Not only is Brian Kelly traveling the world, but he’s flying business class and getting paid, too.
In 2010, Kelly started his blog, The Points Guy, to help his readers maximize their airline points. He’d often write from his cubicle while, at the time, working at Morgan Stanley.
Fast forward to today, and Kelly oversees more than 20 full-time staff, 50 global contributors and his platform boasts more than two million followers on social media.
Kelly said he knew it was time to make the leap from his corporate job after about a year of blogging as many of his colleagues approached him for advice on how to best use their airline miles.
Here’s Kelly’s 7 tips to success and making the leap.
1. Put yourself first
“Huge corporations are not going to look out for your best interests,” he told CNBC. When he first told his boss at Morgan Stanley that he was quitting to work on the blog, his boss suggested he stay for a few extra months. He stayed for a few more months, but looking back, said he regrets the decision and wishes he quit sooner.
2. It’s never too late
Kelly said many people around 2010 were telling him it’s too late to become a travel blogger, but he didn’t listen.
Now, he said, “I never tell people it’s too late. Just have a point of view, have a perspective.”
Kelly suggests finding the appropriate platform. “Being a YouTuber may not be the right fit for what you’re talking about, but starting a private Facebook group might be.”
3. ‘Crazy’ means you’re onto something
“When people tell you you’re crazy, you know you’re onto something,” Kelly said.
He had his fair share of doubters when he decided to work on The Points Guy full time: “My mom said, ‘What are you going to do for health benefits?’ I was like ‘I’ll pay for health benefits!'”
4. A business plan is optional
Kelly’s business model changed numerous times during his first few years. Now his revenue comes from web clicks, partnerships and sponsored content from airlines and credit card companies. “Always be open to reiterating your business model and don’t think too much about the actual business plan,” he said. “I’ve never had an actual business plan.”
5. Listen to your gut
Luckily for Kelly, his blog grew after he quit his corporate job, but he still sees any failures as part of the process.
“When your gut tells you to do it, just do it. Don’t be afraid to fail, just try to do it smartly.”
6. Don’t get bogged down in details
Kelly said the digital age has brought on a plethora of opportunities. In fact, he first bought his web domain for just $10.
“Don’t think you have to hire lawyers and do an LLC,” he said. “People get bogged down in details.”
7. Be a shameless self-promoter
Kelly’s Instagram account boasts photos of him riding business class on flights or doing yoga at The Ritz Carlton in Bali, Indonesia. Many of his captions share information on how he was able to squeeze credit out of certain credit cards, to find better deals.
“People don’t want to just see you in their Facebook pages pushing your product,” he said. “Help people with what you’re trying to do and you’ll strike a balance — but you’ve got to hustle.”