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The word “blogger” often underestimates the amount of work that goes into creating content online. Content creaters and social media influencers, such as Lauren Monitz, prefer to call themselves digital storytellers.

Monitz, a travel and food writer and social media influencer with 180K+ followers, has bylines around the web from The Huffington Post and USA Today to Eater and The Food Network. She is the face behind the site, or should we say blog, called The DownLo, and in an exclusive interview, tells us all about her career.

You are a travel influencer with 180K followers across your different social media accounts, and creator the of The DownLo blog. How did you start making a career out of blogging?

Taroko National Park, Taiwan | Photo courtesy of Lauren Monitz

Well for one, I don’t say I’m a blogger. I’m a digital storyteller. My blog is just one of the tools I use for collaborations. I started in-house at a travel publisher to learn the ins and outs of the industry before going off on my own. While you want to strategically grow your accounts (Instagram is my personal favorite), you also want to diversify your distribution channels.

What tips do you have for aspiring travel bloggers in terms of creating a personal brand?

The travel influencer market is so oversaturated. Figure out what makes you different and tell that story. For me, it’s offbeat adventures. I love to seek out the weird and wacky from blackwater rafting in New Zealand to becoming a certified Viking in Iceland.

The traveler sees what he sees | Photo courtesy of Lauren Monitz

You have worked with countless brands, including Lufthansa, Taiwan Tourism, Amtrak, Visit Macon, and Samsonite. How do you approach these brands? What kinds of collabs do you work on?

Most of those brands reached out to me, but if I want to go somewhere or am already going somewhere I’ll pitch the local tourism boards. This entails emailing the destination marketing organization a partnership proposal that includes social media promotion and content creation at different tiers. I only work with brands that align with my personal interests and would appeal to my audience of outdoor lovers and foodies. Trust me when I say I turn down way more offers than I take.

Flamingo | | Photo courtesy of Lauren Monitz

How much can aspiring travel bloggers can paid for such collabs?

That depends on your audience and your negotiation skills. For a single post on Instagram the general rule of thumb is $100 per 10K followers, but that can go up or down depending on your engagement. The real money is in integrated campaigns, which means creating articles, blogs, stories, videos, etc. for a single brand.

What tips do you have for creating media kits? What statistics and facts are essential to include?

A media kit is the resume of the influencer world. It’s the place to make a memorable first impression so make sure it’s well designed and succinct. You always want to include your total reach and engagement, brands you’ve worked with, and basic demographics about your audience. Highlight any standout numbers from your analytics and glowing testimonials and downplay any numbers that aren’t so great.

Athabasca Falls | Photo courtesy of Lauren Monitz

If you want to learn more about any of these topics, I founded the Influencer Institute to teach aspiring influencers the ins and outs of the industry. Our e-book includes everything you need to know from defining your online persona to monetizing your accounts and includes tons of free resources for growing your following. Check it out at

Read Lauren’s website and blog Follow her on Instagram & Twitter.