Just over two years ago I wrote a post about why I quit my corporate job without really having a plan B. An awful lot has happened since then and I’ve realised it’s been a while since I wrote about my life here, so I figured it was time to share with you something a bit more personal than just another travel itinerary or packing list.
Since publishing that post I also wrote an article celebrating my first blogging anniversary and a Q&A answering all the most common questions I used to get via DM on social media or as comments on this blog. In both those articles I admitted how, despite blogging full time, I wasn’t actually earning an income from it and I was living off my savings.
I’m very proud to say this is no longer the case.
Today Greta’s Travels receives over 200,000 monthly page views and it earns me more in passive income than the corporate salary I had when working 9-5 at EY in London.
That’s right, I’m a 25-year old girl who quit a safe corporate job two years ago (very recklessly so as my blog wasn’t actually getting any traffic or making any money at the time) to pursue an unconventional dream and it worked out.
Because I worked bloody hard to make sure it did.
This year I also went on one of the longest backpacking trips I ever did, spending two months travelling around Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Philippines and Oman with my friend and fellow content creator Hanna of Solar Powered Blonde.
We primarily stayed in hostels during the trip and met loads of cool people. Meeting new people while travelling always comes with the usual questions like; where do you come from? Where are you going next? How long are you travelling for? And it usually leads on to; what do you do for a living?
When I first meet a new person, I very rarely say I’m a full-time travel blogger, because the standard questions I receive are usually along these lines:
Is that really a job?
Wait, so you get paid to travel? That’s so cool!
How did you get so many Instagram followers?
How does that work? How do you even make money?
So how much money do you make?
And so on.
I get it that travel blogging and the online industry as a whole is very new and people are curious about it, but I’m honestly always amazed at people asking these sort of questions and not realising how weird they sound.
If someone tells me they’re an accountant I would never dream of asking them how much money they make. I politely nod and say “that’s cool” and then move on with the conversation.
So if I’m only meeting someone for a one day boat trip or a night out I’ll save myself the hassle and say I’m a tour leader or skipper instead (which isn’t technically a lie) and that usually generates enough interest and accounts for my unconventional and travel-rich lifestyle. If we then ended up spending a bit more time with people and maybe travelling on together, then I’d open up and say what I actually do for a living.
The standard question I’ve been receiving lately (once everyone is satisfied that I am indeed earning a full-time income from my blog, which does indeed fund my lifestyle, and I’m not just draining my dad’s money) is the following.
How long are you going to do this for?
I don’t know Bob, how long are you planning to be a builder for? The rest of your life? There you go, that’s your answer.
If someone told you they’d just spent the last 5 years of their life studying medicine and are finally qualifying to be a doctor you wouldn’t ask them how long they’re planning to be a doctor for. You’d congratulate them on finishing such a long and hard training and wish them the best for their future career.
Just because my career choice is a little off the standard route doesn’t mean it’s any less valid.
I don’t know how much longer I’ll be doing “this” for, whatever “this” is. The travel blogging? The travelling? My lifestyle itself?
I’ll keep doing it until I enjoy it. The day I stop having fun doing “this” I’ll come up with something else.
Maybe I’m just a bit of a restless soul. After all I wasn’t able to hold a safe job for more than two years and I’ve never been in a relationship that was longer than one year.
I also know I’m not alone in this restlessness. It often feels like the curse of our generation; the short attention spans and long term commitment issues.
We receive constant stimulus from so many different sources. All the knowledge, music, movies and all forms of art ever created from humanity are just a few taps and an arm lengths away stowed away in our back pockets.
With so much going on and so many different roads constantly being opened to us, how can we be expected to commit to one job or path for the rest of our lives?
There’s a famous Italian song by Ligabue that says; “Strade troppo strette e diritte / Per chi vuol cambiar rotta oppure Sdraiarsi un po’ / Che andare va bene però / A volte serve un motivo”
Which literally translates to “these roads are too narrow and straight for those that want to change route or lie down a bit, because going on is fine but sometimes you need a reason”.
As someone who stumbled into the 9-5 because it was the expected road for me to take after university, that song hit me hard.
You know when you’re lying in bed listening to old songs and for the first time you pay attention to the lyrics and think “damn”? That was me.
