Ready to host or participate in a collab post with other travel bloggers? Learn what to expect, where to find them, and how to successfully run one.
- Intro to Travel Blogger Collab Posts
- What are collab posts?
- Benefits of HOSTING a collab post
- Benefits of PARTICIPATING in a collab post
- Where to find collab post opportunities
- How to successfully host a collab post
- Would I do it again?
I recently published my first collab post on this blog, and I've also contributed to several collab posts hosted by other travel bloggers. Through these experiences I've learned a lot about successfully hosting and participating in collab posts, which I'll share with you below. I first shared this info with members of the Travel is Life Tribe, our private community of professional travel bloggers, and they provided feedback and additional tips which I've included in this post.
What are collab posts?
Collab (or “collaboration”) posts are where you as the blog owner pitch a topic to a group of other bloggers, usually in your niche, who write submissions for your article. The collab post itself is typically a curation of those submissions.
For example, in the collab post I recently hosted entitled 21 Pros & Cons of Being a Professional Travel Influencer, I was looking for insight from other travel influencers about the their business and lifestyle. The end result was a comprehensive resource that offered more perspective to my readers than I would have been able to offer if I had written it by myself. Two examples of collab posts that I've previously participated in are 100+ Filming Locations You Should See in the USA and Tips For Traveling With A Drone.
You can see the trend going on here in the three examples above. All three of those posts are on topics that can be better tackled through the collective minds of multiple travel bloggers. Otherwise the perspective, advice, or destinations presented would've been limited to that of the individual author.
What are the benefits of hosting a collab post?
1) A major benefit for me, like I mentioned above, was that I was able to bring new travelers' perspectives to Travel is Life. Asking folks to write entire guest posts for your website is a big request, but a collab post allows you to create new content and bring new faces onto your website without any individual blogger carrying the burden of writing the entire post themselves.
2) It was a great opportunity to network with other creators in my niche. Everyone who contributed to that particular post runs a fantastic blog and I invited them to join the Travel is Life Tribe.
3) It's new content for your website that you don't have to completely write yourself. However, don't think for a minute that producing new content through a collab posts makes your job any easier. Hosting a collab post was actually way more difficult and time consuming than simply writing an article myself. I'll expand on that point later.
4) Collab posts ideally should help you reach new audiences in your niche because it's customary that each contributor shares the post after it's live on one or two of their social media accounts. At least, that's what the rules are in many of the travel collab groups. Not everyone follows through with the social shares, but in an ideal world, reaching new audiences this way would be a perk of hosting a collab post.
What are the benefits of participating in a collab post?
1) Do follow links. I'll put this one first because let's be honest and admit that this is one of the biggest reasons a lot of travel bloggers participate in collab posts. If you're not familiar with what this means, I'll briefly explain that a “do follow” link indicates to Google that you have content worth linking to from other blogs. It passes on a little SEO juice from their blog to yours.
2) It's faster than writing an entire guest post, but you still get the do follow link. Just don't be too fast about it. Meaning, take the time and energy to write a quality submission same as you would an article on your own blog. Your submission is still a reflection of your brand even though it doesn't appear on your own site.
3) You don't have to skyscrape e-mail other bloggers asking for links or begging to write a guest post for them, because with collab posts opportunities, they are the ones looking for you. I hate most link building practices and don't participate in them. Collab posts are the only form of link building I participate in, but it's not as much for the link as it is for reason #4 below.
4) You can reach a new audience of readers in your niche and build name recognition. If you're working on building a reputation in your industry, collab posts are a great way to put yourself in front of your desired audiences via other people's blogs and build a name for yourself. You shouldn't necessarily expect a ton of referral traffic from the backlink, but it's possible. Like anything, it depends on how interesting of a submission you write as to whether people are incentivized to click over to your blog.
Where To Host or Participate In A Collab Post
1) The easiest way to search for collab opportunities or host your own is to join a few FB groups. I'm part of Paula McInerney's Travel Collab Post Opportunities Facebook Group. I like it because she runs a tight ship in regards to keeping people following the rules, which is the way it needs to be.
