There is a ton that goes on behind the scenes of a blog. There is boring stuff like search engine optimization and more interesting times like reaching out to a tourism board or brand to see if they want to collaborate. I reached out to a tourism board this week to see if they wanted to work with me. It was an epic failure but for a reason, I’m pretty proud of.
I’m heading back to Oahu, where it all started. I began blogging and Instagramming there in 2016. Who knew it would have become my full-time job and such a bloody adventure.
Often bloggers and influencers will email the tourism board or brands in the destinations they are visiting. In many cases, the outcome can be free accommodation, flights, and activities in exchange for content and promotion. It can be a fair bit of work but it can cut your expenses for the trip down to nothing sometimes. There are even cases where you can get paid to do this if you can provide enough value and reach to a brand or tourism board.
I don’t do this. I work with brands and tourism boards but only those that reach out to me. Early on I got sick of the feeling I had as I pitched myself. I would often end up convincing people of my worth and I didn’t feel like continuing to grovel with brands and tourism boards who I felt should be super excited I was coming to their region. So, in 2017 I didn’t pitch to a single brand or tourism board. The only jobs and collaborations I took were ones that came to me. I didn’t waste a single second pitching. I had the opportunity to go on 5 press trips and worked with a multitude of brands throughout the year.
I could’ve had more on my plate but what I had was more than enough. In between these press trips, I continued to travel independently throughout the world. I backpacked in India for several months, did a solo one-month trip to Central America and lived on an island in the Philippines for a month.
As we counted down into 2018 and the new year began that all changed. I decided to visit Hawaii and thought if there was any tourism board in the world I would have the best shot at collaborating with it be Hawaii. I don’t know exactly how to measure this but I am pretty sure I would be the number one blogger about Oahu. I’ve blogged about so many activities on the island, written top 10’s for hiking, cliff-jumping, beaches, and waterfalls. They all rank really highly in google search and in fact, if you search ‘Oahu’ it’s only the tourism board and Wikipedia who appear above me. I beat out lonely planet, Tripzilla, and all the other huge bloggers. The point is, surely they would want to collaborate.
I shot out the email and the reply was a big old rejection.
This is what the email read:
“We really love the beautiful content you’re producing, however we have quite specific brand guidelines around the types of activities we can and cannot promote, and unfortunately I think that several elements central to your own brand are things we can’t endorse (rock/cliff jumping, certain hikes, activities that could be considered risky/dangerous).
Unfortunately, due to this, we won’t be able to partner with you on your upcoming trip. It’s a real shame for us but I hope that you can understand our predicament.”
After the initial disappointment, I rocked back in my chair and laughed at my screen. I had been rejected for going on the real adventures everyone seems to love.
I felt proud of my rejection. I totally understood the position of the Hawaii Tourism Board. The email back was a lovely lady who I went on to chat with and she ended up giving me some great contacts to reach out to. This was more a reflection of me than of the tourism board.
I travel on a budget. The most I have spent on a hotel in my 1.5 years of travel is $12 for a hostel in Singapore. The most expensive activity I have paid for was $35 for a certified world wonder, an underground river in Sabang, Philippines. I don’t travel in a way that makes me easily marketable to tourism boards who are trying to attract the luxury travel market, which has moe more $$$ to give.
Why? Because the best adventures are free.
All around the world, I travel to waterfalls, lagoons, rice-fields, beaches, mountains, viewpoints, caves, rivers, rooftops, cities, and villages. I watch sunrises, sunsets and the stars in the night sky. Not one of these things has to cost a cent. Sometimes the transport or logistical factors may cost you but that’s a small part. I eat local and I eat cheap, usually spending less than $10 USD per day on food. This is how I travel around the world independently non-stop.
So, with that rejection aside. I have booked to head back to Hawaii in mid-January for the first adventure of 2018!
What have my last 7 days looked like? I’ve been staying with my Aunty in Federal, a small town just out of Byron Bay. I’ve let my camera sit in my bag as we have some time apart. I guess you could call it a bit of a detox. 2018 is going to be a big year shooting so I need a break.
However, I did shoot an awesome rainbow that poured down on an island at Byron Bay. An epic sunset followed. I stalked birds in the shallows.
I’ll be heading down to Hawk’s Nest and Coff’s Harbour before finishing my road trip with a few days on Bondi Beach.
Hope you all had a rad week full of less rejection than mine!