Over the last couple of month’s I’ve been profiling professional travel bloggers who have made their dream careers a reality. This time around I thought it would be great to catch up with someone on the cusp of taking the plunge into full-time travel blogging to discuss all the prep, planning and bravery that is required for the transition. Thanks for sharing your journey Lisa from Fjords and Beaches. Over to you…
Tell us about your blog and how long you’ve been writing it.
I have been blogging for almost 10 years. My first blog was called ‘Lisa in Wales’, and was a diary of what I got up to while studying abroad in Wales at 17. I loved writing it so much that I created 2; one for my parents and family, and one for my friends (where I shared a lot more details about the drunken shenanigans we got up to once I turned 18). That was a little over 9 years ago.
After studying in Wales, I moved back home for a year and continued blogging on a sporadic basis. Then I moved to London to get my Bachelors’ degree, and that’s when I would say my blog really got started. I created one called ‘LisaLDN’ and purchased a domain for it via WordPress. The blog started so I could share my London adventures and tips, and slowly turned into a travel blog. I travelled as much as I could during my studies, and travelled to Australia, the Philippines, The UAE, the US, Greece, Malaysia and more while studying full time.
As I started writing more about my travels, and especially traveling as a student, I discovered that this was the path I wanted to take with LisaLDN. When people asked about the blog and how well it was going, I would tell them that my dream was to be a full-time travel blogger.
Fast-forward to 2016, which was the last time I told someone that being a full-time travel blogger was my dream without doing anything about it. I realised that if this was really my dream, I had to start working for it! I had already seen some fun brand collaborations and some sponsored posts, just by being passionate about LisaLDN, but I wasn’t anywhere near going full time.
In January 2016 I rebranded the blog. I didn’t live in London anymore, and wanted a brand that was more relevant to me, yet general enough to cover all my travels. I grew up by the fjords of Norway, in a village where we have over 1 million visitors a year, which greatly inspired my love for travel and exploring. I also hold a constant longing for the beach, the ocean and tropical destinations. This is where Fjords and Beaches was born!
Since January I have been focusing more on my blog, and have put in all the hard work to make my dream (and goal) a reality!
Which aspects of blogging do you enjoy the most?
Writing and hearing from my followers! I truly enjoy the actual writing of a blog post, and an added bonus for me is that it allows me to excel in English, which is not my first language. I also love getting comments and emails from people who read my blog or follow me on Instagram, and always make sure to answer everyone.
What also makes me really happy is getting to work with brands I admire and have enjoyed for years!
And the least?
Editing photos. I could skip it if it wasn’t for all the other beautiful photos popping up everywhere. I just don’t feel like I can ‘get away’ with simply posting my terrible iPhone photos anymore. I am not a photographer, and have had to watch countless of Lightroom tutorials in order to get it right.
I’m also not enjoying all the people assuming that I’m on a constant holiday as a travel blogger. Trust me, I’m not. I’m currently working on some set answers to give to those ‘so you’re going on a long holiday?’ questions without sounding insanely rude.
You’ve just announced your decision to take the blog full-time. How exciting! Why now?
Yes, I’m so excited about it! It’s been a whirlwind since the announcement in September, and I love all the love and positive feedback I’ve been getting. As mentioned above, I’ve been dreaming about this for years, but never realized that if it really was my dream I had to do something about it! You know that silly saying ‘dreams don’t work unless you do’? It’s true! I’ve worked my ass off to make this happen, and now I get to do it!
I decided some time during the summer that by the end of 2017 I’d take the leap. I gave myself this deadline in order to push myself a little extra when it came to putting in all the work and getting shit done. Having a deadline made me realise that I will keep postponing it otherwise. I then sat down with my manager in the middle of September, and we decided on my leaving date (January 31st).
