You can always do what you love and still make a living. Victoria Wieck introduces Isabel Leong, a successful travel blogger who loves giving tips to help others succeed. Isabel became a travel blogger by following her passion for curiosity and travel. She learned how to get her blog noticed on the Internet by mastering SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and hacking the social media game.
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Isabel Leong – Travel Blogger’s Tips On How To Get Noticed On the Internet
I know that all of us have New Year’s resolutions. New year, new you, and new goals. We’ve got new priorities. If you always dreamt about living a life of a traveler, wanderer or doing what you want to do with your life and be free, I have somebody who has turned her dream into real life. Her name is Isabel Leong. She is chatting with us from Peru. I will have Isabel tell you about how she was able to turn her dream into a true reality. Without further ado, welcome to the show. Happy New Year to you, Isabel.
Thanks for having me. It has been a pleasure.
A lot of people, especially people your age, dream about going to all these other countries. Travel seems to be glamorous. You are probably like me because you travel a lot. I have this undying curiosity about how other people live before me, relationships, food, cuisine, and colors they come up with. It’s amazing to go from place to place and most people can’t do that. They only dream about it. This is why all the travel blogs and magazines are popular. Tell me a little bit about how you came about doing that. Did you wake up one morning and say, “I’m tired of this. I’m going to get up and start traveling?” Was this a planned life decision?
It’s an accumulation of different circumstances that happened to me. I always loved traveling but it was this one experience that opened my eyes to a whole different way of living. That is when I booked a one-way ticket to Europe. I’m from Singapore, Asia. I haven’t been that far before. I did a semester exchange in France. That was when I did this big, bold step to travel so far on my own and live in Europe like a local.
I was a student back then. I had a student budget. I was utilizing different methods and ways of living. One of which was CouchSurfing. This helped me immerse in the culture because you are living with a local. You are listening to their stories. They don’t go to tourist places. They go to local places to explore, eat and hang out. Also, this opened my eyes to the different occupations that they were doing to make a living.
Coming from Singapore, where it’s so technologically advanced, most of the education style was trying to educate you into a full-time corporate job because that’s where the opportunities lie. It was through talking to artists, musicians, and people with alternative lifestyles that made me realize, “I don’t necessarily have to follow this one straight path of working in a corporate job. I can always do what I love and still make a living, even if I’m not rich.” That awakened me when I started traveling.
You don’t necessarily have to follow this one straight path of working in a corporate job. You can always do what you love and still make a living.
I started a travel blog for the purpose of documenting my travels and pictures. I’m trying to share my itinerary with other people who are traveling in the same shoes as me. That was how the travel blog was formed, Bel Around The World. When I came back, it was a hobby blog because back then, in 2015, there were not many profiles that have turned a full-time lifestyle with travel blogging alone. I still had to work a full-time job but I never enjoyed the corporate life.
There was one opportunity at the end of 2017 that offered me a free-pass trip to New Zealand. They were gathering a bunch of journalists on an all-expense trip to cover different highlights and spots in New Zealand. As journalists, we were supposed to cover and promote the destination. I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially for such a small blogger like me back then. That was the other pivoting point where I threw in my resignation letter and decided to embark on this journey full-time and take travel blogging seriously.
Thank you for sharing that. I wrote a bunch of things on you because you unloaded some incredible nuggets here. Number one, coming from Singapore, there’s this notion by a lot of people all around the world. They don’t realize how technologically advanced Asia is as a whole continent. I remember when I was in Japan in the year 2010. I would go to a bank. They had this thing that came out and took a picture of your pupils. You don’t have to put a PIN code, ID or anything like that. They were already using touchless menus with their iPads way back then.
In most high-end Asian hotels, you go there and put your key into the thing. It automatically gets all your temperature. A lot of people don’t realize how advanced Asia is. It’s such an adjustment when you come back to the States that still have turnkeys or key codes that you have to log that stuff. Aside from that, I love how you started. I’m a huge believer in being authentic, honest, and doing something because you love to do it. It’s not because you are getting paid a lot of money or there was any thought.
You started your travel blog to document your travels and share it so other people can follow that path or get something out of that. You shared that originality and authenticity freely. There was no expectation of making money. A lot of times, a lot of bloggers will make money with the expectations of making money. They are down to like, “How many words? How much time can I spend on those words?” They look at keyword searches. Pretty much after reading the blog, you know if it’s a paid blogger.
You started pretty much wanting to help other people in documenting. You were so happy and joyful about what you were doing that you shared it. It’s amazing when you write these blogs, even if you are not a professional writer. Those feelings pop off the page. People get attracted to that. It doesn’t matter if you make a few mistakes, grammatical errors or the thoughts aren’t always put together like a fine arts writer.
The last thing you said was that you wanted to travel, be free, and do your thing, even if you are not going to be rich. There’s a lot of wisdom to that as well. How do you define the word rich? There’s richness in the life that you live. You gained richness. I like everything that you have said. What I want to talk about is from that start, what you are doing now and how you can help my audience. A lot of people in my audience dream about doing that but the reality is they might have four kids or a job that they have to sustain themselves. Quite a few of my readers are female entrepreneurs juggling a lot. They are the glue to the society here.
Along the way, you learned what is working in terms of social media, blogging and SEO. All of that came into the picture because you now have a substantial following. It’s something like 50,000 people. It’s not 5 million but I always say, “I would rather have 50,000 loyal people who follow and connect with you than 5 million followers that you don’t know who they are.” Tell me a little bit about how you help other people get visibility and get noticed in this world of the internet where very few people get noticed unless they spend an absolute fortune for it.
