Kate McCulley is the writer behind Adventurous Kate, the blog she’s been running since 2011. As someone who lives by the mantra “life’s too short to have regrets,” Kate has now been to over 30 countries and has made writing her full-time profession. In our interview today, we talk about her blog, what she hopes to do in the future, and what advice she has for aspiring travel bloggers. Enjoy!
Kate, tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog, Adventurous Kate. What initially gave you the idea to start the blog and to target women travelers?
I’ve been blogging in some way, shape or form since 2002 — before the word “blog” was even part of our lexicon! After launching several blogs, I decided that I wanted a more professional blog about travel, and wanted to own my frequent screenname’s URL — so Adventurous Kate was born.
Targeting female travelers wasn’t my initial intention, but I soon learned that I had a lot of readers with a deep thirst for information about what it’s like to travel the world as a woman, and particularly as a solo woman. As much as the blog as evolved, I’ve never veered from catering first and foremost to these female readers.
How did you get into writing? Did you always have aspirations of being a writer and travel advice-giver, or did this desire come later?
I have always, always, always wanted to be a writer. As a child, I would always imagine how my experiences — even the mundane ones, like going through the checkout line at the grocery store — would play out in a book.
As for giving advice, I kind of fell into that one! I love helping people realize that their dreams are within their reach.
What are you hoping to do with your travel blogging in the next five years and how do you see your income stream changing?
One year ago, I wrote that it wasn’t common practice for bloggers to get paid for press trips yet, but that I believed this would change in the future. I’m glad to see that this is now happening, and top tier travel bloggers are finally starting to be compensated financially, myself included, not just given free trips.
In the next few years, I hope to publish a few books, write for more major publications like the Boston Globe, to do more consulting, and to be able to take trips to the destinations that have been out of my reach so far — exceptionally obscure, expensive, or hard-to-get-to destinations. I’m on my way there, with Japan and Bhutan scheduled for later this year!
If someone asked you for advice on getting into independent travel blogging, what would you tell them?
Have realistic expectations. It takes an enormous amount of time and effort for people to make money from a travel blog, and you’re starting late in the game. Don’t expect to make a cent for the first year. The single best thing you can do is use your blog as a platform or portfolio for your products or services.
In order to get to that point, you need to spend a long time working hard to build an audience. Get self-hosted immediately — I recommend Bluehost. Blog prolifically — a minimum of four times per week for the first nine months or so, and don’t ever drop below three times per week. Get active on social media. Connect with senior travel bloggers and travel bloggers within your own generation. Don’t blog about travel blogging. Work hard, and work nonstop. This is your future.
Most importantly, write like crazy — because the best thing you can do is develop your voice as a writer.
If that same person asked you what you would do differently if you were going to start a travel blog today, what would you say?
I would have started an email list earlier. An email list — which I do in the form of a newsletter — is one of the most valuable things you can have.
How do you relate to your readers when you write? What keeps them coming back?
I’m very honest and open about my experience, and that’s something to which lots of people can relate. The self-deprecation doesn’t hurt, either! I’m one of the more personal bloggers, and people have been invested in my story for more than three years now. They love seeing the pictures and hearing about my experiences — but they also want to see what happens next!
In 2010, Kate McCulley quit her job and left her life in Boston to travel the world. Two years and 35 countries later, she’s still traveling — now as the full-time publisher of Adventurous Kate. Kate is one of the leading voices in independent and solo travel for women, and she aims to show women that solo travel can be safe, easy, and a lot of fun. She has written for publications including the Boston Globe, has spoken at industry events, and attends press trips around the globe. Kate splits her time between London and the world.