Interview with Travel Writer/Consultant Extraordinaire, Andy Hayes

Travel Writer/Consultant Extraordinaire, Andy Hayes

Travel Writer/Consultant Extraordinaire, Andy Hayes

In this interview I had the privilege to talk to Andy Hayes. If you have any interest at all in travel, you are likely to have encountered Andy’s work. He is a travel writer, author, consultant and social media expert. Not only is Andy a great person, he also has a relentless work ethic. All roads lead to Andy Hayes!

Where do you currently live?

I’m currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital. I’ve been here for a couple of years but before that I was in Amsterdam for quite some time.

What are some of your favorite countries so far?

Easy question. Everyone knows my favourite country is New Zealand – such breathtaking natural scenery, great food and friendly people. I also loved Cambodia – such a wonderful spirit and joie de vivre despite all they’ve been through. And rounding out my top three is Belgium – an often overlooked spot, but with the world’s best waffles, chocolate, beer, and medieval architecture – what’s not to like?

What have been your least favorite countries?

That’s hard to say as even in not-so-nice places I manage to find something to enjoy. I didn’t love Sydney – felt like it was an Australian-version of Los Angeles, another city I don’t love. But I do love their counterparts, Melbourne and San Francisco, so there are always options.

How long do you typically stay in one country?

It’s hard to say as I just became full-time in my entrepreneurship this year, hopefully the answer will be “as long as I can!” Especially in places like New Zealand where you need the time to get around. Plus when you’re keeping up with business details on the road you need that extra time to spend a day here or there working.

How do you earn an income?

Oh, let me count the ways! I have a number of different revenue streams, which I think is essential for reducing risk (and peace of mind) as an independent business:

  • I earn royalties on my published books; I have one out now with a couple of others in the pipeline.
  • I am paid to write travel articles for a number of travel publications.
  • I earn advertising revenue from my travel website and next month we’re launching some products and services off of that platform.
  • I earn money direct from clients for online business strategies and other social media / online tech work.
  • I will also be selling a set of digital products quite soon that will be an eLearning curriculum for small businesses wanting to get into social media.

It’s a good mix from different types of work, which keeps it interesting for me and ensures if there are any problems with one area there are others to fall back on. It does make bookkeeping and organisation a bit trying at times!

How did you get started in travel consulting?

I started out as a travel writer, which was always a passion of mine. But I didn’t feel I could make the income I wanted doing this alone, and given that I’ve worked for many years in the technology industry, it only made sense to combine that passion and experience into a niche set of products and services.

Is that a field you recommend for others?

The travel industry is going through a lot of change and nobody’s sure where it will end up. But get in this business for the right reasons – that you enjoy traveling AND working hard. It’s not all free flights, press trips and champagne on the coast. Sometimes you have to go to places you don’t want to and sometimes it rains while you’re on your trip. Or, like now as I write this, you’ve had a wonderful day out and now you’re trying to catch up on a day’s work via an iPhone-enabled internet connection that is sluggish, at best.

What exactly do you do for the Matador Network?

I’m the man behind the Matador Twitter account @MatadorNetwork. While we use automation tools to feed out articles to the account as they’re published, I encourage and promote community discussion, launch our Twitter-based promotional contests, and help promote the work of other community members. We’ve tripled our followers in just over a few months so it’s a very exciting place to be, and we’re planning a few even more interesting projects in the future. Matador thinks big, so it’s a great place to be.

Can you give some advice for people wanting to get started in travel writing?

Start reading. A LOT. Read stuff you wouldn’t normally read – if you like short stories, read novels and vice versa. If you like easy to read fluff, get some tough literature. Go hang out at the best writing blogs.

Then write. A LOT. Find people to give you feedback. Take a course if you need it.

And you need to be tough. Lots of editors won’t bother to reply to your query. Only half of the ones who do reply will reply with a yes. And even then, your story can be canceled before it runs.

Oh, and one last point. Be yourself. Write like you’re telling me a story. Not telling a story to everybody – but just like you’re talking to me. Like to a friend over a drink in a café.

Is it realistic to expect to earn a living from travel writing?

If you expect to put up a blog over the weekend and start selling 60k a year worth of advertising, you’re having a laugh. Running a blog/website, travel or otherwise, requires having a more substantial business model. Consider what products and services you can offer to complement the subject, and don’t underestimate the amount of work a blog is. It’s a content engine that continuously needs feeding, at least once a week but more often if you can.

Don’t plan on any substantial revenue for at least six months to up to a year! It takes time. I can’t speak for every niche – if you find a very under-served market and really nail it, perhaps you could do better but given the number of blogs out there I suspect it might take you awhile to find such a niche!

The bottom line on blogging: be realistic, go in with low expectations and high aspirations, and constantly consider what your customer needs. Then give it to them.

