I first read Ellie’s blog – The Wandering Quinn – back in February whilst I was in Bath and I saw she had written a post about places to go and since then I have been hooked. She’s also been a guest on two of my favourite podcasts – The Travelust Podcast by Sam Sparrow and What She Said by Lucy Lucraft.

Ellie lives in London and works full time whilst fitting her love of travel into her annual leave. Her posts are full of tips and tricks for travelling abroad on your own or in a group, and her quest to see the world will definitely leave you wanting to book a holiday ASAP.

Get ready to be inspired by – Ellie Quinn

1. Hi Ellie, (great name!) thanks for joining us today for the 4th Be Inspired By blog. Let’s start at the beginning – How long have you been blogging for and how did you get into it? 

I’ve been blogging for 4 years now. I started in March 2014 after leaving Australia, I had been there for 2 years and was about to start a big trip around South East Asia. A friend said I should start a blog to document my travels, I had been reading blogs to get ideas on where to go in South East Asia and I liked the idea of journaling and sharing my knowledge so I did and I wrote regularly on a Tumblr account for 6 months (old school I know!).

After that, I created www.thewanderingquinn.com where I continued to blog in a journal style for another year or so and doing it very much as a hobby when I fancied doing it. It wasn’t until I moved to London at the start of 2016 where I thought ‘this could be a thing!’ and I was aware of bloggers actually doing this full time, going on press trips and earning money from it, at that point I started posting more regularly and improving my writing, photos etc.

 

2. Your blog is one of the best travel blogs I’ve ever read. Do you have any tips for people who are wanting to start one of their own? 

Thank you!

Definitely just start! I met a lady at a yoga event in September, I casually told her I have a blog and she saw it on my Facebook after the event. She recently felt like she needed some creativity and something different in her life so she started a blog and really likes it. It’s so good to see how its changed her outlook on things and boosted her creativity, she’s also joined some pages on Facebook where there is a lovely community of people. I think the community is the best thing about blogging, to be honest.

Secondly, work out your passion, this doesn’t have to be too much of a ‘niche’ but work out what you are passionate to write and post about. If you want to keep blogging and create a successful blog (‘success’ will mean different things to different people) you do have to start it from passion I think. Passion for the subject, passion for the sharing, as it can take up a lot of time and it takes a lot of time to grow too. If you want to make blogging your career I say go for it but unless you have the passion it’s going to feel like hard work pretty quickly! And whether it’s you’re career or not you’ll often question ‘why am I doing this??’.

As a more practical tip, I’d say be sure to spend some time thinking about a name. Your name should reflect what you’re blogging about (unless you use your own name), but don’t categorise yourself too much. So many people have blog names that relate to budget travel which is fine for them now but if they start posting about fancier places in the future and travelling on a higher budget then it’ll be hard to market yourself and your blog.

 

3. Where is your favourite place you’ve ever visited? 

This is a hard one!

I say that Thailand is my favourite Country as I’ve been there so many times and I just love it but I feel like this question isn’t asking that, so I’d say my favourite place that I’ve visited is Ayampe in Ecuador, that’s the first place that comes to mind anyway, it’s a little beach village, its so quiet and beautiful and it was just what I needed at that time on that trip.

 

4. Is there any part of blogging that you aren’t a fan of? 

The comparison and the numbers!

It’s so so easy to start comparing myself to other people. Looking at their blog and thinking it looks better than mine, seeing that their numbers are higher than mine, seeing that they’ve been invited on a trip and I haven’t. I’m a very positive person and I’ve never been one to put myself down too much so I never think ‘mine is rubbish and I’m a rubbish blogger etc.’ but it’s easy to get discouraged and feel a bit disappointed.

The numbers annoy me too. Again its so easy to put my worth and our worth as bloggers into numbers – number of likes, number of followers, number of subscribers!

I try to remember that I’m running my own race, how far I’ve come and remind myself of how proud I am of my blog when I’m not in that comparison mindset.

 

5. You still work full time whilst being an avid writer. How do you fit your blog and all your travels in around your blog?

It’s hard that’s for sure.

Right now I’m blogging more than ever and feel like I’m at max capacity. I generally use the weekends to do most of my work, during the winter this was ok but I know it’s going to be harder once the summer comes around. As I am a travel blogger usually I’ll go away for one weekend and then spend at least one day the next weekend writing about it. It can feel like a lot but I remind myself of the awesome weekend I had the week before and without me working on the blog that wouldn’t have happened (if it was a press trip).

