How the world was one click away: James Cole reveals his remarkable Instagram journey

By Alice Warner

At first glance, James Cole is just a normal 20-year-old, but in reality, he’s seen more of the world than most. What’s his secret? Instagram.


James Cole enjoying his work in Hong Kong

With 400 million active users, Instagram is the perfect platform for the one million advertisers posting every day on the popular social network. One of them, James Cole is just 20 years old and earning enough money to buy himself three cars.

It all started four years ago, at aged 16, when James made a personal Instagram account just like any other teenager, taking selfies and waiting for likes and followers, but at this point it wasn’t about the money, he said: “When I was little I just thought it was fun to have more followers than everyone else.”

After he gained 100,000 followers on his personal account, he thought to himself: “This is rubbish, you’re not going to make any money on this” so he sold his personal account and created another, totally different page. Around two years ago, when James was studying journalism at North Warwickshire and Hinckley College he started earning money on his @earthfocus Instagram account: “When I first started making money off of it I would be on the way to college and I’d make £100 on the bus – it’s pretty cool.”

James owns both @earthfocus and @roamtheplanet on Instagram. Both of them have a travel feel but Roam the Planet has more of a nature theme and James is more careful about what he posts on this page: “I like roam the planet the most, it is more of a certain niche: adventure, camping, mountains, just certain types of countries. Whereas earth focus is anything that looks amazing. I’m more selective with Roam the Planet.”

Earth focus

James Cole’s Instagram account Earth Focus has over 2.5million followers

If you’re wondering how the accounts make him this much money, then it really isn’t that complicated. Through Instagram, James collaborates with brands to boost their sales: “Brands get in contact with me, I have ongoing partnerships with certain brands, for example, I have been working with a certain brand for two years. Right now, I have a five-month contract with them that finishes in December at $1,000 a month.

“Companies might pay for just one post or they can pay for multiple and have a package deal with me. The brand ‘Daniel Wellington’ bought a package deal for Roam the Planet, they just gave me dates for three days in November to post the images that they provide.

“My biggest contract was $4,000 for two social media campaigns for a tourism board. A regular post is a brand called ‘Tentree’ I have worked with them for two years, posting for them every month. They sell clothes but every time they sell one item they plant 10 trees so it fits in with the vibe of the page and people don’t hate it.”

James has to carefully choose the advertisers that he promotes on his page, they have to be in keeping with the genre of the page and the type of followers. Brands only get in contact with you if you have a large number of followers, as this way they can advertise to more people through one post. Earth Focus has 2.8million followers and Roam the Planet has 696,000 so you can see why James’ accounts are so popular with big brands.

Most of us only have one holiday a year to get away from the hustle and bustle of the 9-5 life, but there are many perks to the life of an Instagram travel photographer, having travel pages means James gets to see the world for free.

In the summer, he got an all-expenses paid trip to Tanzania, Africa for 10 days where he had a personal driver on a private safari and he saw no-one else for the whole week. The trip would have cost thousands of pounds. The company paid for him to go for just 18 posts. He got to see animals in their natural habitat, up close, which most people can only dream of.

James is also going to Iceland this month to see the beautiful Northern Lights.

All at the age of 20, James owns multiple cars, earns very good money and can buy himself whatever he wants: “I’ve got three cars so it’s not bad. Audi for the daily and a Land Rover just for the fun.” He still lives with mum and dad rent free, earning more money than both of them.

James’ real passion is photography, in the future he would like to go into freelance photography. He can edit photos professionally and sometimes hosts tutorials through his personal Instagram account. Doing this also helps him get the best deals, as he can take and edit the photos to a professional standard himself if that’s what the company wants.

Instagram will not last forever, his job will only last as long as the platform.

Peter Smith’s inspirational journey from the streets to the boardroom

Peter Smith has seen the best and worst of life. Overnight he decided to choose himself over the bottle. Sophie Sandberg explains how he’s now helping others do the same.

Voluntary Action Leicestershire- Helping people change their lives for the better in big orange letters is the first thing I see as I’m standing outside a tired-looking concrete building. Without the eye-catching sign, I wouldn’t have thought much of the building or the work that goes on behind those glass doors.

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 09.55.40

Peter Smith preparing for a meeting in his office

I take a deep breath before I make my way into the building. It doesn’t take long before Peter Smith, the managing director of Aspiro, steps out of the lift. When you first hear the word ‘managing director’ most of us would probably think of an authority figure, but the man in front of me, although he looks professional, has a certain glow about him that is so rare nowadays. He immediately tells me that they will soon relocate to a location that’s more suitable for the organisation and excitement just beams out of his eyes. I would never have been able to guess what this man has gone through to get to where he is today.