2) Travel bloggers in the Travel is Life Tribe occasionally host collab posts too, but we're a smaller group because it's a private community, so we'll often share the collab in a bigger group too in order to get more submissions.
3) There are a number of other groups to join as well, but I can't vouch for them because I haven't participated in any collab posts in other groups yet. Just search “collab groups” or “link building groups” on Facebook and you'll see a whole bunch pop up. You don't have to limit yourself to only participating in travel blogger collabs either. There are some general blogger collaboration and link building groups you'll find as well.
Here are a few to get you started:
- Link Building + Guest Posts + Collabs (Travel Bloggers)
- Travel Writer's Collab
- Catch Me Collaborating for Bloggers + Brands + Photographers
If you've got any other collab groups you suggest, drop a comment at the bottom of this post and share the link to the group.
4) Last but not least, you can simply e-mail a few bloggers in your network or post on your social media and host a collab privately. This is something I plan on doing in the future because I've built such a great network of travel bloggers.
The advice that follows below doesn't necessarily apply to running an invite-only collab, but is more applicable for hosting a collab in one of those groups I mentioned.
Here's what I learned from hosting my first collab post
1) *Participating* in a collab post is much easier than *hosting* one. Much respect to anyone who's done these before because it took a lot of work. It's much easier to spit out a post when you're the only one writing it.
2) Stay organized with a spreadsheet from the beginning. I would have been lost without my spreadsheet, which I shared a screenshot of below. I had columns for Date Submitted, Name, E-mail, FB Page, FB Profile, Description to remind myself which topic they were covering, and Notes because sometimes I asked for edits or follow-ups.
3) Add a Gmail label to the submissions as they come in. This way you can just click on your label later and pull all the submissions up at once without having to search for each submission one by one. Screenshot of this below.
Alternatively, some tribe members mentioned that they prefer to use a Google Form to collect their submissions so that they don't miss any. I thought about using a Google Form, but decided against it because I knew I'd be going back and forth with contributors a few times and it was easier for me to have a separate e-mail thread for each person. But if your collab post doesn't require any revisions, a Google Form might be a better solution for you.
5) Require word count minimums and maximums. Otherwise you'll get the complete spectrum of submissions in regards to word count. Typical word count requirements I've seen have ranged from 150-300 words up to 250-500 words. Remember, you're not asking people to write an entire blog post for you, but you also don't want people writing two lines of text in exchange for a do-follow link. That doesn't do you any good.
6) Request a type, size, and orientation for the photo submissions. People won't instinctively know whether you'd like a photo to include them or not, if you have a preference over landscape vs portrait (or if it doesn't matter), or if you need a minimum size/resolution. If you have specific requirements for the photos submissions, be sure to communicate those ahead of time.
7) Specify how many links you're offering per submission. I naively assumed the standard was one link per person, but I had some people submit posts with up to five links. Luckily none of the folks who submitted more than one link gave me a hard time when I e-mailed them back and limited it to one.
8) A few more things you might want to specify: If authors get a “sign off” sentence or just their name/URL, whether the URL will be clickable, if they can link to a particular blog post or just their homepage, whether that blog post can be of a competing nature, whether they can include that link as anchor text within their submission, whether your post will be commercial or include affiliate links, and whether you'll be editing their submissions. You don't have to necessarily specify all of those things, but if any stand out as important to you, then you'll want to consider including the requirements in your pitch.
9) Include your DA/PR in your pitch. Some groups require this, others don't, but it'll help you get people to respond. If you're not familiar with those terms, DA means “Domain Authority” and is a proprietary score published by Moz.com, and PR means “Page Rank” and is a score that Google created years ago. Folks tend to want to contribute to collab posts of bloggers with a higher DA/PR, but don't let that dissuade you. Everyone's got to start somewhere. You'll notice in the screenshot below that I accidentally wrote “PA” instead of “PR” in my pitch, but I was referring to my Page Rank.
9) Include a featured photo in your pitch. Doing this just helps bring attention to your pitch in the group. Here's what my pitch looked like for the pro/con collab post I reference earlier.
