I first heard the word “entrepreneur” when I was in college studying biomedical engineering. I never thought I would become one.
But in 2018, when I started my engineering career at 23, I discovered that writing Packs Light, the travel blog I started in college, was what I expected the most. every day. I then realized that I wanted to travel the world and create content for a living.
So, I slowly and strategically made the transition from full-time engineering to full-time content creator. And I have found great success.
It started as a hobby
At first, I didn’t make any money with Light Packs. But in 2018, he made $ 2,000 thanks to a few small social media campaigns. The following year, I won almost $ 8,000.
In February 2020, after saving some money and making a plan, I quit my engineering job of $ 69,000 per year to work full time as a blogger and consultant. Last year my gross income from Light Packs was over $ 170,000.
My brand and my social audience have grown a lot since 2018. Today, I have 252,000 subscribers on TikTok and 50,000 subscribers on Instagram. I have already secured $ 30,000 in contracts for January alone, and I hope to double or even triple my 2021 income by the end of this year.
From a full-time job and related activities to a 6-figure business
Thanks to scholarships and grants, I was able to graduate from university without any debt. To feel secure about quitting my job, I needed to save at least $ 15,000 (for start-up expenses and an emergency fund).
I took care of virtual recruiting, dog sitting, freelance writing, and social media management for extra money. I also lived at home with my parents – then with roommates – to save on rent.
When I wasn’t working at any of these jobs, I created a catalog of articles and social media posts to grow the audience for Packs Light. During my commute to work, I wrote blog posts using a voice-to-text application. I spent lunch breaks interviewing young travelers to be featured on Packs Light’s “Young Travelers Network” series.
I have also expressed my interest in traveling more for my work. On my work trips, I used my food allowance to try local black-owned restaurants or unique pop-ups to feature on my blog.
Securing partnerships was essential to monetize Packs Lights. So in 2018, I started contacting brands to find out what they were looking for in an influencer partnership. Then I presented them according to their answers. It is always my strategy to find partnerships.
For example, GetYourGuide.com, an online travel agency, was looking for influencers with an American audience who would buy their tours and activities. Even though their best-selling businesses were in the United States, I launched a campaign to market their businesses in Mexico City, where I was based at the time.
I conducted an interest survey of my subscribers and featured research showing how Mexico was emerging as a top travel location for Americans. Our campaign ended up being a success.
How I increased my income
In my first year of full-time activity, I worked on six partnership campaigns, each worth an average of $ 3,000. In 2021, as travel got easier, I landed 12 contracts and increased my income to around $ 10,000 per project.
My campaigns, which often consist of sponsored social media posts, blog content, and business-to-business marketing consultations, make up the bulk of my business income.
I also have additional passive income streams: blog ad revenue, paid membership communities, and digital products like online courses for aspiring digital nomads.
Since taking over my business full time, I have worked with major clients including Facebook, The North Face, Delta Airlines, and Adidas.
I attribute my success to three main lessons:
1. Your “why” is an important part of any sales pitch
It is more important to establish your “why” early on. I have a deep and genuine love for travel. I am passionate about showing young women from all walks of life how they can find joy and meaning through travel – without all the planning stress that usually comes with it.
Someone who knows their “why” is more genuine and engaging to clients and clients because it clearly shows that they love their job and are motivated by their mission.
2. Be decisive and accept mistakes
As an entrepreneur, you make all the choices, and it’s so easy to waste time procrastinating between different options and potential outcomes. But we get so much further when we try and fail.
Being decisive allows you to seize last minute opportunities and devote 100% of your effort and attention to the choices you make. Even if this turns out to be the “wrong” choice, the lessons you learn bring you one step closer to success, especially when it comes to the paralysis of perfection.
I always like to say, “Better to do than perfect. “
3. Study your customers and target audiences
Identify and get to know your top customers and subscribers. What are their interests? How and where do they spend their time?
I serve Gen Z and Millennials with my travel content, and since I was 26 I’ve had an edge in understanding their social media behaviors. But I still experienced posting content to multiple platforms – TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
I got the most relevant engagement on TikTok and Instagram, so this is where I continue to focus my efforts.
This principle also holds true when looking for business customers. Remember how I mentioned earlier that I would ask brands what they are looking for in a partnership? It was me who researched the customers they wanted to reach and how they wanted to reach them, and then I found a way to achieve their goals with my product.
Gabby Beckford is a digital nomad and travel expert, content creator and TEDx speaker. She educates and empowers young people to seek risk, seize opportunities and see the world through her website, Packs Lthe night. Follow her on Instagram and TIC Tac.