This is an interview with Annette White from Bucket List Journey.
Hey, Annette. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Hi! I’m Annette, the author of the book Bucket List Adventures, co-owner of the restaurant Sugo Trattoria in northern California, a serial adventurer and creator of the award winning travel and lifestyle blog, Bucket List Journey.
When and why did you start Bucket List Journey?
After many years of suffering from anxiety, there was a life-changing day that I made two promises to myself.
One was to never let fear make my decisions for me and the other was to start living my bucket list by taking one step every day towards my dreams.
It was a few years after that, way back in 2009, that I started the blog Bucket List Journey.
Initially, I was simply looking for a place to record my ever-growing bucket list and its progress. The pieces of scrap paper and random Internet files were getting out of control, so I decided to condense my dozens of notes into a blog.
As time went on, the blog changed from being just my practical list-keeping spot to being a place for readers to get the tools and inspiration for their own bucket lists.
Do you think passion is a big part of succeeding as a blogger?
Absolutely! Maintaining a successful blog takes dedication and many hours of work a week.
If you are not truly passionate about your topic, not only will readers see right through your articles, it will be tortuous every time you sit down at the computer to create a new post.
How do you fund your travel lifestyle?
In the beginning, my travel was funded in a couple of different ways. I had been saving money every month in a special adventure account, and after just a year it grew into enough to purchase at least a couple of plane tickets.
We had also been using rewards credit cards for every purchase we made, which really helped with getting discounts on hotels and flights.
Plus, in the beginning I tailored my travels towards my budget. Definitely no 5-star hotels in the itinerary or flying first class. But, It was actually kind of fun and challenging trying to see how little I could spend for a trip.
Things have definitely changed over the years. Because of the success of my bucket list blog and social media accounts, I am now able to form partnerships with tourism boards and tour companies who want me to market their product. So, most of my travel is sponsored through these partnerships.
What’s the biggest challenge about running a bucket list blog, or any blog?
Time! I think people may not realize the amount of time it takes to maintain a successful blog.
Even when I am not traveling or writing, I am editing photographs, managing freelancers, pitching advertisers, curating social media accounts, etc.
As amazing of a career as it is, it is also a beyond full-time job! This is even more of an issue for me because I am trying to juggle a blogging career while owning a restaurant at the same top.
Read also: How This Mom Became a Fashion Blogger Making $10K/Month
What are your top traffic sources?
My number one source is Google, followed by Pinterest and then Facebook.
How much are you earning from your blog and in what ways?
My blog currently earns approximately $10,000/month ($120,000/year). This money is made with on-blog advertisements, creating paid partnerships with companies and earning commissions through affiliate programs.
What’s your favorite way to make money blogging and why?
Both on-site advertising and earning money through affiliate programs are my favorites. The reason is that, one they are set up, they are mostly passive income.
How do you find brands to partner with?
In the beginning, I would pitch brands that I knew had worked with other bloggers in my niche. I figured that was the best odds at success.
Now, most brands contact me directly and have found me in many different ways: through Instagram hashtags, on “top blogger lists” and through Google searches (mostly for the term bucket list).
Some have also said that there have been recommendations from other bloggers and other pr representatives.
Where do you find inspiration for growing your bucket list and finding content to write about?
Everywhere! I could be reading a magazine or watching a television program when inspiration hits. Or a friend will mention something cool in passing.
The world is filled with amazing opportunities and experiences. I believe that I now have a “bucket list mindset” where it is automatically trained to take note of new ideas.
With that said, the key is to record those ideas immediately or else they will most likely be forgotten.
What’s the best memory you made last year?
I was fortunate enough to have a few mind-blowing experiences last year, but the best memory was hiking Peru’s Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with my husband.
The 4-day hike is iconic, and known for being a really big challenge. The fact that I pushed myself so hard (and made it!) combined with seeing something so breathtaking and doing it with someone I loved was epic.
How do you combine being a restaurateur, traveler and blogger?
Of course there has been challenges to becoming each one of these things individually, but owning a restaurant, keeping up with a blog and being able to travel all at the same time has been a continuous work in progress.
With that said, I am passionate about them all and wouldn’t think about giving up one for the other. It’s been all about creating systems, managing time and delegating.
How has becoming a bucket list blogger and such an adventurer made you braver and given your life more meaning?
Without a question, the answer is yes. Prior to blogging, I had suffered from many anxieties and fears surrounded by traveling (and lots of other things too!).
But, as I continued to step out of my comfort zone, my confidence built. I realized that I was perfectly capable of navigating the world, and designing a life that I am beyond excited about living.
Not having the serious anxieties surrounding me also allowed me to enjoy my travel experiences more deeply.
Can you imagine a day in your life where you won’t be crossing items off your bucket list?
Nope! I hope that when I’m 90, I’m sitting in the senior citizen center rallying up all the old people to go skydiving or learn a new language, or at least to try a new food.
What are your top tips for aspiring travelers who aren’t sure how to sustain a life of travel?
My best tip is to take the goal of living a life of travel and break it down into benchmarks. Then take those benchmarks and break them down into daily steps.
Sometimes when we look at the ginormity of a goal it seems impossible and we give up before we even begin.
What’s next for you and Bucket List Journey?
My main goal for the year is to continue to grow Bucket List Journey into a brand known for giving every person in the world the tools and inspiration to live their bucket list. Of course there, will also be lots more bucket list checks (hopefully learning Spanish will be next!) and travel.