! Be respectful of people’s initiative and hard work is so key. Helping each other as bloggers is great and I totally support it, but expecting something with nothing in return, or not following through. That hurts everyone involved! I heard a lot about people not showing up for tours at TBEX and it is incredibly irritating and disappointing, especially because they were full with sign ups. But all in all, I think blogging is a great community and I am so happy to be part of it and meet people like you!

    • Rachel Elizabeth October 2, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

      Jessica —

      It was SO annoying hearing about “no shows” at TBEX! Such behavior is super unprofessional and uncool – especially since, like you said, so many tours immediately filled up. But yes, overall, travel blogging is an awesome place. I had a great time meeting you in Stockholm. I hope I visit you guys in Amsterdam (or NJ, haha) one day soon!

  3. Helene October 3, 2016 at 2:10 pm #

    I love this post! I think so many people should remember these tips. Especially emailing out of the blue, that goes for every blogger everywhere. IT really comes off as shocking when people do that, I get so mad! The most important thing I think, is to not focus on yourself. Or to do it exactly as others have. This was great insight! Thanks for sharing.

    • Rachel Elizabeth October 3, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

      Helene —

      Random emails are so rude! Like “sure, I’ll hand over all my hard work to you.” People don’t think, haha. I definitely agree focusing on yourself (your niche, skills, etc.) is the best route to take. Thanks for commenting!

  4. Valerie October 7, 2016 at 12:58 am #

    Great post, Rachel!

    You know I agree with all of these – and I feel like I could have been any one of your anonymous sources for this 😉 There are SO many stories I could tell after just three years here in the industry 😛

    • Rachel Elizabeth October 7, 2016 at 5:03 am #

      Valerie —

      I bet you have some AMAZING stories. I’ve only been blogging for about a year and a half, and some people blow my mind.

  5. Iain Shiels February 4, 2017 at 4:17 pm #

    Great article. I pretty much agree with all your comments. The company I recently worked for hired a bunch of bloggers/bloggers to go on an American tour and blog/vlog for financial reward. One very well know male vlogger took the money, but didn’t think it was worthy of submitting his finished product. Very disappointing.

    Well written and true to the core.

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