From A-Level maths to full-time travelling: How I turned travel into my career

Well, this post has been requested more than any other post ever and I’ve finally decided to (try to) attack it for you.

In case you are new to my blog… Hey, my name is Mollie. I am a full-time traveller and I work with various different brands and companies to create content and bring you guys the best guides, tips, tricks and travel inspiration. I showcase my work through my blog {you’re on it now} and social networks pretty much on a daily basis. Through this content I do my very best to inspire you guys and aim to assist in making your travels easy, efficient and nothing short of incredible.

Over time, you could say I have built up a big enough readership {you guys} that now companies and brands want to work with me to showcase their products, destinations and services to you, via me.

This is what you call brand marketing: my blog acts like a magazine and other brands buy into advertising.

Read my ‘What do bloggers actually do?’ post here

Read my ‘Downsides to a life filled with travel’ post here

So how on earth did I get here?

How I turned my love for travelling into a career | Where's Mollie? A Travel And Adventure Lifestyle Blog

Before I begin sharing my journey, I want to say that I still feel that I am very much on my journey and do not consider for one minute that I have made it or that I can get comfortable. In an ever-changing and evolving industry, you must be constantly innovating and adjusting to the digital world.

This is not a career for the faint-hearted, and whilst I can share my journey with you, there is still no set recipe for success that I can share.

I guess, in short, a successful blog is made of burning passion, consistency, innovation, compromise, energy, resilience and, above all, hard work. In between all of that you’ll want to hope for a bit of luck, timing, and exposure.

I honestly believe that my journey has been slow and steady the whole way. There have been no major spikes or lucky breaks, just a desire to travel and determination to make something of it. Actually, I did have a little exposure from The Daily Mail back in 2015, but aside from that it’s been years of hard work.

So here it is… My journey from an A-Level maths student to a full-time traveller…

Completing education – June 2012

In 2012 I finished my A-Levels in Berkshire and decided that uni wasn’t for me. I had spent my college years, which some perceive to be the best years of your life, feeling stressed, isolated and pretty unhappy. My perfectionist nature drove me to study ridiculously, and in doing so I totally neglected my social life. Combine that with the university fees increasing to £9,000 per year the year I finished college, it was a clear and very easy decision for me that continuing with education wasn’t the path I was to take.

All I knew upon finishing my A-Levels was that I had an undying love for music and singing. I had no game plan, just that I would pursue the desire that I had for these things.

How I turned my love for travelling into a career | Where's Mollie? A Travel And Adventure Lifestyle Blog

Experimental years 2012 / 2013

During 2012 and 2013 I sung in girl bands, I gigged at pubs and I played with different guitarists, creating sets and getting musical experience. I had trained to do eyelash extensions during my A Levels {after realising there could be more to my bank balance than the £7 an hour at M&S} and so I continued to work freelance as a beauty specialist alongside music.

This ended up being a key decision in the development of my career, as doing eyelashes allowed me to work flexibly around auditions and my social life while I carved my own path.

Of course, I was ridiculously fortunate here to have the total support of my family. My mum has never, ever, ever doubted me once, which has ultimately given me the foundation on which to build everything I am and have today. That’s not to say you must have the support of your family. With a determined mind, I do believe you can achieve anything – but it certainly made my life a lot easier along the way.

My first backpacking trip in Asia – 2013

In 2013 I felt like, whilst I was pursuing my dreams, I felt like I hadn’t ‘achieved’ anything.

I think this derived from having been in education and getting grades, accomplishments and certificates for as long as I could remember. While in this frame of mind, I met a friend of a family-friend during a holiday in Spain and we got talking. Leanne mentioned to me that she wanted to go travelling but none of her friends were in the same position and I loosely showed my interest in joining her. Four months later Leanne came down to visit me in London and we booked flights to Asia for a spontaneous nine-week trip.

Eight weeks after spontaneously booking flights to Bangkok, I met Leanne at the airport, backpacks at the ready.

How I turned my love for travelling into a career | Where's Mollie? A Travel And Adventure Lifestyle Blog

This trip opened my eyes up to a life beyond A-Levels and exams, beyond stress and expectation, beyond the 9-5, and beyond my hometown.

I owe Leanne a lot for what she shared with me over those nine weeks.

My life absolutely changed right there.

It was for this trip that I opened up a little space on the internet {molliebylett.blogspot.co.uk} as a place to back up my travel photos and keep an online scrapbook for myself and any other family members that wanted to read it.