I also get up earlier now and again to spend an hour on my blog before going to work, I use my hour commute to and from work to do all my social media posting and interaction, and occasionally I do things in the evenings but nothing too intensive unless I’m struggling for time. I love my blog and I love blogging but not enough to ‘burn out’. My full-time job pays for my rent and my life and I know that nothing is going to happen if I don’t post!

 

6. Do you have any tips for the people reading this on how to pitch to travel brands?

I’d say to put a media pack together with all of your numbers, a bit about you and your blog along with any brands you may have worked with, if you don’t have any, thats fine. I think media packs are a great way of keeping all this information together in an easy to read format.

Don’t send a general cover email. Make it relevant to the brand you are pitching to, tell them why you want to work with them, give them some ideas on how you can work together. Ask if they work with bloggers or have worked with bloggers.

Don’t be afraid to be specific too. If you want a 2 night stay in a hotel, write in the email that that’s what you want and write what you will do in return.

Another tip is to pitch to brands that you have seen working with bloggers, that way you know they are open for collaborations and understand blogging and bloggers.

Also note that often tourist boards and even other travel brands work with PR companies. I look on their website to get contact details but if I can’t see them I’ll send them a message on twitter or instagram and sometimes its the PR company that will reply. It’s always good to get on a PR’s radar and if they can’t work with you on this occasion ask to be put on the mailing list for future campaigns for their travel clients!

 

7. Would you ever want to take your blog full-time? 

Honestly yes. If you’d asked me that this time last year or even this time 6 months ago I would have probably said no, but I’m seeing more and more growth from my blog every month and its exciting. It’s just scary to take the leap, right now I’m not earning enough or even being offered enough work to cover my rent and life in London but at the same time I don’t have the time to pitch for all of that work because of my full time job! I’m also conscious that I don’t want my blog to become too much like work and I like having a regular income so we’ll have to see what the future brings!

 

8. What is your biggest blogging achievement to date? 

For me its my page views. They literally tripled in 2017 from 2016 and they are growing month by month now in 2018. I’m seeing older posts starting to get views, some are only low numbers, others are now in my top 10 viewed posts most days and seeing this growth makes me so proud.

I also think that it helps that page views aren’t spoken about that much, everyone keeps them to themselves (aside from telling brands) so its easy not to compare myself to others as I don’t see other peoples to compare too. It’s a kind-of private achievement I guess.

My aim is to reach a point where I can start advertising on my site with a particular platform and monetise that way (if you’re wondering why I’m so into my page views!).

 

9. And finally, what would be your ultimate brand to work with? 

Ooh this is hard! I’d probably have to say a tourist board of a Country I love or would love to visit! Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Japan, China, all of Central America are all places I really want to go so if I was contacted by any of their tourist boards to work with them I’d be pretty happy!

And there you have the wonderful Ellie Quinn talking through her journey to where she is today.

Find The Wandering Quinn on Twitter, Instagram and on her blog.

xx

Welcome to the third instalment of the ‘Be Inspired By’ series where today we are joined by one of my favourite bloggers, Sophie Cliff.

Sophie lives and works in Leeds, but is originally from my side of the Pennies, growing up in between Manchester and Liverpool before moving over for university. Her blog is a mixture of Lifestyle, Travel and Fashion but she shares heartfelt, personal posts and shared a lot of her wedding with her audience last year which was an absolute joy to read.

She has been nominated for a number of prestigious blog awards, has launched her own e-course and worked with some incredible brands from Jet2 to Dorothy Perkins amongst many more.

Get ready to be inspired by – Sophie Cliff!

1. Hey Sophie, thanks for joining us today – can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi Ellie, thanks for having me! I’m a travel and lifestyle blogger based in Leeds. By day, I work for a tech startup in the beauty industry, and by night, I share my life with the world via my blog, SophieCliff.com. I live with my husband, Sam, and our cat, Lola, and I’m a big fan of holidays!

2. What were your reasons for starting a blog?

I started my blog just over 3 years ago. I had just moved to a new job and while I loved it, I missed the creative elements that my previous role had offered. I was looking for a creative outlet, and as I was a massive fan of reading blogs, I figured blogging would be a good hobby for me!

I was also really keen to have a bit of an online scrapbook of everything I was up to too – looking back now, I’m so glad I decided to start. Not only have I learnt tonnes and met some brilliant people, I also have a record of some really exciting moments in my life, such as buying my first home, getting engaged and getting married.

3. You’ve recently started an e-course alongside having a full-time job (find it here) can you tell us what motivated you to do so?

