It’s been a month since my friend Meghan (also my model muse on this trip) and I took off for the South of France with Air Transat, a trip from Toronto to Marseille which gave us total flexibility to explore the vibrant city as we wished. I already penned my love letter to the city on this blog, but I wouldn’t be able to leave the experience in the memory of Instagram without also sharing a guide to the place I fell so hard for. And as I write this post and sort through my hundreds of photos, I’m brought back to the terrace of our Airbnb in the bohemian quarter, with the sunset casting a warm glow over the streets below and sounds of our neighbours clinking glasses and laughing over cheese plates.
And while I would love to give you a comprehensive guide to the best of everything Marseille has to offer, my five days there simply weren’t enough. A month wouldn’t have been enough. Because the city is so old, so complex, and vast with diverse neighbourhoods, each with its own vibe and hidden gems.
So instead, I leave you with some unforgettable memories of my trip, from the restaurants we spent lazy afternoons dining at, to the day trips that took us to some incredible places all within an hour of the city.
Growing up, I was super fortunate that my parents prioritized travel.
Whenever they went on trips, whether it was back home to Scotland or hitting up the beaches of Cuba, they always trucked my sister and I along for the ride, wanting to expose us to the things they never experienced growing up. Those lessons built up a keen interest in exploring different parts of the world, different cultures and different traditions. I even ended up working in the travel industry, further fueling my wanderlust and grasping the opportunity to explore incredible countries around the world from Cambodia to Greece to Italy and Costa Rica.
But it wasn’t until I moved back to Toronto from the UK a couple of years ago that I took the time to explore my own country. Prior to that, I had only been to Vancouver once for a conference and Montreal for music festivals. DAT’S. IT. Even though I’ve always been a very proud Canadian, I never had the desire to explore my own backyard when instead I could go to culture-rich destinations like France or Thailand or Hungary. Canada seemed too familiar, too safe and not different enough.
Well, let me just be the first to say that I was wrong. Oh, so very wrong.
Of all the questions I get asked as a full-time content creator, one of the most common from beginner bloggers is: “How do you pitch brands?”
Working on brand partnerships for my blog and social media has been my main source of income over the past two years. Although I have plans for expansion of This Renegade Love (because you should never get too comfortable with an income that relies on your popularity), collaborating with brands has been an excellent way for me to create some awesome content, and also generate an income doing something I love.
Although now most of the pitches come to me, in the early days, I had to hustle to get my name out there and pitching my ideas to brands was just part of the daily process. I was lucky to have had an extensive background in marketing and PR, so over time I gained a solid understanding of what a good pitch looked like and what a terrible one looked like.
And whenever bloggers reach out to ask, I’m happy to share my strategies and tips to get them started on the right path. Because the thing is…. it’s not easy. You have one shot to make a great first impression, and if you don’t have a clue how to approach it, you can end up overwhelmed and totally flustered.
To help navigate the current landscape, I reached out to three PR pros in Toronto who have worked in the industry for years, asking them to provide tips on how bloggers can pitch brands their ideas for collaboration:
These savvy PR professionals have seen hundreds (maybe thousands) of pitches come their way over the years, and have offered up some of their best tips on everything from initial outreach to what you should be including in your pitch.
Before I post a guide on my recent trip to Marseille, I think it’s necessary for me to write a love letter to the city first.
Because the thing is, Marseille doesn’t get a lot of love. It’s historically been a city that the rest of France turns their nose up at, a train stop on the way to the beaches in the South. Perform any Google search and you’ll find articles on Marseille’s grittiness, its reputation for being rough around the edges, an old and crumbly city with graffiti everywhere, much less beautiful than its counterparts of Paris or Lyon.
But here’s the thing:
That grittiness, that rawness, that unabashed authenticity – that’s what makes it beautiful.