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It has now been one year since I left my office job to be a full-time travel blogger and be fully nomadic!
As a quick recap in case you don’t know much about me and my journey- I’ve been travelling on and off since 2010. The Summer of 2010 is when my travel bug bit and between 2010 and 2018 I worked office jobs, saved and travelled on repeat including living in Australia for 2 years and London for 2.5 years.
I started this travel blog in 2014 as a hobby, I realised people actually made money from blogging in 2016, I made the decision to step up my game in 2017, I started making money from it in 2017 and I’ve been dedicated to growing it ever since.
Even when I moved to London in 2016 after a 4 month trip in South East Asia I knew I wanted to go backpacking again and this time for a long time to alll of the places in the world that I wanted to visit (which is a lot!). So I saved money and worked hard on this blog until I started to see it grow.
I stayed in London a bit longer than I thought all so that I would be in a good position to travel again soon but this time, with the plan and the hope of making money as I travel, because that’s the dream right.. so after one year, how is it going??
Well, here are 7 points that round up the main topics of what the last year has been like for me. The things I’ve battled with, the lessons I’ve learned, the realisations I’ve had and what I’m going to focus on in year two.
1 Year Full-Time Blogging
Money – Spending Savings Vs Making Money.
Let’s start with the juicy stuff first, money!
I said at the very start that I felt like I had imposter syndrome from saying I’m a full-time blogger when I’m not making a full-time wage and this is still how I often feel because for me, saying I blog full time does all come down to how much money I’m making.
I had a good chunk of savings in my bank account when I left my job last summer and after 8 months of constant full-time travel paying for everything myself bar 6 weeks when I was on tours and had things covered, I will honestly say that in the last year I haven’t broken even on how much I spent vs how much I earned, and that’s ok!
Firstly- these savings were for travel and this year I’ve visited so many places I had been desperate to visit for so many years (India, China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea for example) and I don’t regret that money going on travel at all.
Secondly – I have been earning money, which means I’ve broken even much more than I would have if I hadn’t been earning money online this year and it has been amazing seeing my bank account be topped up with payments throughout the year.
Thirdly – it’s still year one and I’ve not been sat at my laptop for 40 hours a week! I’ve been travelling extensively through 9 Asian Countries plus many European Countries and year one was all about the travel with travel being a priority anyway.
With that being said, I’ve had a pretty a good few months of income this summer and right now I think I’m in a position where year two will mean breaking even pretty much each month which is really great. Of course, this will depend on where I travel to but I see India and South East Asia in my future plans which are very affordable.
There’s no set ‘ full-time blogger salary’, everyone earns something different and that’s ok, but for me, I think it’s important I start to focus on what I want to be earning so I have an aim and can be proud once I get there.
My Year 2 Focus: I’ve recently worked out that my main money aim in the next year is to be making the same money I made in my last job in London. I know that I’ll never make the same amount of money each month in blogging as they’ll be rises and falls throughout the year but the average of this amount is my current aim so that it covers my lifestyle of travel and enables me to save money too.
I’m No Longer Working For Free.
The main reason the last few months have been good for me income wise is down to Ad & Affiliate Revenue. Last Summer my goal was to reach 30K sessions so I could apply for Mediavine which puts ad’s onto my site. My page views and sessions have been increasing pretty rapidly since mid-2017 which I’m really proud of and in October 2018 as I started my Asia trip I got accepted into Mediavine. (9 months later and I’m on 55K sessions.)
My monthly ad revenue from Mediavine started at $150, increasing to $250, $350 and then took a jump to $550 and $650. Last month (June) I was only $32.00 off making $1000.00 from the ads which I’m really happy about and it’s amazing knowing that the work I’m doing to increase my page views is showing in the increase in ad revenue and falls into my bank account each month.
