It’s been a while since I’ve written something personal here, but with 2019 just round the corner I felt like it was time to reflect on 2018 and share with you my plans for the future, both mine and of this blog.
2018 is the year that my blog became a business. It’s the year I tried two new jobs in addition to blogging. The year I took 38 flights and visited 11 countries. It’s also the year I spent more time at home with my family.
Lots of things happened this year and while an inherent part of being an entrepreneur and self-employed is the constant feeling that you could be doing more (for me anyway) I feel pretty proud of what I’ve achieved this year.
So what has actually happened this year?
I monetised my blog. One of the most common questions I receive when I tell people I’m a blogger is whether it’s actually possible to make an income blogging and how much money I make. While I won’t tell you exactly how much money I make, I can happily say that I’m almost matching my previous corporate salary. When I wrote a Q&A post earlier this year I admitted that despite being a full-time blogger I wasn’t actually making an income from it yet. I’m very proud to say that since then my traffic has grown enough for me to make a liveable income from ads and affiliates, with occasional sponsored posts contributing to the mix.
I had some amazing travel experiences. I went snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, I watched the sunrise over Uluru, I hiked 13km up a mountain in New Zealand, I learnt to surf in Fuerteventura, I rode a camel in Morocco, I slept in a houseboat in India, I saw Petra by night and much more.
I also had countless flights delayed or cancelled, I got semi-abducted by the Jordanian tourism police and stopped at Australian customs (top tip, if you buy clothes from a street market in India wash them before flying in them) I had my heart broken and I doubted myself countless times. The good and bad are all part of the travel experience, and will enrich you as a person as you learn to appreciate the highs and deal with the lows.
I started the year in January with my first official press trip; a 5-day trip to Miami with other London-based bloggers and content creators. It was my first time travelling with other content creators that had been doing this for years and I learnt a lot from them.
After spending some time in London I set off in mid-March on a big three-month trip to Singapore, India, Australia and New Zealand. I was only meant to do a quick layover in Singapore but when I ended up having to change flights I figured why not make a little trip out of it!
From there I went to India, where I spent two weeks in Kerala with 29 other content creators for Kerala Blog Express. Kerala Blog Express is advertised as the #tripofalifetime and while like any trip it had its ups and downs (late nights and early mornings combined to spending hours every day in a bus with 30 other people can take its toll) it was an incredible experience for me.
After Kerala Blog Express I flew directly to Mackay in Australia, to join some of my best friends on a road trip from Brisbane to Cairns and back. Australia has been a dream destination of mine for years, and being able to explore it with some of my closest friends from university made it all the more special.
From Australia I went directly to New Zealand, where I spent a week hiking epic mountain trails with my flatmates and best friends. The beautiful mountain landscapes in New Zealand really got to me and I promised myself I would go back to New Zealand one day, ideally in summer.
After three months on the road it was time to slow down a bit. I never thought I’d find myself needing a break from travelling, but after changing accommodation after two nights max, eating out for almost every meal and spending every day out doing things, all while trying to keep up with my blog in the little free time I had was burning me out. I was actually looking forward to those long 60 hours of flying that would take me from New Zealand back to Italy (and of course this was one of the flights to get cancelled). Eventually I did make it back home to Italy, where I then spent the next 4 months working as a skipper on a catamaran sailing boat, taking tourists on daily beach hopping trips in the National Park of la Maddalena (more on this later).
By the end of September however I was getting restless and itching to get on a plane again. In October I went to Fuerteventura for a surf camp, where I learnt the basics of standing up on a surf board and also learnt to turn a little. Surfing is one of those sports I have always been fascinated with but never really been able to do, since I’ve always lived in cities and the beach destinations I went to didn’t have big enough waves. I wouldn’t call myself a good surfer but I’m planning on doing a lot more of it in 2019.
After the surf camp I went back to London. After 7 months away from the British capital I felt the need to be back in my second home and with my friends I hadn’t seen in so long. It also coincided with World Travel Market, a huge travel fair that is held every year. As a blogger it’s great since you can make connections with brands and tourism boards that might potentially lead to partnerships. It was my first WTM and while I don’t know how much I’ll get out of it from a business point of view, I was excited to meet so many content creators.
November continued on a blogging spree with a trip to Morocco for Trablin, an international travel conference. This was a three day conference where famous bloggers, Instagrammers and content creators held sessions and masterclasses, with cool social events in the evenings. It was a great opportunity to meet other bloggers, learn more about the industry and travel around a country I hadn’t been to in years.
My last trip of the year was to Jordan in December, as tour leader for WeRoad, an Italian travel agency. Before setting off on the trip I was terrified, but I was lucky that everyone in my group was nice and easy to manage, and by the end of the week I was at ease with my group and loving it. Jordan is a beautiful country with lots of cool things to do and see so that helped too!
