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Like most full time travel bloggers, I didn’t just wake up one day and think “I want to be a professional travel blogger!”. For the longest time, I didn’t even know it was a viable career option.
Now that I look back on everything that led me here, it really shouldn’t have come as such a surprise. But my journey to running this travel blog full time has been far from straightforward. It’s been long, scary and a little bit crazy. Even if it might seem like the most obvious thing in the world with a little hindsight!
Why I’m sharing this
I’ve thought about writing a post about my journey to becoming a full time travel blogger for a while. I just wasn’t sure if anyone else would find it interesting… and so I held off.
But, you know what? I absolutely love reading posts like this. And I figured I can’t be the only one.
This isn’t just a case of sharing my journey. More than anything, I hope it goes to show what’s possible. I hope it shows that you don’t need to get it “right” from the get go. And I hope it inspires you to take your next step – whether that’s on the path to full time blogging or not.
Where it all started for me: A love for languages
No blog would exist without a lot of love. Well… that’s not strictly true. Plenty of blogs do, but I can guarantee their owners are just counting down the days until they can sell them.
But I can promise that anybody who creates – an continues to create – a blog really loves it. Blogging is SO much work it just wouldn’t be possible to keep it up if it isn’t true love.
I absolutely love blogging, and that love can be traced back to another great love of mine: languages.
I was the kid who never knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. One week I’d consider forensic psychiatry, the next I’d be planning to move to Cairo and become an Egyptologist.
RELATED READ: 26 jobs you can do anywhere in the world.
The one thing I knew I would always love – and wasn’t afraid to commit to – was learning languages. To me, languages opened up more than just linguistic skills. They were the only way to truly understand other cultures, how other people live and to try to see the world from their perspectives.
And so I decided to study languages. French and Arabic, with a year abroad in the Middle East.
I loved every second of my 4-year degree programme and that love of language is still very much alive. I even decided to fulfil a lifelong dream to study Spanish in South America this year (even if it didn’t end well!).
Why it was a game changer: I wanted to learn about the world, something I now do every day!
The desire to learn
As much as I loved my university course, I had zero idea where it was supposed to take me. I continued to toy with different ideas, but nothing really felt “right”.
I signed up for work experience, volunteering and other chances to try new things at every opportunity. And it was on one of a charity placement that I heard the words that would stick with me.
“I don’t think you want to work in the charity sector, Jodie. I don’t know where you want to work. It seems what’s most important to you is that you keep learning, so you should look for something that fulfils that need.”
Those words came as a shock to me – but they couldn’t have been truer. The reason I love travel is because it forces you to learn every day. The reason I love working for myself is because there’s infinite opportunity to grow. I was completely taken aback by her words, but they’re one of the best things anyone ever said to me.
It’s an important trait to have if you want to start a business of any kind.
Why it was a game changer: I may not have figured it out until years later, but those words made me think. They made me realise that maybe I should be trying to make a career fit me, rather than trying to fit a career. I just didn’t know how!
Writing for fun (and money)
At around the same time, I took on my first ever freelance writing contract.
It wasn’t that I wanted to be a writer, but more that it was a skill someone would pay me for. I’d spent ages trying to find an income that would still give me the flexibility I needed for my studies. Writing was the one that worked out.
It didn’t pay well, but I found I was pretty good at it. And, shortly after, I set up my first ever blog, “Eastern Escapades”.
I didn’t know it was a blog at the time. It was on WordPress.com. The design was horrible. But for me, it was nothing more than a way to document the year I spent studying in Amman, Jordan.
I enjoyed it a lot, though. And, when I got back to the UK, I set up the blog that would eventually become Alajode.
Why it was a game changer: I found something I enjoyed doing – and could sell. Writing was my first “location independent” job and blogging introduced me to a whole new world – and a hobby I fell in love with.
A career in marketing
After graduation, I still had no idea what I wanted to do (yes, really!). Blogging wasn’t really a viable career option back then, but I still continued to keep it up.
