Tomiko Harvey is an African American Travel Blogger and Tennessee based Digital Marketer and Content Creator, the founder of Passports & Grub. She is also a wife, mom, and daughter, plus she has a day job that allows her to have soap, water, electricity, and let us not forget food. Her family loves adventures of any kind whether it’s traveling to the Amalfi Coast or exploring our own backyard and they make sure they seek out adventure and adventure in every destination. As a woman of color, she also works to ensure that black travelers are represented in the travel industry.
Give us your back story. How did you get involved in travel writing and what’s the focus of your blog?
I started Passports & Grub in honor of my late brother Marco. Marco passed away at the age of 22 in his sleep from a heart attack. After my brother passed away I realized life really is too short to wait until you retire, your kids are off to college, or even until you find a significant other to travel and see the world.
I made a promise to Marco that I would travel in honor of him and I would explore all the countries that he wanted to visit.
Many travel bloggers are full-time nomads or they’ve given up the day job to fully go pro. What has it been like doing the travel blogging on the side as a second job?
Travel is truly my passion and while I do have a full time as a marketing manager my blog doesn’t feel like work. I find myself working on my blog for hours and before I know it is late afternoon and time for me to pick my daughter up from school. When you do something you love it truly doesn’t feel like work.
Where would you like to go with your writing in the future—any big goals or plans?
For my 50th birthday next year I would love to visit Palermo, Spain for the running of the bulls and I would also love to explore different countries in Africa.
You recently spoke at TBEX North America on how to pitch to partners and potential advertisers. Can you give us a couple of takeaways from that?
I think most content creators are afraid of pitching because they are scared to hear NO! Rejection is a part of life and we all hear no on a daily basis. Once content creators get over the fear of No it becomes much easier to pitch to brands.
Content Creators must tailor each pitch to the brand they want to collaborate with and show how they are of value, including how they can drive growth and bring incremental revenue to the destination. For me, in every pitch I use the fact that black women spend $55 billion dollars on travel annually and I ask the brand if they are missing out on revenue by not marketing to women of color. It is our job to educate brands on why they should work with us.
Brands and destinations that want to work with travel bloggers often look first at the numbers: readers, followers, subscribers. You said you don’t put your stats in your media kit. Why, and what has been the reaction to that?
I am in the minority on this school of thought and I have not had a brand yet to turn me down because of my numbers. This goes back to showing value and doing your homework on the brand before you pitch. Go to their website and look at what they are focusing on for the next quarter or next year and incorporate that into your pitch.
Content creators have to also remember that the marketing person they are pitching to has performance evaluations like the rest of us, so how can you help them reach their numbers?
Which place you’ve been to the past few years has surprised you most–to the upside or downside. Why?
The Czech Republic jumped up to one of my favorite destinations. I was completely blown away by the kindness, hospitality, food, and the culture. I visited this little town about 3 hours from Prague called Olomouc and I completely fell in love. The town of Olomouc is quaint and it feels like Prague without all of the tourists and overcrowding.
How do you like to travel?
I am a self-confessed travel junkie and I love to slowly immerse myself in other cultures by spending time with locals, eating where they eat, or simply just trying to understand someone else’s point of view.
For me it’s not about just ticking an item off my bucket list and quickly moving on to the next destination – I don’t find this kind of travel fulfilling. I like to travel slow, to experience different cultures and to learn from them. This will help me become not only a better person, but the absolute Best Travel blogger out there and create kick-ass stories for my readers and great content for my clients!
See Tomiko Harvey’s work at her blog Passports & Grub. You can also find her on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and other channels. Catch up with her in person at the next Travel Bloggers Exchange conference on either side of the Atlantic. In 2020, she and I will be joint conference directors designing the educational sessions at TBEX North America.