I learnt to be a skipper. I have been sailing my whole life, but this year for the first time I decided to take on a job as a skipper in Italy. There was another more experienced skipper who was the actual captain of the catamaran, I basically did all the jobs that didn’t actually involve sailing the boat. I was working 12 hours a day spending most of my time cleaning the boat, cooking for 20 people, talking to the tourists and in those moments when all the tourists were down to the beach, swimming in the sea and relaxing on the catamaran. It was a lot harder than I expected it to be and it took a lot of time away from my blog, but it was a fun experience and I’m glad I did it.
I connected with some amazing people. In 2018 I had the opportunity to meet a lot of new people from all sorts of backgrounds and stages in life. I love making friends while travelling because I know that even if they live far away, there’s a chance one day I’ll see them again, either when I’m travelling to their home country, if they happen to be visiting mine or somewhere else around the world. I was especially glad that this year I got to meet so many other fellow bloggers. When I first started blogging I didn’t know anyone who had a blog, I connected with other content creators through Instagram or Facebook groups but I struggled with not having colleagues or people I could discuss the work I was doing with. I was able to become very close friends with other bloggers in Miami, Kerala, Morocco and London, and I’m planning trips and business ideas with some of them.
I took on a new job as tour leader and took a group to Jordan. In October I did an assessment centre weekend for a job as tour leader with WeRoad, an Italian travel agency that organises adventure trips for millenials. After so long spent working alone it was great to be surrounded by people that loved their job and the company they do it for. Even before being hired I was excited about the idea of having colleagues again. Being selected for the job and then assigned Jordan as my first trip, a destination I’ve wanted to travel to in forever, was incredibly exciting. I was pretty terrified before the trip but everyone in my group had a great time, so I’d say I did well enough there!
I chose to keep living in London. This year I spent the start and end of 2018 in London. People often ask me why I choose to live in London, one of the most expensive cities in the world that is also renown for its awful weather, when I could work on my laptop from anywhere in the world. Simply put, I love London. I went to university in London and most of my best friends from university still live here. I’m away most of the time but I love coming home in between trips and having friends I can spend my days and evenings with. I had a flat rented until March, but left it and moved all my possessions back to Italy when I realised I would be away for 7 months. I might be making an income from this blog but not enough to pay for a rent in London when I’m not actually living in the city. I’m lucky enough that some of my closest friends have a spare room they’re letting me sublet for when I’m in London, so that I can still feel at home when I’m here without wasting money when I’m not.
It’s hard to summarise all the events of 365 days in one page and I don’t want to bore you with it, so I hope that gave you a better idea of what’s going on in my life beyond the pretty Instagram pictures! Time to move on to what’s in store for 2019! I want to set myself some goals and write them here, so that I can hold myself accountable for them when this time next year comes round.
I want to earn more than my corporate salary. This may seem superficial but it’s important to set monetary goals for your own business when you’re self-employed. It would make me incredibly proud to earn more by working for myself and travelling the world than I did when working the safe office job people said I was crazy to leave.
I want to share what I’ve learnt about blogging. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for other bloggers sharing their knowledge online. In the past two years I spent a huge amount of time reading everything I could find about growing traffic to your blog, building a presence on social media and monetising your site. Some of the information out there is brilliant, other less so. I want to build a course where I’ll share everything a new blogger needs to succeed. If you’re a blogger reading this and would be interested drop me a note!
I want to host a blog retreat. This idea has been on my mind for a while now and partly falls under the previous point too. While creating a course will be a great way to share my knowledge being able to teach what I know about blogging in person, while travelling with likeminded people will make it an even more fun experience. (Again, if you’re a blogger and would be interested in attending send me a message)!
I want to travel more. In 2018 I ticked off some major dream destinations from my travel bucket list, but there is still more I want to see. At the top of my travel list for the future are: Sri Lanka, Philippines, Hawaii, Peru, Japan, Myanmar and Vietnam. I’m already making plans to visit the first two countries with other fellow bloggers in the spring; the rest of the year is still to be planned!
I want to take better care of my body. Like most people this is probably a recurring new years resolution. I have always considered myself a fit person, but I know that my fitness level isn’t quite as good as it used to be. I like to think I eat healthy but the truth is that I don’t always, especially when I’m on the road. I won’t say I want to start a diet, because realistically, I know I won’t keep up with it. I just want to make a conscious effort to eat healthier and exercise more regularly, especially when I’m travelling.
If you’ve made it this far I want to thank you for reading and for following my blog. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if it wasn’t for you guys. I hope you find this blog useful in planning your travels and if there’s anything more I can do for you, please let me know! Whether you’re looking for more packing advice, itineraries, Instagram guides, I appreciate your feedback. There are lots of exciting things to come in 2019 so I hope you will keep following me and that you will enjoy what’s to come!