Over the past year of travel blogging, there have been several questions I seem to get again and again, so I figured it best to lay them all out in one fell swoop.
Here ya have it, the heavy hitters:
1- But How Do You Make Money?
I vowed to never write this post because it’s regurgitated with similar answers on every blog on the internet ever, but after being asked this by every person I’ve met in the past year within the first 10 minutes of an intro, I have a better understanding now of why EVERYONE feels the need to break this down — it gets exhausting.
So here goes, you’re getting the long answers:
Before I jumped off the corporate ladder, I was the Account Director of a digital marketing startup, National Sales Manager and held nearly a dozen internships/professional leadership positions/competitive roles in PR, digital and advertising throughout college. I started building a solid base of skills I’d be able to freelance with in 2009, knowing that being tied to an office was never my end goal.
Now, I love marrying those experiences with my passion for travel to support companies in the travel industry in a variety of ways. These include but are not limited to:
- Digital + Creative Strategy
- Freelance Writing + Photography
- Education: Developing Influencer Programs, the Millennial Market, Innovation in the Travel Industry
- Branding, Positioning + Go-to-Market Strategy for Travel Startups
- Blog Life
One day, I’d also love to take on projects about the Power of Play, and Why You Should Go Dancing at Least Once a Week (cognitive acuity, endorphin release, etc.). Making moves there.
Check out my Work With page for more.
B- This Blog
At least for now, I make minuscule amounts of change compared to the sweat equity and management dollars that go into this blog through:
- Affiliate Links
- Sponsored Posts
- Paid Link Placement
Mostly, it serves as a platform to connect with an amazing group of travelers (that’s you!), the travel industry as a whole, and opportunities to do all of the things listed under A.
I am working on adding a storefront to sell personal curated artisanal goods from my adventures here, to share a deeper part of the experience and also give back a percentage to the local communities and support economic development on a community scale. That would have a small profit piece too, for little things like trying to ever think about living alone in San Francisco.
Keep an eye out!
C- Selling Things
No I didn’t grow up with it, so I had to go and get it.
Sometimes I buy things at thrift stores and re-sell them to other thrift stores. Sometimes I go on rampages through the “stuff” I’ve acquired and sell it all on Craigslist. Sometimes I take things other people want to throw away and sell them. If I own something and it doesn’t have any active utility in my life at the time (with the exception of a few sentimental items), I’ll probably sell it.
You’d be surprised how much transactional income you can make by training yourself to recognize these opportunities.
D- You Mean You Don’t Just Have Rich Parents?
Actually, I grew up in a modest single parent household in a few different south Florida cities and have worked full-time for the most part since I was 14 years old.
I took out student loans to put myself through college (Go Noles!), while still working full-time, and interning and working with startups since 17 and doing all the things listed above that built the foundation for me to now do the consulting side of this. Not studying abroad because I was afraid of the financial burden is one of my biggest/only regrets.
The U.S. still has a lot of progression to make in education on a world scale, but I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work for a fair wage, invest in myself, and have access to resources to aid me in the pursuit of creating a life I love. Chances are if you’re reading this, that you do, too.
Don’t let your pre-conceived perceptions hold you back.
2- How Did You Get Started?
I just, did. I knew I was miserable on the path I was on (working in corporate sales), I knew I was in love with dissecting experiences, and I knew that just about anything else would do.
I’d always thought about having a blog since college (PR major), but could never really commit to a topic. (Ahem… “currently exploring.”) My best friend had started a style blog and left her job to take the risk on freelancing, and not without struggles, but she was so fulfilled — because she took a chance on herself to chase her dreams. She was a huge inspiration to me, and showed firsthand that it could work. Love you to pieces, Kristin!
I quit my job, sublet my place for 4 months (an arbitrary amount of time I gave myself to “figure it all out” – HA), moved back home for the first time since I was 17, sat in the same chair at my grandparent’s dining room table for 21 days straight to build this website, and called on any and all resources I had (mostly friends from FSU with couches) to get me traveling to more exotic places. I finally allowed myself to invest in a professional camera.
When I got back to San Francisco, I dove head first into every networking group I could find, started volunteering, and took consulting clients for substantially less than the six figures I was used to making to build a recent portfolio marrying my old skills with my new passions, and traveled and struggled and learned a whole lot along the way (I’m still learning).
I don’t think anyone really ever “figures it all out,” but for the first time, I’m fully and wholly in love with the ride.
