The Truth About Being A Travel Influencer: What They Never Tell You

Brian McIntosh

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Being an influencer seems so cool! I mean, who wouldn’t want free products sent to them just to take a picture or two and post it online. The idea seems even more attractive knowing that you can get paid for these efforts too! But what does it actually take to become an influencer? Is it all glitz and glam?

As someone who’s been fortunate enough to have experienced the life as a travel influencer, I can tell you that there a lot of misconceptions! So, let me clear the air and be transparent since most never tell you what to expect.

MYTH 1: Everyone is making money when they market a product online.

Every brand has a budget; sometimes the budget is large and sometimes there is no budget. Just because you see someone posting “paid partnership” doesn’t always mean they are getting paid. A lot of brands actually work with influencers on a barter basis. This means they are receiving product for free (or at a discount) to create content around it. This is the exchange.

MYTH 2: Influencers make $1000’s per post

Unless you’re a mega influencer of 100k+, chances are, you shouldn’t expect to make 4-figures every post. The average influencer will make $150-$250 per post (even less if you’re just doing stories). This of course, depends on the amount of followers you have. So, although you can make great money doing this, it depends on how consistent you’re being and if brands are willing the pay you for your content and marketing efforts.

MYTH 3: Influencers are flown out everywhere!

In some situations, this is completely true. But everything is situational! Travel influencers who work with hotels often find themselves getting to these destinations on their own dime. The hotels usually offer discounted or free stay in exchange for content. A lot of these situations are also not paid. However, many tourism boards will offer to pay for your transportation for you to experience their destination.

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MYTH 4: You get paid right away.

Payment can be immediate but don’t be surprised if it takes up to 30 days. This means if you want steady income, then you’ll have to secure multiple brand deals to sustain you. Hopefully not every deal takes 30 days to receive payment.

MYTH 5: Travel influencers are always traveling

Social media can be very deceiving! Travel influencers always appear to be traveling. And although this could be the case, it doesn’t mean that they are traveling 24/7. Many travel influencers make a short trip seem so much longer by bringing a change of clothes for each scene they shoot. This strategy allows them to make their content stretch without the fear of having one outfit for multiple posts.

MYTH 6: You can create any content that you want for tourism boards

Every tourism board creates an agenda for their campaigns. An example theme could be food and wine while another theme could be on road trips. Depending on the agenda of that particular trip, the tourism board would expect the influencer to craft their content around that. This means, although the trip is complimentary, you’ll be tied to their itinerary. If you’re pressed for time, then you won’t be able to explore as much on your own.

MYTH 7: You have freedom of speech for ad content

When marketers approach influencers to create an ad, it is done under the guidance of that brand. There are certain key words, themes and hashtags that the influencer must include in order to satisfy the approver of that ad. The moment you see a travel influencer mention that there is a paid partnership going on or that the post is an ad (by using #ad), then you know the written caption was first approved by someone else. All this means is that the idea or voice behind the caption isn’t completely theirs. They’ve been paid to say these things.

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MYTH 8: You have to have a nice camera to start

With cell phone cameras getting better and better each year, it is no longer a necessity to have a dedicated camera body to be an influencer. Most of us can’t tell whether or not a post was created using the latest iPhone or a Nikon. And truthfully, for Instagram, a cell phone is enough. Unless you are doing large print work, you don’t need all of the high resolution gear to be successful online.

MYTH 9: Brand deals always thrown at influencers

With everyone trying to be an influencer, it’s becoming harder and harder for marketers to keep tabs on all of their potential partnerships. To make life easier for marketers, a lot of influencers constantly pitch themselves to get themselves on their radar. Behind the scenes, influencers are working very hard for these deals. And yes, there are influencers who are constantly being thrown deals, the average influencer still needs to let the world know that they exist.

Being an influencer still requires you to be great at what you do but it also requires managed expectations. Behind the glitz and glam, there is a lot of smoke and mirrors.

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