Galway born travel blogger makes $1,000,000, and wants to inspire others

Johnny in business mode in Hong Kong

Johnny in business mode in Hong Kong

Johnny Ward is certainly living the dream. The Galway born internet entrepreneur has made more than $1,000,000 over the past number of years, and is a passionate believer in being in charge of your own destiny and creating the life you want

Mr Ward was born in Galway, but later moved to County Down with his family. After getting a degree in International Economics at Loughborough University in the UK in 2006, his travels began - and never finished. “Literally the day after my last exam, I flew one way to the US. I worked at a summer camp and managed to get the money together for a ticket to Thailand where I began teaching English. From then I never really re-entered the ‘real world’. Now I’m 31 and that was 10 years ago. Wow, sounds crazy to say that!”

Over the years, he continued to teach English in Thailand and Korea, then moved to Australia on a working holiday visa - all the while traveling between jobs. In 2010, after reading a story about a travel blogger who was making nearly $3,000 from his site each month, it spurred him to create his own blog, OneStep4Ward. “I  just thought ‘if he can do it, so can I so I gave it a crack. Fortunately, people liked reading my crazy travel stories and five years on I’m still going strong.”

After setting up the blog and gradually beginning to make some revenue by selling ad space on the site, he realised it was feasible to make a decent living from the internet while on the move and not be chained to an office eight hours a day. Johnny is now on a mission to visit every country in the world - 198 in total - by the end of next summer. There are 25 destinations remaining on his list and all the while he continues blogging about his journey, keeping his online followers up to date with his latest exploits. 

Becoming an entrepreneur

Following the OneStep4Ward site, Johnny’s business empire began to expand rapidly and he now owns hundreds of various websites. He explains how he makes money. “The blog expanded into a digitial media company, where my team and I blog for companies, create content, work with online presence and Search Engine Optimisation [helping clients feature higher in Google searches]. All of it is managed from my macbook as I try to finish this ‘every country’ madness. There’s no office, for me or any of my staff.” 

He makes it all sound very easy, but says all his endeavors have not been successful. “I’ve tried a couple of start-ups which have failed in the early stages, and I’m trying to launch another one in Hong Kong next month [called FindATutor, which will link private tutors with students across Asia]. It is all not all winners I promise -but failure can bring us closer to success, so as long as I have my blog and media company doing ok, i can keep having a crack at the golden ticket idea, eventually I hope one will take off.’’ 

By his own admission - and surprisingly considering his ‘job’, he claims not to be technologically proficient. “I am a huge believer in outsourcing the things you are not good at. Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses. Lots of people prefer to be set a task and get paid for it, which works for people like me who are more inclined to take a punt on an idea. So my guys are much better at most things than I am, but I’m the one who the bucks stops with if it all goes wrong.’’

An inspiration

He has advice for anybody toying with the idea of starting a blog - to just go for it. “I wish I had started earlier. Also, don’t worry about the market being saturated, if you are good enough, there’s always room for one more blog. But you have to have a real passion for it. There is no point blogging about something you are not interested in, or you will never stick at it.”

The best part of his lifestyle is having the ultimate freedom to go wherever he chooses without having to request holiday time off. And of course, making a wad of money is always a bonus. However his feet remain firmly on the ground. “The way things have panned out is pretty crazy, I couldn’t believe it when the big money started flowing through my account. But I’m not a flashy guy at all, and I’m always so aware that with the internet it could all be gone in the morning so I try to be careful. Apart from my macbook and iPhone I’ve never bought anything expensive, my clothes etc are all pretty cheap. Although, having said that, I did buy an apartment in Bangkok to recover after nine/10 months on the road each year - that’s kinda ‘home’ for me now.’’ 

He is a big believer in motivating others to live their dream life. Future goals include cycling from New York City to San Francisco, and following that he wants to run classes on how others can follow in his footsteps. He is also hoping to return to Galway next summer after completing the round the world tour. “I just honestly believe that if an average, small town boy from Galway, and then County Down, can do it then almost anyone can do it. The biggest barrier is that no-one tells people from normal families, or poorer families like mine, that we can follow our dreams and still be successful, so I’m trying my best to be the person that tells them they can.’’ 

So can he see himself living this lifestyle forever or is ‘settling down’ on the radar. “Settling down is bit of a weird concept for me. I have been living like this, travelling the world for a decade. For sure I would love to meet the right girl, have kids, have a house but I’ll always wanna be on the move too, ideally with them. School holidays in a camper around Europe, big house in Thailand for the rest of the year - yes. A normal life though? No thanks.” 

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