My First Sponsored Trip As A Travel Blogger!…How Did That Happen!?
Hey hey hey! I hope you are enjoying the the official start of summer 2017! If you follow my adventures on Instagram (@movewithdoyin) you’ll probably be aware that i’ve managed to secure my first sponsored trip as a travel blogger to Italy – thank God for that! I’ve been getting heaps of questions about the trip so i’m going to cut to the chase and give you the ins on how I managed to secure the sponsorship, what it involved, and I’ll share some tips that may help you along the way – so read on!
What Was The Sponsor Doyin!?
I was offered a travel collaboration with ItaliaRail, one of the world’s leading specialists in Italy travel (part of the rail and Italy expert Wandrian, which also own ItaliaPass and RailPass). ItaliaRail provide customers with bespoke travel experiences, from transport, to accommodation and tours.
My duty as a travel blogger partnering with ItaliaRail was to explore and document, first handedly, the whole ItaliaRail experience from a solo traveller’s perspective. This included sponsored transportation from Venice to Rome and accommodation at a network apartment ROMEANTIC apartment (if you saw my snapchat you would have seen how lush the apartment was – oh my😍, haha)! I then spent two days in Rome exploring the city and it’s history (joined by @NigerianAbroad) using their Show & Go Pass (more info below)!
My solo travelling style – adventurous, spontaneous with a little room for mainstream tourism – usually allows my trips to willingly avoid tours *covers face*. Placing my solo travelling ego to one side, I genuinely enjoyed the guided tour experience in Rome! As much as I enjoyed my first solo trip to Rome in 2015 (which didn’t include tours), I believe a trip to a city with such breathtaking history is worth experiencing in the best way possible. For a few extra Euros it is certainly worth soaking in the rich culture and truly understanding what is right in front of your eyes from someone who knows (or appears to know) what they are talking about.
I’m sure i’ll continue to get questions regarding tours when abroad but I cannot vouch for every tour – as this was my first one lol! It’s safe to say that I’ve been sold so i’ll definitely be going on a few others so stay tuned!
How Did You Get the Sponsor Doyin!? (The part we all care about lol)
Rather than waffling on about how I secured the sponsorship I’m going to share 7 “keys” that attributed to my success in securing a travel sponsorship, I hope it helps!
1. I Reached Out to People!
One morning I woke up (as you do by the Grace of God of course lol) and I began sending out emails to brands, companies and bloggers who I thought had influence in making what my goal a reality!
Tip: Rather than approaching a company/brand simply as a product try to form a genuine relationship with the people behind the products and contact them directly. This can illustrate genuine interest and it’ll show the company that you’ve actually made an effort to do your research. If you are clueless on how to find brands/people, start with Twitter – it’s a great stalking tool and people actually respond! 😉
Tip no 2: Don’t be afraid to ASK! They can only say “YES/NO” right!?
2. I Valued My Work, My Hustle and My Experience (even my lack of experience)
Weird to chuck in “lack of experience” right!? But through time i’ve realised that “lack of experience” can portray a few desireable traits. Starting something completely out of your comfort zone (i.e., lack of experience) can demonstrate initiative, flexibility, ambition, entrepreneurship, drive, confidence and the list goes on. My point here is that if you have a “weakness”, flip it on it’s backside and use it to your advantage. Transform it into a “work in progress” or even a strength! Don’t forget to sell all your strengths to the companies/people you contacting for a partnership.
3. I Was Confident In My Ability to Travel Document for ItaliaRail
Now the issue with the online/blogging/whatever we call it nowadays world (lol) is that many of us (including myself) do not know how to value our influence, in comparison to traditional work where your level of influence (and compensation) is based on your education, experience, age, reputation etc.
It’s so easy to downplay your ability in the digital sphere when the lady sitting beside you has 20 thousand followers more than you. Let’s be real though! – Many brands/companies scrutinise the numbers/follower counts/website traffic before determining your working relationship. However, they are also aware that it can take time to build an organic engaged following and sometimes the “numbers” can be false. This why we often hear words such as “influencer” so much nowadays.
