You are travelling the world and your Instagram fans love the content you’re sharing? Are your followers growing steadily? You must be wondering how to start engaging in Instagram collaboration.
There are people that make a living from travelling the world. They create engaging visual content and get brands and hotels to work with them. In return, they promote the brands’ products and services.
There are different types of income streams for monetizing your Instagram account. We wrote an extensive overview of the different options in our guide How To Make Money From Instagram In 2020 With Under 2000 Followers.
Here comes the best part. Although the space is becoming increasingly crowded, there are still ways to get a share of the pie – even as a small account!
You don’t need to be the next @mariefeandjakesnow or @backpackdiariez to make some extra cash from your travel gram! It’s possible to acquire brand deals with even under 2000 followers.
The key lies in how you approach which brands.
Since you are here, you probably want to read these posts too:
- Digital Nomad Guide to Make Money Online
- How To Make Money On Instagram With Under 2000 Followers in 2020
- Instagram Success – How Many Likes Is Your Life Worth?
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Starting your Instagram collaboration game
In the next paragraphs we’re sharing 9 steps on how you can get hotels and other brands to collaborate with you.
We’ve written these tips to guide you to land collaborations through active effort from your side by selecting and approaching partners for collaborations.
Of course there is also a chance that you are contacted directly by a company via DM on Instagram. In that case the following steps might not be applicable to you one to one. However even then you will also need to evaluate which companies you should proceed with and which offers you are better off rejecting.
If you would like to read more about how to decide which brands to collaborate with and which not, leave a comment and we’ll write a dedicated blog post about it!
Ready to gain collaboration partners and start earning some cash from your Instagram account? Keep on reading!
1. Spot opportunities for Instagram collaboration
The very first step of getting brand deals is to be creative and think of your next upcoming events or travel plans that could bring collaboration opportunities.
Are you travelling to a new destination and still need a hotel?
Are you planning a road trip and need to book a car?
Do you love sports and are looking for new work out gear?
All these are examples of potential reasons to work with companies. Think about what type of businesses could be interesting for you to collaborate with.
There are so many possibilities! Hotels, travel agencies, restaurants, clothing brands, tech companies, and others are always looking for new ways and marketers to promote their products.
2. Do your research for an Instagram collaboration
The next step is to do your research on possible partners for an instagram collaboration. Our recommendation is to make your search as concrete as possible by focusing on opportunities that are within close reach. This means that rather than trying to book all of your hotel stays for the next 6 months, think of one upcoming city on your list and focus on getting a hotel collaboration there. That will make your research more targeted and thorough.
We like to start our research on Instagram. We typically use hashtags, e.g. for the hotel example we will use #hotelkualalumpur, for finding hotels to approach. When we find an attractive hotel that we like via hashtags, we always double check the rating and reviews of the hotel on booking.com.
The most important decision is still to come. Which of the companies that you found online will you contact? To make the selection, it’s crucial to know how to pick the “right” partners for making a collaboration proposal.
3. Pick the “right” brands (not so big on Insta, spend money on collaborations)
This step is one very important factor that your collaboration offer will be accepted. The key of increasing the positive response rate of possible partners is knowing who to target.
Since we’re talking about Instagram collaborations, the partner should see a clear and substantial benefit from receiving additional exposure via social media. This means that they themselves are still emphasising a lot on growing their exposure and investing into promotion via social media.
A good rule of thumb for us is to focus on companies that have under 20k followers. If you see that the brands or hotels are active on Instagram, the less followers the better! Those companies are actively trying to grow and might be interested in investing into you.
Especially if you find during your hashtag search that other Instagramers are writing promotional posts about the brand, you know this brand might be very interested to receive your offer.
4. Think clearly about your value and your offering
It’s really important to do this step right! Spend some time thinking about what value you can bring to your future partner. We talk more in detail about examples of what you can offer to brands and hotels in our post How To Make Money From Instagram In 2019 With Under 2000 Followers.
Do you think the brand will be interested in receiving exposure via your feed or stories?
Do you put a lot of effort in your photography and want to create promotional materials for your partner?
There are different options you can think of. Keep in mind that the more (active!) engagement you have on your account, the more likely the brand will be interested to work with you solely through Instagram promotion via feed and stories. Especially as a small account you should rather use your feed as a public business card for your skills and focus on offering these as a service to the company.
