It wasn’t that long ago that I walked away from my 9-to-5 (more like 8-to-8 if I’m being honest) and chose a path that most people looked at me like I was crazy for. After years of chasing stable careers, from medicine to real estate, I finally decided that life was too short to spend inside of an office when there were hundreds of other options out there for me. And one of those options involved two things I love: photography and travel.
It’s been almost a year since growing our blog, our social media and our business and the question I get asked the most is: “How do I do what you do?”
To be honest, a lot of people think we just post pretty photos on Instagram, and I’m sure that 99% of people don’t really understand the work that goes into it and the business side of things. A lot of our friends are probably still scratching their heads wondering how we pay the bills and travel constantly – I know that was the first thing people started muttering when I quit.
(In case you’re looking for the short answer, here’s a post on how we make some of our money through social media!)
While I understood that our friends and family had questions, it never really dawned on me just how in demand the answers were, and how unusual it was to find anyone willing to ‘spill the beans’.
There’s so much more to travel blogging than just being a great writer or photographer. In fact, neither of those things matter as much learning SEO properly and knowing how to edit a photo in Lightroom.
Beyond that, being a self-employed full-time traveler means that time management, good work flow and multi-tasking are essential as you’re pretty much always on the go and permanently attached to your laptop/smartphone. Unlike a traditional job, you are pretty much never “not working”. There’s always more you can do and trust me, the list never ends. On the plus side, when you love what you do as much as we do, it never feels like work.
The skills you pick up along the way are pretty much transferable to anything in tourism, marketing or the digital arts and include, but aren’t limited to:
– Basic photography skills
– Lightroom and Photoshop editing
– Video recording and editing
– Website maintenance and design
– Working with brands
– Drafting contracts
– Advertising on Facebook and Instagram
– Time blocking
– Scheduling (for work and travel)
With the abundance of mentors present at IOC, each with their own strengths in different fields, valuable skills were learned every single day – and not just by the students! I don’t think there was a time I didn’t have my laptop open to take notes on the best invoicing software or editing app that another mentor had recommended.
So it turns out that social media and blogging is a lot more complicated than it first appears, and it quickly became clear to us that there was a real lack of understanding, a real need for expertise and very few opportunities to learn in a face-to-face environment.
That’s why, when the Institute of Code came along and asked us to co-host two 10 day courses to a couple of groups of willing students, it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. We’d been looking for an opportunity to give back, and finally the perfect opportunity came along as if by magic! Even better, the course was on the beautiful island of Bali; one of the most stunning places on Earth and home to an enormous digital nomad/creative community. It was perfect.
Without giving too much away, the 10 day courses were packed full of the information that I honestly wish I knew before I started down this long, bumpy road of becoming a freelance photographer and travel blogger. It was real pleasure to have the chance to give something back to such an inspiring group of students. Even as mentors we found ourselves learning new things every day, because we weren’t the only experts and each mentor brought something new to the table. Just having a community of other creatives and willing students meant that we all made huge leaps and bounds in just a short amount of time.
If you’re wondering what the students learnt on the course, here are just a few of the topics we covered during our 10 days at Institute of Code:
2. Discovering your WHY
3. Pinterest & Facebook
4. Photography and posing
5. Instagram Growth Techniques
6. Developing a workflow and increasing productivity
7. Social Media Marketing
8. Creating a media kit
9. Working with brands and making money from social media
10. Editing techniques
11. Advanced growth techniques
12. Growing your blog and website traffic
We also spent a lot of time exploring beautiful Bali, and explored some of the incredible sites like the UNESCO World Heritage Tegalalang Rice Terraces and Tibumana Waterfall, and the lively towns of Canggu and Seminyak. A great opportunity for the students AND mentors to create some beautiful content!
We had several photoshoots at some of the more popular bars in Canggu, like La Brisa, La Laguna and The Lawn, and almost literally ate our body weight in smoothie bowls and dragon fruit.
Here are some of our favorite photos taken while we were there:
For us, the two courses we taught in Canggu were life changing; they brought us new perspectives, taught us amazing new skills and created a community of inspiring creators all eager to achieve their dreams of breaking the 9-5. It’s already been fantastic to see the progress our two groups of students have made in the past couple of weeks, and I’m so excited to see what lies ahead for them.
If anyone else wants to learn from experienced mentors and hit the ground running after a crash course in Social Media Marketing, IOC is the place to do it. For a more in depth overview of the course, check out the other blog post we wrote here!