Doing what you want and love isn’t something that should wait till later. Sometimes you just have to break free from the shackles or a routine existence and jump into that different life. And who knows? You just might find what you were meant to do. Today, Melissa from High Heels and a Backpack shares her story with us.
Time for a change
Up until two years ago, I had spent the past four years after university working in a very corporate role in strategic procurement. This job essentially involved assessing where our company was buying its supplies from, then taking this business behind their backs to cheaper factories and companies who would produce the supplies overseas for a fraction of the cost. My job felt immoral, especially since I was causing small businesses to lose substantial amounts of profit and driving some people out of work.
A year out in South Korea
I longed to do something more rewarding than simply lining the pockets of rich investors so I took what I intended to be just a “year out” to teach English in South Korea and kept a travel blog as a hobby. Since I didn’t have any prior writing experience, I didn’t really know the industry that well and I had never considered that I could make writing my main source of income.
The boost I needed
I almost passed out from bewilderment and shock when I received an email from the Managing Editor of Forbes Travel who had enjoyed reading my blog, and wanted me to begin writing hotel reviews and travel pieces for Forbes. That was precisely the confidence boost that I needed. I started reaching out and pitching to various travel publications and websites and gradually built up a client base.
In the beginning, I was accepting anything and everything just so that I could make enough money – including low paid assignments on platforms like Upwork and Freelancer. I continued teaching full time and writing around my classes until I was certain I would be able to survive as a full time writer. As I became more established, I narrowed my client list down to those that paid me a decent wage. It has now been six months since I started doing this full time and I am making a steady income that increases with each passing month.
Focussing on the unconventional
Recently, I’ve started looking at my own blog as more of a business venture, than simply a hobby and have made a little extra through sponsored posts and advertising through this also. In the coming months, I am working with a number of tour companies and tourism boards and I am excited at seeing how things unfold. I have started to focus my writing on solo female travel in non-conventional destinations where women are often uncertain about travelling to alone, such as my recent solo female travel to Jordan and solo travel in Palestine. I find that establishing a niche has helped me to become more successful in securing opportunities with tourism boards and tour companies.
I love the location independence that this type of work enables. This year I’ve been basing myself between Naples, Italy and Seoul, South Korea. I like the knowledge that if I suddenly decided tomorrow that I wanted to up and move to South America or Indonesia for a while, there isn’t really anything stopping me.
Perceptions – Overcoming the main hurdle
The main hurdle I have had to overcome is the perceptions of other people. A lot of people from home question what I am doing, and when I am planning to go back home to get a “proper job” in Procurement. Since working as a Digital Nomad is a relatively new concept, I feel like a lot of people don’t completely “get it” – my family especially and my parents who seem to think it all sounds too good to be true or like a scam (ha!)
People will tell you that you can’t live this way forever, it’s risky, the work could dry up, etc. Hearing such negative views on something you are working so hard on can really start to get to you and make you question what you are doing so it’s really important if you want to become a digital nomad or a freelancer that you become your own biggest fan and believe in what you do.
The main piece of advice that I could give someone wanting to make a move into this lifestyle is that if you are determined enough, and want it to work, it will. When people tell you the statistics about how many travel bloggers or aspiring travel writers there are out there then it can feel like the odds are against you, but there is always room for excellent content.
About Melissa Douglas, the Author
Melissa Douglas is a full time Travel Blogger and Writer originally from the UK that is based in the South of Italy. She left her corporate job in procurement in the hopes of doing something more meaningful and to pursue her love of adventure. Her solo female travel blog High Heels & a Backpack aims to push the boundaries of solo female travel and focuses on destinations which are not common for women alone such as the Middle East.
You can also follow her on Instagram at here at High Heels & a Backpack
Melissa is an inspiration for a lot of solo female travelers the world over. Do you identify with her? How are you pushing the boundaries of solo travel?