Do you have any education or work experience that helped to establish you?

Yes, I have two university degrees –one in IT and one in organisational leadership. While I’m not necessarily working in those fields, just going to university teaches you about a lot of little things that come in useful as an entrepreneur – from accounting to project management to technology to marketing. I’ve also had quite a broad range of work experience since leaving university that comes in handy, especially since many of my jobs were client-facing so I’m always reminded to stay in tune with my customer’s needs.

To read more about Andy’s book, check out the Historical Walking Guide to Edinburgh
For information on how social media can help your small business, sign up for Andy’s newsletter
And if you want travel news and tips, visit his travel blog, Sharing Travel Experiences

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

25 Responses to Interview with Travel Writer/Consultant Extraordinaire, Andy Hayes

  1. Nice to find out more about Andy. Great interview!
    .-= Sharon Hurley Hall´s last blog ..Do You Know How To Switch Off? =-.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andy, Lisa Kemp and Karen Bryan. Andy said: Want to know about me,my business model,or about #travel writing in general? Read my in depth @JetSetCitizen interview […]

  3. What We’re Reading: September 11, 2009 | Two Go Round-The-World says:

    […] Over on JetSetCitizen, John Bardos interviews travel writer/consultant extraordinaire Andy Hayes! […]

  4. Nate says:

    Great interview. I’m a big fan of Andy, and he sure does seem to work hard. I’m pretty sure he’s on Twitter 24 hours a day haha. Good stuff!

  5. Andy Hayes says:

    @Sharon – Hope it’s all good things you’ve learned 🙂

    @Nate – Not quite 24 hours, but funnily enough @craig_martin said something similar……..
    .-= Andy Hayes´s last blog ..Location Independent in Alaska =-.

  6. John says:

    Thanks for stopping by Sharon!

  7. I hadn’t heard of Andy, but he sounds like a great traveler. Will have to do more reading of his site. Thanks for sharing great info and a great interview


  8. Corbin says:

    Another great interview jetset – keep up the grand work. I gotta wonder how Andy, and travel writers in general have time for twitter. I feel like I’m that uncool kid that fell asleep at the sleepover while everyone was watching Scream. haha. Just seems that I could spend hours on there. Feel like maybe my time could be used generating more content for my site, or working on other streams of revenue. Until twitter allows me to annoy people with chitika or adsense, I just can’t be bothered to update frequently. lol. Every hip n happenin person now-a-days is rockin twitter like it’s going out of fashion. I just pray to god that I end up feeling like all those die hard rock fans in the early 80’s who were lucky enough to say “Disco Sucks” long enough to see it die.
    .-= Corbin´s last blog ..Hostel Hero iPhone Application =-.

  9. Andy Hayes says:

    Corbin –

    I think of Twitter like a big ‘ol networking group or social hour. You don’t have to go your local networking group every week, nor do you have to go to social hour every Friday. And sometimes you might go and not find anyone interesting (or only see people you already know – which is ok too).

    But if you go often enough, you might bump into someone really cool. A new friend, a new JV partner, a new customer. Or maybe someone that knows the perfect person to be a customer/friend/etc…

    Sure I invest a lot of my time on Twitter but I’ve reaped so many rewards that I really hope your disco analogy fails to come true. I do think social media is in a constant state of change so it will be interesting, regardless.

    Just food for thought.
    .-= Andy Hayes´s last blog ..Location Independent in Alaska =-.

  10. Corbin says:

    I like the way you put that, social hour,i definitely think it makes sense to use twitter to increase viewership and potential clientele, but I can’t seem to shake the fact that I’m worried I’ll spend too much time on the darn thing. I really haven’t given it much of a shot, nor really searched for people I already know. I suppose even the Rolling Stones and KISS saw disco as a worthy market and tossed out a couple less “discoesque” tracks. (“Miss you” and “I was made for loving you”) I haven’t completely stone walled twitter, but I think I’ve just gotta approach it as sensible as possible on my terms and my schedule. I agree with you, social media is here to stay, despite how many names and changes they put it through. I’ll put on the bell-bottoms on again, just to see how my hips shake, but can’t guarantee i’ll feel good about it. haha.
    .-= Corbin´s last blog ..Hostel Hero iPhone Application =-.

  11. Andy Hayes says:

    Corbin – Know how you feel and he’s the perfect fix: decide how much time you can spare, load up your Egg Timer – – and get chatting. 🙂

    When the timer is up, bid everyone farewell and that’s you finished until next time.
    .-= Andy Hayes´s last blog ..Location Independent in Alaska =-.