Last year that it felt like I was working for free a lot of the time and even as I worked for 3 weeks straight based in a co-working space in Malaysia in February, it still felt like I was working for free which can be super disheartening. But now that my higher Mediavine payments are coming in (they pay 3 months out), and the payments are getting larger I feel like I’m no longer working for free which motivates me to work even more and harder.
This also goes for affiliates. I’m no affiliate pro that’s for sure but in the last 3 months, I’ve had some bigger payments come through from Booking.com and Get You Guide which has installed my confidence that there is definitely money to be made I can make it too.
My Year 2 Focus: To focus on growing my page views because I want to consistently improve my ad revenue and become an affiliate pro to increase my affiliate revenue.
Balancing Work & Travel.
This one has been tough but I knew it would be. I knew I’d have to give myself an extra 1-2 days in each place I visited to work so that I’d still have time to sightsee too. Sometimes that worked out perfectly, other times it wasn’t so ideal, or still wasn’t enough time.
It sounds spoilt but the reality is, sitting in bed upright because there’s no desk in the room, sitting in a cafe drinking a coffee you don’t want just because there’s wifi, being hot and sweaty with legs sticking to an uncomfortable chair in said cafe with bad wifi doesn’t make it easy or ideal. I’ve wasted so much time looking for the right cafe or waiting for good internet but I guess that’s just part of the game.
My Year 2 Focus: Going forward, the way I intend to try and make this easier is to prioritise my accommodation and prioritise paying more on accommodation for something decent so I can work from there rather than going to cafes all the time.
I also plan to search for more co-working spaces in year 2 and to plan a few weeks every few weeks to stay in one place to catch up on work and get a routine. In the last year, the only time I stayed somewhere for a long period to work was in Malaysia for 3 weeks and I loved living there in Georgetown in an Airbnb, going to an office every day, having a desk, having a regular lunch spot and a routine, so more of that, please!
Do I Want To Do Freelance Work or Not?
This is a thought I have had a lot in the last year. The thing is is that a lot of people who are full-time bloggers make part of their income from freelancing and not purely from their blog/youtube channel.
They Copywrite, they do SEO for clients, write for other publication, manage social media for clients etc, which is totally fine and amazing for them, but this has made me question whether I need to do that in order to be making the full-time income I want to make. Can you make it all through your own platforms or do you need to have clients and something extra?
The thing is is that I’ve never done SEO for someone else, or any copywriting, or social media management, so I wouldn’t be confident in applying for these jobs and I’ve had some serious doubts about whether I can make this work without it even though I don’t know what I’d do!
Luckily each time I have this thought and had the battle in my mind I’m able to bring myself back. I bring myself back to why I’m doing what I’m doing right now. Pure and simply – I want to travel, I want to see the world, I want to do my own thing, build my own empire and be free. And in my opinion, from what I have seen, having freelance clients really restricts that.
I’ve met people travelling and freelancing and they can only go places with good wifi as they need to do client work, they need a set amount of time online each week to do client work, they have to prioritise client work over their blog and that’s not what I want to do.
I couldn’t have gone on a 3.5 week tour around China and 2 back to back Contiki Tours in Thailand with barely any time or decent wifi to work if I had client work to do, I couldn’t have rocked up to an island in Malaysia which turns out barely has wifi and stayed for 6 days because I loved it if I needed to work for someone else, and I truly believe I couldn’t have grown my blog as much as I have in the last year whilst working for someone else because my time and energy would be focused on client work.
My Year 2 Focus: Things may change sure, but right now and as of recently, I have no thoughts in my mind about freelance work. I don’t want to do it and the money I’ve been earning the last few months and the opportunities I see in my future all equate to the fact that I can make this work without doing client work that I don’t like doing and that restricts me.
Plus, in terms of looking for extra income to support myself and branching out my revenue streams, instead of freelancing that’s what my tours will be for, which will be much more fun and rewarding! ; )
If you don’t know what I mean about tours, I’m running a Women’s 2 Week Group Tour to India in January!
Making Money Online Really Means You Can Do it Anywhere.
