How To Work With Brands As A Blogger: Top 5 Tips

“You can have it all if you want” – NOT Stereophonefish.

Jonny Blair Travel Blogger Interview

JHow To Work With Brands As A Blogger: Top 5 Tips

Being a veteran blogger doesn’t exactly excite me any more. All the cool stuff happened years ago. Days become mundane. I slept in over 1000 hotels, hostels and shacks on a wacaday journey. Bedhopping incites no love affairs. I was given guided tours of countries I’d never even heard of (Podjistan and Transnistria for two) and I worked with over 10,000 travel brands since this blog began in 2007. It was all so beautiful, such bliss.

Backpacking in Uzbekistan: Doing a Guided Day Tour of Samarkand City

Backpacking in Uzbekistan: Doing a Guided Day Tour of Samarkand City

Even today, I still work with brands but I’m wiser now – I hate the excrement that comes with it all and of course the highs and lows of travel blogging. If you missed all that, you can be sure that this glorified nothing, tell it like it is or go home…

Who wants to be a Professional Travel Blogger?

Remember how everyone dressed it all up for you – all this “make money quick” excrement, the “4 hour work week”? That was all lies of course. The only way to do it was by working hard. There is no “open the door, see the mountain”. Norman Whiteside went from the Shankill Road to the World Cup finals in Spain. But those were different days. Now, it’s all graft and that’s the part I loved. Finchy’s down Chasers waiting on Brenty and Garref! Here are 5 tips on how to work with brands even though it’s hardly a dream concocted on another backpacking stint through Bandar Seri Begawan.

I'll be blogging about my Pacific Ocean trip

How To Work With Brands As A Blogger: Top 5 Tips

1.Never say NO to new business

This is golden. I hate the “no” man and woman. Always be the “yes” man. If that means getting a free lipstick to promote, then do it. That lipstick leads to a packet of biscuits, to a business coffee lunch to new opportunities to a flight upgrade to a paid post to a night in a 5 star hotel (in a place you never heard of). I remember when I was backpacking in Sri Lanka in 2013 and I got an email offering a free book and $60 US for a blog post but there was a castle to explore outside. What did I do? I said yes and took the book and the money. I skipped that castle. Once I got the money, I had dinner with my parents. You can’t sleep, because the world won’t wait. The “no” man lost. But – even if the brand or company doesn’t suit you – keep the door open. Don’t say no.

live sky sports jonny blair baku

Be the “yes” man!

2.Stay loyal to the brands that like you

We’ve all seen bloggers backpacking the same hostel chain for months on end bigging it up on social media like they love it. Although I despise many other bloggers (the liars and Guru Gods can remove their shoes while they’re walking…), mostly we say we love it because actually we DO love it. Unless I have been travelling with friends or not working, I’ve tried to stay loyal to as many brands as I could. If you stayed in “x” hotel in 2013 and did a good review, in 2017 you can always stay in another hotel by the same company, and again in 2020 having shown them the old articles and PR you once did.

Arrival at the Park Inn by Radisson, another time…

3.Keep in with contacts

Add people on LinkedIn and Facebook. You don’t even have to know them or like them. By keeping your contacts close by – on Facebook, email, Twitter etc. you are never far away from getting in touch again. I got a free pint of beer and a night in London when I was on a quick stop over in 2014 – the same company got me in touch with other brands, sponsored trips and blog posts and indeed invites to events. Whether it is a swanky hotel, a blogger outreach company, a new backpack or a guided tour, keep in touch and keep those contacts. Just from an email I sent in 2016, I ended up on a sponsored mission to Senegal and The Gambia (ultimately a trip that ruined me but I wasn’t to know that then). My database currently has over 60,000 names and email addresses in it – all contacts from the last 13 years of blogging. I doubt any other travel blogger is as detailed as I was in my glory days. Even though, I won’t go back to most of the places I visited, I still keep their details as you never know what might happen in future.

A beer in Xanadu resort in Belize. Paradise by the Caribbean Sea.

4.Review products

Well this is obvious. I lose track of the amount of products I receive to review because it is hard to keep up with it. Right now, I totally love the backpacks and clothing that I use and was sent by companies. Those brands want a nice review and some real testing – I want real backpacks, clothes, gadgets etc. I even review random things like computer games, dog food and stickers! And don’t be shy – take photos of your underwear if you are promoting a brand. Remember saying “no” destined you to failure.

My Fabulous Don’t Stop Living Logos on Inkmill Vinyl! From a beach in Uganda by Lake Victoria!

5.Promise Articles and Social Media Promotion

When it comes to blogging jobs that pay, it is hard to beat writing and promoting from the comfort of your desk and getting paid to do it. So when you are reaching out to brands, and them to you – offer them a good package. Write articles about them, hashtag them and promote them on social media. They will pay you, and pay you again and recommend you to others and you will grow and grow and grow. There will be no limits. By 2017, I had made $100,000 US Dollars from this one blog alone, all through blogging, writing and promoting. It felt staggering when the milestone was broken, but at the time of course, I’d have handed all that money back for happiness and a removal of GuruGods and liars… Plus of course, I wasted the money on travelling to 186 countries, watching too much football and drinking too much coffee and beer. But think – I could have stayed in one place and been rich!

“Alone on the beach on my own, out of reach and you just pass me by” – Noel Gallagher.

working hard in Australia

Money money money

When the sun sinks on this town, on that town or in any town – the only thing that matters is you act selfishly, you do it yourself, you work hard and no – we are not here to help others. Most of the others don’t care about you – they are in it for their own piece of pie. I learnt all that excrement the hard way. Blocking people was easy. Recovering from depression and trying to grow this blog again – well who knows. At least a legacy sleeps under an empty sky.

“Don’t take your eyes from the prize” – Dodgy.

My blogging desk for my chilled out day and night in Podgorica.

2 thoughts on “How To Work With Brands As A Blogger: Top 5 Tips

  • Good to hear a ‘real’ traveler’s viewpoint about blogging (I found you via nomadicbackpacker) and I agree about the ‘excrement’.

    As an old school backpacker – I’ve been on the road since 1988; now living a van life in China – I’ve avoided the travel blogging bs you speak of, and chose to make money other ways to also avoid the marketing insanity of being online the whole time.

    Good luck with your on-going journey!

    Regards – MRP (aka THE CANDY TRAIL )

  • Hi Michael, Thanks for the comment and apologies for the late reply. September 2021 (when you posted this) was the worst month of my life and after that I wasn’t checking comments or spam folders at all due to depression and a serial stalker who chased me and my friends. 1988 is amazing – you are a truly long term backpacker. My journey is only since 2003 and the blog only started in 2007 but it’s still been a crazy journey. I recently backpacked Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritius, Madagascar and Reunion Island. If I had nabbed Mayotte, I’d have MMMMM! Safe travels. Jonny

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