Which, if you haven’t checked out by the way, is excellent! I’ve introduced it as a travel blog, but actually it incorporates travel, well-being and general lifestyle topics. A sprinkling of everything, highly positive and enthusing and highly informative: check it out here http://thewanderingquinn.com
I met Ellie quite randomly/by fate when we were walking to the Wanderlust Mindfulness Triathlon event in Victoria Park last September. As I’ve said elsewhere, I can’t remember when she told me exactly what she did, but I do remember being fascinated by it. I’m not sure who I assumed was writing blogs: in fact, I’m pretty sure I’d never read one, or not properly. But I think I resonated a lot with Ellie and it sparked a curiosity in me, to write, document and attempt to publish THIS blog, this January 2018.
So- Ellie. Coming up to 28, currently working full time as well as blog writing, a traveller of a million countries. Calm and grounded, yet vivacious and bubbly. Spiritual and positive: a belief in herself and her future that I really wished I’d had in my 20’s! And which I well imagine draws people to her. Working super hard on an amazing blog started in 2014 which to date has 22,000 followers on Instagram. Ellie is also super helpful and generous with her sharing of the blog and how she has achieved what she has. We met on the rainy day which was my birthday last Sunday in the Highness Tea Rooms in Highbury (meeting again coming out of a tube station, just 7 months later!), had tea and cake (standard) and I had the good fortune of asking her these questions. This is quite a long post, but absolute gold dust, especially for us new bloggers! 🙂
What started you blogging, was it your travelling?
Yeah! I’d already lived in Australia for 2 years, and then I was going off to S.E Asia. I literally remember going for brunch with a friend and she was like, “you should start a blog”. I got hooked into reading peoples blogs about S.E Asia such as “my Battered Suitcase” (and I’ve become friends with Brenna who writes this blog which is very cool!), and thought, I should do this! So I did one post called “How the travel bug bit”, which is still on my blog actually! At this point it was very journal like and to share with family back home, but I would also write about what bus to get/where to stay and really useful content about these places that really wasn’t available at the time, as travel there then was so new.
What was your education background Ellie, was it in something that might be considered related to blogging?
Not especially. I went to college and did A ‘levels. I was going to go to uni to do business, which I thought was a good all rounder, but then decided it just wasn’t for me. I had a boyfriend at the time as well, and although he didn’t formally actually stop me, it definitely had an influence in my decision around not going. Which I am so glad for now!
So, I then got a full time job in reservations in a hotel for a year, which then led to events managements. After this I went to Camp America for a summer, which was the start of the travel bug. I then came back and worked for another company in events.
What’s really funny is that there is a definite connection between the promotional and communication aspect of that work, and the press trips I do now as part of my blogging role. Now I’m very confident doing press trips and I just feel like I’ve just slid into it with ease, and then it clicked and I realised why I’m so used to it! So the blog isn’t directly related to any education background, but the job experience certainly helped in a way I didn’t initially consider when I started! It all helps.
And so, you’ve had the blog for four years, when do you think you started taking it *more* seriously?
Definitely when I moved to London (2 years ago). I finished another travelling stint and at the time was following a lot of bloggers who lived in London. That also coincided with around the time that people were becoming quite big in blogging. So I think I moved with the intention of becoming more serious with my blog.
What is it about your personality that you think that has helped you becoming a successful blogger?
I’d like to think I’m quite an upbeat and friendly person, which then comes across on my blog and social media. I will just randomly talk to people and I’m quite open which definitely helps with the travel aspect.
I definitely like providing information! Which is where my whole motivation with blogging came from, my sharing of travel knowledge. Organisation: I’m very organised and good at scheduling which helps.
Its hilarious thinking back to school days; I was so shy, probably the shyest person in the class! I probably seemed like the most unlikely person to do the amount of travelling I do now!!
How did your following grow, what steps did you take?
Definitely different things. I do Pininterest at least half an hour every day. But I do it on my lunch break so that helps. Sometimes I also get up early in the morning, sit on my laptop in bed. It’s mindless, but it’s so productive!
