The story of how I became a full-time travel blogger

When I think about how much travel I have done this past year, I have to pinch myself sometimes. Not about the fact that I have been travelling so much, but that all of my travels since I started this blog have been paid for through money I have earned from Runaway Jane. I don’t say this to boast. My earnings by no means make me rich. I simply say it because I still can’t really believe it myself sometimes.

I literally had no savings when I first started Runaway Jane. In fact, I had less than nothing. I was almost at the brink of my student overdraft, checking my account everyday to make sure I had not gone past the limit. I had this idea. This crazy idea about starting a blog, and making money from it. It was going to take me all over the world, and effectively pay for me to travel full-time. People thought it sounded crazy, but for me it felt very real.

When I came home one morning telling my mum I’d dropped out of college 3 months before graduation because I wanted to try earn money from this “blogging thing”, I can only begin to imagine what she must have been thinking! For some reason though, I was lucky enough to have been born with a really cool mum. Where other people’s mum’s may be more cautious or disapproving, I have a mum who’s open to my zany ideas, who’s always up for a challenge however unlikely or against us the odds may be. It’s probably how I turned out doing something for a living that I love, instead of being stuck behind a desk for years. Sounds silly but I always believed I was meant to do something different from the 9 to 5 because quite simply my mum always told me I could if I wanted to. She was always willing to take the risk with me, to give me a chance for something better. It was up to me to put the work in and do it, but she was always right there behind me cheering me on. I know so many people who are too scared to attempt a life outside of the 9 to 5 box, and I truly believe it’s because they didn’t have a mum like me, or someone behind them yelling “you can do it!”

So in the end I asked her to give me 6 months. “If I’m not earning money in 6 months, I’ll go get a job” I said. She agreed. She also agreed to talk to my dad, and bring him round to the idea too. In actual fact it took me 9 months to start scrimping enough money together to start paying for trips away. 12 months before I was earning anything like a full-time wage. I kept giving them a timeline. Targets I would meet based on what people like me had done in a similar time frame. They didn’t ask me to, but I felt like it bought me some time. Thankfully I met them all. Just.

Even now, almost 2 years on from when I started my travel blog, I do have down months. Like September for instance. August was one of my highest earnings months ever, but in September I earned less than I had since I began blogging. I was worried. I’m still feeling the after affects of that month, but thankfully things have picked up again at a steady pace. Still, sometimes I feel like I am just earning month to month. I never know if I’m going to earn money next month until it comes through. I feel lucky that it has come through month by month.

My reason for writing this post today though is that I have been under a lot of stress lately, with a few major unexpected bills to pay. I was really starting to worry. Sales of my latest book were going well for an independent launch, and I was still getting advertising payments, but because of these unexpected outgoings I was beginning to question whether I could make a viable income from travel blogging long-term. Then I spoke to my mum. I didn’t even mention my worries to her. The discussion was about something different, but through hearing her voice I started to think about what I have actually achieved in this short time. Every place I have travelled to, every hostel I have booked, apartment I have rented, transportation I have taken, my camera, and even the clothes I am wearing right now… These have all been purchased by money earned from this blog. Just saying that out loud makes me realise what I have achieved so far. I’ve created something from nothing, and no one can take what I have done in the past away from me. It gives me hope, and a renewed motivation to keep going, and improving.

So whether it’s taking the first step in your travels, setting up a blog like me, or doing something completely different but equally terrifying in the beginning, I want to tell you to not give up. If you’re feeling low just keep trying. Have belief in yourself. Never be afraid of failure. The only true sense of failure is to never have tried at all.

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18 Responses to “The story of how I became a full-time travel blogger”

  1. I really liked your story Jane. I don’t often hear how bloggers started out unless I have followed them from the beginning. I’ve just started my blog and one day hope to make some online income. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. If you even earn a dollar from blogging, that should feel like a success. But everyone feels down sometimes, regardless of what they are doing or have achieved. I have learned to really thank whatever god is out there when I start feeling down for no reason, as to have your health, and the health of those important to you,should be enough to be thankful for. All the rest is just bonus.

  3. Brent says:

    It’s wonderful advice no matter what YOU do and is excellent for everyone! Doing what you love is truly freedom that most will never know. I applaud you. Another thing I’ve noticed is your passion. I truly enjoy watching other people who are passionate about what they do. From travel bloggers, to taxi drivers, to stereo installers, to lawyers, to street performers, to….you get the idea. Folks who are passionate about their work, irregardless of what it is, how it pays, etc. is exciting. This world, especially the USA, is really lacking in passion for anything! I love watching pros work, and you are a pro with only bigger things to come. You keep writing; I’ll keep reading/clicking.

  4. Susan says:

    Thanks for this heartfelt post, Jane. I just started blogging a few days ago and am really excited.. but a little scared, too! Your post made me feel like I’m not alone. Congrats on your success!

  5. Thanks for this, it came at the perfect time for me, while sitting on the fence trying to decide whether or not to jump – not necessarily blogging, but with my own business none the less. So thank you for pushing me to leap, and reminding me that you don’t know until you take that chance

  6. What ever you say about yourself, let me tell you one thing – this story is indeed very inspiring to bloggers like me. I’ve been blogging over a year now and I still haven’t manage to monetize it. Good for you that you’re achieving so much in so little time. Keep up the great work!

  7. Rease says:

    Congratulations on everything. I think what you have accomplished is great! I am lucky to have a mom like yours, too. She never, ever questions anything I do. She really had to bite her tongue when I quit my job and moved to Buenos Aires, but she supported me because she knew it would make me happy.

  8. Brit says:

    I’ve been looking into blogging lately and have been getting excited about the prospect of starting my own blog (i already have a blog type site but it’s not very organized or broad, it’s more personal use), but i’ve been really scared about even entertaining the idea because i know most everyone i know will not be supportive and think it’s not worth trying out…
    this entry really gave me hope about it and made me feel confident in my own decision to try it out, and not give up before i even start. thank you <3
    i hope you'll continue to have success with your blog and travels 🙂

  9. Margaret says:

    What a great inspiration! I just found your blog while looking for Scottish food blogs, but the travel bug has been in my ear lately, and I’m wondering what it would take to move into this different type of life. Besides a whole lot of hutzpah and hard work, that is! 🙂

  10. Duncan says:

    Amazing,

    Im just setting up my blog too and want to live the dream also..

    Are there any tips you can share about how to make it a success?

    Thanks

    Duncan

  11. Mark Hansen says:

    Congrats to you Jane. You’re doing something you love and getting paid to do it… that’s the dream. I hope to have the same success as yourself with my own online business that truly helps other people in their lives.

  12. Hey Jane,
    I admire the pillars your parents are in what you have achieved. Your passion for this work inspires me a lot. I have a travel blog for the last 10 months almost and i haven’t earned a single dime out of it. I haven’t actually tried to earn till about 3 months ago. After reading your blog I have that renewed energy. I now see that there are so many like minded people who breathe their passion day in and day out.

    Gaurav

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