Travel blogging is what makes me happy right now. Writing was never my strong point but travelling and photography have always been big passions of mine. More than the job itself, I love the freedom travel blogging gives me.
I love setting my own work days and hours.
I love being able to work from anywhere in the world I want.
I love the different income sources and scalability potential of them.
I love the fact that it’s passive income. If I decide to run away to Asia for a few months or take time off to day drink with my friends I can, and I’m still earning money as it happens.
But will travel blogging be my one career for the rest of my life? Who knows.
At the moment I just know that I’m earning more from my blog than I used to when I was working 9-5 in a corporate office in London. To me, that’s a pretty good place to be while I figure out what I want to do when I grow up.
For the past year I’ve been experimenting with other jobs. Nothing that would take me back to the office, but other things I enjoy doing that can satisfy the curious questions of new people I meet on the road.
I’ve been working part-time as a tour leader for an Italian travel agency called WeRoad. I give them my time availability, they tell me what trips they have on during those dates, if there’s any destination that hits my fancy we have a match!
A lot of people see it as a dream job. I travel for free, get paid on top of it and all I have to do is entertain a group of millennial Italians as I take them around a country. And don’t get me wrong, it’s loads of fun and I’m glad I’ve had this opportunity for the past year. But it’s also exhausting, which is why I don’t do more than one trip every two months or so.
For the whole length of the trip (and leading up to it) you have 10+ people that are constantly relying on you to sort out their life, from small things like what the weather is going to be like (heads up, I’m not a weather man and my internet isn’t any faster than yours, just google it yourself) to having to take them to A&E in Koh Phi Phi to get rabies shots because they got bitten by a monkey on Monkey Beach (true story).
It’s also incredibly rewarding and it has allowed me to meet some really cool people, who I am still in touch with today. It’s great to see how you can set off as 10 strangers and end the trip as close friends. It feels great to have people say they had an amazing vacation and that it’s thanks to you.
But is tour leading going to be my job for the rest of my life? Probably not. I’m loving the experience and I will probably apply the skills I’m learning to other future business endeavours, but I don’t think I’ll do trips like this for much longer.
Organising a trip and managing a group of people on schedule were skills that came in handy when I co-hosted my very first blog retreat in Sardinia last summer.
Which leads on to the second project I’ve been working on in the past few months; From Zero To Blog Hero.
Every day I receive countless DMs on social media from people that want to know how you make money blogging, how long it takes to earn an income from it, how do you start, how you get more page views and so on. So together with my friend Marta (Where Life Is Great – you might remember her from my Bucharest and Morocco trips) we started a second blog about blogging, called From Zero To Blog Hero.
Our mission at From Zero To Blog Hero is to share everything we’ve learnt in the past three years of blogging, to help others go from part-time hobby blogs to professional blogs that can generate a full-time income. We do it because if other bloggers hadn’t shared their knowledge, we would never have been able to grow and monetise our own blogs. There’s a lot of useful information out there but we felt it was a bit all over the place, without one single blog that shared it all. Which is why we decided to create From Zero To Blog Hero and talk about all aspects of blogging.
At the moment there is a free Facebook group where we have constructive discussions, challenges, share advice and feedback, and the blog where we write blogging advice. Eventually we want to create an e-course and other products, so watch this space (and feel free to join our group if you’re an aspiring blogger)!
Last year I also experimented with working as a skipper. It was short lived and I didn’t do it again this summer, but it’s a set of skills I now have in the bag. If there will ever be an internet apocalypse it’s reassuring to know that I have a set of real world skills, and that I could always make a living by sailing rich people’s boats around the world.
I also have an idea for a restaurant I would love to open in either London or Milan, because I’ve seen a gap in the market and I think it has a huge potential. I can’t really say much more besides that in case you go off and steal my idea. Unless you’re someone with a substantial amount of money that you want to invest in a restaurant, in that case hit me up.
So there you have it, a very long answer to a not-so-simple question that I’ve had to brush off one too many times in hostels, beach parties and all sorts of scenarios.
At this moment in time I’m happy with what I’m doing, and it’s working financially, which gives me the freedom to travel and the space to experiment and think about what else I want to do.
One day I’ll get bored with travel blogging. I’m a restless person and with so much going on, I will probably stumble across something else that catches my fancy. But until that day comes I will keep blogging, I will keep travelling and I will keep living “this” lifestyle.
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