Esther JuLee and Jacob Fu are best known for exploring local gems on their travel lifestyle site Local Adventurer, but the married bloggers have also become a resource for digital creators looking to recreate their business success, especially their prolific work with brands, like Delta, Airstream and REI.
Just as they share details about their favorite places around the country, the couple shares their knowledge about making money blogging. Jacob explains, “We don’t see [other bloggers] as more competition. We think there’s always space for everybody to come into this. We’ve been through the sweat and tears of growing our site and getting to where we are now, and remember what it was like early on. We want to be a resource and not sell what we do as some sort of glamorous lifestyle that people only see one side of.”
When Esther and Jacob launched Local Adventurer in 2014, they first earned income through affiliate marketing, or making commission from product links to a third-party’s website. Affiliate sales paired naturally with their packing guides and hiking trip posts, where they could link to gear and other products. However, as they shifted to writing city guides, Jacob — who has a background in account management and sales — understood they had to change their monetization strategy. He realized sponsored content would be a better fit. Today, the couple makes about 60% of their six-figure earnings through sponsored content, 30% from ads and 10% from affiliate sales.
With his business background, Jacob is comfortable working with brands, but he knows that not everyone is. “It can be intimidating,” he admits. “It’s a skill you have to work on.” Just as bloggers need to brush up their skills on photography, writing and SEO skills, Jacob emphasizes they should also learn everything they can about negotiating, cold calling, and talking to brands in a professional way.
After partnering with a long list of brands over the years, Jacob has plenty of advice to share. Here are a few tips and insights that will help you get started working with brands.
Quality over quantity
Jacob says creators can get too focused on the number of followers they have, but when it comes to working with brands, it’s more important to focus on the quality of your followers rather than quantity. “If you have 100 dedicated followers, that’s 100 potential customers for a brand,” Jacob explains.