A bit around the background to my growth; I remember I went to South America 2015 and I just hit 300 followers. I literally did 3 months, posting every day of what I considered good content, had a month in Europe and towards the end of that trip had just hit 1000 followers. So it took me about 5 months to get that number. Then I was home for a few months, then I went to Asia and I hit 10,000 in 2016. So basically from being in Asia I gained 9,000 followers! I was posting regularly, but generally when you travel that also attracts a lot of followers. I brought the numbers up another 10k within a year, and now those numbers are pretty stable.
Tell me about pitching! How does it work, how do you do it, and what should we focus on as new bloggers?
So! I have a media kit which I send out. it’s basically a PDF where I write about myself and my blog. I update it every month and include key stats such as traffic to my site, and how many unique users come. I have my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook numbers (it’s important to be a presence on all, but focus on one or two: my Instagram and Twitter accounts are definitely my priority). From Google analytics which plugs into WordPress blogs if you’re on WordPress, you can also find out really useful information such as the readers age, where they come from in the world. Mine are predominantly UK based readers, US and Australia and are mostly male. Lets say there’s a tourism board that wants to focus on a UK audience: this is really helpful information for them to know.
When did you feel ready to start pitching?
I probably started around the end of 2016, and I had around 3-4000 page views on my blog back then. I also had around 10,000 followers on Instagram at that point. But I would honestly say now that even if you had less, and your numbers are low, you can still put a media kit together and focus on how engaged your audience are. As if your numbers are low, your audience is more likely to be engaged anyway. I would really highlight and focus on your audience and their involvement with your blog instead of making the numbers a focus.
Do you get much paid work, or is it mostly press trips, discounts, samples?
I’m getting more paid work now, but this has probably only happened in the last 10 months, and I’ve had 3 press trips which have been paid, of which I didn’t make a formal request for being paid! Pitching to say you would like to be paid can seem quite awkward I think and I need more confidence to do that.
I’ve had a few sponsored posts come through which has been cool. I’ve also recently had a couple of trips where I wasn’t paid, but I was able to take someone with me, so I took some friends to Hamburg and Jersey, which was amazing.
What are you most proud of and what’s been a highlight to you?
The trip to Jersey with my friend was a particularly highlight- my friend and I just had the best time! A personal highlight for me has been the page views to my blog. This time last year I was getting around 4,000 page views and that was without me really trying. In March I hit 20,000 views which is just incredible! Once you hit 25,000 regularly, you can apply for an advertising platform, and from that you can get some income from the blog, which is what I want to do.
And finally, what’s ahead for The Wandering Quinn?!
I want to go longer term travelling again! I’m desperate to go to India and Africa to start, as they’ve always been on my travelling radar and I’ve been saving hard. From this I’m also planning to make a leap and leave my job to combine with the travel and become a full time blogger! This is what I’ve been working really hard for. In a way I’m hoping to be able to make some money whilst travelling and producing content for companies, but if I could get the press trips and samples that would also be really handy. I want to go travelling anyway, so it makes sense for me to combine the two!
I don’t know if you’ve heard of the “Twins that Travel”, but one of the catalysts for them to leave their jobs was basically wanting to go on a press trip and not having the annual leave which feels like the position I might get myself in.
Before I go on the longer haul trip, I’ve done some pitching to companies, but also want to enjoy London for at least a couple of weeks this summer.
Highness Cafe, Highbury
A summary of Ellie’s top blogging recommendations!
* Use Pininterest to attract traffic to your blog. Ellie does 30 minutes every day, but little and often would help to begin with.
* Don’t get too tied down by the numbers when pitching. Focus on your audience’s engagement if your numbers are currently low
* Know your stats, as this feed into pitching. Consider the use of a tool such as Google Analytics that can help you break down who you audience are and where they are from- this is incredibly useful for companies to know.
* Be present on all social media where possible, but choose to focus on one in particular
Thanks so much Ellie for sharing your thoughts, feelings and inspirational blog development!! It has been so useful and wishing you every continued success- you deserve it!!
And before we finish- to highly recommend the Highness Tea Rooms, about a 10 minute walk from Highbury and Islington overground and tube station. Very friendly staff, lovely selection of cakes, quiches, paninis and hot and cold drinks 🙂