We love hearing about entrepreneurs who make a living while they’re on the road, which is why we’re super excited to introduce you to Abigail King.
Why I Traded My Life As A Doctor To Become A Travel Writer: A Success Story With Abigail King
As a former doctor, Abigail left that life behind in pursuit of traveling, writing, and working with travel companies like National Geographic Traveler and Lonely Planet.
Read on to hear more about how Abigail makes a living doing what she loves from anywhere, how she stays productive, and her favorite morning beverage among other business and life insights.
First, let’s get to know each other a little bit! We’d love to hear more about you, so tell us about who you are, where you’re based, and what you do – online and off.
Hello! My name is Abi and I’m a travel writer and photographer although I used to work as a doctor for many years in A&E (ER for US readers.) I now spend around half my year on the road traveling and half-tucked up at home in Cardiff catching up on the writing and business side of things.
I run writing and creative courses on The Social Footprint where we also have a community of people who gather to share tips and inspiration as they make their way in this online world.
Offline, I still love to travel, drink tea and eat marmite toast, buttered just right.
What are some of the ways you make a living doing what you love online?
I run online writing courses to help people develop their own creative projects. I also work on a freelance basis with companies like National Geographic Traveler, the BBC and Lonely Planet.
And then, most of all, I work through my blog, Inside the Travel Lab and its associated social media channels.
I earn a living on the blog through accepting “artistic sponsorship” from various companies and destination marketers.
I think it’s essential to have a range of projects that sustain you rather than focusing solely on one.
A lot of small business owners find it hard to stay productive and organized when it’s just them doing all the work.
What are some of your favorite tools for staying productive and organized while you travel and run an online business?
First of all, I’d say hire help as soon as you can afford it! Focus in on the things that aren’t your specialty. Often, for creative small businesses that involves the technical side of things, accounting, legal and so on.
In the meantime, I swear by my to-do list software called Things. I can add tasks from anywhere and rearrange easily on my desktop, set reminders and so on. Evernote acts as my digital filing cabinet and Dropbox as my daily back-up plan.
I also love FancyHands, a paid service whereby you can outsource small tasks. These can be work-related, like transcribing an audio presentation or researching web links, or help out in your personal life by arranging appointments with the dentist and so on!
What does your morning ritual look like and how does it impact your success as a small business? Are there any specific things you must do?
Taming email is a big challenge. I sweep all my new messages on an app on my phone to catch anything that needs an urgent reply. Then I don’t touch email again until lunchtime. I spend my mornings focusing on the important rather than urgent tasks. Everything else gets taken care of in the afternoon. I also check my to-do list once in the morning and write out my priorities for the day.
Then it’s a good cup of tea. You can’t beat that to get things done ;-)
On the road, the routine is slightly different. You often can’t get hold of the tea…but the view is usually better!
Biggest change or insight you’ve experienced from swapping life as a doctor to a writer and traveler?
I don’t have many days when someone vomits on me now…barring a really turbulent flight.
On a more serious note, the biggest change is the lack of stability in finances but the increased stability in the hours I work. As a doctor, my rota was always changing but I had a fixed salary.
Now, I am in charge of my schedule but my earnings vary considerably from month to month. Learning how to balance that was probably the biggest change for me. I’m glad I worked as a doctor first as it gave me the discipline I wouldn’t have otherwise had in my early 20s!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Ah, it really depends! Sometimes I’ll be up before dawn to catch a hot air balloon over the desert or to interview a survivor of the Nagasaki bomb, to photograph wild rhinos or cover the backstage aspects of a rodeo or Motown musical.
Other days, it’s just me, my slippers and my mug of tea for the day.
If you could sum up your experience on the road in 3 words, what would they be?
Fascinating, challenging, alive.
What’s next for you?
This year, I’ll be expanding the courses I offer online to help more people learn how to write about travel, manage their workflow and work creatively and successfully in this new digital world.
Any last words for our readers that you’d like to impart?
Create a back-up plan for yourself and then just take the first step, whether that’s traveling the world or setting up a business. Once you’ve committed yourself to something, the rest just takes care of itself.