Over the next few years, I worked at digital marketing agencies for a number of international brands. From New Look, Toyota and MR PORTER to Fly Dubai, Hilton and NatWest, I worked with a range of brands and messages, and learned what makes a website successful.
Why it was a game changer: Working on such a wide range of brands allowed me to develop the skills I’d need to market and monetise my own website. It also taught me a trade that I could sell as a freelancer.
The job that changed everything: affiliate marketing
After several years working mostly on SEO and content creation, I moved in to my dream job in London: setting up the affiliate marketing strategy for one of the UK’s largest publishers.
I felt totally out of my depth but jumped at the opportunity. I absolutely adored that job and learned a lot of skills from it.
It opened my eyes to what was possible. I watched some of the publisher’s brands go from earning nothing to earning enough to employ several more staff in just a couple of months. And I got a real kick out of making that happen.
Why it was a game changer: Seeing the success affiliate marketing was bringing to the company made me realise its value – and I realised I could be doing it for myself. For the first time ever, I considered that my blog could become a business. It was the job that changed everything for me, providing another freelance income stream and, eventually, the bulk of my travel blog income.
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Falling out of love with London
I may well have carried on ticking along if I’d enjoyed the city I lived in. Perhaps I even would have taken my blog full time one day.
At around the same time, though, I began to question whether I wanted to stay in London. The truth is, I was never really in love with London to begin with. Not in the way that many of my friends were, at least. I just kind of ended up there.
And so I decided to escape the extortionate rent prices, poor quality accommodation and polluted air, and take a leap of faith. I moved out of my apartment, gave away most of my things and quit the job I loved (and yes, there were tears!).
I didn’t know where I’d end up but I knew I didn’t want to be in London anymore. The fear of not going became greater than the fear of jumping into the unknown and “risking everything”. And so I booked a one-way ticket to Kuala Lumpur and left.
Why it was a game changer: Once I gave up my apartment and my job, I had nothing holding me back. For the first time ever, I was completely free. Moving to Asia with no plans or financial commitments meant I was free to finally work on whatever I wanted.
My digital nomad journey
That was the beginning of my digital nomad journey – a journey that I’m still enjoying two years later. Giving up my life in London was a win win for me. I had more time to put into building my own business and all of my money was mine to do with as I pleased.
If I didn’t have a lot of money coming in one month, I would get up and go live in the cheapest place I could find until it picked up again. Luckily, though, that was never an issue for me. My blog and freelance work were more successful than I could have imagined, and I was earning more than my London salary in less than a year!
Why it was a game changer: I finally had the freedom to work on my blog (and loads of great content from travelling!).
A change of mindset
After around 8 months of fairly intense travel, I decided to slow down.
A month in Tbilisi, Georgia allowed me the time I needed to catch up and do some serious life admin. Then, two months in Greece allowed me to really focus on what I wanted.
It was during that time living in Greece that I decided this was it. It was time to really start taking my blog seriously. I’d had some good months, but my travel blog’s income was far from consistent.
I knew I needed to change my mindset and, from that moment on, I decided I would treat my blog like the business I wanted it to be. I finally created an affiliate marketing strategy, implemented an SEO strategy and stopped putting off the tasks I knew needed doing.
Why it was a game changer: I started taking my blog seriously and it finally became the business I dreamed of.
Becoming a full time travel blogger
That was a little over a year ago now, and here we are today! Becoming a full time travel blogger hasn’t been easy or obvious, but it’s the most fulfilling career I can imagine.
Although I’m a professional travel blogger, I don’t work full time hours on this blog. I do earn a consistent full time income from my blog, though, which is why I consider myself a full time blogger.
Travel blogger is a dream job for many, so I want to show that it is possible. That said, it wouldn’t have been possible – at least not this soon – without all of the events I just mentioned. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, there were plenty of events that led me to where I am today.
Without a doubt, the last one was the biggest game changer of all – and the good news is that’s something you can control. If you want to be a professional travel blogger, go for it! As long as you’re willing to put in the (crazy amount of) work, it’s totally something you can do too. Good luck!
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