Milou van Roon of Explorista is a travel blogger who took her career into her own hands when journalism jobs were hard to come by after graduation. Instead of hunting mindlessly for a 9-5, Milou created a path of her own, taking on freelance clients and eventually starting her travel blog.
With 27 countries already crossed off her list and a few exciting trips on the horizon, Milou has made travel her job and has a ton of travel expertise that she shares on her blog.
Here's what she has to say...
1. Tell us what you do in 2 sentences:
I run a Digital Marketing Agency called Explorista Media, where I turn travel brands into online rockstars. I also teach women how to become location independent entrepreneurs at my blog Explorista, and I’m about to launch a course on exactly that topic at Digital Nomad School.
2. At what point did you decide that the 9-5 wasn’t for you?
I’ve never had an actual 9-5 job, as I graduated college as a journalist, and there simply weren’t any full time jobs. If I wanted to do the work I loved, the only option was freelancing.
I think subconsciously from a young age I’ve always known how much I wanted to have freedom.
I saw how much my dad lived for two weeks of vacation a year and decided I didn’t want to be like that. Now the concept of ‘vacation time’ is a bit alien to me, as I work from anywhere with wifi as a Digital Nomad (and yes, usually abroad!).
3. What did you do next?
After college I was a struggling freelance journalist for a while, until I started my travel blog on the side. This took off so well, that it got me a few writing gigs for travel brands. That’s when I decided to focus on travel brands, as travel is where my passion is!
4. Beyond blogging, you also have Explorista Media, can you talk a bit about what that is and how it came about?
Explorista Media is my Digital Marketing Agency, where me and a team of freelancers create kick ass content, videos and social for travel brands. At one point I had too much work to be able to handle it all alone, so I was faced with the decision to either turn down work, or take on other people and grow into a team. I chose the adventure!
5. What has been the best part of running your own business?
It probably sounds cheesy, but the best part is being able to wake up excited every day ready for what the day holds. The second best part is being able to never have to ask anyone for ‘vacation time’.
I work from anywhere I feel like, and if I want to book some time off I don’t have to ask anyone but myself.
6. As a travel blogger you are obviously on the go quite often - what systems do you have in place to keep your business running while you’re traveling?
I try to automate the most tedious tasks via Zapier and IFTTT.
Aside from that I have one non-negotiable day (monday) where, wherever I am, I will deal with everything that needs to be done so my freelancers can get their work done for the rest of the week.
The other days are much more flexible for me.
To help get you started, Milou developed a FREE download for anyone who wants to be a digital nomad: 32 essential tools for Digital Nomads. The tools she uses to keep her focused, organised and profitable!
7. How did you begin to monetize your online business? What has worked for you and what hasn’t?
It all happened kind of accidentally, but the biggest contributor to my success has been being proactive. Reaching out to companies I’d love to work with was the biggest key to success!
Going to networking events was also great for getting my name and face out there.
For my writing career something that really didn’t work were platforms such as Upwork. The rates were just too low to justify spending time on it.
8. What advice do you have for other online influencers hoping to generate an income?
Why would you work with a company on a one-off base if you can potentially work with them long term?
I always try and figure out ways that I can work with a company for more than just one campaign or advertorial. Can you maybe freelance for them? That’s guaranteed income doing something you already like doing!
9. What is a common pitfall you see creatives trying to make money online fall into and how can they avoid it?
I see too many creatives (and bloggers especially) waiting to be picked. It simply doesn’t work that way. If you want something, you have to go out and get it. Sure it’s brilliant if people come to you, but how much better would you be off if you went out and pitched yourself?
10. What are your plans for the future?
I am currently waiting to hear back on a number of pitches I’ve done for two massive US travel brands, which should be exciting!
I’m also developing the Digital Nomad School: from dream to departure in 90 days, a course in which after 90 days you’ll be location independent, running your own profitable freelance venture from any place with wifi: be that a cute cafe or the poolside!
It also helps you prepare for a work & travel lifestyle, if you feel that cute cafe might as well be located in Italy (I feel ya!).