Career Inspiration: Monica – Travel Blogger, The Travel Hack

This is my second Career Inspiration interview of 2015. I’m so pleased that you’re all enjoying this new series and I can’t wait to share many more inspiring people with you throughout the year. Over the last few weeks I’ve spent my weekends interviewing and having a natter with hard-working people. For those of you who’re new to Career Inspiration, the aim of these interviews is to help people looking for career inspiration, a career change or simply an insight into what others do.

It’s very hard to know what you want to do in life and I’ve always loved finding out about what others do and the journey they took to get there. So, I hope you enjoy today’s inspirational interview with Moncia, a professional travel blogger over at The Travel Hack.

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How long have you been blogging for and why did you start?

I’ve been blogging since 2009. I began when I left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for 2 years as I blogged for my local newspaper. I’d been interning with them the summer before I left because I knew I wanted to pursue a career in journalism when I returned.

This began as a way to build up a portfolio of written work but I soon fell in love with blogging and began my own site, The Travel Hack. It was a way for me to record my travels, keep my family updated and also a way to benefit my career long-term.

How did you turn blogging into your career, was it a natural progression?

My blog and my career have always been entwined, probably because I started blogging straight after uni so it was before I had a ‘proper career’.

The jobs I had when I returned from Australia were all related to travel blogging and everything I did was linked. I worked as an editorial assistant on a travel website and I got the job because of my experience with blogging. I then worked for Travel Blogger’s Unite as the Community Manager and then worked as the Social Media Manager at Flight Centre (a large travel agency).

My blog and my career were so tightly connected that one was always benefiting the other. When I got a promotion at work it meant I could travel more and therefore had more content for my blog. When my blog grew I was able to connect with more people and trial campaigns with my own social media following.

How did you know the time was right to make the switch from your day job to full time blogging?

It came down to money for me. There was one month where I earned more from my blog than I did from my full time job and I knew it was time to make the switch. I knew I couldn’t balance the two forever and I knew I wanted to work on my blog full time eventually.

I made the switch at a time when my expenses were low and I had no responsibilities. I knew this was a great situation to be in and probably the best time to make the leap because no one else was relying on my income. It must be harder if you have a mortgage and children to support.

Do you do any other work alongside blogging, if so does your blog play a role in this?

Yes, I also work as a copywriter and I blog for brand websites. Copywriting is something I can fit easily around my travels as I’m set a deadline and I can work on it whenever I please.

My blog definitely helps me to find the writing opportunities and many of my clients stumble across me through my blog. I see my blog as an online portfolio so my clients have lots of examples of the kind of work I can do.

My social media following also helps with any writing work I do because I often share the articles I write with my followers. This sends new readers to my client’s site and provides an extra benefit for them and another reason to use me again in the future.

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What has been your biggest challenge since becoming self-employed?

The biggest challenge for me is working alone. I miss the atmosphere of an office environment and miss having work colleagues. It’s difficult when you don’t have people to share ideas and problems with or just have a good rant at the end of the day. Staying motivated and inspired is more difficult when you’re working alone.

What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?

I love the fact that I can see a direct correlation between hard work and success. The harder I work, the more successful I am. If I work hard my blog grows, I have more clients and ultimately earn more money.

I also love that if I want to take a month off I can. It will mean there’s little blog growth and very little income that month but it’s well worth it for a month of travelling!

What is a typical workday like?

When I’m travelling my workday is all over the place. I usually find myself working on planes and buses, replying to emails during breakfast and working late into the night. I don’t mind this because I’m a night owl and get most of my work done very late at night. I like working in airports and love the fact that something that is usually a total waste of time for other people (like a 5 hour flight delay) can actually be a really productive time for me.

When I’m at home I work in my office and do my best to stick to a regular 9-5 routine. If I don’t stick to a routine I find myself working 12 hour days so I need this routine to know when to switch off. I usually reply to emails and write a blog post in the morning and then work on client projects in the afternoon. Sometimes I do sneak back to my desk at midnight and find myself absorbed in a project until 3am.

I get asked this question a lot so I wrote the post A week in the life of a travel blogger for a little insight.

What are your favourite tools to promote your content?

I’m loving Pinterest at the moment. I was featured as one of their recommended people to follow so I’ve recently had a heap of new followers and I’ve seen a huge increase in traffic. The thing I really like about Pinterest is that the people who click on your pins are really interested in your content. They stick around for a long time and read a few different posts.

I hate sites like Stumbleupon or Reddit which might bring in lots of traffic but no one stays around for very long.

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What advice would you give to bloggers thinking of making the leap to full time blogging?

Do it, it’s the best thing ever!

No, not really, that’s terrible advice. My number one piece of advice would be to have multiple income streams. Blogging is a fast-paced industry and things change quickly. One month you may earn a ton through affiliate links and the next month it may be direct advertising and the following month you may earn very little from either. Diversify your income and you will always have a back-up plan.

I actually have heaps more advice in this post: Tips to leave your job and become a full time freelancer.

What keeps you motivated?

Readers of The Travel Hack are a huge source of motivation. Each time I receive an email from someone telling me they travelled to a certain place because of my post it’s a big boost of motivation. I love inspiring people to travel!

How do you plan to grow The Travel Hack in 2015?

2015 is going to be a strange year for The Travel Hack because I’m having a baby. I’m super excited but I have no idea how I’m going to balance a new baby and travelling!

The baby is due in March so I’m currently focusing on creating lots of content for the blog that I can schedule during my ‘blogging maternity leave’. I have lots of guides and blog posts with a motivational edge to encourage people to travel more. So far they’re doing well!

Towards the end of the summer I’d like to be travelling again and I’ll be bringing the new addition along with me. I’m determined to keep having adventures, whether they’re in the UK or abroad and I’d like to encourage other people to do the same. The Travel Hack has been evolving with me over the past few years and this is another stage along the journey. I don’t want to be a mummy blogger but I do want to prove that having a baby shouldn’t stop you from travelling. (Although I’m yet to test this theory so watch this space!)

I’m also accepting guest posts to cover my maternity leave. It’s the first time I’ve done this and I’m really excited to start sharing all the awesome posts people are sending me.

I want to say a big thank you to Monica for taking part in Career Inspiration. I’m looking forward to seeing how The Travel Hack evolves with the arrival of her little one. It sounds like 2015 is going to be an exciting year for Monica’s personal life and career. I hope you all enjoyed the interview and you can find Monica over on The Travel Hack, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Google+.

If you would like to take part in my Career Inspiration series then drop me a message on Twitter. 

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