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5 Things I’ve Learnt from 5 Years of Blogging, and how Travelling Changed my Life!

 

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Sooo I just wanted to come on here and let you all know that Journeys with Jessica celebrated its 5th birthday this week! 5th!! That is CRAZYYYY! 😱 I remember when I started my little blog, back in 2014, when I was 21 years old and my world had just been turned upside down for all the wrong reasons. An awful relationship break up left me with no motivation, no energy, no desire to carry on and make something of my life. For 3 months I barely ate or slept. I was broken and didn't think I'd ever be happy again, until I started to travel and I started my blog. I didn't know it back then, but the decision I made to start travelling actually changed my life. 🌎 Instead of wallowing in self pity and worrying about trying to change the past, I started to look forward. I started to plan trips, book short weekend stays and long weeks away, and I started to live again. I couldn't fall in love with anyone else, but I did fall in love with travelling, and to this day it's been the best decision I've ever made. ❤️ I've driven across Route 66 in America, rode the Great Ocean Road in Australia, inter-railed around Europe, cruised around the Med and visited 28 countries by the age of 26. I've helicoptered over the Grand Canyon, parasailed on Daytona Beach, been on a gondola in Venice, climbed the Eiffel Tower, skydived over Uluru, flew over Fraser Island and snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef. Sometimes I can't believe how much I've done and I have to pinch myself that this has been my life. 🎉 So if anyone out there is ever feeling like I did 5 years ago, or if you're not sure where your life is heading and need to make some changes, I urge you to travel. To discover new places, to meet new faces, to live a different life. 5 years from now I hope I'm still in love with travel, that I'm going to more countries than ever before and that I'm even happier than I am now. 🌟

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In case you missed my epic Instagram announcement earlier on this week, I am absolutely THRILLED to let you all know that my little blog celebrated it’s 5th birthday this week and it has made me so unbelievably happy! I cannot imagine my life without my blog, or without travel in it, and sometimes I genuinely have to pinch myself that I’ve lived the life I have. 5 years ago, when I first launched my little space on the Internet, I had no idea how much it would change my life. I didn’t know the friends I would make, or the opportunities I would gain. I didn’t know that I’d reach almost 10,000 social media followers across all platforms, or that a whopping 5000 people would view my blog every single month. I thought it would just give me something to do in my spare time, and would be a little hobby for me. I thought that only my mum and dad would read it, and that no one else would ever take an interest, but boy how wrong I was! Here’s 5 things I’ve learnt during my 5 years of blogging…

 

It’s given me so much confidence

 

 

Let’s take it back to the beginning, back to 2014 when this little blog was launched. I had just come out of a horrific relationship break up and was at an all time low. For three months I barely slept or ate, I had no confidence, no motivation, no desire to do anything or make something of myself. I wasn’t excited about anything, I had no appetite, I didn’t even want to see my friends or do anything with my family. I was completely broken, and I was a shadow of my former self, until one day when I decided to book a trip to Barcelona with 2 of my best friends. I didn’t know it back then, but that day would shape the course of my entire life for the next 5 years. Once I had my trip booked I had something to look forward to, something to get excited about. Once that trip was over I booked another one, and another one after that. I started my blog, so that writing about my trips would keep my travel dreams alive until I got on my next flight. I was obsessed with all things travel, and blogging, and it gave me a new lease of life. I started attending events, networking, going to conferences. I started speaking to more and more bloggers online and consumed myself with this new world – it was amazing, I felt like a new person, and it really gave me my mojo back.

 

I’ve made some amazing friends 

 

 

One of the best things about blogging has got to be all the new friends I’ve made over the past 5 years since I started Journeys with Jessica. I didn’t know that strangers I would interact with online would later become some of my best friends, and people I still speak to now on a daily basis. I’ve even gone on trips with some of them, and attended new events and parties with them too. The turning point for me came when I went to my first ever travel blogging conference, Traverse in Cardiff back in 2016. I went with Lucy, one of the girls I met on Twitter, stayed overnight at her house and ended up becoming firm friends. We went on a trip to Bratislava and Vienna two years later, and next week we are going to be reunited in Italy as I attend my 4th Traverse conference in Trento! I speak to so many fellow bloggers online, and count many of them as wonderful, real life friends as they’re no longer just strangers off the Internet! That’s the beauty of blogging, it brings you face to face with friends you’d never meet in every day life and gives you the opportunity to connect with like-minded people from all over the world.