3- I love what you’re doing! Can we meet up for coffee/lunch/Skype for an hour for me to pick your brain about blogging/consulting/feedback on my startup/how to work with influencers?
So these are my favorite and the most challenging emails to receive, because A) I am a natural connector — really, I live for collaboration — and B) they mean I’m doing what I set out to do!
Nothing could be more gratifying.
But C) They also mean that I’d be on endless coffee dates (which, cost me personal out-of-pocket transportation and food costs), Skype calls and one-on-one sessions if I said yes, and that wouldn’t leave time for much else.
One day, I would love to have enough foundation to galivant about the world with my passive income streams in tow and mentor on the free, because I genuinely enjoy helping people and companies grow, but right now, consulting is what I use to pay for things like blog management fees and health insurance and student loan payments.
So yes, I’d absolutely love to chat with you about all of these things, as a consultant.
Ping me with the goals of our conversation here, and I’ll get back to with a reasonable proposal ASAP.
4- Can I Be a Travel Blogger, Too?
Yes, absolutely! But, like everyone else on the internet has said, be aware that it is no passive income.
I live for the days when I get called on campaign, to promote an amazing place I connect with, and get paid to share my perspective and images from the experience with you guys (yes, you!, thank you, thank you, thank YOU!).
I live for them (well, the well-coordinated, individual ones anyway), because waking up in the morning in pursuit of new experiences, and inspiring others to have new experiences, lights a fire in my soul, and getting paid a nominal fee for that is absolutely-freaking-amazing.
The reality is, they’re few and far between, and if I take too many, I’m not staying true to how we became friends in the first place, so they really have to be used consciously.
Travel blogging totally changes the way you travel. Prepare yourself for a constant pressure to feel the NEED to *capture and share,* which limits your time to *experience,* yet hopefully opens the door for future experiences. It’s a delicate flower.
To me, since I’m naturally challenging myself to be a better photographer and journaling and comparing destinations like excel spreadsheets in my head anyway, because that’s just how I’m wired, it’s not too drastic of a difference on-site. The post production, well that’s intense. But not everyone sees it that way. Just be aware.
But, if you want to be a travel blogger and tie your way into the global travel community, this answer is where I’m supposed to share affiliate links and the major tools + resources that go behind the business of travel blogging. Here you go:
- WordPress Development
- SEO Optimization
- AWeber Email Marketing
- Travel Blog Success
- iPhone6 Phone Stand
- Camera Bag
- Props for Images
- Travel Gear
- Writing Course
- Photography Course
- Bucketlist Bombshell Digital Nomad Course
- Professional Association Fees
- Conference Fees
- Global Entry
- Global WIFI
- Travel Expenses
- Hundreds of Hours of Unpaid Labor
Sound exhausting? It is. Unless you have a mission behind it all (in which case, forge on, you got this!), here are some other amazing ways to get paid to see the world, without blogging.
5- Do You Need an Assistant?
Yes, PLEASE! But since I expect to get paid for my work, I’d expect to need to pay you for yours, and right now I’m not yet in the position to do that. ::Cue crickets::
I can usually bring a +1 along for things like creating images and videos on partner campaigns (pretty challenging to manage and be in front of the camera simultaneously — kudos to those of you who have mastered this), and as much as I thrive in solo travel it’s true that we go further together, so I’m always in search of talented and down-to-get-dirty people I travel well with to share in the adventure. You should already be comfortable with traveling on your own.
Really, you’d be surprised how difficult this match and level of ability is to actually find. Shoot your credentials over if you’re still interested. Yes, for real.
6- Who Takes Your Photos?
If I’m not in the image and it’s not otherwise disclosed, all of the images you see here are my own.
I adore photography and capturing moments, and practicing daily has been one of my favorite parts of blogging. When I’m in the image, it’s the work of whoever I am traveling with, strangers on the street, tripods, tour operators, whoever else around looks moderately technically savvy. 100% of the time, I will frame and shoot the shot I want, direct and then try to go jump in it. Maybe 8% of the time, that actually goes as planned.
When the stars align, Antonio Venegas humors me in front of his lens.
7- Where is Your Favorite Place You’ve Seen?
My favorite place so far is Kyoto. I had the opportunity to spend a month in Japan (the 4th country I ever saw, at that) thanks to a close friend from college working there, and as an American was completely enamored with the level of thoughtfulness that permeates the country.
