Of course, travel blogging is much more than a way of making a living. “When you work for yourself, you have to have a drive beyond the money, especially for travel blogging which won’t come across as authentic if it’s all about making money,” Laurence says. “The connection and trust we have with our readers is really important to us, and what really makes us happy at the end of the day are the comments and feedback we receive from readers, letting us know how we helped them plan and take awesome trips.”
His advice for starting a business is to choose something you would do if you weren’t being paid. “We blogged for a long time without making any meaningful income, it was just something we were really passionate about. To be honest, there are probably better ways of making a living than being self-employed but I wouldn’t ever go back to not working for myself,” he says. “The buck stops at us.”
One of the many challenges of being self-employed is managing your time. “There’s a big cloud of everything you need to do and stay on top of - planning, answering questions and comments from readers, writing. No one else is going to do it for you,” he says.
There's so much to do that sometimes it can be difficult to switch off. “When you have a day job, you leave the office and go back home to a different environment,” he says. The couple try to separate home and working life by going to a coffee shop for the day and coming home in the evenings.
His advice to others? “Don’t be afraid to ask for help as you go along and don’t be afraid to hire people - you can’t do everything,” he says. It was on the advice of their accountant that they decided to register as a limited company and open a business account.
A business account for travellers
“We looked at a lot of different options for business accounts,” Laurence says. “I knew that high street banks wouldn’t evolve to meet our needs. I like new stuff but I won’t go after something just because it’s new and shiny - it has to fulfill a purpose.”
He wanted a free business account with international payments that was covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). “What I liked about Starling was the FSCS protection,” he says. “It’s also so easy to use.” As someone with a background in Software Engineering, he liked Starling’s open APIs that other companies could build on to create new services.
“Travel is massively important for us and we need to make payments in three different currencies - euros, pounds and dollars, and I can manage all that from the app,” he says. There are no fees for using your Starling card abroad. We also support 20 currencies for sending money abroad and we’ve recently launched our euro accounts, available for Starling personal customers who want to hold, send and receive euros on a regular basis. The account will rolled out to business customers later this year.
In the next few months, the couple will be using their Starling card on trips in Finland, France and America. “Our goal for 2019 is to focus more on specific regions of the US, Europe and Scotland - plus we have a lot of existing content that we always have to ensure is up to date!”
Find out more about Laurence and Jessica’s travels through their blogs Finding the Universe and Independent Travel Cats.