MY LIFE AS A TRAVEL BLOGGER Q&A
Welcome to the world of blogging.
I’m a blogger. I am also a content creator, photographer, writer, social media strategist, consultant and a whole list of other things that I not an expert at but learning about every day.
But what does all of that mean, how did I end up spending my days exploring or on the computer writing about my adventures.
I believe in you
Before I get into answering all of the questions. I just want to say I received a lot of questions asking for advice on how to get started. The answer to all of you is that you already have. If you want to be a photographer, take photos, get a mentor, practice every day, watch tutorials, read guides and work your ass off. Same goes for any hobby, profession or goal. The fact that you took the time to ask me about how you can get started is evidence enough to me that you want to go for whatever goal you have in mind. Don’t wait for someone to push you towards your goal, just blindly go for it with everything you have. Now back to the Q&A.
So many thanks
I asked all of you guys on my Instagram @jackson.groves to send me any questions you had about blogging. The response was overwhelming and I got tons of great questions. I will be honest sometimes I question what I’m doing, actually I question it a lot. However, so many of you sent in messages that didn’t even have a question just asking me to keep going or wishing me the best. I’m really thankful for your support. As anyone who has messaged me knows I reply to every message I get and appreciate you taking the time to reach out to me.
So to tell the story of why I’m a blogger, what a blogger is, how I make a living and how I got started; here are the answers to your questions.
Travel Blogging Q&A
How did you get started?
I graduated from university with a degree in Journalism. I did a couple of internships with magazines and in-flight publications but I didn’t love the content I was being asked to produce. I decided to start writing my own stories and documenting my own adventures. I didn’t necessarily think it would become what my blog is now but I was just enjoying the challenge to begin with and I still do. I began on Instagram and then it evolved into a travel blog as kind of a natural evolution.
What was your first step to make a living?
I did my first sponsored post on Instagram and couldn’t believe it had happened. From there it happened more and more often and eventually it evolved into being asked to shoot content for brands and other opportunities like writing content and social media management.
How did you start making money off your blog?
My blog itself doesn’t generate the majority of my income. I make money from the blog through google ads, which I added to the blog 1 month ago. These ads generate a small amount every time someone clicks them. At the moment Google Ads generate about $5 per day. It is a small amount, but something I receive daily without having to do anything once I implemented it. That is my hostel accommodation covered. The other way I make money from the blog is by writing content for a hotel or a brand who sponsors the post. If you read my posts you will know this is very rare as I usually just stay in cheap hostels and write about cool hikes and adventures. The blog acts as a portfolio and produces a lot of opportunities for me. For example people approach me to write content for their blogs which I can get paid for. Or I can get invited to a press trip like last year when the Indonesia Tourism Board invited me on a paid press trip. A piece of advice would be to start creating with passion. Build it and they will come is the motto I have been blogging by.
How do you make partnerships with brands?
I prefer not to reach out to brands because I know they receive hundreds of emails a day from influencers who want to work with them. That might lose me a few deals here and there but saves me a lot of time and effort. If a brand reaches out to me then I discuss with them what their goals are and decide whether it is a collaboration I want to be part of. So to answer your question I wait for brands to message me on Instagram or Email me with their collaboration proposition.
How much time do you spend working each day?
I think this answer might surprise a lot of people. Some days, like today, I wake up eat breakfast and jump straight on the computer. I forget to eat lunch because I am so focused on fixing issues, creating content, finishing editing or whatever is before me. I eat dinner then continue working. Some days I don’t even go outside. But there are also days where I won’t touch my computer at all. If I had to guess on an average week while traveling in Southeast Asia I would work 3 hours per day on average.
How do afford to travel the world or are your trips sponsored
I have been on one sponsored trip for 2 weeks in the Indonesia with the Tourism board. Other than that my travels have been independent of a tour agency or tourism board. I live off of $800 per month. I am a minimalist. I carry what I need, eat local and cheap, sleep in dorm rooms at cheap hostels. But it’s a damn good time!
What app do you use to edit your GoPro videos and add music?
I download the music from youtube via a youtube to mp3 converter http://www.youtube-mp3.org/
I use Adobe Premier Pro to edit the videos but I won’t lie I am not very good at editing or filming video. Hopefully 2017 is a year of improvement on that front!
Are you always connected to the internet?
I always try to be. Too long without the internet does make it hard to get work done when most of my work is on a blog or Instagram. I buy a sim card when I arrive in a new country for about $10-20 and that way I can use Instastory, Instagram and message my mum when she gets worried about me!
Do you travel alone?
Sometimes yes. If friends want to join me then they can but i don’t rely on others for my travels. I have traveled to many countries by myself and will continue to do so. Traveling with friends or in a group can be awesome too!
I like how in your last post on your blog you mentioned you only try to spend $800 per month but aim to make $1000. How do you make that lifestyle work because I think a lot of people assume that someone in your position is loaded in order to do what you do?
Firstly I am not loaded but I am fortunate to have been dealt a great hand when it comes to the lottery of life. I’ve never been rich nor have my parents. I got my first job at a Subway when I was 13.
I traveled on a full-ride scholarship to play soccer in the states and living the college lifestyle for four years in another country I found that I didn’t really need much more than a suitcase of clothes and belongings. I really love the feeling of carrying my life on my backpack, that’s it it is all in there.
If you really ask yourself what do I need, what do I want, what is a luxury, what can I do without you will find the pile gets smaller and smaller the more serious you get. Each to their own.