I loved Kyoto the most because the detail, intricacy, poise and dedication within the overall surroundings is most impossible to ignore there. Everyone acts with intrinsic respect in Kyoto, and the Arashiyama Bamboo forest is a magical wonderland!
Americans could stand to learn a lot from Japan in general, but the energy in Kyoto is far beyond our understanding. It’s an enlightening place.
8- Where Are You Headed Next?
Yay, I get to change this all the time! I’m writing this from the first flight of many over the next 4 months as I just sublet my place in San Francisco to hit the road full-time.
I’m headed to Fort Lauderdale for TBEX (a travel blogger conference), Mexico to promote Days Off With Us (a new health retreat in the fisherman town of Puerto Morelos), Mexico City, potentially Guadalajara, and then bouncing back and forth between obligations in Fort Lauderdale (the fam) and Central and South America through the end of February. Aiming for Colombia, Nicaragua, back to Panama, maybe Chile.
There are a lot of open-ended dates built in, for opportunities. Tweet me recommendations!
9- But Don’t You Miss Your Home, Family + Friends if You’re Moving Around All the Time?
I’ve learned that “home” is an idea, an emotion, a level of comfort, and not necessarily a place, so while I yearn for different places I’ve left my heart, I don’t really pine for any one in particular. (Except for when I’m away from the energy of San Francisco or the open road for too long.)
Like you have no idea.
What I lacked in time to watch movies growing up because I was always at work, I had 10 times over in love from my family and local community.
I choose to live in San Francisco because it feeds my soul in creativity and opportunity at this point in my life/career, but we are 4th generation residents in Plantation, FL, and my grandparents helped build the city from the ground up. Physically, with their construction company and figuratively, through their political involvement developing the community from day 1.
My grandmother served as the first woman on council, and as Mayor for more than 14 years. I rode in every 4th of July parade with her from birth until I went away to college. We have family reunions of 100+ every year extending to 2nd, 3rd cousins, and a group text I have to keep on mute because it spans all the country’s time zones and goes off at all hours of the day and night.
Our roots run deep.
Most importantly, I have much younger sisters, and cousins, growing up every minute, and I am not physically there for them.
But, the life I am building, and influence in perspective that it brings to them — in global awareness and that you can literally have the world, if you only work for it — will serve them (and hopefully many others) for years well beyond my lifetime.
Plus, the flexibility this gives me allows me to prioritize being “home” at least a few times a year and for holidays, which is a grand luxury compared to most.
And my true friends, the incredible, unique, scattered bunch of beautiful spirits I’ve been so very blessed to find around the globe, they get me. These amazing people offer airport rides and let me sleep on their couches and invite me to their cities for personal tours of the best things to do.
They text me when they find new places they want me to see and constantly send me pics and don’t get embarrassed when I dance in the streets and make me laugh until water comes from my eyes. Most of them will probably never read this, because they always want the stories firsthand and don’t really get what I do, but they like my drive and my dream and they support that. Some have been around for years, and some only cross my life for a few hours, but they keep me moving.
In truth, my friends were the reason I was exposed to travel in the first place, visiting them all around the U.S. and beyond (Arielle, Stephanie, Vanessa, Matt, Maria, Michelle — love you guys long time), and for their support and shared perspectives, I am eternally grateful.
10- What Are Some Fun Facts About You?
Ok, maybe this isn’t *really* an FAQ, but I like the idea of putting it here. Here are a few:
- I have a 7 year old guinea pig named Fritz (he is NOT a rat, and also has all sorts of pet names like muffin, nugget and loverchunkin)
- I’m kind of obsessed with lingerie
- I prefer the mountains, near the water, to the beach
- I moved to San Francisco on a whim, with no job offers or social ties, after standing at Land’s End and falling in love with the scenic cliffsides
- The hardest adjustment about blogging to me has been opening up and being so personal o.O
- My old Instagram account was @ms_morgan
- My favorite hobby is hopping rocks
- I’d like to enforce a “no tech” day, at least once a week (hopefully once the consulting levels out)
- I’m a Leo, Moon in Pisces, and strongly believe in astrological personality traits (but not daily horoscopes)
- Find me on the dance floor (and on Snapchat @crntlyexploring)
If you’ve made it this far, we’re pretty tight by now. 🙂 Cheers, friend!
Have any other Q’s? Drop ‘em in the comments below!