How she made $170K in a year
When I was in college I heard “entrepreneur” for the first time. I had just finished my biomedical engineering degree. Never did I think I would become an entrepreneur.
When I turned 23 and began my engineering career, writing was an option. Packs LightThe travel blog that I created in college was the one I looked forward to most each day. It was then I knew that I wanted the opportunity to travel and produce content for a living.
From being a full time engineer, to becoming a content creator full-time, I made slow and strategic moves. This has brought me a lot success.
At first, I didn’t make any money with Packs Light. It brought in nearly $2,000 in 2018 through small social media campaigns. In the following year I earned close to $8,000.
After saving money, and coming up with an action plan, I decided to quit my 6-9,000 per year engineering job in February 2020 and become a full-time blogger and consultant. Packs Light made me over $170,000 last year.
Since 2018, my brand has seen a significant increase in followers and engagement. Today I am 252,000 fans on TikTokand over 50,000 fans on Instagram. For January, alone I secured $30,000 of deals. By the end 2021 my goal is to triple or even quadruple my earnings.
Through scholarships and grants I was able graduate college debt-free thanks to these programs. For my startup costs and emergency funds, I had to have at least $15,000 in savings before I could feel confident about quitting my job.
For extra income, I started side jobs in virtual recruitment, dog-sitting/freelance writing, and social media management. I also lived at home with my parents — then with roommates — to save on rent.
While I didn’t have any of these jobs, I started a list of articles and posts on social media to help grow Packs Light. I “wrote” blog posts during my commute to work by using an app that voice-totext. Lunch breaks were spent interviewing young travellers to be featured in Packs Light’s “Young Travelers Network” series.
My job also encouraged me to travel more. To feature local Black-owned eateries or pop-ups on my blog, I would use my food allowance for work travels.
To monetize Packs Lights, it was crucial to secure partnerships. To make Packs Lights more profitable, I reached out to various brands in 2018 to get their feedback on what kind of partnership they wanted. I then would ask them questions and pitch them. This remains my method of finding partnerships.
Take, for example: GetYourGuide.comAn online travel agency was seeking influencers who could sell their activities and tours to Americans. While the company’s top-selling activities are in the U.S.A, I suggested a campaign that would market the activities in Mexico City where I was located at the time.
A survey was conducted with my followers. I then presented research about Mexico as a top destination to travel. We were successful with our campaign.
During my first year of full-time business, I worked on six partnership campaigns — each worth an average of $3,000. With the ease of travel becoming easier in 2021 I was able to land 12 contracts, increasing my monthly income to around $10,000.
I make the majority of my income from business through campaigns which include paid social media posts and blog content.
There are also passive streams I can make: blog ad income, paid member communities, and digital products such as online courses for digital nomads.
After starting my own business, I have worked with many major clients including Facebook and Delta Airlines, as well as Adidas.
Three major lessons have been key to my success:
1. A business pitch is incomplete without a ‘why’.
Your “why” is important. Travel is something I love deeply and honestly. I’m passionate about showing young women from all walks of life how they can find joy and meaning through travel — without all the planning stress that it typically comes with.
Clients and customers will be more attracted to someone who understands their “why”. This is because they are more likely to feel authentic and appealing.
2. Accept mistakes and be decisive
Entrepreneurs have many choices. It’s easy to lose time trying to decide between possible outcomes and options. However, we can move forward so much faster when we attempt and fail.
Decisiveness allows you to seize last-minute chances and put all your attention and effort into making the right decisions. Even if you make the “wrong”, the lessons that you have learned will propel you towards success.
My favorite saying is “Done is better that perfect.”
3. Do your research on the targeted audience and clients
Get to know your customers and followers. Which are their hobbies? What are their interests?
My travel content appeals to Gen Z and younger millennials. I am 26 and have a good understanding of their social media habits. But I still experimented with posting content on multiple platforms — TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
The most engagement was on Instagram and TikTok, so I am continuing my efforts there.
The same principle applies to finding clients for business. As I said earlier, I would ask brands about what they are looking for in a partner. This was my way of finding out who they want to reach, how to reach them and then helping them find a solution to their problems with my product.
Gabby BeckfordShe is a travel blogger, digital nomad, and content creator. Through her website, she empowers young people and teaches them how to take risks, find opportunities, and see the world. Packs Light. Follow her on Instagram TikTok.