 

It’s given me some epic travel opportunities 

 

 

I didn’t start my blog in order to get free travel, it was never even something that crossed my mind, but 5 years later I have been lucky enough to benefit from some fantastic travel opportunities, and it’s all thanks to my little corner of the Internet! It took me 3 years before I started to go on press trips or get invites to go to things with my blog, so it’s definitely not something that happens overnight. A real turning point for me came when I went to my second Traverse conference, this time in London, and I met so many brands, bloggers and tourism boards who were ACTUALLY INTERESTED in working with influencers and creating content. I hit the jackpot when, just a couple of weeks later, I was invited to Menorca for a week long trip with Visit Spain, Turismo de Menorca and Traverse themselves for a weekend conference followed by 4 days of post-event adventures. I was selected as one of 50 UK bloggers and it was such an honour for me to be there. Later on that year I also went to Hamburg on a 3 day trip with 4 other bloggers and got to experience the best that the city has to offer with the German tourism board. Other press trips have included numerous hotel and restaurant reviews, gifted city cards and itineraries hand crafted by tourism boards ready for me to explore and share content on my blog. Sometimes I have to pinch myself that has been my job for the past few years!

 

I’ve pushed myself to be the best person I can be

 

 

Although travelling has made me the best person I can be, I would also say that blogging has too. I know the two go hand in hand, but before I started blogging I had no experience in the social media or marketing world, no idea how to present myself or pitch for work, and no clue on how to network and meet new people. Fast forward 5 years and I can now walk in to a room full of strangers and introduce myself and my blog. I can send pitch emails to brands who I want to work with, and I can tell them why I’m the right person they should choose to collaborate with. As well as the Traverse travel blogging conferences, I have also been twice to WTM, the biggest travel conference in the world, and have met with brands, tourism boards and airlines face to face to pitch directly to them and tell them all about me and my blog. I would NEVER have had the confidence to do something like this 5 years ago, and I think that shows just how far I have come in both my professional life and on a personal level. I push myself to do things that are out of my comfort zone because I know how much it will benefit me in the long run, and I think this has been a key part of my success as a travel blogger.

 

It’s taught me to appreciate everything in life

 

 

Travelling has taught me so much about the world, but also so much about myself too. When I’m on a trip I just throw myself into it every single day, I wake up early and go to bed late, I see as much as I can whilst I’m there and I enjoy every single second. When you’re travelling you realise just how small you are in comparison to the rest of the world. You see things in a different light, and you realise that some things just don’t matter. All perception of things become clearer when you travel, and I’ve had two life changing experiences through 2 different trips (4 weeks in America and 6 weeks in Australia) which have totally turned my world around. I also see things differently when I come home after trips like these too – they just open my eyes and make me realise there are things which aren’t important, and things that are, and they help to re-align my life and get things back on track.  Life is too short to be unhappy, so book that hotel, get on that flight and don’t look back! I honestly don’t know that I’d have done over the past 5 years if I haven’t had travelled, and I can’t ever imagine my life without it now.

 

Starting my blog was honestly the best thing I’ve ever done, and it definitely changed my life for the better. I cannot imagine what I would have done over the past 5 years if I hadn’t been blogging, or travelling, and I’m thankful every day that I decided to take my leap of faith and launch Journeys with Jessica back in 2014. If anyone out there is thinking of starting a blog, or if you’re hesitating about booking that dream trip my advice would be JUST DO IT! Life is too short to worry, too short to pass up opportunities and too short to be anything less than amazing. Travelling changed my life, I hope it changes yours too.

 

 

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Happy Blogiversary to Me! What I've Learnt From 3 Years of Blogging

 

 

 

OH-MY-GOD-I-CAN’T-BELIEVE-IT’S-BEEN-THREE-YEARS!!!!

This is literally what I have been saying to myself over and over in my head all day. I can’t believe it’s been three years since Journeys with Jessica was born. I can’t believe it’s still published. I can’t believe it’s grown from what it was to what it is now. I also can’t believe how I, as a person, have grown from what I was, to what I am now. If you’ve been with me from the beginning, you’ll know that I went through the toughest time of my life three years ago. On one day back in January 2014 my life as I knew it totally changed forever. I won’t go into all the details cos you guys have probably heard it all before and are starting to get bored (I know I am), but having my heart broken completely turned my world upside down. For three months I was a complete wreck; I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I barely had enough energy to get up in the morning. I had no motivation, I had no interest in anything and I just didn’t know how to pick myself up and feel better. My health worsened, my medical condition was dragging me down, and I really couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, I hit rock bottom and didn’t know where to go or what to do. There was nothing my friends, or my family, could do to make me see that I needed to start again, that I needed to move on and that I needed to find a purpose, until I started my blog.