  12. Dave and Deb says:

    Excellent Interview. We love Andy’s blog! He is one of my favorite people on the internet and it was great getting to learn more about him.
    I think that having your hand in a bunch of areas is the best way to make money at this little thing called travel that we love so much. Andy is truly an inspiration to us all and I hope to have his success one day in the future. (although I was a little disappointed when he said that I won’t be making 60k in a few months:)
    Cheers to you John for always supplying us with excellent interviews and information.
    .-= Dave and Deb´s last blog ..Chevy Equinox, Rocky Mountain Adventure; Day 1 =-.

  13. John says:

    @Corbin Thanks for the comment. Twitter is one of those things that doesn’t make any sense until you start using it regularly and see how easy it is to connect with cool people. It does take a lot of time, just like going to a pub or meeting your friends for coffee, however definitely worth the investment if you care about building real relationships. I have met tons of people on Twitter. It couldn’t have happened any other way.

    @Thanks for the comment Sharon. Are you interested in an interview? I would love to hear more about your life.

    @Nate I agree, Andy is definitely not afraid of work. That is a key point I keep going back to in my posts, while the rest of the world dreams of low hour workweeks and easy passive income, there are people like Andy busting his ass to build real sustainable businesses. Talented people make it look easy, but that doesn’t mean it is.

    @DaveandDeb It is good to hear from you two again. I agree that multiple income streams are important. Not only is it good to diversify, but it helps keep you sane by having different areas to work on. Doing the same thing everyday is too much no matter how much fun the work is.

  14. Dave says:

    Great interview – I’ve been following Andy on Twitter and it’s good to get to know the guy behind the tweets. I think I want to be Andy when I grow up! 🙂
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..Useful Foreign Phrases =-.

  15. Vincent says:

    Hi John,

    Great interview! Thanks for sharing it with us and it is cool to learn more about Andy and how he actually earn his money.

    .-= Vincent´s last blog ..Tony Robbins UPW In Singapore =-.

  16. Great post! I love reading interviews like this from people who have “made it” — very inspirational to the rest of us who hope to achieve that type of success with travel writing or consulting. Hope I can get there someday!
    .-= Emily @ Maiden Voyage´s last blog ..Assimilation, or Symbolism in Improbable Places =-.

  17. Cath Duncan says:

    Thanks for another great interview. I’ve been getting to know Andy this year, but there were a few things in here that I didn’t know about him yet… like the fact that he’s a published author! You’re too humble, Andy!

    .-= Cath Duncan´s last blog ..Weekly Round-up of Agile Living Resources & Events =-.

  18. Ken Kurosawa says:

    A great interview, thanks to both Andy and John.
    Andy, with that you having going on with work, do you find it difficult to find time for yourself?
    .-= Ken Kurosawa´s last blog ..5 Lessons I Learned From a 300 Million Dollar Man =-.

  19. Alan says:

    John–one of your better interviews for sure, keep up the good work!

    @Corbin and @Andy: Egg Timer – – is great! I use it for writing blog posts, but I had never thought to use it for calculated Twitter time.
    .-= Alan´s last blog ..PMBA Assignment 3: The 80/20 Principle =-.

  20. John says:

    @Dave, Cath, Ken and Alan

    I am glad you enjoyed the interview. Andy was a great person to talk to because he didn’t avoid the intent of the questions.

    I will definitely strive to dig down deeper in future interviews. I want to hear all the dark and dirty secrets, but most people don’t like to share that info. 🙂

  21. Carlo says:

    Great interview, excellent advice and tips Andy!
    .-= Carlo´s last blog ..Chile Gears Up for its Alcohol-Infused National Holiday =-.

  22. Gordie Rogers says:

    I originally planned to go travelling around Asia, spending a year in a place and then moving on. I spent one year in South Korea and then came to Tianjin, China. I loved it so much, I stayed. I’ve been here for nearly seven years now. Next year, I will move back to New Zealand though. I miss it and want to travel my own country more. I didn’t appreciate it until I left it.

    Thanks for the interesting interview!

  23. Andy Hayes says:

    @Ken – I don’t find it hard to find time for myself because I make time for myself. I love walking/hiking so when I’m travelling I always make it a point to get some fresh air and fresh perspective.

    Also, since I work for myself I work my own hours, which means I can work when suits, so if I want to stay under the duvet in the morning with a book and a cup of tea, I can. 🙂
    .-= Andy Hayes´s last blog ..Great Destinations for the First Time Traveler =-.

  24. NileGuide: NileGuide 5 with Andy Hayes says:

    […] entrepreneur (author shall remain nameless) and 3. a travel writer/consultant extradonaire (by Jetsetcitizen) In his words: I’m in love with all things travel. From my popular travel blog to my small […]

  25. This is a great interview. I’m always interested to see what travel writers have to say, since I’m somewhat of a travel blogger myself.
    .-= Justin Wright´s last blog ..Go Green, Save Money =-.

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