We managed to catch up with one of the Top Travel Bloggers based in the UK, in between her many trips, and had the opportunity to pose some questions…
First of all, I have to admit that Mrs O Around the World was one of my inspirations for starting a blog myself. I actually reached out to Ana and started ‘Inside the Cask’ after chatting with her.
I have also contributed to her website on the topic of ‘A Beginners Guide to Scotch Whisky’. Just click on the link to view the article in her blog.
Meeting Ana for the first time was an absolute pleasure and I was delighted to have introduced her to some people within the Drinks Industry. Given her passionate affair with Gin, I think it was just right. Nevertheless, here is the chat in full. Please enjoy!
Inside the Cask: What is the blog ‘Mrs O Around the World’ about and how did it all begin? What is your background?
My name is Ana Silva O’Reilly, originally from Lisbon, Portugal. I have been working in marketing for over 15 years and along the way I met an Englishman, fell madly in love and in 2009, I moved to the UK. Since then, I have completed my MBA and started a marketing and consultancy firm and somewhere along the way, created my online persona and have lived vicariously through my alter ego, Mrs. O Around the World.
Inside the Cask: When did you decide to start the blog and why?
As part of my personal development as a marketing professional, during my MBA at Henley Business School, I went to New York for a two-week social media strategy course at NYU (New York University) where I had to ‘get social’ – and that is how Mrs. O was born. I only started the blog six months later as my twitter following picked up and people seemed to be doing what my friends had been doing for years – asking me for recommendations on where to go.
I never chose ‘luxury’ – it has always been how I have travelled, both with and without my parents. I tried to rough it once at university at hated it – so I have always worked hard in order to enjoy my time away from home as much as possible.
For many years, I had emails ready to send out to friends and their friends – of my recommendations. I had the Madrid email, the NYC email, the London email, etc – and the blog’s objective was to be purely that. Helpful. Not everyone travels the way that I do – but it has been helpful to a number of people. And the story was a classic, a friend told a friend and another friend, and one day 20,000 people turned up.
Inside the Cask: When starting, what was your main aim for Mrs O around the world? Do you think you’ve achieved this yet?
My blog is about my personal travel experiences – the places I loved (and not so much). If I have helped one person have a better trip in any way, I have done my job.
For me, the challenge, and excitement, was always to build a community, which is something I have certainly have achieved and I am immensely proud of – my Facebook followers are very different from my Twitter followers, for example, and I know how to keep each group entertained. I answer every single email, tweet and comment I get and my readers really appreciate it – and that is difficult to scale.
Inside the Cask: What are the top 3 places you would recommend for someone to visit?
Very subjective question, but I would say the Maldives (it is my favourite place in the world), Portugal (my home country) and Mallorca in Spain. All beautiful in different ways – and with great food.
Inside the Cask: Which travel locations not yet visited are in your ‘must visit’ wish list?
Oman (I am obsessed with it), Mozambique and Vancouver. A nice mix.
Inside the Cask: Tell us more about your ambitions for the Mrs O Around the World blog in future
I am very happy with it – and I love the sense of community I built. Getting bigger means it will impossible to keep it personal and that is my favourite thing about it. I say no to 90% of invites – sometimes 99%. Because I don’t want to do anything that doesn’t feel right.
I am a consumer first and foremost and that is what my readers really enjoy. I am living my own life – not someone else’s.
Inside the Cask: How do you see the difference between your travel blog and those in printed media (such as travel magazines) and broadcast (TV travel programmes)? Are the boundaries disappearing between them?
It’s a very different concept – and blogs can be so different. You now have the rise of the ‘influencer’, which I don’t really consider myself to be. I am a woman with a successful career who loves to travel in a certain way. If the blog ends tomorrow… all is well.
Inside the Cask: For someone wanting to follow in your footsteps and start their own blog, what would be your advice?
Many think that having a blog is a great way to get some free trips. You must have your own story to tell – and not be fixated in this new ‘career’.
It took me quite a few years before I could properly monetise the blog – but it took me 15 to get to where I am in my professional career. You wouldn’t expect to become a doctor tomorrow, right? Be patient. There is no magic formula!
Inside the Cask: What has been the most fun adventure to date?
Whenever my lovely husband plans a trip for me. We have been together for 11 years and every time he does it, he thinks he deserves a medal. I love it when he does it though – he’s recently organised a weekend in San Sebastian and thought of absolutely everything. It was perfect.