Our next Travel Influencers, Tommo & Megsy, are location-independent entrepreneurs who left Brisbane, Australia in April 2013 with a mission to make travel blogging a full time income that could give them an endless travel freedom lifestyle. They run a podcast, blog as well as the amazing Travel Blog Monetization course.
They’ve visited 42+ countries since leaving home (but 85+ in total in their lives) and it turns out that making this dream lifestyle work involves a lot more than just having the dream…
1.) How did you begin with the Travel Freedom Podcast? What has been the biggest learning curve?
We’d already been running a regular travel blog for almost 2 years when we conceived the podcast. Whilst on a press trip through Greece in October 2014, we met Deb Cole who specialises in social media and business coaching. She’s great at seeing people’s strengths and she pretty quickly identified that podcasting would be a perfect fit for our personalities.
Having worked live audiences in the entertainment industry before becoming bloggers, we felt we could certainly hold our own with talking to the microphone and keeping it entertaining and informative – we call this “infotainment”.
So, the question was, what would we podcast about? Travel, of course. But we needed something more specific. It made sense to us to focus on what we were doing at the time. Trying to make a full time business out of travel blogging. To follow our journey not just around the world, but also in our business.
We also realised, that interviewing top bloggers and entrepreneurs could not only be a great draw card to build an audience, but we could be asking the questions that we were struggling with ourselves.
Some of our guests in the initial 6 months included really big names (and big money makers) in travel blogging – like The Planet D, Gary Arndt (Everything Everywhere), Carol Cain, My Tan Feet, Sharon Gourlay.
The biggest learning curve was, after speaking to these experts, was that to be successful like the big name bloggers, you need a business approach, rather than a blogger approach.
Don’t keep plugging away at posting content on your blog that no-one reads. Start building a business plan and implementing a monetization strategy that really works.
As the podcast evolved we eventually moved our focus towards Travel Blog Monetization. We set a goal to become the number one resource on travel blog monetization. So we could actually bridge the gap between travel blogging and location independent income – not just for readers and listeners, but for our own blogs.
By late 2015 we’d released an incredibly successful collaboration post – 18 ways to make money as a travel blogger. This went way beyond the all too obvious “ad-sense” advertising methods that have plagued generic articles of this type in the past. Instead we pulled together 18 separate methods and top influencers shared some of their best strategies for each. At over 9,000 words, I believe it’s still the most comprehensive free resource of its kind.
The article has had thousands of likes/shares and it became the pre-cursor of a much bigger project – The Travel Blog Monetization Course. This project has left us little time to keep the podcast running, but it’s been of huge benefit to the 200+ members who signed up when it was first released.
We’ve spent months growing the resources and are about to open enrolment again.
2.) If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?
We’d certainly head to some of the destinations that have been on our list for a long time, but are a little harder to afford.
Our main travel goals now are to try the best food the world has to offer. So getting the opportunity to dine in some of the world’s most experimental and revered restaurants would be a must. The places with a long waiting list and a hefty price tag would have to be a priority.
That said, we’ve found some of the best food in the world for less than a dollar, as well as in fine dining restaurants. So, it’s not all about unlimited money. It’s also about just having the resources and money to have enough free time to experience everything we want to.
Time is our most important resource. So having unlimited free time would be great! We are working more towards that into 2017.
3.) What are some ways an individual can travel long-term and be location-independent?
The formula to being location independent is common sense – though implementation takes a lot of work.
Simply, if your online income is greater than your outgoings then you can travel forever. So you have to find a balance in order to make the lifestyle work.
We managed to travel on as little as $450 per month (for 2 people). But typically we used to spend $1,000+ per month for the two of us. Reducing your outgoings through things like Housesitting can really give you the free time you need to develop a business.
I highly recommend starting with some good savings in the bank, or starting in your spare time before quitting your job. I’ve seen many wannabes head out with just a thousand dollars or so, and that will never be enough to give you the time to be successful. Even if you get your outgoings super low, you’ll always be stressing about money and you’ll often have to compromise your business plan temporarily in order to make ends meet.
Have enough money to comfortably last at least 1 year without having to always be thinking about the next way to earn $50.
But, the most important lesson is that your desire to live cheaper should not hinder your ability to succeed. If you are choosing to Couchsurf, or live in the back of a van with no wifi, or traveling so much that you can only work a few hours per week, you will struggle to succeed.
Location independence is a work/life/travel balancing act. There is work to be done. If you want to travel without needing to work, you are getting into the wrong business. It’s the dream we are all aiming for, but getting there is going to involve prioritising your business. But, regular travel is the perk, and it’s what has kept us going.
4.) What resources would you recommend to help someone along the way to creating a successful location-independent career?
That depends greatly on the sort of career you want.
But, some of the most general things that can help any location independent wannabe, would include tools to help automate tasks, increase productivity and stay organised.
As I mentioned before, having enough time to grow you business and still have free time to enjoy the travel lifestyle, is important to most people.
We use Mass Planner to automate many elements of social media in a detailed, yet organic way.
We use Asana for project management. Even if you are a one person operation, planning out your tasks in detail so that you have a workflow to follow to get projects completed, is really important. Getting sidetracked with pointless tasks is the enemy of success. So start planning!
5.) Has there been something you were afraid to do during your travels or blogging career? What was it and how did you find the courage to overcome it?
The only thing we’ve truly been afraid of is failure. Running out of money and having to go back to a real job.
There have been a few times in the last few years where we were really low on cash.
In late 2014, we were still establishing our business. Our savings were running low and we knew it was make or break time. Figure out how to make more money, or quit and go home. It really was the fear of failing that gave us the motivation to work harder, study harder and make it work.
When you have to make something work, you either give it everything, or give up. We gave it everything. We knew, if other people were making money, we could too. All we needed to do was really understand how they were doing it.
Once you truly understand how something works, you can make it work for yourself. The problem is, most people are too impatient to study. And instead fight to make things work without really understanding them.
It’s like putting together Ikea furniture while stubbornly refusing to read the instructions. A few people get it right. Most people have to take things apart again and again before they get it right. At least with furniture, it may only take a couple of tries. Business is more complicated and has way more pieces. So, people often give up.
We chose to read the manual. We invested thousands of dollars in education products. And, as I mentioned before, started interviewing experts and stealing their secrets!
6.) What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time or live in a new country?
We’d reached a crossroads in our lives. We were hitting our 30s and the pressure from society was to buy a house and settle down. We’d already started saving. Then we looked at the numbers and realised that, living in Australia at the time, buying a house on the budget we had would involve getting a fixer-upper, in the suburbs, and being broke for years in order to pay it off.
When would we ever have more than just the odd weekend away again? Would we really be living? Or just existing?
We decided, instead of committing to the debt prison of a mortgage, we’d take the money we were saving and have a go at building a different sort of life. A life that would ignite our senses, rather than dull them into suburban inevitability.
Our one way trip of undetermined length started in April 2013, and has taken us to 42+ countries to date. Seen us dancing on tables in Greece, living in a volcanic spa in South Korea, getting soaked at the Thingyan festival in Myanmar, traveling through the mountains of Switzerland, visiting the Taj Mahal, and hundreds of other once-in -a-lifetime experiences.
That’s the best thing about the location independent lifestyle. Once in a lifetime can be a weekly occurrence.
Tommo & Megsy run the Travel Blog Monetization Course – Which features themselves and 15 other expert travel industry entrepreneurs. Get started building your travel blog or monetizing your current travel blog, the first 10 lessons are FREE.
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