University of Virginia alumna Heather Mason lives what many would possibly call the dream: she receives paid to tour the world.
Mason, a 1996 graduate who majored in English, is a author and photographer primarily based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She moved there from Washington, D.C. She had visited Africa as soon as in 2007 via her process with a corporation focused on pediatric HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. In 2010, she joined a boyfriend and, as she wrote in her debut weblog publish, because “I think I belong there.”
“It became just a lifestyles-converting experience,” she said of that first go to. “At the time, I was living a reasonably conventional, nine-to-5 lifestyle. However, I just couldn’t get Africa out of my head. After plenty of soul-searching and emotional soreness, I determined to move there. It just felt proper.”
Seven years later, Mason’s first weblog put up has spawned loads more and her thriving travel blog, 2summers, is her complete-time profession. She has earned sponsorships, newspaper columns, and different opportunities, traveling to extra than 20 countries along the way. Her articles and photos provide tantalizing glimpses of those journeys, from bustling metropolises like Cape Town, Nairobi, or Mexico City to colorful scenes from island beaches, South African wine u. S ., and of direction, the streets of Johannesburg.
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UVA Today stuck up with Mason between trips to research more about how she turned an interest into a dwelling and to find out her exceptional journey suggestions.
Q. How did you turn your blog right into a full-time career?
A. When I arrived in Johannesburg, I had no concept I might become writing for a living. I planned to retain consulting for my organization in Washington, D.C., which I still do occasionally. Beyond that, I didn’t certainly have a plan. I started the weblog because it turned into a big circulate, and I desired to report it.
However, within two years, I started getting more journey writing opportunities and images, all stemming from my weblog. Today, I mainly use the blog as a portfolio for different pictures and writing jobs. I often write for a nearby newspaper, several magazines, and lifestyle websites. For instance, I currently did a chain for Mercedes approximately awesome street trips. I additionally perform a few trips subsidized with the aid of tourism corporations and write about my reports.
Q. What backed trips have you accomplished currently?
A. Right now, I am doing sponsored posts on Mauritius, an island wherein many South Africans journeys. Recently, I went to Stellenbosch, a South African town acknowledged for its wines. I joined numerous other bloggers spending every week there.
I am fortunate that I can get via right here without earning big profits because the price of a dwelling is meager. So I handiest receive sponsorships that I believe are an excellent fit for my target audience – trips that I would do regardless, simply because they’re awesome.
Q. What recommendation do you’ve got for writers and photographers hoping to do something comparable?
A. The first component you have to do is create a blog and update it always, without focusing on the cash. It sounds easy. However, I suppose many humans trust they’ll begin being profitable in six months. That isn’t how it normally works. When you first begin, think of it as a ardor challenge, not a career. If you discover a area of interest that works for you and continuously submit, the possibilities will start to come.
My area of interest turned into Johannesburg. I showed up here with the eyes of a traveler, wrote about what I noticed, and it resonated. Now, I feel so lucky that I get to try this. I am becoming to achieve this many things that I in no way might have done.
Q. What do you adore approximately Johannesburg?
A. Jo-burg (as we name it right here) is like the New York City of Africa. This is in which everyone comes, from throughout Africa and past, to try to make it. It’s a loopy blend of cultures, making it a completely stimulating and hard location with a massive poverty gap. It makes for a totally thrilling, dynamic city with lots of electricity.
Q. What is one of your favored destinations you have got visited?
A. I definitely loved exploring Swaziland, a tiny, landlocked us that borders South Africa. Many people do not even comprehend it exists. However, they must. It is definitely stunning; the people are so excellent; it’s easy to get around. There are lovely rolling hills, brilliant small guesthouses, interesting neighborhood crafts made using fantastic weavers and sculptors, and wonderful trekking and wildlife. I would genuinely suggest it.
Q. Most uncommon journey you have taken?
A. Reunion Island, an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, is actually a part of France, is one of the most lovely locations I have ever been to. It’s very tropical and wild – we even flew over a volcano spewing lava – but it also feels French, with more often than not French-speakme people and French meals. It is simply a very uncommon, tiny island that few human beings understand approximately.