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Meet Tommy McGrath, The Traveling Real Estate Photographer

Tommy McGrath is a 20-year-old Entrepreneur from Hickory, North Carolina who runs his own Real Estate Photography Business while remaining a Student at Appalachian State University. Over the course of the last year, he has gained over 25 consistent photography clients in the Western North Carolina Region along with producing over $20K in Revenue in 2019. He took his Photography career to new heights last week when he was paid to travel to Southern California for a week. He stated how this has been a long term goal of his and how he already has plans to do this again in the next couple weeks including a trip to Denver, CO and Auckland, New Zealand. I asked him what advice he has for young entrepreneurs and college students who would like to have similar experiences.

Small Beginnings

Q: How did you get started and what were your initial goals?

Growing up, I always looked at life through a unique perspective. I always tried to find a way to be the best that I can in the most efficient way that I can. After several months at Chick-fil-A making $7.25 an hour, I knew that there had to be a way for my time to be worth more that what I was currently earning. I pursued mowing lawns and in one summer I made $4000 after just over 100 hours of Manual Labor. This would have taken 550+ Hours to earn at Chick-fil-A. This is when I grasped the unlimited opportunity that comes with being self-employed.

Q: Why did you create The Drone Advantage?

Although I initially started The Drone Advantage in 2017 because of a passion for Real Estate and photography, I quickly realized that the most fulfilling part of my job is being able to help realtors and smaller businesses increase their brand awareness within their community. Being able to create a product that gives my clients a sense of pride in what they do for a living is what has allowed me to continue to grow and reinvest my resources. As I continue to gain experience and insight within both the real estate industry and in the corporate world, I plan on pursuing a career in Real Estate Investing as well. Recently, I have started a more creative approach in pursuing paid jobs to travel for ‘free’.

Be Creative with It

Q: How do you get paid to travel?

Every situation is unique when it comes to being able to make money on vacation. For my situation, you have to have a niche and an online presence that stands out to potential clients. I already have my own Photography Business and brand to show for which builds credibility. Because I do Real Estate Photography, I posted in an AirBnB Facebook group where I offered my services in return for a free night. Over 40 people said they would do this, so I pursued local realtors for paid jobs that would cover the flight and travel expenses. But like I said, every situation is unique. I met two new friends in San Diego who were staying at my Airbnb. One girl named Sarah was 23 and this other guy named Mike was 24. Sarah was from South Africa and built businesses from the ground up, and Mike was an engineer from New York who worked from home. You just have to be creative with what works for you, and find how you can provide real value to someone else while being open to uncomfortable situations.

Q: What are your goals for 2020?

Creating a system where I can consistently make a profit while traveling on dream vacations is one of my goals. I know that I will not be able to do this nearly as often in ten years if I have a family, so I think this will be very eye opening and inspiring. I also want to be able to pay for a couple of my close friends to come with me. My other big goal this year is to buy my first rental property. Ideally this year will be the first year that I invest in Real Estate. This would look like saving $25K for a down payment along with $15K for renovations and then I would refinance it. If I could accomplish this, I really think it would be the start of something great considering all of the connections I already have in the real estate industry. My ultimate goal this year is to meet more people and experiences opportunities that 16 year old me would have never thought would be possible.

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