Welcome to another Student Spotlight! If you’re wondering how to build a business online as a blogger or social media influencer, read on. In this series, I’m handing the microphone over to my students to tell their stories, share their missions, and give their best advice for working online.
Introducing: Maddie Winters
In the spotlight today is New Jersey based travel blogger, Maddie Winters, known across her social channels as @aonewayticket!
Tell me your story. Why did you start your Instagram and become a travel blogger?
Growing up, I basically didn’t travel internationally at all. My family would do the same summer trip almost every year, mostly to visit family in other states and one trip to Niagara Falls.
I became super interested in traveling internationally when I was in college. I somehow discovered travel hacking and using credit card points to get free flights and I was hooked. This morphed into an insane love for travel, staying in hotels, and visiting far-off destinations around the world. I would always post about my travels on Instagram. Friends and family always told me I should create a blog. I eventually listened, but kind of kept it on the back burner for years until recently. I’ve really started putting a lot more information on my blog to help others travel like I have and continue to do!
Tell me about your business and your “why”!
My business centers around my travel blog where I share tips to help women travel more and to travel smarter, focusing a lot on luxury travel and unique destinations.
I started my blog as a way to inspire more people to travel.
I would always come home from trips and couldn’t stop talking about the incredible places I’d seen. So many people around me would have all these misconceptions about travel and why they thought it was impossible for them or something that they were too nervous about because of all the unknowns.
I’ve created my business to help people feel like they know more about a destination before they visit so they’re prepared to travel. I try to inspire people to look at their 10 PTO days a year and not say “well, that’s not enough to travel at all,” but realize that they can use that time and still visit all the places on their bucket list. Overall, my blog is a way to inform and inspire people to travel more.
How did you discover Christina?
I discovered Christina years ago! I honestly don’t remember exactly how it was. But I suspect it was through a fellow travel blogger during a press trip she was on. Ever since, I’ve loved following Christina through her journey from influencer to girl boss extraordinaire. She’s never been somebody who I got bored of following because she constantly provides value to her audience.
Which of Christina’s courses have you taken and what inspired you to enroll?
I’ve taken both of Christina’s courses – The Influencer Bootcamp and The Blogger Bootcamp. The Influencer Bootcamp came out first and I took it because I wanted to take the Instagram part of my business to a new level. I’m so happy I did.
Once she released The Blogger Bootcamp, it was a no brainer for me. I knew how incredible her courses were and there were aspects of being a blogger I still had a big question mark about. Her course helped answer those questions.
What “lightbulb moments” did you have while taking the courses?
I’ve learned SO much from Christina’s courses. One of the most important things I’ve learned is to never undersell myself and to know my value. A lot of people in the influencer/blogger space undervalue themselves and feel like they should have to do XYZ for free. In the travel space, this is a little different because the value of what’s given to you sometimes is much higher than receiving a free dress, for example. Nobody should ever have to pay to do a job for somebody or do a job for free.
Another huge thing I learned from Christina’s courses is how important community is. Not only your own community as a blogger or influencer, but the community of people around you who are going through the same things you’re going through, who you can relate to and can bounce ideas off of. The community provided through Christina’s courses is so valuable.
What are the most exciting things that have happened since completing the course & becoming a travel blogger?
Since completing Christina’s courses, I’ve grown so much. Not only literally across my platforms, but in who I am as a business owner and who I am for my audience. I’ve learned how much value I can provide and I know how to provide it in the best way for my audience.
I’ve been able to work with brands I’ve only ever dreamed of. Like Four Seasons, Hyatt, and Sofitel. I’ve been able to monetize my content to help me create a living helping people travel more, and ensure that I’m able to provide for my audience for years to come.
What do you love most about being a travel blogger?
I love so much about being a travel blogger. It’s genuinely something I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night SO excited about. Going to a 9-5 is something I’ve always dreaded and something I’ve felt little fulfillment from doing. It’s something that works for a lot of people, but some people just need more.
I’ve been able to create a business around my passion and nothing is more exciting than that.
What’s next for you? What’s your next big goal or project?
Since the travel industry has hit a bit of a pause, a lot of people in the travel industry have more or less given up. I took a couple weeks to sulk and be sad, but I’ve began focusing on my blog more than ever with the free time I now have due to doing nothing else fun.
My next big goal is to be able to grow my email list (my freebie is out now!) and to be able to further connect with my audience through that. The current project I’m working on is pushing out a lot more content to help my audience who is slowly beginning to travel again.
What is your number one piece of advice for aspiring influencers and travel bloggers?
My absolute biggest piece of advice for aspiring influencers and travel bloggers is to really invest in yourself and learn SO much before you dive in. A lot of learning does happen through practice, but the influencer and blogging industries can be difficult to understand from somebody not in them.
Taking courses like Christina’s to learn from people who are successful and have done what you’re trying to do will pay off so much in the long run. There are so many things I wish I’d known before I started, especially when it comes to blogging. Things like Pinterest and SEO can make such a huge difference. If you don’t do those properly from the start, you’ll have to go back and learn them and re-do a lot.
What are your favorite accounts to follow on Instagram? Favorite travel bloggers?
There are SO many accounts I follow on Instagram and so many bloggers I love. Some of my favorite photographers who just have the most aesthetic and beautiful photos are @ofleatherandlace, @amyseder, and @parisverra.
Some other bloggers that I really admire and have followed for years are @mvandersluis, @lisahomsy, @professionaltraveler, @haylsa, @tourdelust, @theblondeabroad, and @elona. I’m sure there are some that I’m missing, but there are so many great ones out there!