“Nowadays I only drink this,” he says with a chuckle as he takes a sip of his Pepsi Max. We walk into a fairly large office full of desks and computer screens. Even though there are people around us Peter doesn’t seem to mind and starts sharing his story with me.

He said his addiction took a hold of him when he was in his twenties and after splitting up from a long-term relationship it only got worse. “After the split-up, I replaced it with the pub and I realised that drinking was more important to me. I realised that drinking was my first love.”

It was not until he had spent three weeks living on the street, after being kicked out of a Buddhist centre due to disorderly behaviour and spending six months in a homeless hostel that he was admitted to a mental health unit that he got the help he really needed. After already having gone through rehab a couple of times before, this was the first time a psychiatrist looked beyond the drinking and diagnosed him with bipolar disorder. “I almost feel grateful that I’ve got a mental health problem because had it simply been drinking I’d dread to think where I’d be now.”

“If I could, I’d tell my younger self that the answer is not in a bottle and that alcohol won’t take away the fear.” He said that drinking made him lose all his fears in life, made him more confident and made him feel better about himself. “When I had my first drink at the age of 14 I found something that took it all away and that’s why I loved it so much.”

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 09.56.04

Aspiro working on the Zero project in Leicester

When Peter talks about his past he refers to it as his ‘former life’. He used to be a social worker with a background in employment work, which he got back to when his daughter was born 16 years ago. That’s when he started controlling his drinking and ended up as an operations manager. When that job came to an end he founded Aspiro, a social enterprise that supports people in a more personal way. “The term Aspiro means to aspire, so I’m very keen on helping people achieve their aspirations as oppose to let someone just go into the first job that comes along.”



With pride he says the organisation provides employment advice and specialist support, plus learning opportunities for people from disadvantaged groups.

Peter has just started, what he refers to as, his ‘legacy project’ which he calls the ZERO project, a recycle and upcycle scheme for business waste in Leicester. “The ultimate aim is to bring communities together because Aspiro is very much working with individuals but I want to do something more than that.” He wishes to put this concept into various communities to help them take pride in their area and work together to a point where aspects such as age, ethnicity and gender become irrelevant.

Peter has now gone back university to complete a degree in humanities and art, and although he has got a lot on his plate, he says his biggest priority is his.

Suddenly the iPhone on the table starts vibrating, he answers the call and we take a five-minute break. It’s his daughter. “Having a child, certainly for me, has been the making of me” he says, and it’s the way he says it that makes it so believable.

“I absolutely adore my daughter and she really is my reason for living. I want to see my daughter do well in terms of feeling confident and really like herself.”

What this man has gone through is, for me, something unimaginable. He looks just like anyone else. No labels are there to tell me any different. It’s just his story and drive that makes him extraordinary.

How visiting the depths of despair in India changed Tim Ince’s life forever


If you think you’ve seen poverty strewn across the streets of England, Tim Ince tells Matthew Chandler a whole different story about his ventures to South Asia.

Deep in the slums of Ahmedabad, India, some of the world’s poorest people can feel their lives ebbing away.

Children are raised in a disease-ridden environment. Many have no access to education. Food, shelter and clothing are in desperately short supply. Essentially, you are born into an early grave.

It is, therefore, a testament to the good work done by Tim Ince and his colleagues at De Montfort University Square Mile that, through their organisation, life has become slightly more tolerable for these families.

Having graduated from DMU in the summer of 2016, Tim became projects and outreach co-ordinator in October of the same year, with Square Mile India having launched the previous February. Incredibly, more than £35,000 has already been raised since then.

Tim has spearheaded a multitude of fundraising campaigns for these unimaginably destitute human beings, including numerous visits to the slums.

Simply by asking him about his accomplishments, he radiates a remarkable and understandable sense of pride. He had visited India with Square Mile before, on canal clean-up exercises, but nothing could compare to these experiences.

“We run a number of fundraising activities throughout the year for Square Mile; last year we did an abseil to raise money.

“It really is an initiative that everyone on campus has bought into and the work we did with Square Mile India could not be achieved without all those groups.”

Much of the time in Ahmedabad was spent working with Manav Sadhna, a non-profit organization based at the historic Gandhi Ashram, dedicated to serving the underprivileged.

But there are two memories in particular which strike a chord with Tim.

“We did a project where audiology students provided hearing tests for the community.

“They were able to identify kids in the slum who had ear infections so those kids were able to get healthcare to protect their hearing.”

Free sessions over three days in a Wankaner hospital saw more than 200 people seen to and more than 80 have hearing aids fitted. Most notably, one visitor regained the ability to hear after 15 years of near-total deafness.