When I got home, I was so inspired by what I had seen and what I had done that I wrote and recorded my debut track, These are the days. I went to Cornwall and filmed the music video, I was interviewed on BBC Introducing, and I went on numerous schools-tours, performing my music with my friend Hannah.

At this point, my focus was very much still on music. After my nine-week backpacking trip I’d just write a post on my blog every now and then, if anything happened in my life I fancied writing about.

My second backpacking trip to Australia & NZ – Dec 2014

In 2014 a close friend of mine began putting plans into place for her study abroad year as part of her degree at Bath Uni. This placement was to take her to Sydney for four months. Knowing how much I loved my first trip, Hayley requested my company to join her after her exams in Sydney for a two-month adventure before she returned to the UK.

With the flexibility of my career and a burning desire to get my backpack back on, I jumped at the opportunity.

During this trip I continued to capture my travels through my blog and posted links to it on my social networks.

How I turned my love for travelling into a career | Where's Mollie? A Travel And Adventure Lifestyle Blog

When I returned to the UK this time, the wanderlust was real.

I couldn’t imagine not travelling again, and I knew that it wasn’t going to be financially viable to keep heading off on these two-month adventures.

I became inquisitive about how I would make this happen. At my first ever blogger event with Next, I listened to a few bloggers who talked about ‘How to become a full time blogger’.

THIS CONCEPT ABSOLUTELY BLEW MY MIND….

Full time blogging? WHAT?

This was when I decided that I would focus on travel on my little space on the internet. And the networking and blog posts stepped up a notch.

Still, I was clueless as how to make a success of my internet space.

Time to network – 2015

In April 2015, just after the seed had been planted, I began observing other travel bloggers and what they were doing. I started realising people were making money, and as the travel blogging movement began taking off, I was ridiculously inspired by what I was seeing. World of Wanderlust, The Blonde Abroad and The Travel Hack were blogs that particularly caught my eye. This was when I decided to respond to Monica’s {The Travel Hack} blog advert for guest writers.

I applied as a guest writer and ended up writing and reviewing for Monica’s blog for four or five months. This opportunity proved invaluable as I got to take on campaigns with the likes of Edmonton Tourism and AA on Monica’s behalf. I began to understand the relationship there was to be had with brands, and I gained knowledge about deliverables and how I could maybe turn this passion for travel into a business.

Thank you Monica for this opportunity. 

Creating content…

I guess this is one of the hardest things when starting a travel blog. You obviously have to have the money to travel in the first place, in order to start creating content. And with no readers and no incentive for a company to sponsor you at the start, you’re going to have to fund it yourself.

Through the opportunity I got writing for Monica, I also got the chance to create content for my own channels using the Travel Hack trips as a platform to do so.

How I turned my love for travelling into a career | Where's Mollie? A Travel And Adventure Lifestyle Blog

Though when writing for another blog, there are of course rules. I couldn’t duplicate content and I had to post on her blog first {obviously} . This had me innovating from an early stage and learning how to create a mass of unique content from one trip, so I had content to share on my blog too. At this point I bought my first domain and molliebylett.com was born.

Brand recognition…

Within a couple of months, I was starting to see some movement in my readers. I got a bit of brand recognition from working with Monica {having my name and blog link exposed} and a few opportunities of my own came my way.

I kept this up for a few months and combined this with attending every single event I was invited to in London to maximise my networking and get to know as many people as I could.

In June 2015, my first big brand approached me directly… GoPro.

GoPro love what I’m doing?!

I can honestly remember the moment I read the email in Fiscardo, Kefalonia, Greece during a holiday with a friend. They invited me to the launch of the Hero Session in Austria, which was the beginning of what is now ‘The GoPro Family’.

For me, this was just out of this world. I was one of the first female European GoPro ambassadors. At one point during the two-day adventure in Austria trying out the new cameras, I vividly remember being sat in a gorgeous restaurant at the top of an Austrian mountain with some of the top dogs. A pretty surreal milestone.

Momentum…

By the end of 2015 and from the increased brand recognition I was building, I had a fair few opportunities coming my way. Review and trip invitations became a more frequent vision in my inbox.

I went to Australia with Contiki, I went to Val D’Isere with Powder White and I went to Croatia with The Yacht Week… all through my own blog.

It was on the Yacht Week during a night out that ‘Where’s Mollie?’ was born. Credits to Mitch and the vodka and red bulls!

How I turned my love for travelling into a career | Where's Mollie? A Travel And Adventure Lifestyle Blog

People started to see the value in the community I was creating.

My diary was filling by the minute and I was spending every second of my spare time creating guides, videos and posts to help other travellers with their adventures.

