Blog tours: what are they, how do they work and how to participate
If you own a travel blog and, especially, you love reading other blogs (key to improvement), you’ve certainly heard of Blog tours; and since we like repeating obvious things and starting from scratches, I’m now going to give you a brief introduction to the topic.
Blog touring is about different kinds of travels, organized by national/regional tourist boards, local offices or tour operators, who turn to industry professionals, i.e. bloggers or influencers/micro influencers, who are particularly good (or simply too skilled) on social media, to promote a territory through their storytelling.
There may be many types of blog tours of many different kinds based on the promotional interest and core business of the body or company that organizes them: travelling and tasting, food and wine or travelling adventures, in Italy and abroad, blog tours in thermal resorts and Spasort literary travels, either for two days or a week long.
Are blog tours like the old press tours?
There’s a significant difference between blog tours and the old press tours, though: until about a decade ago (to be clear, when newspapers would still hire journalists who, along with contributors, were not Vat registered freelancers paid by article), the participants were never paid and there was no direct relationship between the organizing body and the participant.
It was unethical (and, to some extent, not even legal) to pay them, also because registered journalists can’t accept money in return for the promotion of a product in any of their articles.
It must be said though that once correspondents were almost always paid a regular wage by their newspaper and blog tours were a way to work for their employer while relaxing and trying to get out of the usual editorial office routine.
Basically, the invitation to blog tours was initially sent to the newspapers, who decided whether to send their top columnist or worst intern, until bloggers came on the market of storytelling and information for travellers.
Today, what happens is the opposite: each blogger or journalist invited to a tour (well yes, blog tours pretty often have journalists too) is nine times out of ten a Vat registered worker; just like almost all full-time bloggers, who will devote entire working days to the tour project simply by being present or, most of the times, by constantly producing video and written contents to be used live on social media and later in one’s blog posts.
Therefore, it won’t be hard to understand why an economic proposal will always be welcome these days.
But we’ll dedicate to the economic side a section on its own.
Are blog tours paid?
Fonte Verde, San Casciano dei Bagni – from my blog tour in Val di Chiana
Some of them are paid, others are not. In any case, the relationship must be clear from the very beginning, starting from the content of the invitation or the call published on the Internet site of the organizing body/company. It is then up to the individual blogger to decide whether to take part/apply or not.
In this case, I believe it is appropriate and useful for every blogger to know the value in money of their work, even based on their domain authority and engagement rate, i.e. the online authority according to one’s traffic and level of interaction on social media.
However, accommodation and meals costs must be always covered throughout the whole experience.
Travel costs are a matter of debate: in most cases, the organizing bodies bear the travel costs even for unpaid tours, whereas there have been a few cases of bloggers who had to travel at their own expense.
I’d rather not delve into the details of these cases because I don’t even consider those as real blog tours: blog tours are actually, and regardless of the available budget, private projects, and people would not set them up without an economic gain in mind or the intention to profit one’s image.
I find it extremely mean, within the context of work ethics, to ask someone to produce any content (articles, back links, tagged pictures on social media etc.) and even bear the travel costs.
In order to understand when it’s the right time to talk about our pay, I have my own personal strategy:
If the body that organizes the tour makes any specific request about the production of any content and material, or if you’re asked a certain number of articles, pictures, Instagram stories etc. or, to sum up, if there’s a precise request for a professional service, it would be appropriate to enclose an economic proposal.
If we’re talking about an “invitation to participate in…” instead, where content can be produced depending on the blogger, it is also acceptable as a free participation (with all costs covered, though).
How to take part in blog tours?
Let’s get to the point: how to get invited to blog tours or simply gatecrash them?
Unfortunately, there isn’t (yet) a national board that shows the scheduled blog tours of the year and gives space to possible applications. While waiting for me or someone else to invent it, let’s see what are the other viable alternatives:
- Handing out one’s media kit at trade fairs, clearly mentioning the “availability for blog tours” and even pointing out whether or not you are available for free blog tours.
- Reading on other blogs about the tours our favorite bloggers took part in and sending a small pitch (including the media kit) to the bodies mentioned in these articles, in order for them to consider us for possible future collaborations.
- Networking on social media groups and blogger chats, where information is often exchanged. Networking is essential in any freelance work, don’t forget it!
- Advice for “professionals”: organizing a solo trip on your own.
This might look like a weird advice, but it’s not. If you plan a trip somewhere, at your expense, you can get in touch with a local tourist office and ask if they have something to offer, like specifically arranged tours; Tourism Boards usually offer free tours and city cards to bloggers and influencers, especially if the trip has already been booked and partly organized.
This approach is more like a Sponsored Trip, different than a blog tour, and that I’m going to talk about as soon as possible.
Such an approach can foster new, long-lasting and deeper collaborations.
Have you ever taken part in a blog tour? If yes, who organized it? Do you have any other suggestion about the complex world of blog tours?