His second tale is arguably even more commendable. In March 2016, students built washrooms for a disadvantaged school in Indore, West India. For every washroom built, an estimated 150 girls stay in school.

Jessica Bogic, outreach officer, told at the time how the impact this had on the children could not be understated.

She said: “When we built the washroom, they were literally saying things like ‘I am going to be a doctor’, ‘I am going to be a scientist’.

“They genuinely said that now, they have the opportunity to finish their education because they have a washroom. Yet to us, it’s just this thing that we don’t even think about, that we take for granted.”

Tim, of course, could not have achieved so much alone. Aside from Manav Sadhna and the classes and workshops put on for the children, Josh Hargreaves, public engagement officer at Square Mile, has also got behind numerous fundraising projects.

The annual Bollywood Party, a fun-filled evening of immersing yourself in Indian culture, took place on October 27 to great success; something for which Josh, having helped create, is especially proud.

“It is a nice celebration evening. You can get a taste of the Indian culture through the dancing, the food and the general atmosphere and it is part of a great cause,” he tells me.

“You get to have a great time but also know that your money is going to a worthwhile cause which both staff and students can see in front of them.”

Like Tim, he has visited the impoverished region several times; only last week he returned from a five-day trip with drama students to run workshops for the children, further evidence of just how well this scheme has been backed by the university on a wider scale.

It may only take roughly 10 hours to reach India by plane from Britain. But the short time I spend with them makes the two places feel worlds apart.

So, could either of them really believe what they were seeing when they first laid eyes on the slums?

“It is a really eye-opening experience for everyone, especially the DMU students who volunteered,” Tim says.

“For them to be able to experience that kind of environment is really valuable. There is a lot to process and that is why these trips stay with you for a long time.”

Josh is similarly candid in his recollections of Indian life.

“When you are travelling around India, it is very eye opening but when you are with the kids you forget all that’s around you and just focus on the children.”

“You cannot really prepare for what you are going to see.”

From the experiences he and Tim share, it is impossible not to believe him.

Fans are campaigning to make AC/DC the UK Christmas No.1 as a tribute to Malcolm Young

By Alex Leadbitter

A campaign to get legendary band AC/DC’s song ‘For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)’ to be this year’s UK Christmas No.1 has been given new life following the recent death of Malcolm Young.


Picture: Ac-dcfreak785 via Wikimedia Commons

Now, the campaign has taken on a whole new meaning as it is being used to pay tribute to the late guitarist.

The campaign was created in 2013 by Jon Morter, Jason McGuire and Steevi Diamond who work at Hard Rock Hell Radio and was said to be responsible for AC/DC’s highest ever UK chart placement when ‘Highway To Hell’ charted for four weeks, peaking at No.4.

Morter, who previously headed up the campaign to get Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name’ into the Christmas No.1 slot in 2009, said: “When the sad news about Malcolm filtered through, my inbox and the page’s inbox started chirping with requests to bring back the page’s original purpose and put AC/DC to No.1 but this time as a tribute to Mal.”

When asked what it would mean to get AC/DC to the No.1 spot, McGuire said: “[It would be] the perfect Christmas present to the greatest rock band in the world.”

He continued: “It would be a great tribute to George and Bon as well as Malcolm to see the band get a number one. The love for AC/DC is beyond description. We are just happy to be a small part of such a great tribute.”

Thousands of fans are backing the project with their Facebook page ‘AC/DC For Christmas No.1’ garnering over 160,000 likes, making the project’s goal more than accomplishable.

Video: Jump to raise £3000 for Flipout’s charity appeal

By Emily Barker, James Cannell, Casey Whiting, Annabel Easton, Rakeem Omar

A trampoline centre in Leicester is hoping children will be bouncing with joy after their fundraiser.

On Friday 15th December, trampoline park Flipout will be trying to raise as much money as possible for Leicester Hospitals Charity. The entry price for the day is free, but a Christmas jumper and a £3.00 donation is required. This event does not have to be booked in order to gain entry.



Director of the Leicester Flipout, Mo Patel, hopes that the day will raise around £3000 for the children’s charity. Mo said: “In order to push the fundraising even further, all of our staff at Flipout will donate their wages for the day and all the items that are bought from the café will be put in the charity box. We’re expecting to get really busy from 4pm. Overall we’ll have more than 300 people throughout the day.”

In addition to the Flipout social media pages promoting the fundraiser, the Leicester Mercury will be advertising the run up to the event.

Kamlesh Mistry, 38, who works at the charity said: “Flipout got in touch with us via the website, and they’re doing a trampoline day to raise money for the children’s wards at the Leicester Infirmary. It will be used for all sorts of things, like buying toys and equipment.”

If you want to donate to the charity, you can do so through their website.