Magellan has a social chat with perpetual gap ‘yearer’ Amar Hussain Editor-in-Chief of Gap Year Escape whose vital statistics are:
Twitter: 10,000 / Facebook: 15,000 / Instagram: 60,000 / 40,000 monthly page views and 1,000 newsletter subscribers.
How did Gap Year Escape get started? Why did you do it?
Like most travel blogs, Gap Year Escape started off as a place to document my round the world gap year. I set off on that trip in 2009 after graduating university. I liked writing and I also liked the idea of having a public journal to keep friends and family updated on my progress. A week before my trip I hastily set up hosting and WordPress and that was it. Gap Year Escape was born. I had no idea it would lead to all of this but the hard work paid off. Eight years, seven continents later, here I am!
What does ‘gap year’ mean to you? Is it just about the pre and post student world adventure?
I think a ‘gap year’ has become synonymous with any long term trip regardless of how long the trip actually is and at what point in your life you take it. With most millennials facing university costs significantly higher than their predecessors it’s not surprising that a lot of people will take their gap year as a career break instead after they’ve got more capital behind them. Regardless of where, when and for how long you take a gap year, I strongly believe everyone should do one.
How has Gap Year Escape evolved?
My earlier posts were very much personal narratives and stories but the website has evolved into being more of an online travel guide with my own anecdotes thrown in. As much as my audience wants to follow me and my adventures, the question I always try to answer with my content is “how can I do this too?” – That’s where the useful travel information comes in.
How do you balance your time between managing the site verse travelling?
For many years I was a digital nomad travelling full time which has its pros and cons. As the website has grown, so have the demands on my time. I’ve found it easier to have a base in London and go on trips from there. I find that I have a more immersive trip as I focus on the experience. I’ll take pictures and write notes during the trip and can deal with creating content and the management of the website when I’m back in London.
Which social media stream do you think will have the most impact in the future – live streaming, snapchat etc?
Authenticity is such an important thing when it comes to being an influencer and it is much harder to be inauthentic during a live stream. As a follower or viewer you get the raw, unrehearsed feel for a location. People can see through the photoshopped, perfectly posed images and carefully crafted captions. Live stream is as real as it gets.
How have you grown the Gap Year Escape community? What are you five tips for anyone starting out?
The community has really grown with me and gone through my more typical gap year destinations to my more niche ones as I’ve got older and increased my budget.
My top tips for anyone starting out:
- Stay consistent. If you’re going to blog once a week, stick to it and make sure you do it every week without fail. There’s no such thing as an overnight success, you need to stick with it.
- Be authentic. Don’t be tempted to work with a brand you don’t believe in or wouldn’t use. If it doesn’t feel right, listen to your gut.
- Pick a niche. There’s a lot of competition these days so even within a niche like travel you have to carve out a piece for yourself and focus on delivering that and doing it well. Don’t spread yourself too think covering lots of topics.
- Read, a lot. You don’t need courses to learn about growing a website and community. The internet has an abundance of free resources and blogs on blogging to last a lifetime.
- Take action. Everyone has ideas but the most successful bloggers are ones who actually put the ideas into action.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I very much hope I’m doing exactly the same thing just bigger, better and more adventurous. Over the last 8 years I’ve been fortunate enough to explore much of the world and try every type of travel from luxury water villas in Maldives to camping in Antarctica. The type of travel that really gets me going is adventure travel and if it’s an obscure or out of the way destination, even better. I’m off to Namibia soon but I’ve got my eye on Gilgit Baltistan next. Not heard of it? Do a Google image search, it looks stunning!
Magellan Comment: We’ve worked with Amar on several occasions now and have found him to be extremely efficient, creative and honest about what he can do for a particular client. He is a great writer and photographer and particularly lovely to deal with – if you want to work with Gap Year Escape click here!
Photographs courtesy of Amar and Gap Year Escape
Gap Year Escape is on twitter: @gapyearescape/ on Facebook: Gap Year Escape / Instagram: @gapyearescape @thereal_amar @amareats
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