We had the good fortune of connecting with Caroline Ikeji and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Caroline, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
People (including some of my own friends) often think that I’m on an endless vacation all the time, and that all my job involves is posing for a pretty photo, posting it on social media, and that is all.

The truth is, there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes in travel blogging that most don’t see. Yes, my job involves a lot of traveling but there is so much more than that!

Even when on a trip, I’m constantly planning content, taking photos, and doing research so that I can create social media posts and write posts when I get home. Sometimes getting the best photos involves getting up early in the morning, to get ideal lighting and to avoid crowds. I’m always constantly on the go when I travel, to ensure that I get enough content out of a trip – I always joke that I need a vacation from my vacation.

Once I return from a trip, I sort through (often thousands of) photos and edit the best of the bunch, write captions, research hashtags, post to social media, and engage with my audience.

Writing a blog post comes with its own set of tasks as well – researching keywords, optimizing SEO, formatting images, and the list goes on. My guides and itineraries are very detailed – on average around 5000 words – so this can be a lengthy process. In addition, there are always little technical issues that I constantly am having to deal with.

Being self-employed means that you have no set hours, so if I find myself really involved in a project or task, I can find myself working for hours on end. Sometimes I even forget to eat. I wouldn’t trade it for anything – traveling, photography, and writing are all passions of mine – but it’s definitely a side that people don’t see.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Pictures & Words is primarily aimed at female millennial travelers, highlighting unique experiences, colorful places, and local gems. With detailed itineraries, practical tips, and vibrant photos to inspire my audience to embrace a more adventurous life.

I originally started off as a journalism major in college, and had always wanted to write for magazines. After being told that magazines were dead, and that the media world was moving towards blogs, I scoffed and ended up pursuing something else. It’s kind of funny how it all came full circle, and I ended up being a blogger after all.

My blog has been around since 2005, back when I was basically a professional scrapbooker (it’s not as cheesy as it sounds). I started to showcase my work and to connect with others in the industry. This is also how I initially started getting into photography as well.

Since then, my blog has gone through several iterations – fashion blog, lifestyle blog, etc. I rebranded Pictures & Words into a travel blog in late 2016. At the time, I started traveling a lot and it opened up my world and changed my life. After getting asked for travel recommendations by friends over and over again, I decided to start a blog so that I could just send the a link to a blog post instead of typing up a list over and over again.

I’ve always wanted to pursue something as a creative, working for myself, but never knew how that would look like or how I’d make the transition. It wasn’t until I got laid off from my day job as an account manager (during the height of the pandemic) that I had the courage to pursue it full time and see where it goes, because I figured I had nothing to lose.

Since then, my blog traffic has grown exponentially, I’ve been able to earn a living from it (through mostly passive income from ads + affiliates), and I’ve been able to work with some of my dream brands. It’s crazy to think that this baby blog that I started all those years ago would be the ticket to living this dream of mine. Of course, life as a travel blogger is full of ups and downs as I feel like I’m constantly having to adapt to algorithm changes, some sense of unpredictability, and such, but I would not trade it for the world.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Some of my favorite places that I love taking my visiting friends to –

Laguna Beach: This is my favorite area of Orange County because it’s the closest thing to paradise here! I love taking them to Heisler Parks for the lush greenery and ocean views, the Pirate Tower because it’s such a quirky landmark, and drinks at the Montage to feel a bit fancy.

San Juan Capistrano: I always think that San Juan Capistrano is a bit of a hidden gem in Orange County – it has such a charming vibe with plenty of history. The Mission is a must, as is a stroll through the Los Rios Historic District. I also love stopping for a drink at Mayfield (their food is excellent as well!), or a beer at the Capistrano Brewing Company while feasting on BBQ from Heritage Barbecue (the smell gets me EVERY SINGLE TIME).

Costa Mesa: Have always loved the hip vibe, and all the colorful murals around town. The LAB for the Instagrammable installations (and lunch at Habana), the Straw has the best milkshakes around, Dough + Arrow for amazing cookies, Sidecar for my doughnut fix, and Coffee Dose for coffee with an attitude. Also love the Noguchi Garden for the cool sculptures and to find a bit of Zen.

Anaheim: I always end up taking visitors to the Packing House, because it has such a cool vibe and has something for everyone. Also love hanging out at Pali Wine Co., getting pastries at Okayama Kobo Bakery, and slurping on some ramen at Shin-Sen-Gumi (I know there are locations all over the place, but it’s one of my favorite bowls of ramen in SoCal). And I can’t say no to Disneyland – my boyfriend and I are annual passholders and visit frequently, mostly to sample all of the new food and drink items that they come up with!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have a group of travel blogger friends that are my biggest cheerleaders! We met on Instagram but ended up connecting further and they’ve turned into my real-life friends that I chat with on a daily basis.

Website: https://picturesandwordsblog.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/picturesandwordsblog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/picturesandwordsblog

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.