I have to share how I’ve got there. I was writing freely and experimenting with different ideas. I was writing different articles, how-tos, things to do, and where to visit. Beyond everything that you have to do as a blogger growing your social following and creating videos, I found that the easiest way for me to get traffic was through SEO, Search Engine Optimization. Thanks to SEO that I have been able to get consistent traffic, not counting the pandemic because the pandemic made my traffic drop to 75%.
Beyond that, it has always been steadily increasing. Thanks to the knowledge of SEO and being able to write with proper keywords in mind. During the pandemic, I have decided to pivot towards becoming more of an educator because I felt like I had already mastered everything through all those years of blogging. I found that SEO is the key ingredient for growing your traffic quickly, even if you are a small business owner or if you have started a blog. I created a free SEO course for your audience. I’m happy to share about it.
It’s very important to focus on SEO because if anyone wants to grow a business and monetize with a blog, it always takes traffic and lead generation. That comes from new organic traffic. With more traffic, you will then be able to monetize your site with maybe ads or have more sponsored opportunities because your blog has a following and has gained credibility. That’s why I’m starting to offer more SEO-related tips to share with my audience.
The easiest way to get traffic is through SEO.
It’s interesting because SEO is something that we all understand but none of us really understand it. I’m in jewelry design. It’s a very different thing than engineering, even though I use a lot of designing software for that. What Isabel is trying to say is that, whether you are on social media, you’ve got a website or whatever it is that you do, you need to get some visibility. When somebody searches your topic, you want to pop up there. A lot of people are shy or they turn away from SEO because they feel they all believe in it. Therefore, they spend all this money trying to impact their visibility and haven’t gotten anywhere.
You said another thing that’s interesting. During the pandemic, something like March of 2020 to December of 2021, there have been billions of dollars a month of increase in coaching. People who have no business and don’t know what they are doing are coaching. People who barely learned how to do something on Google are now teaching masterminds. It happened with SEO people way back when people who barely knew a little bit more than other people were collecting money to tell you what to do with SEO.
With everything in life, there’s a shortcut. There’s a more direct but more efficient way to get something done. In your SEO, you help small business people who don’t have a huge budget to be able to do what they can to get visibility so that you can get more money to your site and traffic. Blogging, social media, and everything impact your SEO, whether you know this or not. For your SEO, you’ve got BelAroundTheWorld.com/sign-up-seo.
I love what you are doing, which is you are still living the life you want to live. You are in Peru. A lot of people can’t even travel because of all the travel restrictions. That’s one thing I do miss too because I’m somebody who is very curious. I have friends all over the world. I envy you for being in Peru. We are talking about all the seafood. Peruvian seafood is great. The art goes back thousands of years. That’s great, too. If you had to give small business owners a couple of tips or one advice who wants to do what you do, what would your advice be?
Start now. A lot of people put off starting a blog and creating a website because they think that there are a bunch of technical jargon and settings that they don’t understand. You have to start creating content so that you can learn as you go. As you apply the methods and new learnings that you have learned, you will slowly improve the website. With patience, your lead generation will start coming in. People will start visiting your blog traffic as long as you are putting out quality content and it comes from the heart, sharing what you know and providing the best value to your target audience.
I’m glad you said that. I love that advice you gave, “Get started.” I do a lot of coaching of young female entrepreneurs. That’s exactly the experience I have had. A lot of people are like, “I don’t know how to get started. It might take me $4,000 or all these hours. I don’t know what I’m doing.” A lot of times, when you start a business, many people start their businesses and then they realize, “I thought I was going to sell baked croissants but what they really want were sandwiches.” They will say something like, “I wanted haircare for women who have dry hair when I found out that women want healthy hair.”
The point is that when you start your business, you might have to pivot a few times. If you spend all that money upfront on all the wrong, there’s more than a 50% chance that you can start. Maybe you are selling haircare and you love it. It’s organic and everybody loves their stuff but there’s a competitor down the street who does it for half the price or whatever it is.
You might have to pivot a few times but you don’t know that until you get started and put out what you have. I know people who have to pivot twelve different times before they come up with something. You can make those changes as you get some feedback. Get started. Now is a better time than any other time before. For people who want to find your blog or read about you, what is the name of the blog?
It’s BelAroundTheWorld.com. You can find me on all social platforms. I’m present on all of them. If you have any direct questions, you can always DM me on either platform.
Check her travel life out, even if you can’t get to these exotic places. Singapore is one of the places I want to go to. It was far-off. I used to do trips to Asia 5 to 6 times a year. It’s a whole other continent by itself. I’ve never got there and I would love to do that. To all of you who are reading, thank you so much for reading another episode.
If you like what you are reading in this episode or any other episode, please be sure to subscribe and share it so that more can benefit from that. Don’t forget to sign up for all of the free classes on the Victoria Wieck website as well, VictoriaWieck.com. Thank you so much, Isabel, for coming all the way from Peru. I appreciate your time and knowledge. You have inspired all of us.
Thanks for having me.
About Isabel Leong
Full-time travel blogger and SEO coach roaming the world at whim, I draw energy from being outdoors. An explorer at heart, the world is my playground. I help aspiring bloggers and brands get the most out of their online presence and financial freedom by ranking on Google faster w SEO and expose millennial travellers to experiences beyond their imaginations.