This past weekend I had the pleasure of being a speaker at the annual New York Travel Festival, which brings together travel experts, writers and professionals for a series of panel discussions and speaking events that covered everything from travel careers to industry trends. I joined a panel alongside Lee Abbamonte (the youngest American to have visited every country in the world) and Marian Goldberg (PR manager for Japan Tourism and contributing writer for BoomerTravelPatrol.com), to discuss how travel writers and bloggers work with tourism boards and brands.
The way brands and travelers work together is an expanding topic and often how many travel bloggers can earn an income from their website. During our discussion, the three of us addressed an array of points including how brands choose influencers, the ethics of travel bloggers working with brands and of course how to form a brand partnership. With Lee being a successful TV personality, Marian having worked with tourism boards and me having experience in advertising, blogging and travel writing; we each brought a different perspective to the table in hopes of giving our audience an idea of how we each make a living.
Of course, the way that bloggers and brands work together is a broad topic to cover in the course of an hour and even after our Q&A, I was approached by many people in the audience who had more questions about how The Pin the Map Project works with brands. In an effort to answer those questions and share tips for aspiring travel bloggers, I am starting a 3-part “Bloggers & Brands” series, beginning with how brands select bloggers (or influencers) to work with.
Brands Look at your Reach
While in advertising, it was my job to help select influencers on behalf of global brands and their media campaigns. One of the first things we’d look for are people who had strong reach. There are two types of reach we’d consider: traffic and total reach. Traffic, of course, is how many visitors a blogger has to their website (often determined either by requesting Google Analytics or looking at a webpage’s page rank); total reach is a cumulative reach that takes an influencer’s social following, subscriber base and traffic into account.
Looking at your Engagement
If your blog has a moderate following, this does not necessarily mean you are out of the running in being looked at by brands. Engagement is something that brands look at when selecting a blogger to work with; often times engagement can outrank reach since having a blogger whose readers comment and share posts can be more impacting than a blogger with thousands of readers who don’t care to react to the articles being shared. As you can guess, engagement is the measure of people reacting to your content–be it comments, likes, shares, re-tweets and pins. For tips on increasing your engagement, check out my post: BLOG TIPS ON INCREASING YOUR ENGAGEMENT.
Having Relevant Content
Brands interested in working with The Pin the Map Project tend to be guidebook companies, cruise liners, hotel brands, tour agencies and more–but all of these have one thing in common: they are related to travel. To work with an auto or finance brand, for example, wouldn’t make sense for my website or relate to my content. When brands are looking for bloggers to work with, they will look for blogs that have relevant content so that there is a synergy between the brand and the content the blogger is creating. It is also up to each blogger to screen brands that approach them and maintain a strong website environment. I was offered a proposal by a brand that sells adult diapers! Clearly, this brand is never going to appear on The Pin the Map Project and although money could have been made, it is more important to protect the integrity of my brand and keep this website travel focused.
Stay tuned for BLOGGERS & BRANDS PART 2: The Ethics of Working with a Brand. Have more questions on how brands choose influencers? Share you comments, questions and feedback below!