A few years ago, we were interviewed by Huffington Post. When the article came out, they referred to us as seniorpreneurs. I was like, WTF!? Ok, we may be a little older, we may have started our business later in life after leaving the corporate world … but senior = old. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I love denial. As another aside, try putting this through any spell checker. The word seniourpreneur does not even cut the mustard as yet.
I get a lot of friend requests on Facebook from men. They tell me I am ‘alluring’, and ‘adorable’; not that I am old. Ok, they may live at San Quentin or on an oil rig in the middle of nowhere … but who are we to judge?
The term seniorpreneur is on the radar. If you can make it to the end of this article, you can read about our latest venture. There are many authoritative articles on the rise and rise of seniorpreneurs, from academics at Swinburn Institute of Technology, and research by Dr Alex Maritz, Professor of Entrepreneurship at www.latrobe.edu/business.
What is a Seniorpreneur?
- 1 What is a Seniorpreneur?
- 2 Did you know about these Seniorpreneurs?
- 3 How we became Seniorpreneurs?
- 4 Why become a Travel Blogger (at this age)?
- 5 Seniorpreneur Advice
- 6 Starting a business as a Seniorpreneur
- 7 Join a very steep learning curve
- 8 Learning Social Media as a Seniorpreneur
- 9 Being true to yourself
- 10 Getting a little business savvy
- 11 Key takeaways for seniorpreneurs
- 12 Starting Australian Travel Bloggers
Yes, we are a little older, and yes, we started a successful business, Contented Traveller, and guess what? We are not the only ones. It seems that 50+ people, and particularly the rebellious baby boomer generation, do want it all. We are fit, we are free, and we are financial. We travel, we work, we live, and if you aren’t hating on us already; we are spending your inheritance.
Did you know about these Seniorpreneurs?
Just for fun, Colonel Sanders was 65 when he came up with some herb and spice mix. Ring a bell? Campbell’s soup? Campbell was 52 when he started his world-famous tinned soup company. We ain’t the first seniorpreneurs, and we won’t be the last.
How we became Seniorpreneurs?
Settle back, grab a wine, coffee, joint and join me as I share with you how we became seniorpreneurs and why we are part of this boom industry.
I had been a teacher for 32 years, and it was a job where I loved the teenage kids I taught, and the senior position I held. Unfortunately, when we were in Malaysia, I caught a bug and had to take time off school. I was getting a little sick of the politics of the education system and thought this might be a time to make a move.
Why become a Travel Blogger (at this age)?
I love writing, and I love to travel. It was serendipity when I was watching a crap TV show, and a lady said she was a travel writer. It was like a happy dance went off in my head, and not one of those happy dances that happened in the ‘70’s if you know what I am talking about. And that is why, our tagline on our travel blog is, “It’s All about Serendipity.”
I pronounced, yes pronounced to my husband Gordon, that I was going to be a travel writer. His response, because he is a laid-back type of guy, was ‘ok, you have five years to prove yourself.’ Like, WTF – see, I now know lots of social media talk, but I will get to that later.
Nothing like a challenge, so I accepted.
This was a natural hobby for me. What I did not realise at the time, was that writing and travel would become a very profitable business for us. But let me take you through the processes of us becoming seniorpreneurs. You might like to read 45 Best Travel Blogging Tips
My first piece of advice to new seniorpreneurs is to make sure you select something that you are passionate about. What starts as a hobby, can be turned into a profitable business, if you have the tenacity, and the skills to take it to the next level, and if you are passionate about it in the first place, and willing to learn and to work hard.
As older persons, and trust me I hate writing that as much as you probably hate reading it, but why waste your time on doing something that you don’t LOVE? That’s right. LOVE. I will share with you what I had to do to start our business.
Starting a business as a Seniorpreneur
I knew that at my age, and with my experience and expertise in teaching that I had no intention of starting at the bottom. So, because I am older and smarter, I contacted some of the top travel sites in the world, and begged, yes begged (not a pretty sight) that they let me write for them. Guess what? If you don’t ask, then you already know the answer. It’s no. A wonderful man in London, Paul Johnson of A Luxury Travel Blog, who owns one of the most successful travel sites in the world gave me a shot at one article.
I was delighted until he emailed me back and told me it was crap. Yes, that was the word …crap, or something quite similar. Of course, I died a thousand deaths, but then my phone pinged, and it was Paul, giving me one more chance. So, I did what people our age do, I went skiing for the day in Australia, because yes we do ski in Australia, and thought about where I had gone wrong.
Long story short, the next article I submitted he liked. He published it, and subsequently, I wrote another 17 for him. Each of the articles was getting approx. 30,000 reads. It was time for me to start our own website, Contented Traveller. I felt confident.
Join a very steep learning curve
Gordon had not come on board full time during this period. I said to him, ‘but I need a website, and you’re the tech head in the family.’ He was still working in his corporate job, and you can read about us here, and as he headed out the door, he said, “you’ll figure it out.”
So, I thought again and read a lot, and I frankly did not understand much at all. So, I did what lots of people do … I went to Youtube. The first few I looked at were speaking tech talk, but I eventually found a video that was easy to understand. The man said, if you follow my instructions word for word, you will have a website built in 20 minutes.
