From A Level Maths to Travelling Full Time. How did I do it?

 In Advice, Blogging, Career, Get Inspired

Well, this career 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. 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.

So, how 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. While I can share my journey with you, there is 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 travel blogger and entrepreneur…

  • Completing my 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
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  • 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’d 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 making 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
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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 (on blogspot) 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 & New Zealand: December 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
Top 20 Things To Do In Sydney, Australia | Where's Mollie? A UK 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 could make this happen.

At my first ever blogger event with Next, I’d listened to a few bloggers who talked about ‘How to become a full time blogger’.

This idea 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. 

  • Content content content: 2015

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 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.

Tyrol, Austria | Where's Mollie? A Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog
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  • Momentum: end of 2015

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 the brand name ‘Where’s Mollie?’ was born. Credits to Mitch and the vodka red bulls!

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A guide to the yacht week

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.

From A Level Maths to Travelling Full Time. How did I do it?
  • 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.

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.

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 was very lucky.

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
Staying safe when solo travelling

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.

The four months that sounded like I’d have lots of time to relax in, absolutely flew 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, in March 2017, felt very different. Travelling for the extended period of five months had really taken its toll on my mind and body.

This period was another huge burnout for me and to be honest with you, a low point. I got a viral infection which had me bed bound for a week and had me reconsidering everything. It had me seriously thinking about my next steps.


  • April 2017

Just when I think I was closest to giving up and surrendering to some different career, the universe held out a hand. I got an email from Neil at Insanity Group, one of the biggest management companies in the UK. He called me in for a meeting.

For 3 years leading up to this moment, I’d been doing this whole thing solo. It took a lot of digging deep to power through building a business in an industry that was only just starting out and that no one around me understood or believed in.

This meeting was when everything changed.

In that meeting Neil and I brainstormed my vision on a big piece of paper. I told him about all my dreams and goals and things I wanted to do and he believed in me. No question about it. Before I had even left the room, he said that he wanted to welcome me into the Insanity family. Good things finally come to those who work hard.

Two months into the relationship, after reassessing the very low rates I was charging out to clients and having the support of a manager to help with the day to day runnings, I’ve moved into my first flat in Bethnal Green, London.

A Weekend In Bangor, Wales With Virgin Trains | Where's Mollie? A Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog-71
  • What’s next? 2017 onwards…

Now that I am able to share my workload with Neil, my manager at Insanity Group, I am able to invest time in new ideas. The first thing I’ve recently done is set up the Global Travellers Family on Facebook. A group where all of us like-minded travellers can share tips, hotspots and travel inspiration in one place. It is somewhere I can personally speak to you all and too, somewhere I can share events and meet ups (coming soon).

I want to take this opportunity to thank anyone who has stuck with me, read any of my guides, shared any of my posts or commented on any photos. 

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.

This is just the beginning.


Check in: August 2019…

As I said I would, the meet ups were planned and due to demand, this very quickly led to the creation of WMGT Adventures. 

My career has continued to develop incredibly with brand work, bringing in a 6 figure income in 2018-2019 and I’ve recently expanded my team. In July 2019 I launched my third business: WMGT Shop to give myself another creative outlet in the form of tangible products.

Additionally in 2019, for the first time, I’ve been able to really slow down. My hard work over the last 6 years has given me a certain level of consistency that allows me to prioritise self-care and inner peace amongst the madness that is my job. It’s given me the financial freedom to hire people to help me out and wow does it feel good.

Stay tuned for a full blog post on my career from 2017 to now, and how I’m feeling about where my brand is heading. It’s very exciting!

What’s your career journey been like?

Are you able to travel as part of your job? I’d love to know!

Love as always + happy adventuring,

Mollie.

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