I decided then that I was too busy with my own blog to continue with Monica’s blog too.

This decision was backed up by an article on the Daily Mail that went all around the world in over 15 publications. I gained over 10,000 followers in a few days and I finally started to have enough confidence to stand on my own two feet.

This was starting to get exciting.

At this point though, I still hadn’t actually earned a proper penny, well, nothing consistent by any means.

I didn’t really know how to do that. I didn’t how to monetise my content and I definitely didn’t believe I had enough value to offer brands. There was nothing on the internet to tell me, no one knew blogging as a legit career and so I was still making it up as I went along.

At this point I was working full-time {and more} on molliebylett.com, singing and recording still, and working solid weekends with my Eyelash Extension business to fund it all.

29 countries in 10 months…

From September 2015 to September 2016 the travel got CRAZY. I quite literally did not stop, and I don’t think I spent more than a week in any country at one time.

I literally took every opportunity that came my way. Hardly any of them were paid but I didn’t care. I totally embraced the opportunity to travel, captured as much content as my hard drives would hold and shook hands with as many people as possible.

I crossed 29 countries and had the absolute time of my entire life. Seriously.

I was finally making up for my lost college years and it felt and still feels unreal.

How I turned my love for travelling into a career | Where's Mollie? A Travel And Adventure Lifestyle Blog

Where’s Mollie? was born – August 2016

Though I had planned for this to launch to happen sooner, unfortunate situations with a few web designers had meant the redesign of my blog and the launch of my branding happened almost a year late. When you start dealing with designers you’ll soon realise why…

But FINALLY, my hand drawn designs came to life thanks to the skills of my web designer Elaine. In August 2016 we launched wheresmollie.com.

I knew that branding was going to be key for the future of my blog and honestly, this was the turning point for me.

Ultimately though, the life I was living wasn’t sustainable.

I really was burning the candle at both ends and crashing more often than was healthy. I was living off of an insane passion for my life combined with adrenaline. There was a lot of false energy being relied upon and I was exerting way too much, way too often. A significant wake up call was when I fell asleep at the wheel in Arizona and this nearly ended my life :-(.

I knew I was in a fortunate position and there was no way I was going to stop travelling. I thought maybe I should slow down a bit… but that never came to fruition.

A five-month solo adventure – October 2016

I guess you could say that, at this point in time, I was pretty comfortable. I was paying minimal rent at home {compared to renting a flat of my own}, I had most of my trips sponsored and I had enough brand campaigns coming through to keep things ticking over.

As much as I obviously wanted to earn more money, I had found a happiness I’d always dreamt of owning and I didn’t have the incentive to earn more. I wasn’t ready to move out because the commitment well and truly scared me and I had enough money for the things I wanted. I just wanted to keep on travelling.

Time became the biggest issue, and the most obvious way to clear more of my time was to stop doing eyelash extensions. Though I loved every aspect of this business, I needed to sacrifice something for my health.

It was here that I decided to embark on a five-month solo adventure, and in line with this, I drew my eyelash extension business to a close.

Time to take a leap of faith…

How I turned my love for travelling into a career | Where's Mollie? A Travel And Adventure Lifestyle Blog

I decided in October 2016 that I would take the leap into full-time blogging and somehow… make it work.

Though I headed out with the intention of doing loads of maintenance work on my blog, of having some time out and creating awesome content, I got a bit carried away having fun. OOOOOOPS.

The four months that sounded like I’d have lots of time to relax in, absolutely freaking WHIZZED BY. Honestly, I managed to fill 18 weeks with back to back adventures and filled two hard drives to the brim with epic content.

I captured absolutely everything possible and explored as many places as physically possible. I captured enough content to feed you guides for years to come and I found serious value was added to my brand by the extensive experience I had under my wing.

Coming home this time round though, felt very different.

Travelling for the extended period of five months had really taken its toll on my mind and body. Five months had made me appreciate things in a way I never had before: the beauty of routine, of friends, of family, of the gym and of having access to healthy food. I’ll explain all this in another blog post.

Basically, I found that a MASSIVE part of me felt totally fulfilled by the travel I had encountered, and maybe I was just ready for the next stage of my life. This was actually a very emotional time for me which I will also explain in another post.

Which leads me to now…

I would very much say that I feel, honestly, at the beginning of Where’s Mollie? as a business.

After travel opened my eyes to a new way of living back in 2013, I’ve honestly just wanted to soak up as much happiness, fun and carefree living as possible. Of course, I always had ‘business’ in the back of my mind, but it never really took priority. Of course, I always delivered above and beyond in any campaign that came my way, but I never had the long-term goals.

