I opened up the floor over on my Instagram and allowed you wonderful bunch to ask me anything! Seems like there was an underlying theme and you were all pretty interested in how I started travel blogging. Thanks so much for the questions and all the nice words… Enjoy <3
What do you use to edit your photos?
My preferred photo editing software is definitely Adobe Lightroom; but sometimes I’m not always so prepared with my laptop at hand. Then I go for the iphone apps VSCO, Afterlight and Snapseed.
What is your favourite country you’ve ever travelled to?
I always find this the hardest Q to answer… everytime I go to a new country it becomes my all time fave. But looking back I think I’d have to say Myanmar or Sri Lanka. Both countries were full of absolute beauty, the friendliest locals and yummy food.
How do you develop partnerships with companies or get sponsors?
I created a lengthy but powerful pitch which I amend depending on the company and what I’m asking for. I’m normally quite specific and give them all ideas of how I want to collaborate and what kind of content I would create for the partnership. If I want a company to sponsor me (ie: pay for my services), I also send them my media rate card which explains how much I charge. It’s usually harder to get companies that you have approached to pay for your services.
For the companies that contact me directly, I immediately send them my rate card and we negotiate a budget that works for both of us. I always state that whilst my rates are there for a reason, I can often negotiate if the product/tour is something I am super interested in.
Lastly, I only EVER work with brands and companies that I truly love and would do without getting paid. This means that my audience don’t get put off when they read my content about a certain place. Travel blogging needs to not just be sales pitching, it has to feel personal.
If you’re going to start pitching, be prepared for a lot of ignored emails and knock backs. Just remember to be precise in what you’re asking for and offering and try to minimise the amount of work the other party has to do. If you’re asking for the world from them, chances are they aren’t going to be bothered to do it.
Beaches or Mountains?
I’m a total beach girl, but I’m also not afraid of getting dirty and going camping/hiking up a mountain. I find mountainous areas breathtakingly beautiful… but deep down I’m always happiest when I have salty hair, sandy toes and a dark golden tan.
How do you afford to travel so much?
I sell my body….
Ha nah, so I make money from my blog and social media… but mostly my Instagram and then I often land some comped stays or media trips to keep me exploring new destinations. However, something that people don’t always know is that I do freelance marketing and often pick up jobs along the way. I’m currently working for a hostel in Koh Phangan which is allowing me to stay here for the year whilst still work on my blogging and explore a bit along the way. All in all, travel blogging has really helped me to stay travelling for longer and covers my costs along the way.
What camera equipment do you use?
Are you single?
Haha no actually I’m not. My blog is focused on solo female travel because that is my preferred mode of travel and also the way I travel a lot of the time. Although at the moment I’m living in Thailand with my long-term boyf, the mastermind behind Duffel Travel.
Do you prefer to use AirBnb, stay in hotels or use hostelworld when you travel?
This totally depends on where I am in the world, who I’m with and whether I want to meet people. I think air bnb is a bloody brilliant platform and I love finding quirky places to stay in big cities like LA, London and Sydney. I also found air bnb a game changer in Bali on a couples holiday where we wanted to be somewhere beautiful, authentic and away from the tourists.
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When I travel alone and want to meet people and indulge in a few too many beers, I always opt for hostels and either use hostelworld or just show up in a place and have a walk around. I’m definitely a self confessed flash packer and whilst don’t mind roughing it, I always like to be surrounded by comforts so will pick better, fully equipped hostels rather than the cheapest on hostelworld. I do find you usually get what you pay for.
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I am definitely a fan of a beautiful, luxury hotel every now and then and love indulging for special occasions and locations… hotels I’ve always wanted to visit. I try not to make this a regular form of travel so it stays more special. Staying at hotels like Notel Melbourne and Ao Nang Cliff Beach Resort are really special to me and my blog.
Also… sometimes you just really need a good shower, a bath robe and access to a fully equipped gym… so then I’ll always check myself into a hotel for a bit of R+R.
How much blog posting is too much?
This is a funny one for me because I honestly don’t post any content to my blog unless I’m proud of it and have spent the time to make it useful and resourceful. Sometimes this means I don’t have any content up for a week or two but sometimes I get up three blog posts at once.
