The theme of 2015’s UK Blog awards is ‘Be Bold’, and there is perhaps no greater example of doing this than leaving behind the hum-drum of normal life and travelling the world relying solely upon the success of blogging about your adventures. It’s one thing living pay check to pay check but when your next meal, or a warm bed one night relies on the monetary gains made from your blog, life on the road can get that little bit more interesting/terrifying. This week, the UK Blog Awards caught up with two girls that have done just that.
Ashley Fleckenstein of AshleyAbroad began blogging two years ago to document her move to Paris where she au-paired for a French family. Since then, her blog has taken her to South-East Asia, India and all around Europe.
Victoria Lee who details her life through her blog The Unsugarcoated Life of a Disastrous Girl, left her job at the Daily Mirror news desk in order to travel the world to pursue her love of writing while recording her “experiences/mishaps”.
We got together with Victoria and Ashley to grill them on their respective experiences of travelling, and how they managed to keep themselves afloat while doing so.
How did you turn you passion for blogging into a means of funding a trip of a lifetime?
Ashley: I got my first advertising deal six months after starting a blog. Most months it’s feast or famine- my inbox is either overflowing with offers or completely dead! The most stable way I’ve found to make money while traveling is through freelance writing- with my Answers.com gig I was making up to $1500 monthly, enough to comfortably travel in Southeast Asia.
Victoria: The majority of my travelling was paid for with money I saved up before I left home. My blog provided additional cash - through sponsored posts and links - which allowed me to travel for longer. Now I'm back in London my blog has been revamped to reflect my current life. It is an honest account of a twenty-something living in London and - I hope - an anecdote to 'lifestyle' blogs that make out every twenty-something girl spends her weekends doing yoga in the park and sipping papaya juice. I spend my weekends eating chocolate in bed and trying not to embarrass myself - oh and desperately flat-hunting. Hence, Victoria Ellen Lee: The Unsugarcoated life of a disastrous girl.
How would you say your blog has changed your life?
Ashley: My blog has hugely changed my life. I’ve made tons of friends through blogging, and it’s funded my travels around the world. Blogging is also a creative outlet as I love sharing my writing and photography. I also feel I’ve been able to help people, especially 20-somethings who want to travel or live abroad but are uncertain of how to make the leap. In that way it’s been very rewarding.
Victoria: My blog has made me more comfortable with sharing what's going on in my life with my readers. When I read my early blog posts they are very stiff and anonymous. Blogging showed me that people only care about your opinion if they're interested in you. If not, they'd read a national newspaper or magazine instead.
What was life like blogging on the road?
Ashley: Blogging on the road was really tough. I struggled to balance travel with my huge blogging/freelancing load, and found the best way to manage both was to travel really, really slowly. When I found a place traveling I really loved (Koh Tao, Saigon and Ubud, Bali, for a few examples!) I stayed put for two or three weeks in order to catch up on work before setting off again.
Victoria: I'm definitely more suited to off-road blogging. On-road blogging is easier if you travel slowly. At one point during my trip I spent a month riding a motorbike the length of Vietnam. We stayed in remote villages with no Wi-Fi and when we did chance upon civilisation the last thing I wanted to do was burrow away in a corner alone with my laptop. Blogging has got to be fun. You've got to love it and want to write every day. Since I've been home and had more time to spend on my blog I feel like it's really come into itself and found a true identity. My readership has certainly shot up and I'm really enjoying sharing travel tales along with current posts.
What advice would you give to those who are looking to follow in your footsteps?
Ashley: Blogging takes a lot of work, a bit of luck and tons of patience. Only start a blog if you sincerely love spending all day on your laptop, writing, photography and social media- otherwise you’ll hate it!
Victoria: Take your time. Spend a few months planning and reading other blogs before you start. Think through every aspect: blogging is not just about writing. You're also signing up to be a social media manager. If you don't promote those posts they're going to disappear in the big black hole that is the World Wide Web. Plus, unless you're going to spend a small fortune on a web designer you've got to design your website and master WordPress (or another blogging CMS). If you're going to run a blog on the road be prepared to spend a few hours a day minimum working at your laptop.
Ashley is a travel blogger and freelance writer who moved to Paris at 21 and has been traveling the world ever since. She's usually in pursuit of yoga, languages and perfectly ripe cheese and her writing has been featured in National Geographic, Viator and Jetstar Australia. Visit her blog, Say hi on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Victoria Ellen Lee left her job on the Daily Mirror's digital news desk in 2012 to travel around the world solo. Her blog, Victoria Ellen Lee: The Unsugarcoated life of a disastrous girl, followed her misadventures across the globe and more recently her return to life in London. Visit her blog or connect with her on @VictoriaELee">Twitter, Linked in or Instagram