Now though, I am finally moving out, I am ready for a bit of balance and I am looking at my longer-term goals.

I am more ready than EVER for the next chapter of Where’s Mollie?, and after being scouted into and joining the Insanity Group family, things are really getting exciting now.

How I turned my love for travelling into a career | Where's Mollie? A Travel And Adventure Lifestyle Blog

I want to take this opportunity to honestly thank any of you guys that have stuck with me, read any of my guides, shared any of my posts or commented on any of my photos. Together we have created something so beautiful and every time I get a message from you, my heart melts.

There is no better feeling in the entire world for me, than the one I get when you guys email or message me to tell me ‘travel has changed your life’. Whether it was influenced by me or not, knowing that you are on that same incredible journey into the world and into yourself that I began in 2013 makes me SO HAPPY.

2017 AND BEYOND

There are so many things I plan to share with you this year, and the first one is my brand new Global Travellers Family on Facebook where all of us like-minded travellers can share tips, hotspots and travel inspiration in one place.

It will be somewhere I can personally speak to you all and too, somewhere I can share events and meet ups.

I cannot wait for 2017 and I hope you are ready for the best adventures yet.

Thank YOU guys for reading <3

Love as always + happy adventuring,

Mollie x

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How I turned my love for travelling into a career | Where's Mollie? A Travel And Adventure Lifestyle Blog

  • Tom Hughes

    Such a good insight into how difficult and how much hard work/determination is required to build a following, and then make a career from it. From what I’ve seen so far you just seem to be enjoying life and not taking yourself too seriously….. never stop 😉

  • Emma’s Off Again

    Great post and so nice to read/understand your transition to where you are now. Personally I have my Dad to thank for sparking my love of travel, but it is you HANDS DOWN who inspired me to start a blog to scrapbook the adventures of life, so for that Mollie, thank you so much! I will keep reading as am looking forward to seeing how you get on. Best of luck and continue being you 🙂 x

    • Ah amazing!!! I never intended it as a career – just a place to look back on my favourite memories. Win win really!
      Thank you for being here babe means the world! <3

  • This was such an enjoyable read! I’m currently doing my A levels and I just haven’t found any time or inspiration to write on my blog (which I started back in 2014) – I just can never find anything to write about. Although I don’t really see myself travelling full time as you are, I find it really inspiring to read about other’s experiences with it. Congratulations on getting where you’ve reached!! It’s so exciting and I wish you the best of luck going forward.
    Naomi Katharine xo

    • Ah yay! i was worried i went on a bit haha!
      Thank you Naomi <3 <3 Good luck with yours too xxx

  • So wonderful to read more about your journey Mollie! Super excited to see what the future holds for you.

  • Steph – Wanderlust Pulse

    It’s amazing to see how you’ve grown over the years. I’ve enjoyed reading every post on your blog x

    • yay! thank you steph. thank you for being here <3

  • Charlotte Anne Kinsella

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey Mollie! Loved reading this 🙂 I’ve only been following you since around November last year but it seems you share the same passion for travelling as I do! Myself and boyfriend have a 17 month trip planned starting next April which we are saving for this year – I can’t WAIT to get away and create amazing content for my blog!!! This year though we are planning LOTS of mini trips around Scotland which saves us money but we are still exploring and blogging! Good luck on the next chapter!! xxx

  • Abbie

    Thankyou so much for posting this! I’ve been following you for a few months but your amazing content keeps me coming back to your blog all the time. Me and my boyfriend are currently in university and in the process of starting a travel blog to document our travels so your stuff really inspires us 🙂 Any advice you could give us would be amazing 🙂

  • Mollie, this is amazing. You’re an inspiration and have achieved so much through determination and hard work! I’m really excited to see what the next few months hold for you and to find out Where’s Mollie goes from here 🙂

  • WOW.

    Chichi
    chichiwrites.com

  • Delphine Gorlé

    Hey Mollie! I was just thinking about my travels and wanderlust when your blog appeared on my feed on Facebook… I was just wondering (once again) whether I should start a traveling blog! I love traveling and wandering so much, it’s the third time I have lived abroad and I keep wanting more… I’m still studying and I feel you so much on the lack of happiness and fulfillment it brings me. But I decided to finish my studies and this is my last year, so I just can’t wait! Anyway, I just am very scared about starting a blog and not being able to share enough with people, or not being good enough… Did you face the same problems? Thanks if you have the time to read and answer, but anyway, I will now follow your travels with a huge interest!!! Lots of love from Italy!