Here’s the good stuff. The freedom this life gives is everything! Although I felt totally free whilst travelling around Asia it’s only been since coming back home to the UK this Summer that I’ve realised I really do have the freedom to go anywhere and work anywhere. (Although I’m still searching for the cheapest flights and complaining about high flight prices.. old habits die hard I guess!)
I recently went to Barcelona with 4 days notice because I could, I accepted a week press trip to Dominica fairly last minute because I was free. As of writing this now I literally have no other trips booked which means by August I could be back in India, I could be in Sri Lanka, I could be in Bali, I could be in Wales! Who Knows!
For me, this is the best thing. This is what I have been dreaming about for years. I wanted the freedom time-wise and money wise to go wherever I want in the world and making money online through travel blogging gives me that!
My Year 2 Focus: I really want to make the most of this again in year 2, I want to travel, travel, travel, but I also want to be able to make spontaneous decisions on what I do and where I go because I am free to do that. What’s the point in working for yourself with no responsibilities and no ties if you can’t be spontaneous now and again hey?
Home isn’t Home.
This is a very recent realisation that I’ve had. After quitting my job and leaving London I went to my mum’s for a few weeks to work between UK and Europe travels, then I left for 8 months straight to travel around Asia. It was nice to come back in June for a few weeks and I’m so so grateful that I do have a ‘home’, a base, and somewhere I can come back to anytime, but this isn’t my home and at 29 years old I don’t want to be living with my parents. I went to London the other day and that’s not home either as I’m just crashing with friends, which is again nice, and I’m so lucky, but it’s not ideal.
I don’t need a pity party, this is the life I have chosen but this feeling has left me itching to get back to full-time travel because that’s what feels like home to me, that’s my life now and I miss the independence of that.
My Year 2 Focus: I guess I just need to remember over the next few years that yes I have somewhere in England to come back to, unpack and repack but I really shouldn’t plan on spending that much time at ‘home’ in England as that’s not my life now.
This isn’t Temporary, This is Now My Life.
On that note, perhaps the biggest shift in the last year and the one that feels most amazing is that one year ago I didn’t know whether I’d be able to keep this up and make this my full career and life. Let’s be honest, I still don’t know whether I can keep it up, but I do feel much more positive about it now.
A year ago I had plans to go to Canada before I was 31 to get my working holiday visa there. Now? I still want to go to Canada but I don’t want to go there to work a 9-5 for someone else which means I don’t technically need the working holiday visa and honestly if my future looks like I see it, I won’t have to.
When I got back to my mums the other week my Brother made a joke comment about me sitting at the kitchen table all day on my laptop saying ‘you need to go out and get a job not sit there all day ‘, I said ‘this is my job’ and he said ‘yeah I know’. Something about that hit me because yes, this is my job and even my younger Brother could see that too.
Last year it was a case of- I have money saved, I have a blog that’s making me some money and has the potential to make me more, let’s travel, see what happens because I can’t really fail. And although I still feel like that because I’m still seeing the world which is my dream and I now make money whilst doing that, I have a much stronger desire to never let this end. Right now, I don’t want to go back to working for someone else in a job I don’t like. That’s extra pressure yep, but it feels good and I know I can do it!
My Year 2 Focus: This time next year I want to be fully confident that this is my career and life, no more imposter syndrome. I also want another business running alongside my blog which right now looks like a tour company so we’ll have to see how my India Tour in January goes won’t we! ; )
I know this has turned out pretty wordy but I guess I had a lot to say and I wanted to write it all down so I can look back on it next year too.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this, once again and as always, I just want to be totally honest because I know that so many people want to do what I have done and I don’t want to show an unrealistic or untrue side, but I can wholeheartedly say one year later that the leap of faith was worth it!
I’m so so so lucky and grateful that I’m in a position to give this a go to make this my life and career. I’m so thankful for all the supportive people I know through the blogging, social media and travel community too, so thank you!!