Finding travel blogging sponsorships and travelling the world for free isn’t a tough thing to do. You just need to know how to do it.
When people read my travel blog and realise I do blogging full-time they ask me two things: 1) how do I fund my travels 2) how do I make money from blogging.
If you are wondering how I make money and how much, read this article: How Much Money Indian Travel Bloggers Make.
Speaking of how do I fund my travels, I do it by finding travel sponsors and partnering with brands.
Before we discuss further, first thing’s first: unlike a fashion or a tech-blogger, surviving as a travel blogger requires a combination of two things: one, making money from blogging, and two, finding travel sponsors and travelling the world for free, and that’s how most travel bloggers in India sustain. This is because unlike with other forms of blogging in travel blogging, every story requires investment.
For example, a blog on the latest Android version requires no investment but just an update in the phone, a blog on a new destination, however, requires money to travel to that destination.
So, a quick solution is: you look for sponsors, travel for free, produce blogs, and make money from other sources. See this blog for different ways to make money travel blogging.
Of course, you get paid gigs too. But when you don’t, bartering with hotels and tourism boards, for free trips, is a quick and easy solution as a travel blogger.
So let’s discuss…
How To Find Travel Sponsorship As A Blogger
Tourism boards and independent travel companies constantly look for travel influencers.
Since I’ve started blogging in 2016, I’ve worked with over 50+ tourism boards — with at least one invitation from government tourism board (paid and free both) every month. This helped me travel 25+ countries so far, including travelling flying in Business Class, and other such lavish experiences.
So sponsored trips help me travel for free and continue exploring places and different ways of monetizing from my blog maintain the cash flow.
Though finding travel sponsors isn’t as easy as it may sound, it at least isn’t impossible.
So read ahead if you are ready to work hard, and learn the art of finding sponsors for travel-blogging.
Build Your Portfolio
Blogging takes time to gain followers. And lesser followers in the initial phase of blogging may get you no travel sponsors, at least no big sponsor. So what’s the solution? Look for small sponsors — a hotel located in the city you’re next visiting, or a tour company locally operating.
During my first six to eight months of full-time travel blogging, I didn’t get an opportunity to work with a tourism board (tourism boards are the government boards representing a city, state or a country). Searching for relevant people’s emails was moreover wasting a lot of time. So I changed focus, as a few other travel bloggers suggested, and tried partnering with local businesses instead.
Get a list of hotels in the city you’re next visiting on booking.com, and shoot them an email. Or look for a tour company on Tripadvisor and see if they can offer you a free tour.
Contact Tourism Boards
Once you reach minimum traction and build a portfolio (a Media Kit for travel blog) start pitching emails to big travel sponsors or tourism boards.
Start with local tourism boards initially. Eg Ahmedabad tourism board (if we have one) rather than Gujarat tourism board. The first three tourism boards that sponsored me were all local too — Goa tourism board, Zurich tourism board and Stuttgart tourism board.
The best thing about working with tourism boards is that they take care of all costs — from flight tickets to hotel to sightseeing tours.
As of March 2020, I have worked with over 50 tourism boards including Germany tourism board, Incredible India, Indonesia Tourism board, and more. And these trips included an all-inclusive few-days itinerary, taking me to exotic locations in their country with stays in 7-star hotels and activities like Skydiving and Bungy Jumping. All that was needed from my side was my availability.
But again, to score such travel sponsorship (they are also called FAM trip) you need to be an influential blogger/vlogger.
So start with partnering with local companies and hotels first. Once you gain experience, a good influential base, and an impressive Media Kit, go ahead with hunting for FAM trips.
If you want to know more about it, read How To Contact Tourism Boards
Connect With Other Bloggers
Getting sponsorships in the digital industry is as much a game of having good content as it is of having useful contacts. And fellow bloggers are a great source for relevant useful contact.
Ask other bloggers if they can put you in touch with the PR of a tourism board, or can perhaps give you a useful lead — a website link perhaps where you can sign up for a bloggers contests, or for an upcoming FAM to someplace.
Fellow established bloggers moreover have an idea (out of their experience) about which tourism boards are currently working with bloggers in your country and which are not.
So talk to other travel bloggers and generate useful leads.
Increase Your Blogging Influence
An ideal way of improving your chances of getting travel sponsors is by believing in the expression of ‘the power of unity’. How? Imagine it this way…
If 1000 people read your blog every month you have a readership of 1000 people in a month. Now if you start writing for a travel magazine that has a readership of 100,000 a month, what do you become? A travel blogger (or let’s call you a travel writer) who can offer a possible readership of 100,000+1000 people a month to a sponsor. Now that’s a good looking figure to motivate a travel company or a tourism board to sponsor your trip.
Remember… Professional travel blogging isn’t only about having an impressive blog, but about having an impressive personal portfolio and being able to provide more reach to your sponsor.
For example, other than my blog, I write for a couple of travel magazines and an in-flight magazine from time to time, because it gives me an edge, or an advantage rather, to impress a sponsor by providing them more reach.
So think of it that way, and start writing freelance!
Further Reading: How To Get Your First Few Travel Sponsorships