I hold a manager position at my ‘day’ job and really enjoy it, which is why it didn’t feel right to simply hand in my notice and leave 4 weeks later. I also hold much respect for my manager, so it was very nice to be able to give her such a long heads up and to agree on a final last day. I think this differs me a bit from many bloggers who leave a 9-5 they absolutely hate in order to ‘make it’ as a blogger. I’ve never hated my 9-5, I’m just really passionate about Fjords and Beaches.
So as of February 1st 2018 I’ll be a full-time travel blogger!!
What do envisage your main methods of monetisation will be?
In addition to being a travel blogger I am also a freelance writer and social media manager. I offer these services through Fjords and Beaches Creative, a company I created to keep the travel blog separate from the social media and more ‘tech’ stuff I do.
Both the social media manager and freelance writing are gigs I can take anywhere, which allows me to really focus on my travel blog! It is important for me to have several ‘legs’ to stand on, as the money I make through Fjords and Beaches really fluctuates from month to month, while the SMM and writing provides a more steady and foreseeable income.
I am also launching an Instagram Course this Autumn which I am really excited about! Through Fjords and Beaches Creative I get a lot of questions from bloggers and businesses who don’t know how to maximise their efforts on Instagram and really see growth. I really believe this course will benefit many people, so I can’t wait to launch it! I currently have a free 5-day Instagram challenge which lays the foundation for it, which anyone can join. Those who join will also get my latest Instagram/social media tips and be notified when the course launches 🙂 #ShamelessPlug
What’s the biggest challenge you think you’ll face as a full-time travel blogger.
As mentioned above, I’ll definitely struggle with the naysayers and doubters who don’t think being a travel blogger is actual work. I’ve been working 80-90 hours a week for the past months to make this happen, and even without the 40 hours I put in at my 9-5, I’ll be constantly hustling and making it work once I go full time. I’ve come to terms with the fact that as a travel blogger, I’ll never really be off, and even a holiday will involve some kind of work from now on.
Another challenge I’ll face is the economic part of being a travel blogger. I’ll have to get used to earning less certain months, and a lot more the next. I won’t have a salary, and can never know exactly what the next month will bring. I’ll have to learn to bring my budgeting A-game!
Describe your dream client/campaign.
Ever since discovering diving in the Maldives last year, it has been a passion of mine. I am currently a writer for the PADI blog, which I am still extremely proud of, several months down the line. One of the best things I can imagine happening in my travel blogging career would be to become a PADI AmbassaDiver, and get to share my adventures as an ‘official’ PADI Ambassador!
Another dream would be to become a GoPro Ambassador, and get in line with a bunch of truly amazing travel bloggers! I love my GoPro, and everything the brand stands for, and would love to work with them.
I also just realised that I’m basically listing brands that I love. My dream campaign would be with a tourism board for a tropical destination, where I get to help mold and plan out a press trip from scratch. I believe this is the best way to share a destination with my followers, as I would be able to tailor it to mine and their preferences. This would benefit both me and the destination, and make me extra excited about the trip!
What does success in this industry look like to you?
Can I say working with GoPro? Haha. I definitely feel as if that is a staple of a travel blogger who has ‘made it’.
On a more personal level, I believe success is when you wake up on a Monday excited to take on the week. This is what I believe everyone should strive for, and I am really excited that I have figured out what I ‘want’ to spend my days doing. Many people can go their whole life without figuring out what they want to do, and I am one of the lucky ones. It only took 26 years, haha!
Success in the travel blogging industry specifically is to me when you have built a community around your blog and social media, and not only a big following. I want my followers to be excited for me when I’m excited, to give me advice when I need it, and to really get to know them.
Where do you see your blog in 5 years?
This question is as tricky as always!
In 5 years I aim for Fjords and Beaches to be a go to destination online for travel tips, hacks and inspiration! I hope for the blog to be my main source of income, and that it will be taking me across the world, one country at a time!
I also hope that my Instagram Course has helped other bloggers and business ‘make sense’ of Instagram, and that I’ve got loads of happy students!