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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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.