One of the questions I get asked the most is how I manage to run my blog with a full-time job. I realised that over the past 3 years I’ve picked up quite a lot of hints and tips and I was keen to share them with anyone who was interested. I knew that a blog post wouldn’t quite be enough to cover everything, and so I decided to start my e-course “How To Grow Your Blog With A Full-Time Job“.

It’s been a huge learning curve as I’ve never really taught anything before, but I’ve really enjoyed it too. It’s incredibly rewarding to see people falling back in love with their blogs as they work through the course, and there’s a lovely community of bloggers taking part.

4. You got married last year in what looked like the dream location; did you have any hesitations about sharing such an intimate part of your life with your readers?

In a nutshell – no! I know for some people it would seem really strange to share such a personal day with the world wide web, but my blog has been such a huge part of my life for the past 3 years that I always knew I wanted to share our wedding planning process and the day itself on my blog.

I’m so happy I have all of those emotions and thoughts captured somewhere – just 9 months on it’s hard to remember some of the little details, so I’m really glad I wrote about the day while it was still fresh in my mind. Plus, we worked with some really fantastic suppliers who helped us to create our dream day, and I wanted to share them with my readers!

5. I’ve been following your blog for a couple of years now and seen you grow massively in that time. Do you think not having a specific niche has helped you write about such a wide variety of topics and attract a large audience?

Thank you so much for being a long time reader!

I’ve always been very wary about having a specific niche as my blog is very much a hobby first and foremost, and I never wanted to put too many restrictions on it. It’s a space for me to exercise my creativity, and I knew that setting rules would only demotivate me.

Instead, I’ve always just tried to be as authentic as possible. I know that the word authentic gets bandied around a lot in this industry, but I’ve always written my blog as if I was writing to my best friend or my Mum, and I think that helps me to be as genuine and relatable as possible. I guess it also means that there is a lot of variety in my content as no two weeks are the same!

6. You focus on travel a lot in your posts; which three places would be on your bucket list if money was no option?

Oooooh, this is a fun question! There are so many places I’d love to visit, and in fact, I’m not sure there is anywhere I wouldn’t visit if annual leave and money weren’t a constraint.

Japan is high on my bucket list at the moment, and I’d love to visit somewhere tropical, like Bali or Thailand. I’ve always wanted to visit the West Coast of the USA, and I’m very excited that we’re finally going this year for our belated honeymoon!

7. You recently started a new job just before the end of last year. Do you mention your blog in the world of work?

I certainly do!

My blog is a big part of who I am and I’m incredibly passionate about it, so it would feel strange for me to keep it a secret. Plus, there are so many skills that I’ve learnt through blogging that are really relevant to the world of work – above anything else it shows self-determination and drive which is important for any job.

8. And finally, what is your biggest achievement in the blogging world?

Ooooh, this is a toughie! I’ve been afforded some incredible opportunities through my blog during the past few years, and I’m proud of every brand collaboration and award nomination.

However, nothing makes me happier than when I receive an email or a DM from a reader telling me that my blog post has resonated with them or helped them in some way. It sounds super cheesy, but it really does feel incredible to know that people use my travel tips to book their holiday or feel a little less sad because of something I’ve written.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the third instalment of the ‘Be Inspired By’ with Sophie.

Find her here on Twitter, Instagram and on her blog.

xx

Whether you’re new to the blogging game, or you’ve been a part of this world for a while, chances are you will have heard of the legend that is Queen Beady.

When I decided to do this series on my blog, Bee was someone who I definitely wanted to feature because she has inspired me in so many ways during my years in the bloggersphere, and I know she is highly regarded in the online world.

Her blog is a mixture of travel, fashion and all of the life inspiration, and having met the lovely lady herself at an event last month, I can confirm that she is as fabulous in real life as she is on screen.

Get ready to be inspired by – Queen Beady!

1. Hey Bee, thanks for being the second guest of #BeInspiredBy – Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your blog?

Hi Ellie, thanks for having me as your guest! I’m a 28-year-old Blogger from Yorkshire. I love the outdoors and find myself travelling as much as I can with my husband, and I also have a penchant for shopping too (my wardrobe can vouch for that.) One way or another I’m either reaching for my Barbour jacket to go walking, booking my next getaway or being (caught) found online shopping!

In 2017 the direction of my blog became very clear to me, my love for slow living, the countryside and UK & world travel became a focus for many blog posts! My blog now focusses mainly on “Slow and Stylish Adventuring” – I’m all about enjoying life to its fullest by exploring the world stylishly, be it abroad or close to home. I showcase cosy retreats, to luxury hotels to my escapades abroad.

Not only that, I throw in a few style, lifestyle and think pieces in there when I want to mix my content up a bit.

