Social media can often feel like more of a burden than a benefit. After all, it takes time and effort to build an audience before you can start reaping the rewards.
Before you close the door on social media, let me make the case for why you not only should spend more time on it, but also why you’ll be glad you did.
Find and Connect With Your Audience
One of the most important things social media does for you as a travel writer, blogger, or photographer is help you find your audience and connect with them. If you’re a blogger, this is essential. Without understanding your audience and delivering value to them, you’ll never have the traffic you need to leverage your blog for freebies or turn it into a money-making machine.
However, even as a travel writer or a photographer, having an audience is important. It’s becoming increasingly important to promote and drive traffic to your own work, and publications are far more likely to say yes to your pitches when they know you already have a built-in audience.
Network With Editors
Editors use social media too, making it a great way to showcase your work and connect so your future pitches don’t get lost in their inboxes.Social media allows you to network with editors and other decision makers in the media industry between in-person conferences and events. Although face-to-face meetings are hard to beat, social media gives you the opportunity to connect with people you might not otherwise meet.
If there’s a publication you really want to get into, I suggest you follow the editor on social media and comment on some of their posts. This might lead to a back-and-forth, or it might simply make your name recognizable when you land in their inbox. That increases the odds that they open your email and give your pitch consideration.
I’ve received several assignments over the years because an editor discovered me on social media. Make sure each post represents you well as a professional with grammatically-correct captions and clear, quality photos.
Connect With Destinations, Hotels, Restaurants, and More
Perhaps the biggest carrot I can dangle, however, is the opportunity to connect on social media with the folks who work for destinations and with hotels, restaurants, and attractions. I always tag the businesses I’m posting about, even if they didn’t provide me a comp. This often leads to them surprising me with a gift or asking me to return in the future.
For this strategy to work, your bio needs to clearly indicate that you are a travel writer, blogger, or photographer. That way when they see you tag them in a post, they know you’re someone they could work with in the future.
I know people (myself included!) who have received free wine, meals, and even all-expenses-paid trips after posting on social media and tagging a business or destination using their username or hashtag.
Develop Your Brand and Niche
Another way social media can help you is by helping to develop your personal brand or niche. When you first start out, you might be interested in many different topics. However, as your social media matures, you will notice patterns in what editors like to see and what your audience responds to best.
Niches come in all shapes and sizes. It might be the type of travel you’re focusing on, like adventure travel or cruising. Or it might be your style of travel—solo, couple, family—or even a specific geographic area or region.
Don’t stress over your branding or niche in the beginning. Focus on putting out content and then pay attention to what moves the needle—both for editors and for your audience. Notice more engagement or comments on a particular topic or category? Great, do more of that and you’ll start to develop your personal brand.
All the possibilities are exciting, but also a little overwhelming. Focus on getting started and then being consistent.
In the beginning, focus on one platform (I’d recommend Instagram first because of its popularity in the travel space) and create consistent content. I’d shoot for one post every other day. It’s less important what time of day you post or how many followers you have. If you focus on creating content as consistently as you can, the followers and the benefits will follow.