We caught up with “Win a Luxury Bloggers Escape Competition” Winner Laura McWhinnie to learn a little more about what makes her tick.
Here’s a woman who lives and breathes writing – and the summer season. These two elements combined with her passion for photography (and bikinis!) meant she was an ideal candidate to send to Phuket for a luxury escape worth over $10,000 in value.
The great thing about Laura is she’s a genuine storyteller with a can-do attitude. She thinks big and is good at what she does. So good in fact, that when she’s not chasing the ‘Endless Summer’, she’s writing for leading publications and speaking at industry events around Australia.
Another notch in her belt is her gig at M&C Saatchi Australia as the Senior Social Content Writer, along with her guest lecturing spot at design and tech innovator General Assembly in Sydney. Phew – How’s that for a dynamic life?
So without further ado, we’re excited to introduce Laura to you as our Star Blogger.
As part of her prize winnings, she’ll be travelling to Phuket in August 2016 to experience #TheGetawayLife with Villa Getaways. We look forward to sharing her adventure with you as she tells a story through her eyes from one of the most beautiful and exotic destinations on the planet.
Q&A with Laura McWhinnie
Where’s home base for you?
Sydney, Australia – the biggest island in the world!
What do you do when you’re not blogging?
I work part-time in advertising as a senior copywriter.
Explain that ‘aha’ moment that led you to create “This Island Life”
My obsession with bikinis! I was planning a trip to Brazil and totally forgot to book accommodation because I was too busy researching Brazilian swimwear. I had already been writing about travel and fashion for a bunch of well-known blogs in my spare time. It was that trip that made me realise just how passionate I was about summer travel and everything that goes with it – the sun, the ocean, the adventures and of course, the bikinis!
What people, books or sites have inspired you the most?
Great question! I’m inspired by people who have made a success out of doing what they love. I watch TED talks, I listen to podcasts and I go to as many exhibitions, live talks and gigs as I can. It’s important to get outside of your bubble to learn from and become inspired by people in other industries; it helps you look at things in a different way.
One story that has stuck with me is jewellery designer Samantha Wills’ path to success. Like many creative people, she recognised that she had the creative vision and passion, but lacked business knowledge. She brought in a business partner to elevate her brand to a commercial level and was able to crack the US market to turn her business into a global brand.
What has been your biggest win/success to date in your blogging career?
Last year I travelled to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand to present a seven-part web series for Topdeck Travel. Being in front of the camera presenting a travel documentary was a fantastic learning experience as I got to work with an epic crew and co-host (DJ Minx). As part of this project I got to feature as the cover story for the Topdeck Asia 2016-2017 brochure, which can be found online, and at travel agents globally.
What are three of the most important aspects of running a great blog?
- Creating high-quality content
- Having a point of difference
- Posting content consistently
How many trips do you do per year?
I usually do about five overseas trips and a handful of domestic. This year has been a little different though as I’m working on a project that I need to be in Sydney for, so I’m doing more mini trips and long weekends away.
What tools of the trade will you never leave home without?
My camera gear, a photographer, my MacBook and my phone. I also travel with all of my bikinis in my carry-on, just in case of an emergency.
We know you love to write. In your opinion, what is the most difficult part of the writing process?
Time! There are never enough hours in the day to write up all of the story ideas I have.
I do find it difficult if I have to write after work because I’ve been writing for eight hours already, so the last thing I want to do when I get home is look at a computer screen. In those instances, I’ll often write the first draft of my article in my notepad on the lounge to minimise computer and desk time.
While I don’t suffer from writers block, I know a lot of people who do. I used to in my days as a junior copywriter and the best advice I can give is to “just start writing”. Write anything! Even if it sounds terrible and you know you’ll never use it. The words will eventually get better and the story will start to flow and take shape.
And the best part…?
When the story is complete and you hit ‘publish’ knowing you’ve captured the destination or experience in the best way possible.
What are the top 5 destinations you have experienced so far and why?
I recently went to El Nido on Palawan Island and it’s seriously one of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen. There are incredible limestone islands, mountains, palm trees everywhere and clear blue water.
Nothing compares to the mysterious medieval city of Angkor in Siem Reap – a temple complex built in the 12th century that is the biggest religious complex in the world.
Vava’u in Tonga is a beautiful island with secret beaches, hidden underwater caves and incredible sunrises and sunsets. I went there to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime experience –swimming with 40-tonne humpback whales.
While each Hawaiian island is special in its own way, Kaua’i is my favourite. It’s incredible Nā Pali coastline is absolutely spectacular – it’s like Jurassic Park meets the Amalfi Coast.
It’s impossible to narrow down Thailand to a particular island as they are all so beautiful. Bangkok is actually my favourite Asian city – I always try to spend a few days there before or after my island-hopping adventures.
Who will you be taking to Phuket on your luxury getaway?
My boyfriend! He’s seen more of the world than I have but, surprisingly, he hasn’t been to Phuket before so I’m really excited to share this experience with him.
What advice would you give to budding bloggers?
My number one piece of advice is don’t compare yourself to anyone else. There are always going to be people who have more followers than you, working with more brands than you. Just focus on what you’re doing and don’t get distracted by all the ‘noise’ out there.
It’s also important to celebrate and acknowledge the small wins. My friend recently started a food Instagram account @platemeup_paleo. We got excited about her hitting 100 followers (triple digits!), then when her Instagram idol shared one of her photos and also when a brand sent her 1kg of banana flour to feature.
What do you love most about #TheGetawayLife?
I love everything #TheGetawayLife represents – handpicked villas, exotic locations, personalised service. It’s your holiday dreams brought to life.