I always make an editorial calendar a month in advance so I can plan what I want to write and get out there. In reality a few of these posts don’t ever make it up and I don’t ever stick to it, but it’s always good to plan what I want to be writing about just so I’m not aimlessly writing.
I don’t think any posting is too much per say, especially if you are optimising each post for SEO as this content is invaluable and can be picked up from anyone at anytime through Google. However, if by posting 7 times a week, your content quality is poor… the chances are your readers wont stick around and you wont grow. So bare that in mind and create a little schedule for yourself that suits you.
How did you build a following on your social media? Did you use paid advertising or just hashtags?
I don’t actually have a business profile on Instagram because I’m scared Facebook/Insta will get greedy again and try to make me pay for advertising all the time if I start… so I’ve never paid for an Instagram advert.
I do think this sometimes damages my engagement but I’d rather not have to pay for sharing my photos on a platform I’ve always considered free. Whereas Facebook’s alogrithim for me is not able to be penetrated unless I pay for it. Most normal posts I don’t pay for, but if I want a video to fly, I will always put $10 behind it to give it some traction and then it normally carries itself further.
I believe hashtags and real engagement are super important. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve used all the usual tricks in the book, F/UF, commenting and liking, comment pods… but nothing works better for me than engaging truly with peoples photos that you like and also posting the best of your content.
Sometimes I don’t post on insta for 3-4 days because I don’t like the photos I took or because I haven’t done anything insta worthy… this helps me to keep my Instagram theme looking consistent and ensures that it is always the very best of my work. Whenever you see pages that obviously take care over their content, I feel that gives you a reason to follow them, so I think that’s one of the only things that have worked for me.
What tips would you give to someone in a 9-5 job who loves to travel and wants to start travel blogging?
Be bloody persistent.
It’s hard work juggling so much. Having a blog is a full time job in itself, so add a usual 9-5 to the mix and it’s just a total handful. Don’t give up when you feel like you’re getting no traction. I go through good spells and awful spells. Times when I earn a tonne of money from partnerships and times when I don’t earn a penny. Another piece of advice is to schedule content and stick to it. If you don’t know what you’re supposed to be posting and when, it’s easy to let normal life take over. So make a schedule and don’t worry if you don’t stick to it, but at least you will know what it is you’re supposed to be writing and focusing on.
Also, believe in yourself and your blog. If you have a genuine passion for what you’re doing and know that you’re good at it and give yourself the confidence you need… you’ll start getting so many beautiful rewards from your hard work that juggling a full time job and your blog won’t seem like a sacrifice.
How did you start travel blogging when you weren’t travelling frequently?
I actually started my blog after a year of travel around Asia where I had so much knowledge and experience but hadn’t thought to write it all down. I always loved writing and actually had a fashion blog back in the day. So then one day I had a lightbulb moment that maybe I should combine fashion with my travels to inspire others to go to cool places too…. a few months in I realised that fashion just wasn’t my priority any more and I decided to completely axe it from my blog. I then just started writing up on all the places I had been. I have a pretty good memory and could write detailed travel guides even though I was no longer in those places.
When I started gaining traction and followers, I naturally started building partnerships and pitching brands. I was living in Australia so was pitching to Aussie companies and using my weekends from work to review hotels and products which allowed me to see the local area, still travel locally and also build content for my brand and blog.
I think sometimes when people think of travel bloggers, they assume they have to be jet setting from each corner of the Earth each week to make a living. Actually what I’m finding more realistic is that people want to see that you’re an expert in one place and have all the knowledge for that. So make sure you explore your local area as that’s still travelling.
To be honest, even though I wasn’t travelling non stop when I started my blog; I still had 6 holidays in one year because I’m a serial holiday slut and can’t help myself. So this gave me 6 awesome opportunities for content not including all of the local weekend breaks. So if you are going to be a travel blogger when not being a regular traveller, you have to decide whether this is something you do a lot and whether you can keep it fresh. If you spend all your time and money buying clothes and shoes but go on one holiday a year… is this really something you feel you could become an expert in?
To me, travel is something I love more than anything… and also something I love to document. Creating a travel blog never felt like a chore, even in the low peaks when I wasn’t travelling a lot.
I actually really enjoyed writing this post and answering your questions… I’ll be doing another Q+A next month so keep your eyes peeled over on my Instagram if you’d like to ask me any other questions or delve deeper into some of the things I’ve mentioned.