We love stories so we asked bunch of questions from Josh Bender irep.ly/travelwithbender
Who you dreamed of becoming when you were a child?
I had high hopes of being a professional basketball player when I was a child – Michael Jordan was my hero. I used to practice everyday. However, once I reached my teen years, my interest in computing became too strong of a lure and I pursued a university degree in Software Engineering.
Josh Bender (Source)
What was your journey to becoming a “social influencer”?
I became an influencer/blogger by accident. My blog was started as a hobby while I ran a successful web design agency. Once I sold my design business I focused all my energy into the blog and it took off and turned into a successful business of it’s own. Having over 17 years in online marketing experience sure helped to gain more followers and reach top rankings in Google. I invested a lot of time into learning and honing my craft – becoming a better writer and photographer. Attending industry events and networking with other bloggers/influencers also helped to establish my presence in the industry. But even today it’s hard to imagine what I’m doing is “work” since I enjoy it so much.
What do you believe what is crucial today to make it as a “social influencer?”
It helps to have strong technical skills in at least 1 field – creative writing, videography, photography, social marketing management or search engine optimisation. I recommend that upcoming influencers focus on developing their craft to the best of their ability. If you want to be an amazing writer, then read as much as you can about copywriting (smartblogger.com is packed with practical tips), invest in your education and practice your skill. Being an influencer also requires having strong values and identity – there’s always trolls ready to try to drag you down, and you have to have a thick skin. But probably the most important tip I can provide is to treat being a social influencer as a business from the beginning. That means when you invest your own money into growing the business, look for the returns. It might not be huge at first, but if you persevere, then it’s only a matter of time.
What brands you would ideally work with and why?
I’ve had the privilege of partnering with hundreds of brands over the years. Most of those on my wishlist have already been fulfilled – OTAs like Expedia and Booking.com, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, car rental agencies, luxury hotel chains, luggage and travel products. I now look for new, relevant products that will excite my audience, and brands that are ready to take their marketing to the next level. Those that see the value social influencers offer, and treat them with respect. This is still such a young industry and a lot of “business norms” are being defined. Services like iReply give influencers control to state their value, and set a benchmark for brands that want to partner with influencers who take their business seriously.