As I said before eat local, sleep in 20 person dorms cheap, buy second hand gear, work your ass off and give it 100.
How do you get awesome photos of yourself if you are the photographer? When I ask others to take the photo I don’t get as good of a photo.
I take almost all of the photos on my Instagram but you are right some are not taken by me. Often my friends or whoever I am with will take a shot for me. I also have semi-mastered the time lapse app on Sony PlayMemories which takes a photo every 5 seconds for example. I set up the scene then run throughout it. You can set it to take a photo every second if you want. It is pretty tedious to do and I don’t do it often but it is possible.
How exactly do you make a living from social media?
Firstly you gotta be ready to do anything in the beginning. Write a blog post for someone else? Sure. Take photos for a jewelry brand? Done. Wear this t-shirt? You got it.
Here are all of the different avenues that generate income for me right now. I’ve added a percentage of my income next to each item on the list.
Google Ads on the blog 5%
Sponsored posts on Instagram 40%
Content creation on Instagram for other brands 20%
Writing blog posts for other websites 20%
Social media consultation 15%
How long did it take for you to see results after you made the plunge from regular life to this lifestyle?
I was still at university in Hawaii when I began blogging and Instagramming last year. I never went into the workforce. I spent four years on scholarship playing soccer in America. I received my first paid Instagram post while I was finishing my journalism degree at Hawaii Pacific University. However, a featured post here and there doesn’t pay the bills. I think it wasn’t until I left Hawaii and started traveling that I really thought to myself, ‘Okay you got this, just keep finding ways to survive financially.’ I had savings but from the first moment of travel my goal was to earn what I spent.
Is it difficult to bring your camera gear and laptop with you?
I have a bag I carry with me every single day that is super heavy. It has my camera, lenses, macbook, batteries, hard drives etc. I try and keep it on me at all times unless I am going on a kayak or a sketchy boat. In that case I lock it in a locker or my room. I try and only do this in places I trust but at time you just have to lock it up and cross your fingers. I was fortunate to have no theft or attempted thefts in 2016!
Is a mini laptop better than a bigger one?
The size probably won’t be an issue. I have a Macbook Pro 13inch. Any smaller would make it quite hard for me to edit photos and any bigger might be tough to fit in my daypack. I guess you just need something that meets your needs in terms of where you can fit the computer and what it is capable of as a machine.
What camera do you use?
I use a Sony A7ii mirrorless camera, a 55mm f1.8 lens and a 16-35mm f4 lens.
How do I get started? I like Instagramming and blogging but my audience is small.
The answer is there are a million ways to grow. What works best for you depends on your goals. Where do you find out what works best for you? Google specific questions. For example before blogging I had never used Pinterest in my life nor did I want to. Heck, everyone reading this probably doesn’t even know I have a Pinterest account. You might be wondering why I’m talking about Pinterest right now. The point I am making is by researching, reading forums, blogs and other channels dedicated to educating people about how to grow their blog, following and such you can implement many strategies with great success. Pinterest is now the second largest traffic driver to my blog after organic google searches. I wish I had a mentor but I don’t. Everything I learnt is out there on the internet and I didn’t have to dig deep for it. I’m not passionate about creating guides on how to blog and instagram and there are plenty of people out there already doing a great job. My advice: Define your goals and then google how to reach those. PS: I take that advice daily and each day I learn new skills and tips about social media and blogging.
Step by step for starting to be a travel blogger?
Like I just mentioned above I would and I did google ‘How to start a travel blog’ and then when I read that I read ‘20 mistakes to avoid when starting a travel blog’. When I had read all the articles on page 1 and 2 of google I asked my friends who knew about blogging or websites. Find the expert. For example I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on starting a blog. That is the beauty of blogging there is an expert in each niche. Find the expert to help you start a travel blog. That will be of much more help to you than me trying to explain the steps I did.
Having said that the very basics are:
- Create a domain
- Purchase hosting
- Install a theme
- Write your first content
- Register your name on all social media accounts
Do you make YouTube videos?
I make a few videos of random adventures but they aren’t masterpieces. They are mostly filmed on a gopro. I did create one video I am proud of, which was a time-lapse on Oahu. It took me one month to make and it was my first time ever doing a timelapse. You can subscribe to my channel by clicking the subscribe button at the bottom of the page if you are on mobile or in the right sidebar if you are on a computer. If you are on a tablet I have no idea where the subscribe button is.
I’ve been posting twice a day and my account hasn’t grown much? How long did it take you to get a few thousand followers?
To get going isn’t easy. Just try and offer some value to your followers or potential followers. I don’t mean giving away free gear although it can help. Produce content people want to show their friends. Put everything you have into every shot. I noticed you are not using hashtags, which will help to spread your account to a greater audience as well.
How do I push an online course to fund my travels?
The easiest thing to sell is something that everybody wants. Write a guide that has already been covered by someone else and you might struggle to create a buzz. Write an E-Book about every single Vegan Cafe in Southeast Asia and you will be rich (Maybe someone has done that but you see what I mean) What do the people in your niche need? What problem can you solve for them with your guide or online course?
Are there any countries you wouldn’t travel to?
To be honest no. One of my dreams is to be a conflict photographer so even a crazy situation would entice me. I want to keep developing as a photographer before I throw myself into any riots or war-zones first.
Thanks for all of your questions guys. I tried to answer them all. Some of them were similar so I only answered the question once. Hope I covered most of the topics you wanted to know about.