Due to the length of ‘Secrets for Traveling for FREE and Building Your Travel Internet Business’, we’ve split it up into chapters.
Through social media I have come to know many people who have travel blogs, some of which provide readers with insider tips on locations, pictures, video-blogs and blogs. A huge (if not the biggest) predictor of your success will be the quality of your content, how much you can create, and your community. Let me shed some light on this sometimes-overwhelming task with some of my personal insights and struggles.
Almost everyone asks me how I have the means to travel to so much. They ask, “Are you rich?” I just tell them that traveling is my passion and I decided many years ago that it would be something I would do as often as possible for the rest of my life. After investing all my savings to start my venture, I began to look for seed funding so that I could really get things moving. Everyone warned me it would be tough to find the funding I needed, but consistency always prevails. The more investors you contact, the more likely someone will believe in you. The odds are in your favor if you make them to be. For instance, if you call 100 potential investors, perhaps 10 will show interest in giving you money for your business. Out of these 10 there is bound to be a minimum of 1 investor who wants to supply your company with the financial means to survive in this competitive market.
The first few months of Davidsbeenhere.com were hard times during which I waited for someone, anyone to believe in my brand and in me. After 6 months of contacting investors (and sleepless nights) I finally caught the break I was praying for. The rest is history.
You have no idea how many people turned me down when I was calling restaurants and hotels to tell them I was traveling to their city and wanted to feature them but needed everything for free. At the time I had no website, so I really could not blame them for refusing. I learned my lesson the hard way, but now I call to arrange my trips and I have about an 80% success rate with the restaurants and a 95% with the hotels. Since I structured the content on my site in a clear and simple way, I have had continued success with arranging my eating and sleeping arrangements for free.
Once you have various arrangements with restaurants and hotels under your belt, you should start mentioning them to the ones you contact thereafter. The managers you contact will start to view your promotion in a positive light and will want to be part of your special “list.” Between 2007 and 2010 I visited over 400 restaurants and 100 hotels. That means more than 400 restaurant owners and approximately 100 marketing directors thought that letting me eat and sleep for free would be worth more to them than the price of the service.
During my trip through Ecuador in January 2009, my partner and I successfully ate and slept for free throughout the entire trip. We traveled to Quito, Tena, Cuenca, Azogues, Guayaquil, Santa Cruz Island Galapagos, Isabela Island Galapagos and Montanita. We only paid our transportation costs.
If I had not arranged all the restaurants and the hotels that trip would have cost me triple what I spent. You can see by the expense sheet above (and probably by looking at your credit card statements) that transportation is not cheap. By relieving yourself of extra costs like restaurants and accommodations, you are already on your way to a cheaper business trip.
Your content must involve business promotion to some degree if you want to travel for free. Business promotion means you are recommending and endorsing a business to your audience. Here are some examples of titles that indicate niche promotions:
In deciding which businesses you would like to promote, consider the following:
Any responsible business owner will want to know the benefits of being featured, and will have questions about the details of your offer. If you are asking for something for free, you have got to get prepared to answer all the necessary questions. These may include:
The important thing to keep in mind is that you are proposing something of value (exposure/ coverage/ publicity) in return for a cost-free experience. The businesses you contact need to know that by letting you use their services at no cost, this will yield something worth more. In other words, the businesses will want to know why exactly your offer is first-rate. Here are some possible ways to describe how you will showcase the businesses you contact: