The Sweetest Way | Travel & Lifestyle Design By Leah Davis
Follow Leah as she shares her personal musing while traveling around the world. This blog lets you see an insider perspective of what traveling life is like while still offering you tips and tricks for your own travels.
“It’s a total crapshoot.” Not exactly the words an expectant passenger wants to hear, but at least our captain had confirmed my suspicions. On a Maui whale watching tour, whale sightings are never guaranteed, contrary to what the name might suggest. And on the Pride of Maui, the crew members aren’t just friendly, they’re honest, […]
No blogger likes to let their site sit dormant for a month’s time. Especially one who’s trying to make a living from their craft. It feels unproductive. It feels lazy. It feels altogether wrong. So trust me when I say, I never intended to let the entire month of April slip by without a single new […]
Hi my friends, it’s time for another monthly update! March was exciting in so many ways. I took some incredible personal strides and got to watch people I love do the same. And yet, there were many moments of frustration that, at times, made it difficult to celebrate the successes. I felt like for all […]
When I recently spent two days in Seattle with my fiancé and some visiting friends, I wasn’t sure how much we’d be able to accomplish–could we really show them the best of Seattle in 2 days? Despite living in Washington much of my life, I’m actually still getting to know Seattle as a travel destination myself, but this most recent visit gave me another chance to discover some amazing things to do on a weekend trip to Seattle. Some of the things we did were classic Seattle must-dos, and others were quirky things we tried on my fiancé’s recommendation (he spent 5 years living in Seattle, so he was definitely the expert in the group). If you’re planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest, here are some of the best things to do if you have just two days in Seattle. Classic: Pike Place Market Pike Place Market is one of the oldest continuously operating farmer’s markets in the country, having first opened its doors in August of 1907. It’s located in Downtown Seattle just steps from the Seattle waterfront where you can enjoy captivating views of Puget Sound, the Seattle Great Wheel, and fiery Pacific Northwest sunsets. At Pike […]
Welcome to Location Independent Success Stories! In this series, I’ll be introducing you to inspiring men and women who are using their unique skills and talents to live the location independent lifestyle of their dreams. This week, I’m pleased to introduce you to Michelle, a freelancer who has recently made a home base for herself in the tropical island paradise of Koh Tao, Thailand. Michelle Vogel is a freelance copywriter and content marketing strategist. She also writes for her own blog, Mishvo in Motion, about her adventures in travel and freelancing. When not writing, she can be found singing, spending time in nature, or eating olives in bulk. Follow Michelle’s adventures: Blog | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter First, please tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your background, and what are you doing now? Hello, I’m Michelle aka Mishvo (my nickname is a combination of my first and last names). I’m 27 and originally from Atlanta, Georgia, USA. My background is in the social sciences and specifically in behavior change/social marketing in public health. I have a BS in Psychology from UGA and MSPH in International Health from Johns Hopkins. Now I work as a freelance content marketer […]
I’m always on the hunt for versatile, high-quality pieces to add to my travel wardrobe, and I’ve recently discovered a new favorite in the Everyday Twist Top from Encircled.
It’s a simple, elegant design with one small but ingenious addition that allows me to create an assortment of different styles effortlessly, so I can transition from one activity to the next with just as much ease.
But before we dive into the details of this beautiful top that can be worn at least six different ways (that I’ve discovered so far, anyway), I want to take a moment to sing the praises of the company responsible for gifting the Everyday Twist Top to the world: Encircled.
But that’s what happens when a company goes the extra mile to make products that are not only practical but stylish and ethical to boot.
People can’t help but talk, and the good word spreads like wildfire.
So who is Encircled, anyway?
I’m glad you asked.
Encircled is a Canadian fashion brand built on the idea that less really is more. We don’t need to fill our closets with mountains of cheaply made clothes, but rather a few quality pieces that can play many roles.
When we own less, we can do more, travel lighter, create less waste and spend our time more wisely.
Encircled believes in a mindful approach to production, ensuring that sustainability is practiced every step of the way–from the fabrics they source to the shipping materials in which their clothes are packaged.
They believe in minimalist fashion and want to help travelers like you and me build capsule wardrobes that not only help us pack in record time, but keep us looking amazing no matter the occasion.
On top of all of this, Encircled believes in transparency. You’ll never have to wonder where your clothing comes from, and they’ll happily share information about their Canadian-based sewing studios at any time.
In short, this brand holds itself to the high ethical standard to which we should all aspire.
Besides looking great, feeling wonderful against your skin, and draping beautifully over every type of body, the fabrics used by Encircled are high-quality and environmentally friendly.
They employ blends of modal, Tencel, and bamboo as their core fabrics.
These are resistant to wrinkling (which every traveler can appreciate) and resistant to shrinking, and they naturally protect against harmful UV rays.
Furthermore, the pieces I’ve owned for some time now have maintained their shape and fit and show no signs of pilling whatsoever.
These clothes are designed to last, my friends, and their classic, minimalist designs won’t be going out of style anytime soon.
The Genius of Two Tiny Snaps
You might be wondering how I was able to create the various styles shown at the top of this post, and the answer lies in the ingenious addition of two metal snaps at the bottom of the open flaps.
Not all of the styles employ these snaps, but they come in handy anytime you want to make the top a little shorter and less flowy.
Snap them together and put the newly-created loop behind your head. Twist it first or leave it untwisted–that part’s up to you! It’s really that simple, but this unassuming little feature is what puts the Everyday Twist Top in a league of its own.
1 Day, 3 Ways: How to Style the Everyday Twist Top
I wanted to show you just how versatile the Everyday Twist Top really is (and why every traveler should add it to their wardrobe) by wearing it three different ways on a weekday outing with my sweet mother.
When we’re traveling, we never know what kind of opportunities will present themselves–we may find ourselves having outdoor adventures one day and fancy brunches the next, and we’ll save ourselves enormous amounts of time, energy, and stress by packing pieces that can do it all.
The Everyday Twist Top is the perfect candidate for such a task. Allow me to demonstrate.
Spring still hadn’t officially arrived yet, but it was warm enough in the early afternoon to forego a jacket, and my Everyday Twist Top (in Dark Heathered Grey) made the perfect light layer for our snowy walk.
I took the right snap in my left hand and the left in my right, crossing the fabric before connecting the snaps behind my head to create a short drapey style perfect for an active outdoor pursuit.
I paired it with black skinny jeans and a pair of waterproof boots from KEEN, and wore a white camisole underneath. To accessorize, I threw on a pair of shades that proved a perfect match to my blue boots and the cloudless blue sky.
We headed to a popular local spot called Blackbird Island (thankfully crowd-free now that Leavenworth’s Christmas season is behind is) and enjoyed some of our favorite views of the Wenatchee River and the Cascade Mountains.
As we meandered along the snow-covered trails, we encountered only a few other people and felt a world away from civilization even though we were just a few minutes from town.
Once our fingers started to protest the chilly air, we began the short walk back toward Front Street so we could enjoy a light lunch at one of our favorite restaurants.
Transforming my outfit into something a little less casual was as simple as unbuttoning the snaps of my Everyday Twist Top and throwing on a nice pair of grey flats.
I was also now carrying another accessory, my favorite little black purse from Kate Spade.
Faster than you can say abracadabra, my second look of the day was born. Letting the front of the top hang open, it flowed freely, giving my outfit a fun bohemian vibe.
It swished back and forth as we strolled through downtown Leavenworth past the adorable Bavarian-inspired storefronts, and my mom uttered the same phrase that leaves every tourist’s lips when they see Leavenworth for the first time:
Hello sweet friends, it’s that time of the month again! To recap the ups and downs, the lessons and the growth of the last 30-ish days.
And just like last month, I almost forgot to write this post! But this time, it might be because our next trip to Maui is fast approaching and all I can think about is wiggling my toes in the warm sand.
But anyway, you’ll get more Maui than you can handle in a few weeks. For now, it’s all about what happened here in chilly Washington (but hey, at least the snow has melted).
Without further ado…
In February 2018…
I refocused my blogging efforts on what really matters
Sometimes the universe gives us really clear signals, and other times it takes being beaten over the head with something a few times repeatedly before we’ll really get the point.
That point, for me, was that I shouldn’t spend so much time and mental energy working on and thinking about things that won’t help me achieve my goals.
To be more specific, the big thing that was eating up far too much of my awareness until recently was none other than (…dramatic pause…):
I was certain the sponsored trip offers would start pouring in, I’d have a never-ending supply of new clothes to wear because brands would be begging me to rep their latest looks, and I’d finally be able to stop stressing about how I was going to make this whole “influencer” thing work for me.
And then suddenly, or should I say finally, I had a moment of clarity and realized I didn’t actually fucking want any of that.
I wanted my life to look more like the lives of the 20-somethings who are traveling to 30 new countries each year, yet barely skimming the surface because they’re only able to do what’s allowed on their jam-packed press trip itinerary.
I wanted to feel as comfortable flaunting my good looks and long legs (ha!) in front of the camera as those 20-somethings seemed to feel instead of enjoying the view from behind the lens so much more.
I wanted the perks, like the fancy hotel breakfasts and the pool views and the clothes and the watches and the high-tech suitcases.
And I watched my blog suffer too, because I was so distracted by some dream that wasn’t even mine, that I failed to give it the attention it deserved.
Until, one day, I woke the fuck up and realized that becoming an Instagram influencer with millions of followers and a packed travel itinerary wasn’t my story to tell.
The universe had been nudging me toward this conclusion for a long time, but I simply refused to listen.
Until now, that is.
In fact, it’s not just that I don’t want to travel the world for a living, or that I’m not comfortable showing off my butt for the sake of likes.
It also boils down to the fact that I don’t want to be one of those people who walks through life with their face buried in an iPhone.
One day, toward the end of February, I had become fed up with running on the Instagram hamster wheel and decided that it didn’t matter if I didn’t post that day (by that point I was pretty obsessed with the idea that I had to post something every single day, and wow, that was draining).
So I didn’t post anything that day.
Or the next.
Or the next.
And the next thing I know, a week has gone by and all I can think is MAN, THAT FELT GOOD.
Free from the self-imposed obligation to spend hours of my day on Instagram, I remembered what it felt like to live my own life. To give quality time to the people right in front of me. To move through my day not caring whether my phone was within arm’s reach.
THAT’S the kind of life I want to live, and my irrational obsession with Instagram was leading me away from that.
No blogger NEEDS Instagram to be successful. So many of my blogging idols prove this point day in and day out.
So this month, I resolved to stop giving a shit about a platform that only serves to make me feel bad about myself and doesn’t really reflect my success as a blogger.
A platform that isn’t helping me get closer to my goals, but actually distracting me from reaching them.
This isn’t to say that I plan to delete my Instagram profile in protest by any stretch of the imagination. The point is, for me, it’s not worth all the worry and stress it was causing me.
If I don’t post for a day or a week, that’s okay. If I come back to find I’ve lost more followers, who cares?
My Instagram following won’t make or break my business, and the brands who decide to work with me will do so because our values align, not because my sexy bikini bod is going to sell their tanning oil like hotcakes.
For the record, I have nothing against the ‘grammers who have found success by doing just that. More power to them!
My frustrations lie with myself and my own choices, not the methods through which beautiful women (and men) the world over are making a killing in Instagram sponsorships.
Writing is my gift in this lifetime, and I have a perfectly good platform for that right here.
So, in case you’re wondering where I’m focusing my energy now that I’m giving less of it to Instagram, here’s the shortlist of what’s most important to me this year:
Email marketing and list building
Growing my traffic with SEO
Building and launching my first e-course
Improving my video presenting skills
Exploring photography as a side gig
I’ll still see you on Instagram, but it’ll be a little less regularly and a lot less forced from now on, and that can only be a good thing.
We turned some online friendships into real-life friendships
The second weekend of February, a few of my blogging buddies passed through Seattle, and I couldn’t pass up the rare opportunity to hang out with them in person.
You might remember learning about Nick and Maggie in their interview at the end of January (if not, you can read it in full here). They, much like myself, are dedicated to helping people achieve a life of location independence and are avid world travelers attempting to ease into a more settled life.
They had felt like kindred spirits to me just from the interactions we’d had on social media and then by email, and I couldn’t wait to see if my intuition was correct.
Turns out (read this next line in a Chandler voice), it couldn’t have been more correct!
Hans and I drove over the mountain passes on a particularly sunny Saturday and planned to meet them that night for dinner after they arrived from Vancouver, BC.
We spent a few hours exploring on our own, hitting Pike Place Market (which I hadn’t visited since my teenage years) just as the sun was beginning to set.
Then we scooped them up from outside their hostel around 6 pm, and the real adventure began.
We spent the next 24-ish hours getting to know each other over vegan food, drinks, arcade games and city explorations. Hans and Nick bonded immediately over their manly beards, while Maggie and I laughed over who was shorter (it was me, even in heels).
We shared some of our favorite Seattle spots and took in some sights that were new to all of us, including the Volunteer Park Conservatory and Bruce Lee’s grave.
We got turned away from bars in Capitol Hill (apparently, an Aussie driver’s license isn’t an acceptable form of ID), and learned that Hans has a knack for tour guiding as he narrated our driving routes and offered up obscure facts about the city.
Hans and I wound up staying in the city much later on Sunday afternoon than we’d originally planned because when it came time to say goodbye, it proved more difficult than we thought.
I suppose we hadn’t expected to form such a tight bond so quickly.
But this is a happy story, not a sad one, because now we have friends in Australia who would welcome us with open arms if (when) we come to visit, and they have friends here in Washington who would do the same.
And, of course, because we’re certain this meeting on a cold winter weekend in Seattle was not remotely our last.
My Most Popular Posts
How to Start a Side Hustle: Your Comprehensive, No-BS Guide – I’m absolutely stoked to see this post I worked so hard on being enjoyed by so many! In the short time it’s been live, this guide has already racked up over 1,000 shares! I held nothing back in this one, so if you want to start a side hustle but don’t know where to start, this post is for you!
ConvertKit’s free ebook, The Complete Guide to Email Marketing – As I mentioned, I really plan to focus on building and nurturing my email list this year and I’m finding this free e-book to be a super valuable resource. I’ve always sort of half-assed my email marketing because it overwhelmed and intimidated me, but I’m finally determined to fine-tune my strategy and I can’t wait to see what I can achieve!
Smart Passive Income’s course building resources – I appreciate Pat Flynn’s approach to entrepreneurship SO MUCH because it’s real and honest, which is what I strive for as well. He has tried everything under the sun, learned his lessons the hard way, and is now passing that knowledge on to us. This section on building courses will be particularly helpful as I build my own Pinterest course this year.
PS – If you want more info about my upcoming Pinterest course, special pre-sale offers, and updates on the launch, be sure to join my mailing list!
In this series, I’ll be introducing you to inspiring men and women who are using their unique skills and talents to live the location independent lifestyle of their dreams.
This week, I’m excited to share the story of Rachel Lee, an ESL teacher who got her start in China and now works from wherever she can find a strong WiFi connection. In this interview, she tells us how to teach for VIPKID while traveling the world.
Rachel is an ESL-teaching digital nomad and music lover who’s been living and traveling around the world with her husband, Sasha, since 2010. She is the co-owner and designer of Grateful Gypsies. As a lover of all things Grateful Dead and Phish, she spends her free time boogyin’ down to her favorite tunes.
How to Teach for VIPKID: An Interview with Digital Nomad Rachel Lee
First, please tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your background, and what are you doing now?
Hey y’all! I’m Rachel Lee from Tennessee! I grew up in Johnson City, a small town near the North Carolina border. I got a degree in Music Industry Studies from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Unfortunately, I graduated in 2008 at the beginning of the Great Recession.
I tried and failed for months to find a job. Any job. I even worked in a new restaurant for free for two weeks just to get a waitressing job when it opened. After a string of unfortunate events, my now husband and I moved to Beijing to teach English in 2010.
After 3.5 years of living and teaching in Beijing, we took the money we saved and went on a 14-month long gap year trip around Southeast Asia, the USA, and southern China. When that was over, we settled in Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province in southwest China for a year.
We found new teaching jobs and went back to the same routine but it wasn’t long before we got that travel itch again. My husband, Sasha, applied and was accepted to the Darmasiswa Program in Bali. So in 2015, we moved to the Island of the Gods. I focused on our travel blog while he studied.
Towards the end of our time there, I found an online teaching job. Since then, we’ve lived and traveled around Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile.
Learn how to teach online with #VIPKID and earn up to $2,000 per month! #digitalnomadjobs #workfromanywhere Click To Tweet
How often do you travel? Do you have one city that you consider a home base?
Right now we’re constantly on the move with no home base. I suppose we could consider our respective hometowns a base as that’s where we store our things, but we’re not in either very often.
Where are you now, and where do you plan to travel next?
We have big travel plans for this year. In a few weeks, we’re heading down to Patagonia to do some hiking and camping in Torres del Paine National Park.
In February, we’re going to Brazil for Carnaval.
Then in March, we’re traveling north from Santiago to see the Atacama Desert, through Bolivia to see the Salt Flats, and back to Peru to visit Machu Picchu on the Peru Hop bus.
Then we’re going back to the States in April for WrestleMania (Sasha loves wrestling) and a friend’s wedding.
The rest of April and most of May will be spent in Mexico. At the end of May we’re heading back to the States for a music festival that Sasha works at called Summer Camp.
Then we’re off to Europe! Sasha has tickets for some of the World Cup matches in Russia. While he’s there, I’ll be visiting a friend in northern England. It’ll be my first time on the continent so I’m really excited.
We’re calling 2018 “the year-long party!” The idea is to attend a big event or festival each month.
However, we don’t have any plans for after June, so if you know of any cool festivals or events happening, please let us know!
How do you typically choose your destinations?
Previously, we would choose them based on work or study opportunities. These days it’s primarily based on places we want to visit. We try to visit as many places as we can in a particular country or continent.
When we lived in China, we focused on visiting other Chinese cities and countries in Asia. When we lived in Bali, we focused on visiting other islands in Indonesia.
Now, our focus is on seeing several different countries in South America. Due to the nature of our online teaching jobs, we’re spending most of our time in cities to take advantage of the strong wifi.
It’s tough not being able to do all the off-track travels we prefer but it’s nice that we don’t have to go “home” anytime soon.
This year we’re choosing locations based on the “year-long party!”
When did you realize you wanted to become location independent, and what were your reasons behind that decision?
I wanted to be location independent before I even knew there was a term for it.
My whole life I wanted to travel. I had dreams of seeing the world and I really meant to make them happen. That’s why I studied Music Business; I thought being a tour manager or something similar would allow me a life of travel.
When I was actively looking for a job in Nashville, I remember feeling incredibly anxious going to the one interview I managed to land during my job search.
I was honestly worried that they would hire me and it would be much harder to make my travel dreams a reality.
The feeling of relief when I wasn’t hired was a little surprising, but I went with it.
Once I had moved abroad to China and was actively traveling during holiday times, I would still constantly daydream about having a job I could take anywhere. The idea of being able to go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted was so appealing.
I got that first taste of flexibility and freedom when we quit our jobs for our gap year and I just haven’t been able to shake off that feeling. It’s addictive, for sure!
What were some of the first steps you took toward achieving this lifestyle for yourself?
Moving to China to teach English was the biggest step. I was diving head-first into the unknown, having no idea if I was even going to like teaching, let alone living in a foreign country. That got me used to the uncertainty that comes with living a location independent lifestyle.
Our big gap year was the next step because it got me accustomed to moving around quickly and adjusting to new places.
Moving to Bali without a job prospect was another step. Our time there taught me how to really budget and watch my finances. Also, Sasha is a master at budgeting and number crunching, so that helps.
After I started teaching online, I took baby steps with traveling. It’s a big adjustment and I needed time to get used to it.
We traveled around the States for the first six months as that was familiar territory where we could find good wifi and had many friends in different places to visit. When that went well, Sasha applied and got hired.
Then we finally took our new jobs on the road and hopped on a bus to Mexico.
Of all the places you’ve lived and worked so far, which one was the best suited for people living a location independent lifestyle and why?
I think I have to go with Medellin, Colombia. There’s a burgeoning digital nomad scene there simply because they have the infrastructure. It’s easy to find fast wifi and there’s a plethora of cafes and coworking spaces to choose from.
Many people who live there are making it easy to rent a room complete with a bed, desk, and any other furniture you need. The networking opportunities are endless thanks to the number of events and meetups happening on a near-weekly basis.
Plus, it’s just fascination being in a city that’s gone from being the most dangerous city in the world to one of the most innovative in a 20-year timespan.
Tell us about your work. What is your primary source of income?
Sasha has also been freelance writing for Transparent Language, a company that makes language learning software, for a few years now. We both do some freelance writing for other travel bloggers, as well.
How did you get started with VIPKID and freelance writing?
I found VIPKID through a post in a Facebook group. I was hired thanks to all the experience I had teaching on the ground in China.
Sasha was referred to the language company through a friend he met living in China. His friend passed the gig on to him when he could no longer take on the work.
The Goats put out a call for writers in their newsletter so I responded and got Sasha to apply. Will (The Broke Backpacker) and I are in a Facebook group together and he approached us when he started building his team of writers.
What does the average workday look like for you?
We wake up and teach 3-4 hours first thing in the morning. The time varies depending on what time zone we’re in.
In Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru we would teach from 5 am – 9 am. Chile is two hours ahead so we teach from 7 am – 11 am (much more agreeable for our night owl tendencies).
We spend the rest of the day blogging and working on some projects we’ve got going.
If someone else wanted to follow a path similar to yours, what advice would you give them?
My first piece of advice would be to get some teaching experience wherever you are now. Find a tutoring job at the local middle school or high school. You could also look for a job at a daycare or kindergarten.
If you don’t already have teaching experience, it’s a good idea to get a teaching certificate such as a TEFL or TESOL.
This can be done online or at a local university or community college.
How much could someone expect to earn when just starting out? How much do you earn now?
With teaching online, it really depends on how many classes you’re teaching day-to-day, week-to-week. It will be less at the start, but as you build a student base, your schedule will fill in more.
When I first started with VIPKID, I was earning $8 per 25-minute class, (base pay is between $7-9) plus monthly incentives. However, I wasn’t doing much teaching as I was moving around a lot. Those first six months I would usually make between $500-800/month.
Now, I teach much more regularly as it’s my sole source of income. I’ve gotten a raise and now I average around $21/hour. I shoot to earn between $1,500 and $2,000 each month.
All teachers are eligible for a raise every other contract renewal (contracts are for 6 months). There is a list of requirements that the teacher must meet before being considered for a raise.
As for the incentives, VIPKID has a referral program where teachers can earn a bonus per successful referral. They are constantly changing and improving the program as well.
When I first started teaching, the bonus was $50 for each successful referral. Now it’s more than that.
I’ve gotten several friends hired as well as a few strangers who decided to apply after reading our blog post about the job. VIPKID will often offer a more enticing incentive when they are doing a hiring push but it varies each time.
Do you have other income sources as well? What are they?
I earn a little from freelance writing. In addition to that, we have our travel blog that’s slowly beginning to earn money.
In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about living a location independent lifestyle?
Figuring out the logistics of where to stay and how to get there can be exhausting. If you don’t have a long list of requirements for your accommodation, it’s much easier, but for our jobs, it takes a lot of planning.
It can be easy to find a place that works and get stuck there because figuring out the next move is hard.
What are some of the things you like about it the most?
I love the freedom and flexibility.
Sasha and I really love live music. Our first summer together was spent traveling the States and going to music festivals and seeing as many Phish concerts as we could.
The location independent lifestyle gives us the flexibility to head back to the States in the summer when we have more opportunities to see our favorite bands and go to our favorite music festivals. We’re also able to see more live music in different parts of the world.
Hopping on a plane for the sole purpose of going to a concert is an unbeatable feeling.
There aren’t many things that make me happier.
How did becoming location independent change your relationship with travel? Do you do things differently now?
We travel much more slowly and try to really get to know a place. In that same vein, we also have to miss a lot of cool stuff.
When you’re doing freelance work, time really is money. When you’re not working, you’re not earning, only spending.
As a result, we didn’t get to do the Lost City trek in Colombia nor did we step foot outside of Lima the entire month we were there. However, we are going back to Peru to do all the cool stuff, so that’s a perk of the lifestyle.
When we were backpacking Southeast Asia, we could be much more spontaneous in our travels. If we heard about a cool place we were unaware of before, we could hop on a bus there the next day.
Now we have to have our accommodation planned out in advance so we know we can do our teaching jobs. Unfortunately, we can’t really teach in cafes or coworking spaces.
However, it’s nice that we don’t have go “home” and that we can stay in places for longer periods of time. Eventually, we do plan to stay somewhere for longer than a month. The digital nomad life is still pretty appealing at the moment, though.
Do you have any great money-saving travel tips to share?
We pretty much exclusively stay in Airbnbs because many hosts offer a discount if you’re staying for a week or a full month. We also like having a kitchen to cook in as that helps keep costs down.
For getting around, Uber is always cheaper than taxis and you don’t need to have cash. Learning a bit of the local language will make it easier to take the metro or local buses.
Travel hacking is a great way to get cheap or free flights. That’s really the main reason our current South American adventure is possible.
Otherwise, we always manage to find the best deals on Skyscanner, Google Flights, or local budget airlines.
We take long buses when we can as it’s a great way to see the scenery. The first-class buses in Mexico are really nice, actually!
What do you think are some of the necessary traits or skills someone should have if they plan to pursue a location independent lifestyle?
Adaptability and patience.
For people who want to be location independent, it’s very helpful if you’re able to adapt quickly to change. Many things come up on the road and your plans can change. Adjusting to new languages and cultures can be difficult and it takes some time to get used to them.
Patience makes a lot of things easier. You have to be patient with yourself to avoid feeling down about how quickly you’re accomplishing your goals, whatever they may be. If you’re trying to stay long-term in foreign countries, you may have to deal with getting a visa which can be difficult.
Being patient with the process will help avoid a lot of stress.
Productivity is a major challenge for many digital nomads. Share with us one of your best tips for staying motivated and getting sh*t done.
Set big, overarching goals. Then break those goals down by the steps you need to take to reach them. Once you’ve got those, break them down even further into actionable tasks that you can do daily.
This way, it’s easier to see how you’re going to reach your goals and helps avoid the feeling of overwhelm. Try using planning apps and software such as Trello or Asana to help you stay organized.
Do you have any location independent role models who have helped you or motivated you to achieve your goals?
I have a few; Jazza & Lesh from NOMADasaurus and Nick & Dariece from Goats on the Road. They’re couple travel bloggers with similar personalities to mine and Sasha’s.
I feel like if they can do it and be successful, so can we!
What’s one of the most valuable purchases you’ve made for your business–something that wasn’t necessarily expensive, but provided you with a lot of value?
I purchased a course a few months ago that’s been invaluable in teaching me about adding affiliate links and optimizing posts for SEO on our travel blog.
My ultimate goal is for the blog to be the main source of income and teach online just for fun.
Tell us about one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made and how others can avoid it.
When it comes to teaching online, I booked classes at times when I was unsure of the WiFi. It wasn’t good enough and I ended up having to cancel which caused me to lose money and put my job in jeopardy.
There was another time where I booked classes the day after a travel day. Our flights got delayed by a full day and I had to cancel classes again.
When it comes to teaching online, it’s better to schedule classes last minute, rather than in advance, and have to cancel.
For blogging, it’s being too trusting of others and not having the balls to speak up when I knew something wasn’t right.
I don’t know if you guys know this, but Pinterest is kinda my thing.
I’ve been using Pinterest for business for about four years now, I’ve been a Pinterest Manager for some of the biggest names in travel blogging, and I’ve helped scores of others improve their Pinterest strategy through one-on-one coaching.
I’m on Pinterest ALL. THE. TIME. I feel pretty comfortable there. And I could talk about Pinterest marketing at length to anyone willing to listen.
Pinterest is my blog’s number one source of referrals, and it has delivered me many clients and collaboration opportunities.
Without Pinterest, my blog would NOT be where it is today, and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to go full-time as soon as I did.
But, I know that Pinterest is still a mystery to a lot of people, and I want to help.
If you run a blog or any kind of online business, you really do need to understand Pinterest so you can put it to work for you.
I wrote a pretty detailed Pinterest guide a few years ago, so if you haven’t read that yet, I suggest you start there. It was written specifically with travel bloggers in mind, but don’t let that discourage you–the information is applicable to any niche.
If you’re familiar with the Pinterest basics and are just looking to tighten up your strategy, keep reading.
The following are some of the major Pinterest mistakes I see a lot of people making, along with how you can fix them if they apply to you.
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Pinterest Mistakes You Need to Stop Making ASAP
Pinterest Mistake #1: Ignoring your analytics
If you have any experience using social media for your business, you should already understand the importance of analytics in refining your strategy.
Pinterest has its own set of analytics, which many Pinterest “gurus” will tell you to ignore. But, I believe these numbers can reveal a lot of useful information.
You’ll find your Pinterest analytics in the top left corner of your home feed. For the purpose of this post, I’ll just focus on one tab in that drop-down menu: Website.
This dashboard will tell you a number of things, including which pins are getting the most impressions (showing up in people’s feeds), which are getting saved to new boards the most, which are driving the most clickthroughs, and what images people have recently pinned from your website.
This will help you understand which of your designs are working the best. It can show you which boards (your own or other people’s) are leading to the most clicks. It can also reveal if certain pins are being saved a lot but are NOT leading to clicks.
Additionally, you can track your profile’s performance over time, which is particularly useful when you are testing out new strategies and want to see if they have had an impact on impressions, saves, or clickthroughs.
The primary way I use this information is to find which pins are already doing well (i.e. generating the most clicks) so I can continue to promote them.
I visit this tab regularly and make sure to reshare my most popular pins, to maintain any momentum they may already have.
Try not to get too wrapped up in the actual numbers listed here, as they may tell a different story from your blog’s analytics, but this generally isn’t important.
Of course, Pinterest isn’t the only place to find useful analytics.
The scheduling app Tailwind has its own analytics and provides much greater detail and more specific insights into your profile and pins’ performance.
Here, you’ll be able to track your follower count, engagement rate (the percentage of your pins that get at least one repin), the virality score (number of repins per pin) of your profile as a whole or your individual boards, and so much more.
Tailwind analytics are complex enough that it would require a blog post of its own to cover everything, so here are a few key things to look for if you’re new to this app:
Engagement Rate – You’ll find this number under Track Your Brand Page > Profile Performance in Tailwind’s main menu on the lefthand side of your dashboard.
It tells you what percentage of the pins you’re sharing are getting at least one repin or more.
If this number is low, it could mean a couple of things. It could mean you’re on a lot of group boards that have low engagement, it could mean you’re pinning at suboptimal times, or it could mean that your pin designs aren’t catching people’s attention and therefore aren’t being saved.
Virality Score – Under Track Your Brand Page > Board Insights, you can look at your various boards and compare their performance.
Virality Score (number of repins per pin) is a useful number to look at because it can let you know which of your boards are underperforming. They could be your own boards OR group boards, but if they have a low Virality Score, they are potentially hurting you more than helping.
I generally recommend leaving any group boards that have a Virality Score lower than 3. If the board with a low VS belongs to you, try adding more popular and viral pins to it to boost its score.
I’ll be the first to admit that I made this mistake for a long time. Since I was using Pinterest well before my blog’s rebrand, I still have pins floating around the Pinterest-verse with my old logo on them!
Some of those first pins I ever created were the absolute worst; but, they actually still bring me some traffic so I don’t worry about them at this point.
I just make sure, moving forward, that all my pins have a cohesive look that people will be able to recognize as my own.
And that’s not to say that every pin has to look identical. What I recommend is simply finding a few design elements that you really love and using them on every pin.
You could stick to your blog’s color palette, you could always use the same fonts, or you could use the same overlay on every pin you create.
It took me a long time to find the design that worked best for me, but now every new pin I make contains the same elements. I settled on a long design with text in the middle, similar to the designs you often see from food bloggers.
I always stick to the same fonts, but I change up the colors to make them bright and eye-catching.
I’ve also gone back to old posts that had those terrible early pin designs and updated them to match my new aesthetic; it’s like breathing new life into an old piece of content!
My final piece of advice here is simply to make sure your pins stand out from other pinners’ designs.
It makes perfect sense to emulate designs that you already know work well, but make them your own somehow– especially if you are taking inspiration from someone in your own niche.
Pinterest Mistake #3: Using fonts that are impossible to read
When people are scrolling through Pinterest, they are making snap judgments about whether they want to read a post or not.
With so much content competing for their attention, they’re probably going to scroll right past yours if they can’t easily read the text on your pin.
It’s the unfortunate truth; but luckily, there’s a simple solution.
Your text needs to be LARGE AND IN CHARGE (don’t make them squint to read it) and avoid any swirly, frou-frou fonts that only reveal actual words under close examination.
Making your text easier to read is a quick fix that can lead to huge improvements in clickthroughs and saves.
Pinterest Mistake #4: Pinning ONLY through a scheduling app
I get it–you’re a busy creative, and you’d prefer to just schedule all of your pins in advance so you don’t have to think about Pinterest for the rest of the month.
But, this would be a mistake.
You see, Pinterest loves when you use their platform like a real person. Someone who actually logs in and performs searches and saves things that interest them.
Even better if you can visit a few websites, or leave real feedback on a pin you tried and loved.
Every time I’ve ever taken a Pinterest hiatus, relying only on a scheduling app to share content for me, do you know what has happened?
My Pinterest traffic has TANKED.
Now, I’m not saying you need to be on Pinterest all day every day. You don’t even need to be on it every day. But I’d think very carefully before taking a month or even a few weeks off.
Make time throughout your week to log into Pinterest and save content manually. You can easily do this from the Pinterest mobile app while you’re on the go.
Pinterest appreciates consistency and authentic engagement and will reward you for both.
Pinterest Mistake #5: Not using Pinterest to grow your email list
Using Pinterest to drive traffic to your site is great and all, but did you know that Pinterest is notorious for low-quality traffic?
Pinterest referral traffic has long been associated with high bounce rates. This means that most people who visit your site from Pinterest will look at one page and then leave, most likely to never return again.
People want the information they came for and usually nothing else–in order to ensure they become a repeat visitor, you must find a way to capture their email.
Writing exceptional content that they can’t help but share is also pretty darn important, but still won’t guarantee they’ll come back.
Turn Pinterest visitors into email subscribers and they may eventually become customers, purchasing the goods or services you offer and helping your online business grow.
A good way to get the ball rolling, for those of you who are already generating some Pinterest traffic, is to find the posts that are already popular and inserting an email opt-in form in each one.
Offering up a valuable freebie that relates to the post topic will lead to more subscribers than a simple newsletter offer and will help to build trust with your new readers.
Another method that converts exceptionally well on Pinterest is to create a special pin that promotes one of your valuable free resources.
Then, link this pin to a short blog post or a landing page that requires them to sign up for your mailing list in order to access it.
An example of how I’ve used this method on my own site is my free 5-day affiliate marketing email course. A pin on Pinterest leads to a short blog post introducing the course (pictured below), with an opt-in form at the bottom where people can sign up.
It’s that simple!
You both get something out of the deal–they get valuable information that will help them solve a problem, and you get a new email subscriber and a new relationship to nurture.
Chances are if they were interested in one of your freebies, they’ll be interested in more of your content and any other products you decide to offer down the line.
The Next Step in My Pinterest Journey: My Very Own Course!
For the longest time, I put off creating a Pinterest course even though I knew I had the knowledge and experience to do it.
I figured there were already so many resources out there that mine would just get lost among the competition.
Thankfully, I’ve now realized how ridiculous that sounds.
I’m always telling people to write about the places and topics that have been written about a million times before because no one has ever written it from their unique perspective.
And I’m finally ready to take my own advice.
Yes, there are a lot of Pinterest courses out there–a lot of great ones, in fact. But there are none with my personal touch.
Furthermore, no Pinterest courses that I know of have been written by bloggers within the travel niche–a tough nut to crack on Pinterest compared to lifestyle topics like weight loss or cooking.
If you’re not a travel blogger, don’t worry–the course material will be inclusive of all blogging niches.
Oh! And I can’t forget to mention…
The course will include a special bonus module on becoming a Pinterest VA, because I’ve done that, too.
This will be a fantastic resource for those of you looking to break into the world of remote work and want to develop Pinterest skills that you can then offer as a service.
If you’re interested in learning powerful Pinterest strategies from a friendly face in the travel niche, sign up for my newsletter so you can be among the first to know when it’s launching!
Having lots of followers who don’t engage with your content can diminish your organic reach even further
I’d rather have high engagement with fewer followers than lots of followers who don’t give a shit about my content
In fact, it’s not hard to spot a page that has used paid promotions as a growth strategy. They’ll have tons of followers–maybe 20,000 or more–and yet, just a handful of likes on each post.
They may be quite successful in growing their following this way, but it typically doesn’t translate to an engaged following.
Of course, this isn’t to say that all paid promotions on Facebook are worthless. There are plenty of good reasons to promote certain content on Facebook, which I’ll get to in a minute.
But, for the purpose of gaining more followers, I would be extremely wary about spending your marketing budget all willy nilly.
If you’re a business page owner like me and are struggling to cope with the latest round of algorithm updates, here is the number one question you need to ask yourself before you start running paid promotions or paying someone tons of money to create flashy video content for you:
What is your ultimate goal with your Facebook page?
If you’ve never stopped to consider what it is you’re actually trying to achieve with your Facebook page, you’ll never know when you’ve reached “success” and you’ll have no idea where to focus your efforts.
So, why is your Facebook page important to your business?
Is it where you connect with potential clients and answer their questions? Is it a place for you to build authority in your field? Is it a way to drive traffic to your website, gain new email subscribers, or sell your products or services?
Are you a blogger who wants a big follower count in order to prove your influence and wow potential sponsors? (Dubious, but I figured I’d mention it since plenty of brands do care about numbers).
Here are those goals again:
Sales of products or services
Proof of influence
Your goal may not be listed here, but it’s important that you know what your main goal is. Your entire Facebook strategy depends on it!
If you know your goal with Facebook is to book more clients, this is a clear, measurable goal. It gives you a framework within which to plan your content because your content will ultimately serve this goal.
One of my goals is to help people achieve a location independent lifestyle. Fancy that! A goal that has nothing to do with making me richer.
I also use my Facebook page to build authority within in the location independence niche, and as a way to promote my products and services.
As for page views, I decided long ago not to put too much stock in Facebook as a traffic source. I’ve had far better luck driving consistent traffic with Pinterest and SEO, and while Facebook can certainly give me a boost every now and then, it’s not my go-to, and that’s okay.
As long as I am providing people with value, the posts don’t have to be from my own site. Like I said, a large part of my goal with Facebook is to inspire people to go after what they want in life and to assist them on that journey in any way possible.
But, the problem of how to get our existing audience to actually see our content still remains. Because Facebook isn’t human and its algorithms can, at best, make educated guesses about what people want to see.
So you, the Facebook Business Page Owner, have to pick up the slack.
Here are my top observations since the newest changes were rolled out and how you can work WITH the algorithm–not against it–to reach your goals.
How to Work With–Not Against–Facebook’s New Algorithm in 2018
Comments and shares matter more than ever
My posts that perform the best these days are the ones that generate the most comments and shares. Likes and clicks don’t seem to give them the same boost.
Controversial posts are great for this reason because they get people talking, but I’d be careful not to enrage people altogether (unless, like that scary dude from the Dublin hotel that I won’t bother naming, you think any publicity is good publicity; then, by all means, piss people off on purpose).
No matter what kind of comments you generate, though, it’s important that you take the time to respond to each one. Your followers are still real people with real feelings, so show them you care about what they have to say.
This can also be great for keeping the conversation going. Ask follow-up questions, ask them if you’ve answered their query thoroughly, or get their opinion on a related matter.
Video still outperforms other types of content
Video has long been known to crush other types of content on Facebook. Especially if it’s in a square format, features catchy music, and has closed captioning so people can watch without sound if they’re at work they’d like.
But LIVE videos are a secret weapon all on their own.
As I mentioned above, I don’t see as much of a discrepancy between live video reach and the reach of other posts anymore, but they’re still a great way to connect with your audience authentically, letting them see the REAL you, in real time, answering their questions and engaging with them.
For the last four weeks, I’ve been sharing one live video each Monday and the feedback I’ve gotten is extremely positive! Even though it still feels a little awkward and uncomfortable for me, I think it’s an option worth exploring if your own Facebook reach is in the gutter.
The interactive nature tends to generate more comments than a typical video, and by saying each viewer’s name as they join, you’ll be showing them your appreciation which can encourage them to like, comment, and share.
Encourage people to turn on post notifications
Your followers can choose to be notified whenever you post new content, and they can also choose “See First” which means your recent content will be at the top of their feed whenever they log into Facebook.
These are two great options for people who really love your content and never want to miss a thing. But, they may not even know these options exist, so it’s helpful if you spell it out for them.
You can also ask them to get your updates in other ways, such as your email list or other social media platforms. Which brings me to my next point…
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
If you’ve been relying heavily on Facebook to bring you new business, now’s the time to get serious about diversifying your marketing efforts.
Get on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter if you’re not already, and make sure your website is optimized for the keywords you want to be known for.
The way Facebook is going, there may come a time when the ONLY way to reach people is through paid promotion, so it’s smart to have several other channels through which to connect with your audience.
Consider promoting certain types of posts
If you can’t see a way around using paid promotions on Facebook, make sure you’re promoting posts that will serve your goals and provide a return on your investment.
I’d be most inclined to promote posts that:
Sell a product
Get people on my email list
All of the above
I am running a business, after all, so while page views are great, I will be in a much better position to help someone if I can connect with them more than once (ideally on an ongoing basis).
New page likes are the least of my concerns at this point if I won’t be able to reach those people organically anyway.
But if I can get someone on my email list, I’ve reached a new level of trust and now have the opportunity to provide them with tons of value for free before ever asking them to make a purchase.
If something is no longer working for you, let it go
What used to work for you in the past may no longer have the same power, and if you notice this with certain types of content, it’s probably time to move on.
The worst thing you can do right now is cling to your old ways just because they are familiar.
Experiment with new things until you find something your audience can’t help but engage with.
My page is still growing
This one isn’t so much a tip as an observation, and I’ll be curious to hear if you guys have noticed the same on your pages.
Interestingly enough, my page’s growth hasn’t slowed down a bit since Zucks rolled out the newest changes. Not that it has ever grown at lightning speed, but I’m pleased to see new likes at roughly the same rate as before.
Another interesting observation is that my engagement hasn’t seen a drop, either.
I reach far fewer people (i.e. my posts are showing up in fewer people’s feeds), but I still get roughly the same number of likes and comments as before, meaning my most engaged followers are, in fact, still seeing my content.
Likes and comments now come almost exclusively from people who already follow me, which tells me that my posts are no longer being shown to their friends, or friends of friends.
This does take away my ability to gain new followers by inviting people to like my page after they’ve liked a post, which just means I’ll have to work harder for those shares.