Raymond Cua

Life As A Professional Travel Blogger With Raymond Cua

Last Updated on November 16, 2020

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About Raymond Cua

I am Raymond Cua, and I’m a full-time blogger, content creator and founder of Travelling Foodie with experience travelling to over 25+ countries and more than half the United States and Canadian provinces. I was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to Canada for university. I studied Computer Science and was a software developer when I started Travelling Foodie in 2014 as a passion project to document the places I’ve visited and things I’ve eaten. I travel and eat a lot so it made sense for me.

About Travelling Foodie

Even before I started the blog, I was travelling at least three times a year for vacation, and I typically eat out multiple times a week. I was already taking photos and videos even before I thought of running a blog, but was privately sharing them on Facebook since 2007. I loved doing it. I find it was a way to remember, or take a snapshot of where I was, what I did and ate, and my thoughts on things at that time – sort of like a visual diary.

In 2014, I was on a 2-week road trip with my siblings across the United States. We started from Las Vegas then did a loop touring Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Utah then back to Nevada. The main purpose of the road trip was to visit the National Parks in those states, but also enjoy local cuisine along the way.

That’s when I decided to start Travelling Foodie and started posting on Instagram @travellinfoodie. I realized that I was seeing all these beautiful things and thought, instead of documenting them privately, why not share them to people who might be interested or inspired by them as well. It’s interesting to note that I had no background in marketing, journalism nor social media. I studied Computer Science and was a software developer when I started Travelling Foodie so doing this was all a fun learning process for me.

I left my corporate IT job in 2017 to run this as a full-time business. I haven’t looked back since.

How Did You Get Your First Several Customers Or Users? How Many Users Or Customers Do You Have Now?

Instagram was very different back when I joined. For one, it was the old chronological feed where the photo was shown as soon as you posted it. And the other important one was that influencer industry wasn’t a thing yet.

Most people who were on Instagram back then were sharing organic content they were passionate about. I didn’t start Travelling Foodie knowing it could be a full-time business one day. Because of this, it was easier to connect with the community and like-minded users.

Similarly, it was easier for content to get noticed back then. In a little over a year on Instagram, I got lucky and was featured on Instagram by some of the biggest media outlets in the world including Travel + Leisure, BBC Travel and Huffington Post. In posting my usual food content, several restaurants started reaching out to me to review their place, and it just progressed from there.

Now, Travelling Foodie is in all major platforms: a website, 2 Instagram accounts (1 for food, 1 for travel), Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn and TikTok. I have over 60K+ combined followers across social media, plus the monthly blog readers, and get over 1.5 million impressions monthly with all the content on my platforms.

How Does Your Company Grow And Acquire New Customers?

I’ve been watching seminars and courses from experts on how to improve and grow aspects of my business. Now that I’ve been blogging for a while, I’ve learned a lot and also came to realize a certain structure on how I want my posts to be so I’ve been updating all my old posts to apply these learnings.

I’m regularly posting content on all platforms while also learning ways to improve on the content I’m creating. In this industry, content is the main driver so I try to keep improving my craft. I also believe being part of all platforms is important for brand awareness because you get exposure into the user base of each platform.

What Actionable Tips And Tricks Do You Have For New Founders Who Are Looking To Get Their First Thousand Users Or Dollars?

  1. Be consistent with what people followed you for. For example, someone who followed you for food content do not want to see your selfies at the beach (unless you’re surrounded by food).
  2. Learn to say NO to unpaid opportunities that don’t value your time nor your work. It can be easy to think that “free” is OK, or that you don’t want to lose a potential client. But you have to realize that it’s not free because you are working for it too, and that time could’ve been used to generate income instead.

What Is Something You’ve Learned That Would Not Be Obvious To Somebody Who Hasn’t Worked In Your Space Before?

Research the brand name you want to use and make sure its available in all the platforms. For Traveling Foodie, it’s been a battle for me ever since knowing that most of my account handles do not match the actual brand name. E.g. my Instagram handle is @travellinfoodie instead of @travellingfoodie.

What’s The Craziest Thing That’s Happened To You (Good Or Bad) On Your Founder Journey?

The craziest thing that’s happened in my journey is this whole COVID19 pandemic. Doing Travelling Foodie full-time means I am outside most of the time, either exploring destinations, checking out local restaurants or attending events. My business took a huge hit due to COVID since travel is restricted and most businesses are closed. I was scared on what this all meant for me and the business. All my planned trips and campaigns got cancelled. My blog and YouTube, where I earned ad revenue, lost 90% in traffic. Worst of all, nobody knew when things would go back to normal.

The silver lining was this incident gave me time to make changes to my business to make it relevant during the pandemic and after. What I ended up doing was pivot my content to more recipes and home cooking. This opens the doors for a new set of potential clients: home, kitchen and cooking brands. This adds to my monetization strategy since products I use for the recipe can be a source of affiliate income (e.g. through Amazon Affiliates).

What Are Your Favorite Books?

Harry Potter series by JK Rowling – This is my all time favourite fictional book (series) and the only books that I’ve read multiple times. I have always been fascinated by the idea of magic and these books make that magical world come to life.

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by Tal Ben-Shahar – Both books are synergistic in framing my mindset on what’s good for me, personally, and the business.

Anything You’d Like To Plug?

Check out Travelling Foodie for restaurants & food trends, detailed travel guides & itineraries, recipes & products! Follow my adventures on Instagram @TravellinFoodie!

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