I stumbled across Jon and Mia’s adventures while researching my own backpacking trip to Cambodia. Their YouTube channel presents their Southeast Asia travel experience and tips in a fresh and unpretentious manner and is as addictive as any TV reality show. They’ve built an avid social following and while these guys may be young their open and no nonsense approach to travel mean they have strong foundation to build their travel brand around. Watch out Nomadic Matt and Adventurous Kate – the next generation are ready to topple you.
How would you describe the type of books/genre you write?
As of today we have only written one book titled ‘The Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia‘. The title pretty much explains it but it’s a guide to help backpackers get around Southeast Asia. We covered routes, budgets, accommodation, personal stories, pictures, items to pack and much more. In the past 16 months we have travelled across 21 countries. In the future we plan on writing up more travel books but also experimenting other genres.
What motivated you to start writing?
Prior to Backpacking Asia it took us months on end and hours of research to find sources of information, ranging from what to pack, routes, the budget etc. and I knew there should be another way to make it easier. I purchased multiple guides but I found they were lacked the personal insights we were looking for and weren’t very visual.
After returning home from our trip we received endless YouTube comments and emails regarding our experience from our adventures, along with key questions about information they were struggling to find. Then we decided ‘let’s create a Southeast Asia guide!’, and that’s exactly what we did. I not only wanted to inspire people to travel but I also wanted to minimise the stress associated with planning their big trip.
Tell us the journey you went on to get your books published (e.g. direct on your website, self-published, assisted-publishing, traditional publisher)
The very first thing to do is actually write your book. I used a website called Canva which I absolutely loved and made the visual part extremely fun. I tested out Word and PowerPoint but in the end Canva had everything I needed plus more. It gave me inspiration on how I wanted the book to look. The first method I used was to create a landing page through ClickFunnel, which featured a promo video ultimately selling the product. With that link, we promoted it through our social media sites and paid advertising. I also put the book directly on our blog for people to purchase.
In addition, I uploaded my eBook to Kindle Direct Publishing to make it available through Amazon. What I like about Amazon is it’s already a trusted retailer. Although they take off a % of your sales income, people are more likely to purchase through Amazon so I suggest driving traffic to your Amazon link.
There are many ways you can sell your product. Mine are just a few examples. You can use sites such as Kobo, Blurb, Lulu. There are many articles online outlining the pros and cons for each platform.
What publishing elements do you most enjoy and most like to avoid, and why? (e.g. design, marketing, formatting etc.)
Creative design is something that is not my strongest point. Jon normally deals with the design. So when I originally came to publishing my book through Word it looks bland and boring. That’s where Canva came in. They already have eBook designs and layout to give you ideas and insight. Textbooks and image inserts made easy. I enjoyed marketing my product the most in all honestly. Creating videos and pictures to inspire people to travel.
With the hindsight of being a published author, anything you would have done differently?
I believe that everything happens for a reason in life and the route I took of writing and publishing my first book planned out exactly how it was supposed to.
What tips or advice would you give an aspiring indie author who is looking to self-publish?
My advice would be to not think too hard. Don’t think about competition or what your going to write or even how you’re going to market your book. Just simply open up a blank Word document and start. Often the hardest things in life are starting but once you start, you build up this momentum and excitement that drives you to create an incredible piece. When you complete your first book it makes you realise just how capable you are and gives you the drive to go on and complete bigger goals.
What marketing or promotional tools or techniques do you use to reach your readers?
The one thing I realise is that you can have a great product that people will buy but if you don’t market it correctly you won’t find your audience.
When we first published our book, we thought we could make hundreds of sales purely based on the fact that our YouTube channel gains over 30,000 view per month (mainly due to our Southeast Asia videos). We believed people would buy the product instantly. However, that was not necessarily the case. People need to justify each purchase and that was something we did not think about. At the beginning when we did not hit our sales goals we felt slightly disheartened and knocked back. We had this great product yet not everyone was buying?
YouTube Playlist: 5 MONTHS IN SOUTH EAST ASIA
Since then we have invested in online marketing courses and done research on how to get our product out there. I can now say, looking back I don’t know what we were doing just selling through YouTube.
Social media is an incredible platform that I would highly recommend utilising and really leveraging your product through. I am a big fan of Instagram. I think it’s a great visual tool to use to promote your product.
I have also started learning about Facebook ads. Facebook ads allow you to really target your audience but just requires some testing to find out where they are.
The advice I would give is to really learn about the social media platforms because Jon and I made so many mistakes from just guessing and I would also suggest not trying to master every social media platform. Choose one and truly invest your time in learning about it, because you only need one good platform to sell and promote your band.
Anyone can buy your product, you just need to find the right people and market to them. Remember, if people don’t purchase the first time, keep retargeting them.
Did you have a target audience in mind when you published?
Jon and I started our YouTube channel when we backpacked Southeast Asia uploading videos every single day for 5 months so we already knew we had a budget travel audience there, which made the process a lot easier.
What impact do you want your books to have on your readers?
The goal of our book is to deeply inspire people to travel the world and get out your comfort zone. I want people to know it isn’t just a travel guide. We have included personal stories and pictures to really paint a picture in our viewer’s mind of just how exciting traveling the world is.
Throughout our whole journey of sharing our lives, we have only ever had one goal in mind and that’s to motivate and inspire people to live the life they vision in their minds.
What is your latest book about?
Our latest book is named ‘The Backpacking Guide to Southeast Asia’. A book designed for backpackers by backpackers.
Two young backpackers who travelled Southeast Asia for six months around Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines & Indonesia. On this magical journey, they posted their everyday life on YouTube which gained them over 700,000+ views and received hundreds of comments, emails, messages about advice on how to backpack Southeast Asia. From this, they were inspired to continue helping other backpackers and went on to create THE BACKPACKERS GUIDE TO SOUTHEAST ASIA. A practical travel guide made by backpackers for backpackers.
Inside The Backpackers Guide To Southeast Asia:
- Insider tips to save time and money – eating, accommodation, sight-seeing, scams, festivals and much more
- One of the most popular and easy backpacking routes
- We experienced backpacking Asia for 6 months
- Easy to follow guide when planning your trip or even on the go
- Will save you time & money
- Essential information at your fingertips
- Covers Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines and Indonesia
- Hyperlinks of our personal YouTube videos to gain a better insight
- Bonus Tip: What to pack and what not to pack from a girl and boy’s perspective
What’s next on your writing journey?
Writing is something that allows me to express my feelings in a different way than just video creation. In the future, I would love to explore a different genre of writing. Writing about mine and Jon’s life, how we have faced and overcame many difficulties and how we are on the path of achieving our dreams (the freedom to travel on our own schedule) is something we will be writing about very soon.You're never too young to go in search of your dream life. See how Jon and Mia are doing it. #FollowYourDream #Backpacking Click To Tweet
Jon and Mia are boyfriend and girlfriend from London on a journey of making their dream a reality. They want to swap the 9-5 trap for a life of traveling the world, making money online, and living on their own schedule. They’re not there yet but are working towards it. Follow their journey and see how they make it happen.