The view from here
"What do you do all day?", "Can I write for Travelher?", "What do you do again?", "How do you make money?" - these and other questions, answered.
I’ve been working for myself for nearly a year now and whenever I try to explain what it is that I do, I tend to get the same curious questions over and over. I have also realised that there have been a few surprising challenges about working on my own, while other aspects have been easier than expected. So, I thought I would gather all these questions up and answer them in one go. If you are thinking about working for yourself or would simply like to learn more about Travelher, have a read below!
1. What is Travelher? (What do you do?)
Travelher is both a community and a service. Our website is dedicated to encouraging women to travel, providing advice and information to that end, and sharing travel stories (community). It is also a customised travel content creation business (service).
2. Who writes all of the website content?
Me (Meghan) and Natalie (site co-owners) write the bulk of the content on the website, including keeping the blog updated. We also feature travel stories from other female travelers in the Travelher community. A few of the best of those writers now freelance for us and get regular monthly work.
3. How do you become a Travelher writer?
Everyone who writes for us has submitted a travel story to our website. We welcome all female travelers, or aspiring travelers, to share a wanderlust tale with us, and if they are particularly skilled and able (and there is space open), we will follow up with them about a possible freelance gig. These writers feature on the site regularly and get regular paid work.
4. How do you make money?
This question comes in many forms: “What exactly do you do?”, “How are you able to travel so much?”, “What do you do, again?”, etc. But what people are really asking is “How the hell are you paying your bills?”
And fair enough.
Short answer: Content marketing for travel companies!
*Confusion, eyes begin to glaze over with boredom* WAIT! IT’S RELEVANT I SWEAR!
Long answer: You know how when you go on holiday, you hop on the internet and type in things like “cheap flights to Australia”, “best places to go in Mexico”, “best winery in California”, and so on? Well, searches like this are sales opportunities for companies in the travel and tourism industry. What we do as content marketers is help these companies 1) Show up in Google’s search results, 2) Make their travel or tourism offering sound better than everyone else’s and 3) Be visible on social media and web platforms. We do this by writing well-researched, search engine friendly and engaging copy for them. Heaps of it.
5. And people actually pay you to do that?
I swear this is always the next question people ask.
Answer: ….ummm yes. In the digital age, if you’re not being found on the internet, you’re not being found at all. It’s a lot of work to get your company in front of people’s scrolling eyes and present your brand in the best possible light. Every company needs this but we focus on travel because we love it and know the industry well.
6. Do you get paid to travel?
Not directly! Rather, the nature of the work (online, remote) allows me to travel frequently because I don’t have to be in a specific place at a specific time. While I have been paid to travel in the past, I mostly prefer to pay my own way and fit in my work hours how I see fit. This allows more flexibility and an authentic experience when I do travel. Not that I don’t love free trips or free tours (BECAUSE I DO)! But there is always an element of stress involved with pressure to capture the best content, and that can take away from the moment (and these are the moments I live for!).
7. Do people pay you to promote things on your website?
The Travelher website exists to encourage women to travel, provide a space to share travel stories and offer tips and advice to female adventurers. If we personally promote anything on the site, it means we genuinely recommend it.
8. Do you ever get bored or lonely working from home?
The best thing about being able to work remotely is being able to travel whenever I want. But whether I’m traveling or at home, it means I have to spend a lot of time on the computer… somewhere and often alone.
Being a bit of an introvert, I can spend a lot of time on my own and be completely fine. Open office environments drained my energy. That’s not to say I don’t like collaborating or being around people at all because I do, but I’d rather pick and choose the times that I do that and dedicate my social energy to the people who fuel and inspire me.
With all of the opportunities of what the business could become, there’s always something I can be doing to make progress, so that leaves little room in the brain to be bored. Lonely? Occasionally, I miss the camaraderie of a shared working experience - being human after all. Being around people who are facing similar challenges can lighten the load, inspire you and brighten your day.
The difference now though is if I miss people, I can simply go out and find them (and there are some great communities of other female business owners out there). This is opposed to ALWAYS wanting my own space in an office environment and not being able to just go and get it. 9 to 5 every single day. N-O M-A-T-T-E-R W-H-A-T.
Sometimes I feel like maybe I SHOULD feel lonely, and SHOULD make more of an effort to get amongst that networking action, but if I really think about it, a few good connections are enough to keep me going.
9. Is there anything you miss about the corporate life?
When I was working in an office, I spent a lot of time wishing I was not in that office or wishing that I didn’t have to go to said office. Conversely, I now spend about zero hours wishing I was in an office (with exception maybe to this week where an air conditioned space would’ve been aces) and a lot of time thinking about being grateful I can work from wherever I want.
Having to be somewhere every single day and being responsible for some aspect of someone else’s business gives you a sense of being part of something, a sense of importance. You are challenged by difficult situations, difficult people and you learn a lot. At times something would happen where I’d think “Wow, these people are great and I’m lucky to work here.” After all, there were some very smart and inspiring people there and it felt good to have influence in their company. Occasionally, there are perks, you get recognition and make progress.
I enjoyed these things for a while but eventually it all got a bit repetitive and it began to feel a bit hollow trying to get better at making someone else a lot of money. I also suspected that this was not the only way (or the best way) to achieve these things and I was right.
In essence, the bulk of things I miss from the corporate life can be found in other areas and achieved in a different, more satisfying way.
10. What are the challenges of working for yourself?
There are quite a few! And I'm still learning.
11. How do you stay motivated?
People often say that if they were able to work from home they’d probably end up watching TV all day, so they are curious as to how I actually get any work done.
Short answer: Client deadlines mostly. And the autonomy of working for myself gives me motivation.
Long answer: When it’s your name and livelihood on the line, it’s easy to be motivated to get things done and do them right. Meeting deadlines and pleasing clients is key to survival so you do what you have to do. Ironically, being able to decide when and where I want to work actually makes me shoot out of bed in the morning. I’m awake and ready to start the day way earlier than I ever was as an employee.
With all of that being said, there are days when I’m not motivated to work at all. And that’s okay! The hard part of getting out of the 9 to 5 routine was to retrain my brain not to berate myself for “not being productive” during those certain hours we have been trained to be. Ultimately I will end up being productive maybe later that night or on the weekend because it often comes in waves. I’m learning to just ride it out now because forcing it doesn’t work and then feeling bad about it just makes it worse. So, working out, going for a walk, reading a book or straight up watching trash TV or taking a nap during the day is all fair game when your brain needs a rest because it will all get done eventually. It has to. And it always does.
12. Why are you working right now? (as in this minute)
This is a surprisingly common question from people closest to me.
While yes, I can set my own hours, I do still need to get the work done. And I can admittedly pick the most random hours (Saturday night at 9pm for example), but I still need to get it all done. Not having to work 9 to 5 means I usually don’t work 9 to 5, so that can confound people who have that schedule sometimes. The whole physical presence thing can really confuse people. ;p
There you have it, the most frequently asked questions about Travelher! It was good to reflect on the change over the past year and see it all there in black and white. I hope it has helped you in some way, or you feel like you know Travelher a little bit better. If you have any other questions, or want to share your own experience, comment below or send us an email! We'd love to hear from you.
Author - Meghan Advent
Meghan is co-owner and head editor of Travelher.org. She is a Canadian currently living by the beach in Maraetai, New Zealand. She is always planning the next adventure and is quite obsessed with her cat.