Client attraction. Business growth. Pretty profits.
Ever wondered if those stories of building a business while travelling are true?
Felt a little jealous and wondered if it’s really possible? Tried to work out what you’d need and how to pay for it?
Meet Isabelle Kenis and Chris Richardson.
I met this lovely pair at #Unblogged in the Grampians recently and the more I listened, the more I wanted to know. They are beautiful people doing awesome things with their respective businesses and blogs.
Chris and Isabelle kindly accepted my invitation to share their tips and tales with you so settle in and enjoy!
1. Please share a little of your background and respective businesses.
IK: My name is Isabelle Kenis and I`m a travel blogger, originally from Belgium, currently in Australia. I run Isabelle`s Travel Guide, which is an online collection of my personal trips, where I try to inspire people to go and explore the world themselves. I visit destinations all over the world, if possible in style, as that`s how I like to travel. As I have a weakness for beaches, I`ve created a hashtag on Twitter, #BeachThursday, which has become such a big success I’ve launched a website for it.
CR: I got into travel blogging after becoming bored with my normal 9 to 5 working life. I wanted to get out and see the world, experience what it had to offer I guess you could say. Having read plenty of blogs researching for my trip and struggling to find the answers to my questions I started my own. The idea was I’d document my travels and maybe help someone else out who was looking to do the same thing.
During that time I transitioned my old IT skills into a new area learning about WordPress, SEO and Social Media. Having a background in IT made it easier for me to pickup and learn these skills quicker than many of my fellow blogging friends. By leveraging the authority I’d grown with my travel blog I was able to then start my online WordPress Developer business offering support to my peers.
2. How did you grow your brands and businesses?
IK: Like everyone else, through hard work. The first months when creating Isabelle`s Travel Guide, I created a lot of content, once I had that I could travel more. To grow my business I used social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, later on Pinterest and Instagram. I went to conferences and made sure I networked with people in the industry.
CR: A lot of growth for my travel blog in the beginning came from networking with other bloggers in my niche. Communicating online via Facebook, Twitter and commenting on each other blogs helped grow my awareness and bring their readers to my site. When I got started the travel blog community was quite small so everybody knew everybody and there was a great deal of help provided so that we could all grow our sites.
After that first burst of growth things levelled off until the site began ranking well in search engines. By producing content that was answering questions people had I was growing my audience organically without having to constantly chase it. Sure social media has helped but as over 50% of my traffic now comes from the likes of Google searches I know I’m reaching the audience I planned for when starting the blog.
The beginnings of my WordPress business grew out of my ability to understand the tech side of things. With a small travel blog community I became known as the person to go to in order to customise their site or fix things that were broken. At the start I helped people for free because these people were my friends and I was (and still am) a big believer in the community helping each other out. As the number of travel bloggers grew so did the demand for my knowledge and fairly quickly people started asking me how much I would charge them to do work on their sites.
One job lead to another and as word of mouth spread I decided to set up a dedicated blog for the business with the intention to write content that helped other bloggers do tech work themselves. That then grew into offering dedicated services to bloggers like managing their WordPress blogs for them and providing custom development.
3. You’ve worked with a lot of large travel organisations. How have you built those relationships?
CR: As with many things in life networking and developing a brand where you have some authority has really helped me build strong relationships with tourism boards and big travel organisations. Getting the first sponsored trip for me was the hardest but once you build one relationship it was easier to leverage that to get more.
I’ve found the best way to build a strong and lasting relationship with a potential sponsor or organisation is to always over deliver on what you promised.
IK: I hate to be repetitive here, but social media platforms opened many doors. Going to conferences and meetings with people face to face who work in the industry gives you that little extra to build a genuine work relationship.
4. Growing your business while travelling must be a challenge. What tools couldn’t you live without?
IK: That`s easy, my iPhone, laptop and preferably my DSLR camera. But even if I don`t have my camera with me, I still have my iPhone. If I had to pick only one tool, it would definitely be my iPhone.
CR: Having a completely online business certainly has its ups and downs when you are travelling a lot. As I’m a big fan of travelling light I try to only carry what’s essential. 99% of my work and photos for my travel site come from my Macbook Air and my iPhone. The Air is a great workhorse and is super light while the iPhone makes for a great portable camera and serves well for getting me connected to the rest of the internet world.
I’ve also got a suite of online tools that help me keep the business ticking over. Perhaps the most important is my Xero Online Accounting package so I can keep track of money going in and out. It’s also mighty handy to get my accountant access to my books while I’m travelling on the other side of the world as he can just login and not need files sent over.
5. What’s your best tip for being productive in business while travelling?
IK: Make the most out of moments you`re waiting, like at the airport or when you`re traveling on a train.
CR: I’ve found the best way to get work done while travelling is to make use of any downtime you have. Be it long flights or sitting on trains and buses to your next destination. Your normally stuck in a seat with nowhere to go so this is the best time to write and be productive.
6. Please share your weirdest business experience to date.
CR: I don’t think I’ve ever had a weird business experience but any potential candidates would be the never ending line of people submitting generic emails telling me they want to guest post on my site. Around 50% of the time it’s a copy/paste job where they leave someone else’s name or blog URL in the email. All of them promise to offer me some great original and free content and all they want in return is a link to their respective client.
IK: This isn`t really a weird business experience, but I do find it a bit weird people think my job is one big holiday and expect me to work for free. Because you`re traveling all the time they think it`s a vacation and you don`t get paid while on vacation. Sorry to burst the bubble, but travel blogging is hard work.
7. What is next for your businesses?
CR: My travel blog is an extension of myself in a way so it grows as I grow. I’ve a real love for history so can’t wait to get back to Europe and produce some more content to help others explore there. Before that though I’ve got one more trip in Australia planned. That will be to take a train ride aboard the Indian Pacific from Perth to Sydney. It should be a great way to see a different part of Australia and travel a lesser known route at the same time.
As for the tech business I’m making a big push to build my Managed WordPress Service I offer where I manage all the technical parts of running a blog so the owner can get on with just blogging. I’m also forming a partnership with another high profile blogger to create a mentor program that will teach everything bloggers need to know to build a site and make it a success.
IK: I`ll be going on more trips, but I`m actually very excited to grow BeachThursday more. As it`s the newer site, I want to get more people to get to know it and join in the beach love.
Please give a massive thank you to Chris and Isabelle for sharing their stories and tips with us! If you have any questions for the pair be sure to ask them in the comments.
To connect with The Aussie Nomad (Chris):
To connect with Isabelle:
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