Why this engineer ditched her job to focus on her side hustle that earned her $170,000 in one year

Abu Mubarik January 18, 2022
Gabby Beckford. Photo: Gabby Beckford via CNBC Make It

Gabby Beckford started working as an engineer at age 23. She studied biomedical engineering and imagined herself in prestigious labs contributing to science. In college, she first heard about “entrepreneurship” but didn’t believe she would end up as one.

At the start of her career in 2018, Beckford went back to a travel blog she started in college, Packs Light. Despite having her engineering job, she found herself always looking forward to writing on her blog each day. Soon, she realized that her interest was in traveling the world and creating content, according to CNBC Make It.

Eventually, she transitioned, albeit slowly, from working as an engineer to becoming a full-time content creator. Beckford has since found her solo venture rewarding and she now works at her own pace.

Initially, Beckford wasn’t making money from her blog. Then in 2018, after some social media campaigns, she made some $2,000 in revenue. The following year, she realized $8,000, suggesting that Packs Light was becoming profitable.

And that was when she took a decision to quit her engineering job which was bringing in $65,000 a year. Beckford ditched the job in February 2020 after saving and planning about how to make money from her blog. Last year, her gross income from Packs Light was over $170,000.

Beckford has also seen a growth in her brand following on social media platforms like TikTok where she has over 250,000 followers and Instagram followers of 50,000.

“I’ve already secured $30,000 in deals for January alone, and my hope is to double or even triple my 2021 earnings by the end of this year,” she told CNBC Make It.

Quitting her engineering job to start her own business was not an easy decision for Beckford. According to her, she needed to save some $15,000 for expenses and emergencies. Luckily for her, she had no student loan debt as she had a scholarship.

“I took on side hustles doing virtual recruiting, dog-sitting, freelance writing and social media managing for extra cash. I also lived at home with my parents — then with roommates — to save on rent,” she said.

She continued: “When I wasn’t working any of those jobs, I created a catalog of articles and social media posts to grow the Packs Light audience. During my commute to work, I’d ‘write’ blog posts using a voice-to-text app. I spent lunch breaks interviewing young travelers to feature in Packs Light’s ‘Young Travelers Network’ series.”

On how she grew her income to six figures, Beckford explained that during her first year of full-time business, she worked on six partnership campaigns, each worth an average of $3,000. She subsequently landed 12 contracts and increased her income to about $10,000 per project.

“My campaigns, which often consist of sponsored social media posts, blog content and business-to-business marketing consultations, make up the bulk of my business earnings,” she said. “I have supplementary streams of passive income, too: Blog ad-income, paid membership communities and digital products like online courses for aspiring digital nomads.”

Beckford has since worked with major clients, including Facebook, The North Face, Delta Airlines and Adidas.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: January 18, 2022


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