Well, I followed the video word for word, and three weeks later I did have a website. It took Gordon a few more weeks to fix it up. Ok, so maybe I am a slow learner, but this was a new skill set for me. Want me to design you a website now? I can do it with my eyes closed. That was not literal; you get that right? However, this has become one my new seniorpreneurial skills. You can read about how to start a travel blog here.
Learning Social Media as a Seniorpreneur
So, website ready, but apparently, I needed to have social media as well so that people could find all the fabulous articles I was writing. Facebook and Twitter were challenging and still are. I think I didn’t start with Instagram and Pinterest until the 2nd year, and I still am not a fan of Instagram, though I do find that Instastories does drive traffic to our site, and to the businesses we work with. Pinterest brings us 635K monthly views, so that is not chicken shit.
The fact that I can put up 15 seconds of crap on Instastories allows me to bring my personality to people, and that is good. They can start to get to know the people behind the brand, because the reality is, that Gordon and I became our own brand. Our own niche if you like.
I digress. The fact that Instastories only lasts 24 hours is better. Businesses seem to like my style. Seriously, however, people like to know the smart arse behind the writing. I met a fellow travel blogger in Manila, in the Philippines at a professional development conference. She was surprised that I wasn’t as sarcastic in real life, as she thought my writing indicated. But then she got to know me (smiley, sarcastic face here). I am Australian after all, and we were born with an overactive sarcasm gene. That’s my excuse, and I am sticking to it.
Being on social media was different though. To grow an audience, and to work with your audience, peers, and businesses you need to interact with them virtually. While I had taught teenagers; at times in my new virtual life, I was quite shocked by the bullying and the bullshit that does occur. Because let’s face it, travel blogging is a highly competitive industry, with literally millions of travel blogs out there, and a helluva a lot of entitled people…yet, many many more of whom are now our professional and personal friends.
For every one bad one, there are were so many beautiful people and so many supportive people. We now have virtual friends and real associates all over the world. And that’s nice. Gordon and I have adopted many, and they have adopted us. It’s a new world my friends, and we love it.
Being true to yourself
The one thing that Gordon did enforce with me was always to be true to ourselves…and to try and stay out of fights. I did well on the first one, but sometimes you just have to stand up for yourself and for others, and so I didn’t necessarily do as well on the second request.
We did get lucky when we were named by USA Today as one of the Top Travel Blogging Couples a few months after we started. We were then picked up by National Geographic twice, and then it all started happening. See more about what we have achieved here. I know people say it isn’t luck, it is hard work, and trust me I was working 15 hours’ days, with Gordon’s help too, but it is a combination of luck and work.
Getting a little business savvy
We started being employed by companies and businesses to work with them. After a stint in Bali, where we had spent hours with a PR company helping them to have a more visible online presence, Gordon said as we were walking away, ‘you just spilled your guts to them and gave them everything for free.’
He asked me what he or I would have charged them for consultancy in our corporate jobs, and that is when we sat down and worked out a business plan, and a business model.
I would suggest to you new seniorpreneurs that you have a business plan and a business model first, unlike us. So, we were on a roll and Gordon came on-board full time, so that we could travel the ten months of a year that we needed to, to grow our business to what it is today.
Like all businesses you work hard, but we like that. We are fit, and we are more than capable. I will say that Gordon does put his foot down at times, and makes me stop to smell the roses … at times because seniorpreneurs should have a work and life balance.
Our business is a lot of fun. Who doesn’t want to travel the world, stay in amazing places and do incredible things? However, few of our family or friends really get this, but after a day and night working with a company or tourism board or whatever, we come back to the hotel, and we work, because we are exchanging services. I need to write daily to capture what we have experienced, Gordon needs to do the photos, and we both need to respond to our business emails. We don’t get a lot of sleep, but we love what we do.
Key takeaways for seniorpreneurs
Some takeaways for you. You come into your business with pre-existing skills. Use them. Just because it is a new arena doesn’t mean that these skills are not transferable.
We love that we have been able to have our former successful careers, and now we have this very exciting and different and yes successful new career, and we are kicking it out of the ballpark.
In case you are wondering – we are not digital nomads. We have our own home here in Australia. A beautiful beachside apartment and we love our home. We return home between business trips. Last year looked like this for us. Japan for a month in January, and then back to Australia. Then we were off to Malaysia and Vietnam for a month, then back to Australia. We stayed a while and then went to Europe for 50 days in April, May, June. We came back, settled down and then went to beautiful Ireland for three weeks in September and October. And we had domestic jobs in Australia in between. Read more about The Highlights of our year as Travel Bloggers.
And we are seniorpreneurs. Go figure!
So far this year we have been to Japan and Bali, and the rest of the year is serendipity. Who knows what business opportunities will arise.
Starting a new business at any age takes guts; starting a business when you are slightly older takes balls …and we all have them because we are the generation of the seniorpreneurs.
Starting Australian Travel Bloggers
And that leads me to our next venture. With a fellow couple of seniorpreneurs, (they so hate that expression) we have started a new business called Australian Travel Bloggers, connecting businesses with the best Australian digital content producers and channels, providing authoritative professional development articles and top-notch travel resources articles. Head on over, it is a solid business site, because we are seniorpreneurs.
Of course, we constantly work on our beloved and very successful Contented Traveller website for fit, free and financial travellers, who love culture and experiences, but we still have some gas in the tank to kick-start this new venture.
We are Seniorpreneurs…like WTF! is not an impediment to being successful. It may be the key. The title just sucks, perhaps.