A natural progression and ticking off a few dreams…
It’s been a little while since I wrote a personal update on this blog, but I know a few people like knowing what goes on behind the scenes! I definitely do with my blog pals.
In January next year I’ll be celebrating five years of travel blogging. FIVE YEARS! Something which began as a little passion project has developed into my life, my career and my first business (unless you count my entrepreneurial skills as a teenager when I used to wash cars!)
As with any job, there have been ups and downs, highs and lows and all that jazz. I’ve also had a lot of proud moments. The moment I was offered my first press trip. The year I spent as a Visit England ambassador and the honour of being a Lonely Planet Trailblazer. The opportunity to travel to incredible destinations including Japan, Hawaii, Dominica, Italy, Morocco, Canada and more! There have been money worries (hello freelance life) and panics over 5-10 year life plans (nope, still no clue). There have been days of feeling grateful, and others of wondering why I don’t just have an office job like my friends.
Five years on
But five years on, I’m happy 90% of the time, still adore travelling and immensely proud of what I’ve created. When my mum asks how the traffic to my blog is, she laughs and recalls the early days when I celebrated a few hundred views a month, while I now hit almost 200,000 a month.
Hang on a minute… five years of travel blogging? But the longest I’ve ever been in a job is five or six years (in my days as a radio producer) and I remember the itch I got towards the end…
So is this my way of telling you I’m changing careers? Nope! All that build up for nothing eh?! SORRY! However, there are a few minor changes coming. Nothing noticeable, but things that are valuable for my own wellbeing and motivation.
When I started my blog it was to share stories from my backpacking trip around Central America. I planned the adventure from scratch, and learned a lot about myself along the way. I remember the months saving up for it and the excitement when I finally booked it. I also recall the feeling of satisfaction when I handed in my notice and my internal hunger to see the world.
After that adventure I couldn’t wait to travel more and develop my blog. Then the money ran out.
I couldn’t spend all my money on travel – I had to survive, pay rent etc. Around the same time, interest was growing in my blog. I pitched to travel brands, worked every hour I could, scored my first few press trips and started to earn some pocket money.
Over the next few years I went on numerous press trips, started to be paid by brands to create content for their latest campaigns, and watched as advertising and affiliate income (where I earn a small fee if anyone books hotels or experiences via my site) boomed. It was amazing to think this had grown out of a passion project.
Yet, I had one thing niggling away at me.
I wasn’t 100% in control of where I was going. Emails would come in with enticing campaigns to destinations that had never been on my bucket list. Suddenly my months were filling up with travels that interested me (that travel bug eh!) but didn’t excite me to the core like my initial backpacking adventures. There were loads of places I was dying to visit, but I wondered if I’d ever get around to it.
Don’t get me wrong, press trips are amazing. Usually they provide me with an incredible overview of a destination, highlighting the top things to see and do, great restaurants and more. I leave with everything I need to create informative blog content that hopefully helps you guys. I’m aware though, that the destination hosting me is showing me the best of the best, and that perhaps an independent trip would bring a few other things to light.
Not losing track
With the business side going better than ever, I had a new dream. To reinvest some of my monthly passive income and go back to basics. To plan my own travels, visit places I’ve dreamed of seeing and create content with no sign of #ad or #sponsored. Authenticity is really important to me, and something I’m keen to keep at the forefront of this blog. I’ve turned down quite a few jobs over the last few months that didn’t fit with my blog or style, despite the £££ being very enticing. I figure every good business reinvests money from time to time, so this is my way of doing that.
Am I turning my back on travel campaigns, press trips or working with brands? No, because I adore getting stuck into new projects and working with my favourite long-term clients. They often challenge me in new ways and encourage me to develop my skills (particularly in video). I just want to enjoy a mix of both. To not lose sight of why I love travelling, blogging and why I started out on this crazy journey.
Will you, as a reader of this blog notice a difference in what you see… probably not, although I hope my passion for travelling is as infectious as ever!
It’s all about now
And do you know what? It starts tomorrow!!
Tomorrow I’m flying to Valencia for my first independent blog mission. As you know I adore Spain. It’s one of my favourite countries and I’ve been dying to visit Valencia for bloody ages! Everyone I know seems to have been and then return raving about it.
I’ve paid for flights and an apartment, booked a few things that really interest me and made a rough plan of what I want to see and do. I’m going solo too – something I’m also keen to incorporate a little more, as I’ve always been an advocate for solo female travel. Unfortunately the weather isn’t looking like it’ll be playing ball, but I’m so excited to be going that I know I’ll make the best of it. These trips will be content creation trips, so it’s not an excuse for a holiday, although I will be seeing the city more as a tourist, in an independent and unfiltered way.
Other places I’m keen to visit on future independent content creation trips include San Sebastian, Palma, Montenegro, Florence, Lisbon, Porto, Malta and The Philippines. Where would you like to see me go, or where would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading this post, and for following my crazy journey so far. I’m so grateful to you for being part of it!
If you want to read more about my travel blogger journey, check out these posts:
From travel blog to business: How I make money (and how much!)
12 things I wish I’d known when I started my travel blog
An ode to being a travel blogger in 2019
Travel blogger press trips: The lowdown
My blogging appraisal