The other day while I was waiting in my car to pick-up my daughter from school, I quickly went through my emails and almost skimmed over one very very important one. The email started off by saying – Hi Melanie We would like to invite you and your family as guests to a 3-night/4-day experience at Walt Disney World Resort in March 2018. My initial reaction was – Wait, what! I mean, does this really happen? If this is real, then this would be the second time a big brand emailed us about taking a trip. Just 6 months ago we went on an 8-day cruise with Royal Caribbean. I kept reading the email again and again just to be sure that I wasn’t missing something. The email went on to say – This invitation includes round-trip airfare within the continental U.S. for you and your family members, airport transfers in Orlando, three nights lodging at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, on-property transportation, theme park admission during your stay and most meals for you and your guests. The next thing I looked for was who the email was from – my heart almost skipped a beat when I saw that the email from was someone with a @disney.com email address.
We are getting excited about our upcoming trip to #disneyworld! Our family was invited as special guests for an upcoming Blogger family event! We are being flown to FL to stay in one of their resorts for 4 days to visit all the parks! We are so grateful for this opportunity and couldn’t be more excited! Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel (link in bio) because I’ll be posting some vlogs on the trip!
If you’re reading this then you’re probably a blogger interested in getting a trip sponsored. After sharing my excitement via Instagram and Facebook, I got a lot of messages from other bloggers asking for advice and tips on how to get noticed by brands, what my pitch was, how I went about it, etc. And if you read my blog then you know that I love helping out fellow bloggers, I even have an entire how-to blogging category on the blog. Let me start off by saying that t I have never pitched a company for a trip before. Both Royal Caribbean and Disney contacted me directly and I will go into more details below about what I know.
Royal Caribbean sent me a direct message via Instagram in July of 2017. They asked if I was available specific dates for travel and then asked that, if my family and I were available those dates, to leave my email because they wanted to discuss an opportunity. A few days later I received an email from the Royal Caribbean team with an invitation for my family and I to join them on an 8-day cruise during the solar eclipse. (see our recap here)
So here is what I know about the feedback I received from working with this company. They obviously found me via Instagram and they liked my photography, more specifically mentioned – how I captured the candidness of our family. Photography seemed very important to them. It was mentioned in my “welcome packet” and repeatedly on the trip. They told me they loved the rawness, the candidness, the realness of my images and how they didn’t seem staged. Throughout the entire trip, I had to meet with “content creators” that helped me plan out my social media posts – what and when to post, based on the images that I had captured thus far. At the end of the trip, I gave the company a hard drive with all my raw images + video for them to use for advertising purposes. My family and I were not the only influencers invited on this special cruise. We went with a group of other influencers and I quickly came to see that they were all amazingly talented and all brought some kind of talent to the table that RC was seeking. You can see my announcement post with tags to the other influencers below.
And just like that – we’re off! ☀ Day 1: We learned of a surprise #gameofthrones guest on the #royalcaribbean ship that we will find out who, tomorrow during the #solareclipse, ? please be Jon Snow ??? ? We are also meeting the rest of the influencers tonight at a Team dinner. They’re all amazing #photographers ? and #cinematographers from around the world (Russia, Canada, Ecuador) ?? I’m truly honored to be included in a list of such talents! Here are their Instagrams, you have to go follow them! @mindz.eye @vagabondhearts @lukebarrow7 @trimbleezy @robertoochoahe @dmitrycoolcoconut Follow me to follow along via #instastories too ? #travelblogger #royalcaribbean #oasisoftheseas #ad
Here is a video from Dimitry who was another influencer on the trip – his talent was that he’s an amazing astro photographer + cinematographer. The experience was amazing as you can clearly see some of what we witnessed from the boat. This was very much a “working cruise” and I was also paid for my work on our trip.
So based on all this, here are my thoughts…
If you look at my Instagram feed you’ll see that I don’t have the perfect photos. I don’t plan or style every photo that I post. Most of the time you can see toys on the floor that didn’t get picked up or pillows that have been thrown about. I don’t always have the best engagement because I am not on Instagram every day trying to pick the perfect photo or come up with the perfect caption or the perfect time to post. I don’t plan out my feed. I post when I want to and if I see a photo opp, I take it and don’t waste time trying to perfect it. Most of my Instagram photos are iPhone captures unless they’re taken from a blog post. I don’t have white walls or the popular farmhouse decor or pay to have professional photos taken. This reminded me of an article that I read not too long ago – Has Instagram Come Full Circle about the perfect Instagram feed and how that may be changing. Food for thought….
When it comes to our Disney trip, I can’t say exactly how the company found me because it literally just happened last week. I haven’t had time to meet with anyone for anything other than through emails to coordinate our flights. Someone asked me if I thought that I had fallen on their radar after a post and video on our YouTube Channel that I did for Disney Pixar’s Coco through a through a blogging network. That could be entirely true! I have no idea how Disney found me but I will update this post once I learn more. If it’s true that Disney found me through a post that I did with a blogger network then my advice to you would be this – If I had to choose whether to spend hours of the day writing blog posts or sending newsletters to my email subscribers or spend hours on social media, I will 110% tell you to always spend your time writing for your blog. Always give 110% on your blog posts and treat your blog as if it’s the main entree and your social channels are the side dishes. Your social channels should be there to support your blog but your blog should be your priority. Your blog link backs are important. Brands want that. Instagram posts go by so fast and people will forget that awesome photo you posted a week ago, but your blog will always be there, your blog is searchable and makes you easier to find.
The other thing that I have noticed is that the invitations I received for these trips were for specific events. For Royal Caribbean, I went with several other influencers for the solar eclipse event. For Disney, I am going with other influencer families for a special Blogger Family Event. So it appears that these large companies put together special events specifically for Influencers and then they search the web for who and what they’re looking for. Once I come back from Disney, I will be able to update this post with more info from that trip.
I will say one last thing about sponsored trips and that is that they happen really really fast. When Royal Caribbean contacted me we had about 1-month notice to plan and for my husband to schedule his days off at work. With Disney, we have about three weeks, so it seems as though you do have to be somewhat flexible in order to take these trips. The last thing that I will say is that just like anything when it comes to blogging, everything takes time. I have been blogging for 5 years now and I had my first sponsored trip in August of last year. It takes time but the hard work has been worth it. Blogging has taken my family and I places that we would have never ever expected and has given our family so many blessings year in and year out. So keep with it, keep working hard, don’t give up and I promise you, all the hard work will pay off!