If you love traveling, I am sure the header will make you curious, if not excited. Not everybody loves FAMs but I know many who wanna bag them. First, what are FAMs? I did not know until I won my first one last year. Well, for the established bloggers its no mantra. They have done it and they know it all but this is for all those who are yet to experience it and often ask me personally in various blogger meets. I feel good about it when I get tweets which say ‘Just visited your site, you seem to have won many trips.’ I love the praise. But that’s just the good people who say that way. Seriously, there have been hate mails, ugly watsapp messages and critical forum discussions around it too. Last year I was upset about it and I thought that was just an year where I got lucky with lots of travel trips. But the year of 2015 has infused confidence in me because my blog has already helped me to win 8 (big and small) sponsored travel trips. With no second thoughts, I have come to believe that there are people who love my work and have absolute faith in my writing abilities.
— BloggerLuvs2Tweet (@manjulika5) July 24, 2015
A little on the background. First, I am no expert and all these views are manifestations of my own learning as a blogger. At the end of the post if you extract no juice out of it, you can always let me know politely. Interactions are a way to success, aren’t they? Well, the real reason why I am blogging about this topic is I was supposed to speak at a session at a newly founded secret society of travelers. My session could not happen, first due to time constraint and second I chose to listen to other important discussions and decided that this could wait. Inculcating the love for traveling and learning about successful blogging is more important that winning plain contests. Watsay? Overall, I am glad I decided to be a part of TWC when it took its baby steps. I am sure this will grow big!
So on 24th July the ‘Travel Wizards Conference’ #TWC2015 actually happened!
— Himanshu Barsainya (@Evrythng_Candid) July 25, 2015
Born as an avid reader, I started as a book blogger who preferred traveling through books. Gradually the virtual world transformed into reality for me. When I was young, whenever my parents made plans of traveling, I would always bring up a test or an exam or a project as an excuse not to travel. Yes, I was one child who loved going to Nani’s place in vacations more than anywhere. But as luck would have it I got married to a guy who lives a life out of suitcase (Consultant). To catch up with his pace of life, I traveled and there I fell in love with travel. Yes, the exotic as well as the un-famous places happened to me but with every trip I realized, I had a story to tell. There have been no FAMs and no contests on my mind ever but I have always believed if you do good, some brilliant things happen on their own.
Some tips as they go….
- Blog beautifully because creativity is the key to success! If you have to win a contest, you have to be impressive. To win the ‘Oman Trip’ I interacted with people who have visited there, made a slideshow from their pictures, did some art-work and most importantly crafted a poem of a country that I had never seen. It all took a week long investment to research and draft my winning post. So the mantra is ‘Do something new and unique to stand different from the lot.’ Its always the quality of the content that makes anyone a winner!
- 3 months to 6 months into blogging and people want to go for a free trip. Well I wouldn’t say its bad to dream but at least have something substantial on your platter before you go around pitching for FAM trips. I have been blogging for last 6 years. Yes, (570 posts down) and I feel there is yet so much to achieve before I can ask a brand to sponsor me. Before the wins, I did seven countries and many places on my own. So please travel first, write about it and then get talking about FAM trips. Until you prove you have the caliber, why will the brand invest in you? Write something useful for everyone.
- Don’t be jealous or in awe of anyone whose doing these free trips. Believe me I am friends with a number of bloggers who travel all round the year just for free. But I am just trying to learn from them. I don’t envy them nor I am harsh on their face to say- ” OH, why you are invited everywhere?’ I read them regularly to see what it takes to be there. I have a believe that I will get there too. My blog will make it happen. Believe me! Just keep doing your work. Be genuine in your approach and not desperate. I am saying this because I have met bloggers who somewhere lack the desired zeal and passion and sound desperate in many ways.
- A blogger is not a content writer. Simple English free of grammatical errors can also make great stories. So next time when you are writing for a contest, please ensure you are not acting as a parrot for the brand but you have a reason to connect with the brand. You must know why you believe in its work. And you must play smartly too. Research well and analyze as to what is the brand looking at and what will it take to make you get its attention. Ensure your blog post lives up to it. When I wrote this for Nissan Driving Safety Forum and won a trip to Kerala + Kindle, I was more concerned about the cause than the contest prize. I always participate for the love of writing and not anything else. Of course prizes are a cherry on the cake.
- Keep participating and keep forgetting. Don’t hold to one contest and say ‘Oh, I dint win this one, I will not write anymore.’ Try and try until you succeed. There will be a time when you will yourself give up on the contests and say I am done with them, now let me travel on my own. Yes, one has to prove interest and niche. If you aren’t a traveler, why will a travel company be interested in declaring you a winner? So do your own trips and have enough to brag.
- Be a part of blogger portals, they genuinely help you to become a star performer. I have bagged travel trips from all three Indiblogger, Blogadda and Blogmint. Nevertheless, the tourism boards and PR agencies too. Yes, so if some people want to believe that there have been biased decisions, I am glad each one has been biased to me. 😉
- Write a mind-blowing post and nothing less. But don’t judge for yourself. So often we feel we live in an illusion that ours is the best post. Hop on to other blogs and next moment you will realize, there is no dearth of creativity. Everyone wants to win those 6 days of pamper and has given their best. Leave it on the brand to decide rather than deciding for yourself. Honestly, I have lost more than I have won. Disappointments make you work harder.
- Last but not the least, there is no mantra to win. There is no cheat-sheet! Every brand has a certain inside plan in their mind and their own criteria to choose winners. They aren’t bothered whether you agree with their judgement or not. So don’t let the contests stop you from doing what you love most- Traveling and blogging. I am sure when you finish your post and you click on that publish button, nothing matches to the satisfaction level that comes after doing it. Blog because you want to not because you want something out of it.
- As far as brand collaborations goes, I have never gone around emailing and pitching my work until asked for. Yes, now I have become regular on twitter because it is the flavor of the season. Networking is the key to getting most collaborations so meet lots of people and talk good. Also, these days the brands and their social media managers are quite active on social media. Good work always finds its appreciators. For me it has happened and I would love to believe so. There is an Airline brand with whom I won a contest three years ago but when they were looking for people to travel, they came to me first because they had been keeping track of my blog. Sounds good!
Keep blogging and remember always, you started your blog for the love of writing and not for winning! The moment you will think of this, you will not want to know anything! And more importantly if I have been to FAM trips, it doesn’t mean, I have written all goody goody about them, I definitely inform them about the flaws too. And when you win a trip, you have all the rights to blow the services if you don’t like. Be fair to your readers!
*FAM trips are familiarization trips where your travel, food and stay is all well taken care of and you just have to travel and savor in the experiences.