10) Expect a round of revision. I had to ask for a round of revision on about 40% of the submissions to ask for more details, a longer post for not hitting the word count minimum, a different photograph, what they'd like for anchor text on their link, etc. This adds an extra hurdle of communication with contributors that you should plan for in your timeline. And it's another reason to stay extra organized with a spreadsheet so that you know what you're waiting on and from who. I had to follow up with a couple people for their revisions or photographs.
11) Remind people more than once about the deadline as it approaches. I was hesitant to go reminding people because I didn't want to nag them, but most folks either appreciated the reminder or at least didn't mind it. Not everyone is as organized as me or uses Google Calendar religiously, so no-one gave me a hard time with my gentle reminders. In hindsight, I would've scheduled a few more reminders incrementally as the deadline approached. To remind folks I hadn't heard from yet, I tagged them in the comment thread on the FB post about the upcoming deadline. And then towards the end, I had to e-mail a few directly who I never heard back from on Facebook as it got closer to the deadline.
12) Ask for a few more contributions than you need. Even with reminders and personal e-mails, a couple folks didn't come through. I'm glad that I accounted for that possibility in the number of submissions I initially agreed to receive.
13) Deliver on time or communicate otherwise. I failed at this one. I told people the publish date was April 15th but didn't publish it until today April 24th. At first I was behind by just a couple days, but then as it got closer to Easter Weekend, I intentionally delayed publishing until after the holiday. However, I didn't communicate that and I should have.
14) Announce when the post is live. I e-mailed everyone and commented on the thread again to announce that the article had been published.
15) Use BCC if you group e-mail everyone and not CC so that you don't accidentally share everyone's e-mail address with each other. It also avoids that annoying Reply All scenario afterwards. It probably wouldn't be the end of the world if you forgot this step because travel blogging is a close knit community and we're not going to spam each other afterwards, but it's best practice not to share e-mail addresses in group e-mails like that.
16) Have social sharing links ready and included in your e-mail. For example, I included the following:
Pin #1: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/244109242289480561/
Pin #2: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/244109242289480575/
This way people could just Share my FB post, retweet my Twitter status, or rePin my existing Pins on Pinterest – which made it easier to share than having to write their own post from scratch.
17) Follow up about sharing the post. It's customary that each contributor shares the post after it's live on two of their social media accounts. (At least that's the rules in Paula McInerney's Travel Collab Post Opportunities group.) I just published it today, but I imagine that I'll follow up in a few weeks with folks who didn't share it on their social media. I worked hard on the post, and part of the incentive for hosting collabs and offering do follow links is reaching new audiences through the contributors themselves sharing the post. Certainly I'll be respectful and polite (versus interrogative and combative) in my e-mails, but I do plan on following up.
18) Be careful where you host your collabs to avoid poor quality submissions. You need to perform your due diligence within the group before you host a collab because you don't want submissions from just anyone. I assume you want quality submissions, and that begins at posting in a group with quality members. You won't always know what to expect from contributors, and checking out the group beforehand won't always prevent you from getting poor quality posts, so don't be afraid to work with contributors and go through a few rounds of revisions before publishing the post. Leave yourself enough time between the submission deadline and publish date to account for back and forth communication about revisions. Alternatively, you could test the waters on your first collab post with an invite-only collab post reaching from within your own network.
Would I host another collab post?
Probably. I appreciated the perspective that the contributors were able to bring to Travel is Life. It was also a great place to network. Everyone who contributed to this particular post runs a fantastic blog and I invited them to join our Travel is Life Tribe in my e-mail, which many did.
However, I wouldn't host a collab post for “quick and easy content” because that was not the case at all. That wasn't my objective for hosting one, but I definitely thought it'd be easier and less time consuming than it turned out to be. Hosting a collab post is something I'd do again, but not every month!
What advice or questions do you have about collab posts?
Drop a comment below and share your experiences hosting or participating in collab posts. Or if you have any questions, feel free to ask. For more resources about growing your travel blog, check out my Travel Blogger Success Kit.
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