The American Blogger Making Six-Figures Whereas Touring The World
Working around the world may sound like a contradiction in terms, but it’s just good business for Liz Carlson.
The 29-year-old is not limited to one medium and records her antics on her blog Young Adventuress as well as on Instagram and YouTube.
This “pie-in-the-sky” career was not always her reality, however. Carlson built her brand over the course of seven years and says it takes a lot of work, networking, and a little bit of trust to make her dreams come true.
In the beginning: “I wrote a lot about what it’s like to be an American expat in Spain,” says Carlson.
The then 22-year-old worked as an assistant to an English teacher as part of the country’s Auxiliares de Conersación program in Cordoba. She was in a long distance relationship at the time and used the blog as a base.
Focusing on things she wished she knew when she first moved to the country, she wrote on topics like why Spaniards eat cookies for breakfast and how to swear, as well as practical topics like finding one Apartment and opening a bank account.
To immerse herself in the industry, she met fellow travel writers in Europe at events and conferences and avidly read other blogs.
Building a successful travel blog
At the time, she was preparing for her PhD in Medieval History, but soon found that she loved traveling too much to sacrifice it for five years of study. When her visa expired in Spain, she moved back to Washington, DC for a year and tried to blog as much as possible to build her brand and audience. After a year, she had built enough sideline and reputation to jump into travel blogging full time.
“Everyone told me I was crazy quitting a company job to become a blogger,” says Carlson. “Just because I haven’t moved home and worked at Starbucks in a few years will people think I’m successful.”
Now her sideline is her full-time career, which she takes on escapades like horse trekking in Kyrgyzstan or charging elephants in Sri Lanka.
Grab this first press trip
One of the first milestones in her career as a travel writer was the American’s first paid trip to Jordan. During that visit, she fell off a camel in the middle of Wadi Rum, an experience Carlson describes as her “wild, chaotic adventure” style.
Other mishaps since then have been ignorant of the public nudity in a Turkish hammam and accidentally interrupting a couple in the middle of coitus while snorkeling in the Maldives. Carlson wittily recorded those so-called “why me” moments and built a brand on global misfortunes.
Instagram becomes famous in 2018
Since her first post, many aspects of travel blogging have shifted, especially in the world of social media. Carlson is fortunate to have grown up with the different platforms as she feels that it is much harder to break into the world right now.
“Four to five years ago you were very popular if you took a good picture on Instagram. Now everyone has a good photo “Says Carlson. The Millennial” was viral all along, “but these days,” there’s so much more content out there. The question is how do you stand out? “
With the online world inundated with “shiny travel photos” with the same filters and shots, as well as influencers buying followers, Carlson predicts that the future will be more video content and raw storytelling.
“Everything is moving towards live stuff,” says Carlson. “When I look at my sister, who is 16, it’s all photos and Snapchat. They don’t even write text. “
Find your home in New Zealand
Five years ago, the Millennial bought a one-way ticket to New Zealand after some of their readers suggested they’d like the country. There are pretty straightforward visa laws for Americans under 30, so Carlson decided to see if she’d like to live there. Now the 29-year-old has found her home forever in Wanaka, a small town in southern New Zealand.
“I can see snow-capped mountains on a lake that I can go down every morning and take my paddle board,” says Carlson. “It still feels like America 50 years ago, with people waving at you while driving.”
She was the first professional Instagrammer in the country to help her win appearances.
Since then, Carlson has been named New Zealand’s Best Blogger for the past three years and received a gold medal from the Society of American Travel Writers for a video she filmed about Norway’s polar bears Spitsbergen. The short film was inspired by one of her favorite childhood books, “The Golden Compass”. Winning the award “blew her away”.
Carlson, however, does not let the success sink in. “A few months ago I got verified on Instagram and was like my god,” admits the millennial.
Fight against sexism as a single female traveler
Despite all of the women who work in the travel industry, Carlson says she faces a lot of sexism in her daily job. She says: “As a woman, I feel so differently treated in this position.”
When pitching brands, she says that she has to work extra hard to prove herself to people and to immediately demonstrate authority. “When it comes from a man, he’s confident. When it comes from a girl, you’re bossy,” she says.
On press trips, male bloggers will ask her if she knows how to properly use her camera. “It’s really annoying,” admits Carlson, who is actually Canon-sponsored.
Build a successful business online … with authenticity
The cornerstone of Carlson’s business is their loyal audience – and they are something they won’t sacrifice for sponsored post or content that doesn’t feel authentic.
“I always try not to sell out,” says Carlson. “Even if I didn’t make any money, I would make things.”
Working with brands like Visa, Air New Zealand and Adobe, Carlson focuses on running bigger campaigns a few times a year rather than working on lots of smaller stories.
In addition to sponsored content, Millennials’ annual income is in the six figures thanks to affiliate links, sponsored target marketing, content creation, and their own conferences and events. She’s also started offering tours of New Zealand, something she believes other bloggers will get into too.
Carlson says she has “constant ethical conflicts” over who to work with and rejects partnerships that don’t work with her brand, like self-filtering water bottles or gigantic cruise ships.
“If something makes me feel bad, I’ll go away,” says Carlson. “Ultimately, my readers are the most important thing. If I don’t have it, then I have nothing. “
Tips for people interested in blogging
If you’re interested in taking a page out of a millennial’s notebook and working while traveling the world, Carlson’s first piece of advice is to focus on what you know.
With the abundance of content online, it’s important to get into a niche if you want to build traction as a blogger. Don’t write about the five most romantic places in Paris or the best New Zealand attractions because “You will never compete with these huge sites on Google,” says Carlson.
“Everyone is a great photographer now,” says Carlson. “It’s not about how good your photos are. It’s more about your ability to run a business and build a brand. I’m a good writer and photographer, but I found out how to run a business a long time ago. That’s why I’m successful. ”
This is the first in one Series about women who are successful in the travel industry, be it as a single female traveler or as the founder of an adventure start-up. Do you know a woman who it kills in the world of travel? Send an email to actalty at gmail.com to nominate them for installation next month.
Others in this series include:
The 33-year-old who left a six-figure job to start a travel company
The Palestinian YouTuber connects East and West with her travel videos
How 29-year-old managing director Alyssa Ravasio is changing American camping
The 35-year-old teacher became the Travel Channel host, making six-digit numbers
This 65 year old Popularized Farm woman is staying in America
The travel blogger who hikes Everest to help cancer survivors
The TV presenter gets paid to travel to mysterious islands