 

2. You’ve been in the blogging game for a few years now. How would you say your writing style has evolved?

Oh my goodness, I really do feel like an old-timer. My blog was born in 2011 and boy, has it changed?! Back when I started writing I wrote how I spoke, and I still do to some ends. However, I think now I enjoy the storytelling aspect of it. I think that’s how I found my voice really develop over the last year or so, and it was so natural when it evolved that way.

 

3. Your husband takes a lot of your blog photography – do you have any tips for other Instagram husbands out there?

Bless him, he has had many years of practice now. And he’s just about got it. When I started investing in lenses and got my 55mm – 250mm lens, he started showing more of interest in photography as well, he’s a very technical person so he enjoyed getting his teeth into that.

I occasionally show him photos and images from Instagram of how I’d like him to angle the camera and where I’d like to get the shot. A lot of the time though I often make him the model of my photos first and show him what I took so he can try to replicate it afterwards.

When he realised that I was starting to take my blog more seriously as a side hustle, he instantly became my cheerleader and wanted to make my content as good as it could be (to the best of his ability as a non-trained photographer!)

 

4. You spoke at the icelolly.com ‘Blog At The Beach’ event last month (which I attended and you were FAB!) Could you give the readers your three top tips for reaching out to brands? 

Thank you so much – that was such an amazing experience and the feedback has been absolutely tremendous!

I’m hugely passionate about using your 9-5 skills when pitching to brands – use those strengths to make your pitch stand out. I was in the travel industry for 8 years, so my knowledge of what people want to know when reading a travel blog post is key. It’s a fabulous point I like to make when pitching to travel brands that sways it in my favour.

Secondly, I’d say work out what your three unique selling points are. Those achievements are amazing, but they also need to translate to brands that they will give them results. For example, one of mine is that I won a Blog Award for my Photography when I pitch to brands, I can say that my photography is well-regarded in the industry and one of the main reasons why people come to my blog. The result is that I’m going to create some amazing imagery for their brand, that will entice people to engage with it. 

And finally, lay out your proposal in a clear and concise way when you’d done your introduction. Bullet points listing what your blog can offer in exchange for whatever it is you wish to collaborate on is so much easier to read than more waffling. Keep your pitch simple, don’t bombard them with too much information but make sure they know why you are a good fit!

 

5. Let’s talk about social media – what would you say is your favourite channel and why?

Instagram. Without a shadow of a doubt. It’s a platform that generates so much positivity compared to Twitter where everyone’s bashing each other, drama llama. And it’s so much better than Facebook because you don’t get the cringey parents on it!

I’m a very visual person too, and I love nothing more than taking photos, editing them and uploading them. I’ve become quite inclined to the term “micro-blogger” as it gives me chance to add snippets of the experiences I am having in real time, rather than uploading all my images to my computer, editing the photos, writing a long, wordy post a week or so later. It’s convenient and so many people are switched on to things that are fast fodder nowadays.

 

6. How do you see your blog progressing in the future? Is your end game to take it full-time? 

Never say never. But at the moment, I am quite happy having it as a side hustle – especially now I have a direction with my content strategy.

I can deal with my own company so I think the transition to going to be a full-time blogger would be quite easy, but it would also be nice to have a blogger friend that lived on my doorstep where we could just go grab a coffee and write posts together and take photos all day long.

Luckily, for the time being, a lot of the trips I make for my blog content can be done over weekends, I can meet my photographer during my lunch breaks and my evenings can be spent typing away. 

 

7. Travel is such a huge part of your life. Is there a particular brand you would love to work with in the future?

Gosh, there are so many. I recently worked with a dream brand, the North Star Club and it has been one of my most successful posts to date. But, for the future, I’m going to have to narrow it down to three!

I’d love to work with a brand like Kuoni, who specialise in luxury, tailor-made holidays all over the world.

A dream of mine has always been to travel to Canada, so the Rocky Mountaineer would be an aspiring brand to work with.

And finally, InnTravel would be another, purely because they offer so many great tours but they take a slightly slower-paced approach to travel, compared to other tour companies, and I am all about that slow living vibe!

 

8. And finally, what is your biggest achievement in the blogging world? 

Honestly, picking up my laptop and writing all those years ago and still continuing to do it 7 years later. I’m terrible at sticking things out, so, my blog is proof that if I’m dedicated to the cause I can most definitely do it.

Winning my blog award at the Bloggers Blog Awards was also a huge milestone for me. When I was nominated it kind of gave me this validation that I was finally good at something, you know. It felt good to finally believe in myself after so long.