According to the dictionary’s definition of the word influence – the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something – we all have the capacity to be an “influencer”. Companies are also aware of this but of course they cannot work with everyone so they choose those in an existing place of influence (i.e., a large following) but many companies/brands also seek to partner with people who are simply confident and able to articulate their influence very well.
4. I Knew My Influence
Do not exaggerate your following or traffic count on social media/blogs/websites! Even if they don’t check it’s not a good way to start and you may not be able to achieve the task set by the brand/company. Imagine if you said you will certainly get 500 promotional shares for a brand on a Facebook post because you lied and you actually only have 50 Facebook friends – this only creates more work for you!
What you can do, however, is emphasise your influence to the brand. Give an example of where you organised an event and sold out 100 seats, when you started a 1 month healthy eating regime and got 20 friends to join you and remember, if you truly have 5000 engaged instagrams followers let them know! Your influence does not have to be exclusive to one area but make sure it is directly applicable to the brand and it’s message.
5. I Was Authentic!
Unfortunately I do not wake up to heaps of requests for sponsored trips (yet, lol) so just like any other trip my adventure to Italy was not dependent on whether I was getting sponsorship. Once my flights to Italy were booked I politely reached out to Wandrian because I was confident that my trip would align with what they were about (experiencing rail travel and adventure in Italy). If I simply sent across an email titled – “I want to come to Italy, can I get sponsored by your company ?” – I may have not been granted the sponsorship.
So be authentic and work with brands/people who already align with your narrative. It also makes the task in hand so much easier for you as it’s simply natural. For example, while on the Wandrian Show & Go tours I documented my journey live on social media. This task was sooo natural for me as I always document my trips regardless of whether it is backed by a company or not! So yap, it was a win-win situation! 🙂
6. I Knew The Mutual Benefit!
This is KEY and it comes down to knowing what you want and what you have to offer during the partnership. We all want to work with international brands who offer a lifetime supply of products but if that’s literally all you want it may be a difficult journey to success.
Know what you want to offer the company/person and clearly articulate this in writing. This is also reassuring because if the company response is a “no” you should be confident that the company does not require your specific service at that current time (or they have no budget for your service). So simply move on smiling rather than thinking that your work isn’t good enough.
7. I Love What I Do!
Cheesy but enthusiasm and passion is extremely infectious so if you love writing, photography, videography, cooking, trading, modeling, eating, running or sewing work on it often! – Work on it passionately and one day someone won’t be able to resist compensating you for it! To bring some context to this cliche (lol), passion and authenticity work hand in hand and brands/people can sense true passion even from an email. So my final tip is to simply sell your unique selling point (yourself) to these brands!
As promised here’s a bit more about what I experienced with the ItaliaRail crew and what they can offer to you!
Train Travel Around Italy
– ItaliaRail: I hopped on a return from Venice to Rome using Italy’s national railway, Trenitalia. Besides up to 60% off with ItaliaRail you can also reach out to the team to utilise their “SecretFares” service to find hidden upgrades at no extra costs!
– Colosseum and Vatican Show & Go Pass (TM): It’s almost impossible to go to Rome during a very quiet season – because it does not exist lol! Jumping on a this tour helped us (@NigerianAbroad came on board too) avoid queuing up for hours in the scorching sun. As the name entails, there was no need to make an advanced reservations (although we did in order to manage our own time) – you can simply show up and go on the tour!
Both tours included guided tours, express entry and we were able to go on both tours on different days!
FYI, don’t ever be forced to go on a tour lol (especially by the street vendors), but if you are and it doesn’t cut to your taste companies like ItaliaRail offer a money-back guarantee!
– ItaliaPass: The ItaliaPass is a passport to savings and discounts for a range of dining, activities and shopping experiences in Italy. Booking rail travel with ItaliaRail also give you further discount on the Pass! The pass also grants access to the lavish VIP ItaliaPass Lounge, situated in Rome’s Termini Train Station, where you’ll find coffee, snacks and wifi (it’s the little things)!
This was a wordy post but I do hope you took something from it! Feel free to drop a comment, send me an email or shout me on social media! Thanks for reading and do share this post!
Thanks to the ItaliaRail crew for the opportunity! – Peace and Love,