I first heard the word “entrepreneur” when I was in college, where I studied biomedical engineering. I never thought I’d become one.
But in 2018, when I began my engineering career at age 23, I found that writing Packs Light, the travel blog I started in college, was what I most looked forward to each day. I realized then that I wanted to travel the world and create content for a living.
So, I moved slowly and strategically from working as a full-time engineer to now being a full-time content creator. And I’ve found a lot of success.
It started as a hobby:—
I wasn’t making any money off of Packs Light at first. But in 2018, it brought in $2,000 through a few small social media campaigns. The following year, I made close to $8,000. In February 2020, after saving money and coming up with a plan, I quit my $69,000-per-year engineering job to work full-time as a blogger and consultant. Last year, my gross income from Packs Light was over $170,000.
My brand and social audience have grown a lot since 2018. Today, I have 252,000 followers on TikTok and 50,000 followers on Instagram. I’ve already secured $30,000 in deals for January alone, and I hope to double or even triple my 2021 earnings by the end of this year.
From a full-time job and side hustles to a 6-figure business:—
Thanks to scholarships and grants, I could graduate from college debt-free. To feel secure about leaving my job, I needed to save at least $15,000 (for startup expenses and an emergency fund). I took on side hustles doing virtual recruiting, dog-sitting, freelance writing, and social media managing for extra cash. I also lived at home with my parents — then with roommates — to save on rent.
When I wasn’t working any of those jobs, I created a catalog of articles and social media posts to grow the Packs Light audience. During my commute to work, I’d “write” blog posts using a voice-to-text app. I spent lunch breaks interviewing young travelers to feature in Packs Light’s “Young Travelers Network” series. I also expressed interest in traveling more for my job. On my work trips, I’d use my food stipend to try local Black-owned restaurants or unique pop-ups to feature on my blog.
Securing partnerships was essential to monetizing Packs Lights. So in 2018, I began reaching out to brands to find out what they were looking for in an influencer partnership. Then, I’d pitch them based on their answers. This is still my strategy for finding blocks.
For example, GetYourGuide.com, an online travel agency, was looking for influencers with an American audience who would buy their tours and activities. Even though its top-selling activities were in the U.S., I pitched a campaign to market its activities in Mexico City, where I was based at the time.
I conducted an interest survey from my followers and presented research showing how Mexico was booming as a top travel spot for Americans. Our campaign ended up being a success.
How I grew my income:—
During my first year of full-time business, I worked on six partnership campaigns — each worth an average of $3,000. In 2021, as travel became easier, I landed 12 contracts and increased my income to about $10,000 per project.
My campaigns, which often consist of sponsored social media posts, blog content, and business-to-business marketing consultations, make up most of my business earnings. I also additionalntary streams of passive income: Blog ad-income paid membership communities and digital products like online courses for aspiring digital nomads. Since taking my business full-time, I’ve worked with major clients, including Facebook, The North Face, Delta Airlines, and Adidas.