And there you have it – I told you you’d come away feeling a wave of inspiration; Bee has that effect on people.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post, and I already can’t wait for the next one in this series!

Find Queen Beady on Instagram, Twitter and on her blog.

xx

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing an interview series on my blog for the past few months, but something has always come up. This year, I made it my mission to get one going as I love reading about people’s lives and how they got to where they are.

I originally was going to do it based on bloggers in the industry, but I decided to interview people who I think are inspirational, not only in the online world but in their everyday life.

My first guest is Alexander Ward, photographer and Associate Director based here in Manchester. If you’re from the city, you will have no doubt heard of him, but today I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the man behind the lens.

I hope you enjoy, and if there is anyone you would like to see in this series, please just let me know in the comments.

1. Hi Alex, thanks for joining us as the first guest on the ‘Be Inspired By’ series. Let’s start by getting to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m Alex, I’m a Photographer in Manchester who first picked up a professional camera in 2016 and have been striving to move my photography forward ever since. I’m originally from Essex and moved to Manchester a few years ago after falling in love with the city and the people in it; I’ve always loved how Manchester has this unique melding of history and pace, it has this special way of humblingly celebrating its history whilst having this ethic of focusing on the future. I’m dead passionate about doing what you love and representing people in the right way.

2. You’re definitely an up and coming photographer on the Manchester blogging scene – how did you get into it? 

Thanks! When I was 17 I started my own creative agency and ran it for just under 11 years, closing it in 2012 when the recession really kicked in. Since then it took me a while to find a creative outlet and, having always had an interest in film and photography, my other half suggested I pick up a cheap camera and give it a whirl. I instantly fell in love with it, I grew this immediate feeling of having a shot in your mind and experimenting until you got it. I started out by putting ads in groups like Reddit to shoot people and build my experience and it wasn’t long before I discovered how passionate I felt about photography and was building a decent portfolio.

3. What tips do you have for people who are just starting out with photography?

Firstly, above all else, do what you love. It’s a creative gig and every shot you take has a piece of you in it – if you’re not feeling it, if it’s not what you really want to be shooting, you’ll be able to tell. People often find a barrier to photography is the cost of the equipment but it needn’t be – get a basic camera and start shooting, just explore, find what you love and don’t be afraid to be creative and try new things. Most importantly, be collaborative and be kind – if you’re joining the game for Instagram likes or to feel better than someone, it’s time to find something else.

4. Have you seen your personal photography change over the years? If so, how?

In every way, but somehow, not at all. The reason I do so much portrait photography is because I’m utterly fascinated by people; indeed, I’ve always had this knack of being able to understand what someone’s about when I meet them – to me, photography is about a process of bringing that person to the surface and representing them – to show the world what I see. My work has changed in that it’s developed in style and approach, technical know-how and creativity, but ultimately that core need is unchanged. I want to showcase people, and my love of that continues.

5. How do you stay motivated as well as having a full-time job?

I’d be lying if I said I never felt pangs of worry over my work – I think that’s a natural process of anyone creating something and developing themselves – but really, I’m driven by people. I love discovering what someone’s about, what’s made them who they are, what makes them tick – this drives me on, showing the wider world who these incredible people I meet are all about. I would give a tip here for anyone starting out either in photography or anything creative – don’t compare yourself to others; take inspiration, but remember how utterly subjective art is and allow yourself to develop in our own way on your own path.

6. How would you like your photography to progress over the next 12 months?

I’d be genuinely thankful for another year like 2017 – I’ve met so many incredible people, worked on some amazing projects, had an amazing exhibition and been booked up for months. I’d love to spend the next year growing the people I work with and honing my approach – I’d definitely like to produce further creative pieces, those shoots where you plan and bring together a raft of things of this single creative vision. Also, I have some news coming soon about something I’m doing this year, watch this space 😉

7. Is there anyone you would love to photograph (famous or not)? 

Hmm, good question! I’d really love to shoot (and interview) someone who’s been on the frontline of helping people; from those people in our community who devote time to helping others to those abroad who are part of organisations tackling humanitarian issues. I think I’d like to try to unravel and convey the complexity and truth of what they deal with. I think that makes sense.

8. What is your end goal with your photography?

I’d like to do more of what I love and I see it growing in my life, but I also have a great day job working with awesome people. I see my ‘end goal’ as much grander than the next five years – I want to get to a point where my work has real value, where I help people tell their story – whatever that is.

Thank you so much to Alex for being the first interviewee.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about his work, and how he sees it progressing in the next few years. Alex is such a talented guy, and you can find his website here and Instagram here – go give him a follow. I’ve also included some of his favourite shots below over the past few months.

xx