Blogging gave me a purpose, it gave me a reason to get excited, and it made me realise I could have a life again. When I booked a spontaneous trip to Barcelona with my two best friends I started to write this blog. At first I wrote about my upcoming trip, then I wrote about the trip when I got back, then I started writing about trips I had been on in the past. Then I booked a trip to Majorca. Then Reykjavik. Then Prague. Then Budapest… The list goes on and on, and it’s there that my love for travel, and blogging, was truly born.

 

 

Back then I could never have imagined that my blog would gain a readership, or a social following of over 5000 users, or attract messages from anyone other than my friends and family. Back then I could never have imagined that my blog would one day be a source of income for me, or that I’d get invited on press trips or attend special events. Back then it was just a hobby, something for me to do when I was bored, or when I wanted to let my creative energy pour out, but now it’s my whole life.

Fast forward three years and my blog is the best it’s ever been and I, in turn, am the happiest I have ever been. My blog has been nominated for an award, it’s received press coverage, it’s racked up thousands upon thousands of views, and it’s made me actual real life friends with fellow bloggers from all across the world. Without my blog I don’t think I’d have had the motivation, or the encouragement, to pick myself up and get on with my life. I don’t think I’d have quit my job as an estate agent to travel the world, and I definitely would never have launched my own freelancing business. I would never have gone to conferences, or met with travel brands, or made friends with so many like minded people. I’m connected with people on Facebook and Twitter who I’ve never met before, but we speak almost every day and I feel as though we have been life long friends. Without my blog, I wouldn’t have had any of this.

 

 

Over the past three years my blog has genuinely brought me so much happiness, and never once have I experienced any negativity from it, or had anything bring me down. Yes it’s hard work, yes it’s time consuming, yes it’s always going to be judged and it can always be improved, but I can honestly say that every single second, minute and hour that I have put into my blog over these past few years has been totally and utterly worth it. I can’t explain the sheer excitement I feel when I receive a new comment on one of my posts, or when I receive a Facebook message from someone telling me they booked the same trip as me because they read my blog post and couldn’t wait to go. Those feelings won’t ever go away, and they bring me so much joy.

I guess I just want to say thank you to all the people who have helped to make this blog a success, because it definitely isn’t just down to little old me! Thank you to my best friends for making me book that trip to Barcelona in the first place.  Thank you to my fellow travel blogger friends who continue to motivate me and inspire me everyday. Thank you to my readers who continue to enjoy my posts, and who like following my adventures on my social channels. Thank you to all my voters who helped to get me to the top 10 in the UK Blog Awards 2016 – my biggest and best achievement to date. And finally, thank you to my family for continuing to support me in all that I do, and for not constantly moaning at me to get a ‘proper’ job. Thank you for letting me do what I love.

 

This is how I feel right now. Today I calculated that I've earnt *almost* as much each month as I was earning in my old 9-5 job! I knew I could do it!!! I've started with nothing and built up my little business all by myself. At times I felt like giving up, like I wasn't good enough, and like I had no right to make a career for myself, but today I've felt so inspired and so pleased that my hard work seems to be paying off. Any doubts that may have been in my mind have now been dismissed and I am SO excited to continue my journey in my new career and see where this takes me! Here's to future success and many more adventures 📝💻✈️🌍 #MondayMotivation #freelancer #bloglife #virtualassistant

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It’s been an amazing three years, and what a ride it’s been. Since Journeys with Jessica was launched I have travelled to 9 new countries, visited over 5o new cities and explored 23 US States. Over the next 12 months I will be roaming around Europe and ticking off country after country and city after city as I aim to visit 25 countries before I turn 25 next January. After that, I plan to spend a few months travelling around Australia before returning home next Spring and then deciding what else I want to do with this little life of mine. I still can’t believe it’s been three years, but they have been bloody amazing. If you’re reading this and you’re thinking of starting your own blog my advice is simple – JUST DO IT! Find your niche, throw yourself into it, enjoy every second and you might just change your life. I know mine did, and I wouldn’t swap it for the world.

Love Jess x