Yorkshire travel blogger Jessica Gibson's social media accounts are now so popular that she makes a living from circling the globe in search of new experiences.
The 27-year-old grew up in Haxby, near York, and has recently moved to Leeds with her boyfriend after four years spent living in London.
Writing as The Travelista, she has amassed over 16,000 followers on Instagram and also runs a separate blog site.
Jess originally wanted to be a print journalist, but after struggling to find a job after leaving university, taught herself to blog back in 2013 as a way to self-publish her writing.
Before Instagram was launched, she promoted her posts via Twitter and Facebook to grow her audience.
Her lucky break came when she offered to write free content for a magazine called The Player to build up her portfolio, and was given the chance to review a hotel in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh and gain experience in the world of travel PR.
We caught up with Jess for an insight into her incredible jet-setting lifestyle:-
Why did you choose to specialise in travel blogging?
I have always had a passion for travel and after doing some press trips for The Player, I had plenty of travel content to share on my blog. I was lucky enough to go on some amazing family holidays when I was younger so I have always been familiar and comfortable with long-haul travel and foreign countries. Our intrepid family travels in my early years definitely sparked my case of wanderlust!
What was your occupation before you became a travel blogger?
Before I became a full-time travel blogger, I was working as a social media manager for a travel PR agency in London. Before this I was a digital content executive at a travel company in York and my first ever job was an editorial assistant at Your Local Link (a local York magazine). As my career progressed I began to specialise more in digital and understand how online media worked.
When did you decide to become a full-time blogger?
As my blog grew in traffic and followers, it began to demand more and more of my time. I was starting to receive requests for brand collaborations and had a mountain of emails on a daily basis. I was earning a good income from the blog and it got to the point where I felt like I was working two full-time jobs. At the start of 2016 I went part-time with my company and in July 2016 I quit my role to become a full time travel blogger.
Are you now able to make a living out of your Instagram posts?
I have lots of different income streams from the blog and Instagram is just one of them. I make money by working with different brands on various campaigns. Usually it involves me creating sponsored content (photography, blog posts and videos) and sharing them across my channels. I also make money through affiliate links, display advertising and copywriting for other brand’s websites. I have to be selective about the brands that I work with and there are a lot of jobs that I have to turn down as I don’t feel they are relevant to my audience.
How many countries have you visited since beginning your blog, and which were your favourites?
I have probably visited about 50 countries since starting my blog. Some of my favourite trips have been going on safari in the Serengeti, South Africa, the Maldives, the Amalfi Coast and Antigua.
How often do you travel? What proportion of a month/year is spent overseas?
On average I travel about once a month. If it’s a long haul trip they can last 5-6 nights but if it’s a short haul European trip they can last 2-3 nights. Sometimes I travel as part of a ‘press trip’ with other bloggers and other time I go individually and can take a travel companion to help me with photography. I love travelling with other bloggers as it’s a great way to network and make new friendships.
Are there any downsides to being a social media influencer - do you feel pressure to appear perfect?
People often tell me I have the dream job. I absolutely love what I do but like with any job, it comes with its difficulties. I do feel the pressure to always be posting things on social media and spending a lot of time on my phone engaging with my followers. In a way I think it’s addictive. I find it really hard to switch off from the online world and just ‘live in the moment’, but it’s something I am working on. I just feel a constant pressure to share things. When I am not travelling I work from home, writing up posts about my trips and editing my content. This element of my job can be quite solitary and lonely at times. It definitely requires a lot of self-motivation!
What would you be doing if you weren’t travel blogging?
My first career dream was to become an actress and I even considered going to theatre school instead of university at one point. If print publishing was as strong as it used to be I probably would have pursued my career in journalism, but in a way I am glad that I didn’t. Blogging has led me to develop skills not just in writing but as a multi-media content creator and also as a businesswoman. I created the blog out of nothing with zero investment and it’s something I am incredibly proud of.
Follow Jess's Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/thetravelista/
Her blogging site can be found at http://thetravelista.net/