What is a roadmap and why do I need it?
The last thing you want to do while you are trying to build a business around your passion for Travel Content Creation is to lose track of where you are in your journey and not be able to see where you need to go next to restart.
After wasting months and months in the early stages of building my Wandering Donut brand by not having any clear direction of how to reach my goals, I finally sat down and worked out a simple but effective, step-by-step roadmap.
You wouldn't head out hoping for an epic roadtrip without knowing which direction to start driving, or not knowing at least a few of the hotspots to visit along the way, so why would you think you could build your dream business without a similar plan?
This is a simplified version of my full guide, but it will show you how far you have already come, exactly where you are now, and what you need to be doing to continue moving in the right direction. Start from the top and hover over the questions. If you believe that you have successfully covered that leg of the journey then move on to the next question.
If you have any questions about any stage of your adventure then email me from the link in the top menu!
Have you drilled down and found your perfect niche?
Your niche is the group of people you want to connect with, or your community if you prefer. It is super easy to make the mistake of thinking the larger the niche the more followers you will get, but it rarely works that way. As a new creative, what chance do you really think you have at making an impact in a massive niche like general travel? Even the top people look for a smaller piece within that group.
So before you start wasting time trying to succeed in the huge 'TRAVEL' niche, narrow the field to your passions like Solo Travel, Luxury Travel, or Travel and Food like I did. What you may feel is too small a niche to be able to make money can be extremely profitable if your audience is in the right financial demographic. A small group of fully engaged followers with money is more attractive to your sponsors and collaborators than 100k followers that have no money to spend.
I know someone whose entire brand is about travelling the world with her dog. You might think that's a bit too small a niche but pet owners spend big money, and a lot of them take those pets on vacation, so she does very well for herself in this niche.
Have you created and started marketing your personal brand?
Your personal brand is not just about a fancy logo, pretty colours, or even a catchy name. You need to think of your brand as how you project your voice in the niche you have chosen, how you stand out from the crowd.
Your personal brand should be built around your passions and what makes you unique. It should be the focus of everything you do online and will become the main pillar of everything you achieve with your business. Your content should fit your brand, how you comment anywhere on social media should reflect your brand, and even everything you do when you are showing up in person should reflect your brand.
If your brand is about luxury travel then don't show up at a fancy networking event wearing jeans and an old t-shirt, or if your brand is about having fun and wanting to meet new people, don't be seen posting nasty comments anywhere. It takes time to develop a brand but only an instant to undo the hard work.
Do your social media profiles look professional?
You will learn over time that it takes a lot of work to get people to come to your Instagram, and other social media accounts, yet so many people spend all their time desperately trying to attract those fresh eyes, finally reel them in, and lose them after a single visit simply because the profile and feed do not match the brand or promise they expected to see.
It is so important to create that professional first impression to visitors to your profile, especially when those people represent the brands you dream of working with. You need a great bio-pic, suitable email (sorry but your childhood 'email@example.com' just won't work here), informative bio which gives details about your brand and niche, the right name and handle, and kickass content.
Have you built a community that are starting to become raving fans of your brand?
It doesn't matter how awesome your brand is, or whether your message has the power to change the world, if nobody sees or hears it then it's all wasted. You need to find other people in your niche who want to hear what you have to say, you have to share yourself with them, you have to be seen in the places they hang out.
The key to building a strong community of followers is to be active in your niche, not only on your own accounts, but on others people's accounts, the forums where they chat, the Facebook groups they follow. You need to be friendly, helpful, and be generous in giving them the content they want and need.
Being seen as an authority all over your niche will bring people back to your accounts already knowing what to expect and eager to see what you are offering.
Don't get tangled up in the numbers game here, take the time to build real connections. When your audience feels like a close group of friends they are much more likely to treat you with the same respect, ready to support you right back.
Have you started pitching to the brands and businesses you want to collaborate with?
Now we are getting to the exciting part of the journey, where you start earning money, being sent products you love, or getting sponsored travel opportunities. But before you jump straight in, make sure you have everything you might need already in place.
Firstly, you need to be willing to put yourself out there. No more impatiently waiting for opportunities to knock at your door, this is your chance to grab life by the donuts and get yourself making the big bucks with the art of pitching.
Not only should you have some authority in your niche, a recognisable brand, a professional-looking profile, and an engaged following, but you need a Media Kit ready to send out, have to know and understand your Social Media analytics (and be ready to share them with your potential partner), and have your rates set realistically based on the value you bring to the brand you are pitching.
Pro Tip - do not have your rates on your Media Kit or in your original pitch at all for that matter. Different brands have different budgets along with different deliverables. While having a base rate price guide is good, be flexibility and tailor it to each opportunity as you see fit. Try to find out if the brand has ' BUDGET' before sending your rates.
Bonus Pro Tip - Take the time to find the right contact to pitch to, avoid sending a proposal to the generic email address for a brand or business unless it's your last resort. The chances are your email will never get to the person who has the authority to make this deal come to life if you send it to firstname.lastname@example.org , there's a chance it won't get to a person at all.
Do you know what to do when your pitch has been accepted?
Just by finding the courage to start pitching you have cleared one of the toughest hurdles on the way to realising your goals. You have overcome the natural fear of rejection, probably gone way outside your comfort zone, and now it looks like it has finally paid off. You get a DM or email that tells you that somebody is interested in your pitch!
Pop the Champagne, you're rich and successful! No, don't do that just yet, there's still some work to be done before you start creating content for them and the money hits your account.
You have to understand that things can quickly go bad if you don't act in a professional manner from there. Read through their offer and respond in a timely manner, negotiate if you feel you should, or agree to their terms.
Pro Tip - Confirm everything in writing before you start doing the work. Make sure you completely understand the deliverables they expect and exactly what they are giving you in return. I made that mistake once (and only once before I learned my lesson) and can tell you it sucks to be paid less than you thought because you didn't get the price confirmed. It cost me a few hundred dollars but I guarantee I will never do it again now.
Have you developed your mindset, believe you are a real business, und have a plan to keep growing?
If you have made it this far then like me, you know that we have one of the greatest jobs in the world, but if you want to turn this into something more than a side hustle, and create a true business, then you have to think like a business owner and realise that everything you do online and off can impact that business.
A large part of taking this to the next level is Mindset, how you train your brain to believe the things you want to be your reality. It can affect your attitude to money, your self-confidence, how you show up as a business owner, how you deal with potential clients and followers.
Another part of pushing for your goals is planning for growth, finding new business opportunities for your brand, deciding how and by when those goals will be achieved.
I am not here to define your idea of success. For some of you working your 9-5 and getting some free merch or an occasional sponsored weekend getaway might be the stuff your dreams were made of, while for others you may be aiming to turn this into a full-time gig making more than enough money to fund your dream lifestyle. What I am saying is that whatever your goals with this opportunity, you need to treat it like the professional endeavor it really is.
The funny thing is, people ask me ' where can I apply for this dream job you are living!?" and they seem shocked and confused that you don't need to send in a resume or apply for it at all. Hell, there wasn't even a title for travel and donut content creator when I started in 2015 to apply for.
I made it up and continue to make shit up everyday to live MY dream and if I can do it for travel and DONUTS (of all things) you bet your ass you can too!
So let's make some shit up together.