Yaneek Page | Turning your passion for travel into profit, Part 2
ADVISORY COLUMN: BUSINESSWISE
In my last column, I introduced you to millennial voyageurs Cameron Seagle and Natasha Alden whom I met at the Global Ambassadors Program in Puerto Rico in March.
Determined to escape what they described as the "corporate rate race" in New York City, the couple set out on an adventure to experience the world. Through considerable trial and error they have been able to marry their passion for travel with enterprise and now operate the successful digital outfit, The World Pursuit.
Below is the conclusion of their summary of lessons learned and top tips.
Q: How did you survive during the first six months of leaving your job?
We had been plotting our departure from our jobs the moment that whole idea came to be. We’re savers by nature, so we already had a decent savings account from working, then when we decided on this lifestyle we ramped that up even more. The intention had always been to save as much money as possible - work as much as possible.
As young adults in our twenties in NYC we also lived well below our means and concentrated on saving money by cooking our own meals, packing our lunches, not going to the bar, living in the outer boroughs of NYC, and enjoying cheap experiences like donation based museums.
While a lot of peers ate every meal out, made frequent coffee shop trips, went to concerts, spent lots of time at the bar, and generally made poor purchase decisions. See more: https://theworldpursuit.com/save-money-for-travel/
Q: What was your planning process to leave your job?
We had a set number that we aimed to have in the bank accounts before we left our jobs. That happened to coincide with the end of our lease on our apartment in the Bronx so it was easy decision as to when we would quit our jobs.
Once we quit our jobs, we sold what little furniture and belongings we had and packed all of our clothes into a few boxes to stash away in parent’s attics. The next step was to buy a one way ticket to the Eastern Europe and launch The World Pursuit.
Q: What made you ultimately decide to leave your job?
It was February in New York. The average for the month was 14ºF and we had one hour commutes to and from work each day with long hours. Natasha worked in a windowless office all week and then picked up waitressing on the weekends, I worked 60-70 hours a week with a lot of overtime.
The only free time we had was spent at the gym. Eventually Natasha decided the lifestyle was not for her and the New York/Big City dream was not all it was cracked up to be.
She said there was a big world out there to see and she was leaving with or without Cameron. Of course, he followed along for the journey.
Q: What are the long-term goals you have for yourself and your business?
We’d like to build a sustainable resource for travel information and branch into other new side businesses. For our website, that means increased revenue through developing our voice or expertise, a larger readership, and long term relationships with brands that align with ours.
The key to all of this revenue is being a trusted source and expert. So we’re actively pursuing more education on adventure travel through certified licenses and training to enhance our knowledge. This year will we’ll take a mountaineering rescue course and complete more dive certifications.
Perhaps in 2020 we’ll aim for sailing and a captain's licence. The world is our oyster, I suppose. We have many other ideas for businesses including starting a tour company and selling our own guide books on destinations we know well. Or we’ve thought about opening up a boutique hotel or lodge with a hip coffee shop attached -- we love coffee shops!. We’ll probably do all of that once we find the time.
Q: What were the steps you took to turn The World Pursuit into a successful business model?
Answering our intended audiences question. It’s at the core of any business really. We focus a lot on SEO [search engine optimisation] as do others who are successful in our field.
The biggest piece of advice when it comes to SEO is 'content is king'. You need to provide value for people to trust you and that allows for you to influence decision making. That could mean hiring you, buying from you, or purchasing a product you recommend.
Q: Do you have seasonal revenue? Or is it pretty constant or consistent?
We make a large portion of our income through ads which relate directly to readership and affiliates which relates directly to travel purchases. Since the bulk of our audience is based in North America where the majority of people travel or take vacation in the summer months those well performing months.
However, we do earn money year round as people are always travelling, researching their future trips, or planning for upcoming trips. We also work with many brands year round as they often aim to push 'off season' travel or unique experiences.
Q: What was the most challenging part of making the change from working to travelling the world?
Setting your own schedule is always our greatest challenge. In a job where you work for someone else you show up on a set schedule and often have a clear goal or task you need to accomplish.
You have none of that working for yourself and you are your own boss. Your work performance and commitment is directly related to your income. It pushes us to work as hard as we typically see reward directly.
There are also the many challenges of travel logistics and planning new destinations while travelling full time and maintaining a business on the road in unfamiliar countries. Needless to say, there have been a lot of late nights with poor WiFi connection.
Q: How did this change affect your family life and stability?
Travelling full time certainly cuts down on family time, but working in New York did so as well. Truthfully we go longer stints without seeing the family now, but when we are at home we’re able to take two weeks to a month or more without being worried about burning up our vacation time.
A lifestyle like us does make it hard to stay in shape, maintain friendships and make meaningful new ones, or have hobbies. We also can’t have a pet – something we both want – and that is very tough on us.
Q: What advice would you give to others who would like to follow a similar path?
To focus on what you own. That is tangible assets, such as a website and your voice. Chasing numbers only on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter can be a mistake.
On social media platforms you’re building on someone else’s platform or business. Many of whom have repeatedly shown a disregard for their user’s data and are often prone to changes in social reach of content creators. Social media is great for amplifying any business, but always have a website that you own and no one can ever take away.
Q: What are your top tips for monetizing your passion generally and travelling the world specifically?
If people trust you and your expertise they’ll always come to you for help. There is an inherent value in the ability to influence people's opinions.
Yaneek Page is an entrepreneur and trainer in entrepreneurship and workforce innovation, and creator and executive producer of The Innovators and Let’s Make Peace TV series.