Think about how much your service is worth. Are you satisfied to receive a free product? Do you expect one or three nights complementary stay at a hotel? What affiliate marketing rate can you accept? What can you charge for your service? Dare to experiment how high you can go before a partner rejects. It’s trial and error and the more frequent you practice negotiations the quicker and more comfortable you will learn what works and what doesn’t.
5. Be time conscious for an Instagram collaboration
We noticed that the timing for which we suggest a collaboration to a company can be a major determinant for whether our offer will get accepted or not.
For hotel collaborations we recommend to approach the hotel 2-3 weeks before your intended stay. The reason is that this time will give the hotel sufficient time to handle your request and you to follow up in case you don’t receive a response immediately. Also, getting in touch with the hotel 2-3 weeks before, will give you time to arrange another collaboration or book something out of your own pocket in case your offer gets rejected.
We have also tried to approach hotels on last minute basis 1-3 days before the date of the intended stay. While such a deal can be quite lucrative for the hotel because the room is likely to remain empty, it turned out to be too short notice. We often could not get in touch with the responsible decision maker to make the deal happen in time.
For collaborations that involve product reviews, take into account the delivery times for planning the time line for you collaboration. You don’t want to receive a beach towel when you’re actually about to go on a hiking trip.
Also, take into account seasonal peak times. Try to think from the hotels perspective, when would be the best time for them to collaborate with you.
6. Draft an email
Your email is your moment to shine and you should make sure that your pitch is convincing and includes all information that is needed for the receiver to make a decision.
This is what the email should include:
- The reason why you’re writing this email and why you selected them as an ideal partner
- An introduction of you with focus on your online presence and reach (Instagram account, online blog, number of followers, website traffic if you would like to mention, etc.)
- Previous achievements and collaborations (if any)
- What you can offer and how your offer will create value for them
- What you expect in return
- When you expect to receive an answer
- Your contact information
Below you can see an example of an email we sent to a potential partner, which led to a collaboration.
7. Get the contact details of the marketing manager
Keep in mind that hotels and brands are organizations in which people have designated responsibilities and roles. Your collaboration request will need to arrive in the hands of the marketing (or in some cases sales) manager of the organization.
In most cases the email of the marketing manager is not easy to find immediately. Don’t worry. In this case we advice you to send your email to the general contact email of the company. Typically your email will be forwarded internally. However, we do suggest you to follow up with the hotel or brand via phone and ask whether your email has been forwarded to the responsible person. Ask to be reconnected or write down their contact details, so you can follow up once more directly.
8. Follow up
You might not like to receive “kindly reminder emails” yourselves, however they have proven to work very well in our communication efforts with potential clients.
People nowadays get swamped with emails and your email might have drowned somewhere in the depths of someone’s inbox. Don’t hesitate to send a follow up email 3 days after your first email – in fact we encourage you to do so!
What works best for us is to investigate phone numbers and call up the marketing manager to ask whether they had the chance to read your email already. This gives you the chance to introduce yourself and pitch your email directly.
Following up and getting into an active conversation with the potential partner has proven to double our success rate. So it would be a shame not to do it!
9. Be confident
This one sounds very trivial but it’s actually the piece of advice that we couldn’t stress often enough. There might always be the fear in the back of your mind that you’re not good enough or not big enough, that’s normal.
Don’t let those concerns prevent you from trying! After all, what can happen?
Your mail might not be answered. – So what?! No feedback is also a form of feedback, which you can take to think about how you can improve and continue trying with another partner.
Eventually you will find somebody that sees you as a fit for their brand and that will be your stepping stone to the next collaboration and the next brand deal.
Keep this in mind: The biggest reason why people fail is because they don’t try, and the reason why they don’t try is because they lack confidence. Let us tell you this. There will always be doubts, you will always think you might not be there yet. Get out of your head and just try! You will be surprised where your courage will lead you to.
Our recommendation for a successful Instagram collaboration
The tips above are based on our own experience. We are no Instagram coaches or collaboration gurus, we simply wrote down what has proven to work for us.
If you are looking for good lessons and trainings on how to grow your Instagram account with proven techniques, we recommend you to watch the Youtube videos of Vanessa Lau. Vanessa is an online business coach who grew her business to 6 figures value and is teaching millennials to become successful online entrepreneurs. We love her practical and relatable advice for rock starting your online business through social media. Make sure to check her out.