Many times, friends, family and people I’ve met on trips tell me, “Wow, you have the dream job! You are so lucky!” And I think to myself, “You’re calling me ‘lucky’?” Well, I’m here to clarify, nope, I am not “lucky.” I went for it, I worked very hard, spent many sleepless nights (and still do!) to create a profession from what I love – traveling! Moreover, it is not easy to live out of a suitcase. Nothing was giving to me; I am a woman who is a self-made, full-time traveling digital nomad!
I arrived in New York City at the age of 18, speaking no English and with family far away. I created my career out of wanderlust, a passion for different cultures, the desire to support community and inspire others to live life to the maximum. Allow me to tell you about my early beginnings and how I now get to travel full-time.
“I am not Lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a Badass!” – Shonda Rhimes
After so many struggles in NYC over the years, working two jobs, going to business school at night, learning a new language, culture shock and financial struggles, my idea of a balanced life was to be living in The Big Apple, while having one stable job (not necessarily 9 to 5, but I did have one for many years) with great health benefits and enough pay to have a social life (going to many events, cool rooftops, and meeting new friends), then eventually start my own business in Public Relations, buying a home, create an emergency savings, have a solid meaningful relationship and, most importantly, travel a lot. Guess what?! I almost had it all. At first, I was working a 9-5 job with excellent benefits, I could see the empire state building and the Manhattan skyline from the rooftop of my building in Long Island City, I attended fashion week events, volunteered to help causes and non-profit organizations in my spare time, met my partner during fashion week and married him, eventually leading me to start my own small business (a fashion/beauty public relations boutique firm).
Those times were awesome, helping clients with their image, attending prestigious events, meeting celebrities, riding in limousines, and even getting requests to write some articles for several magazines (since at that time my blog was focused on fashion/beauty). I even ended up as an associate fashion editor of an online magazine and eventually fashion editor of a print one, which I truly enjoyed, at first. Fashion was my middle name, while now it is style. Style can be yours too. Everyone has their own style.
While I still enjoy fashion/beauty, it was a little too superficial and, in the end, it didn’t totally fulfill me. What kept me happy was helping causes, which I did it many times through organizing events, partnering with designers and my annual birthday/fundraiser for a cause party. It was then that, having mixed fashion and philanthropy, I won some awards, including one naming me one of the Next Generation Latina by Mastercard and Latina Magazine. I remember the exact moment when I realized that it made me more happy to fundraise, meet new people, explore new cities, or share tips on where to go and what to do…it was like I had finally found my place in the world. This is how I started focusing on developing my blog and writing for publications (which at the beginning was totally unpaid work). I still accepted those first few opportunities to build connections and my portfolio. After all, I noticed that while fashion/beauty was awesome (like wearing a designer gown to The Oscars, or sitting front row in NYC fashion week/Miami Swim Week or meeting designers) it was much more exciting to see the world!
That world out there fascinated me, and I later realized how a study abroad opportunity to Spain (at 19) and later a trip to China that included visiting 5 cities, then finally the opportunity to attend ColombiaModa in Medellin, Colombia, all changed my life! I realized that I wanted to see more of the world and even if at that point my blog was more fashion/beauty, I could still rebrand it to make it possible. Unfortunately, as all of this change was taking place, I also grew apart from my husband (though we remained friends) and became a divorced woman. I could still do anything that I put my mind to, even solo. This is how my solo female travel journey really began in earnest in 2014. Today, I want to share with you some tips and insights about how I eventually found my dream job (and ways that you can too).
Old Photo from Asturias Spain (19-Year-Old Olga)
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 1 Personal Branding
- 2 Having a Niche or Focus
- 3 Develop a unique style and voice
- 4 Build your portfolio
- 5 Not only write quality content but learn how to market it
- 6 Treat your brand as a business
- 7 The power of social media and of Networking
- 8 Get a mentor or lifecoach
- 9 Take spiritual mind breaks
- 10 If you want to become a full-time blogger/writer, you do not need a degree in Journalism
- 11 Find Freelance opportunities: Upwork, etc.
- 12 Watch tutorials, read blogs and keep up with industry trends
I cannot even begin to express or emphasize how personal branding is so key for anything that you do in this world. You are your own brand! To begin, answer the following questions: Who am I? Where am I going? What makes me unique or different? What is my passion? Clear, honest answers to these questions will help you to establish a strong identity. Remember that you must always stay true to yourself. Also, consider the power of why (why do you do what you do)!
“Personal Branding is about how we perceive ourselves and how we allow others to perceive us”. – Olga Maria
Additional Suggested Reading: Personal Branding, done right!
Having a Niche or Focus
After you’ve established your personal branding, you need to think about your niche or focus. What makes you special? What do you love to write about or even do the most (even if you had to do it for free?). Consider how can you add value to others through this niche. These are some questions that you must ask yourself before moving forward.
Develop a unique style and voice
After defining your identity, purpose, vision and ‘why’, now you need to find your brand voice for a specific audience. The brand voice is not what you say but how you say it, and how you communicate your message to your target market. It is what will make you stand out from others. Whom would benefit most from your experience?
Build your portfolio
Find ways to gain experience. Guest post on other websites, freelance for other publications, collaborate with other bloggers/people in your audience and begin to build an authority in your niche. A portfolio is part of the image of your brand and will be a representation of your work.
Not only write quality content but learn how to market it
Write your heart out, write things that people want to read but, more importantly, learn how to market your posts. Marketing is critical. You could write great content, but if people don’t see it, what’s the point? Keep up with the trends and check out different ways to promote your brand; maybe consider Facebook groups, Pinterest, stumble upon, or a great SEO optimization…there are so many options out there. Find those that work for you and be consistent.
Treat your brand as a business
If you do not treat your brand as a business, nobody will ever take you seriously. Create a media kit, rate sheets, a business plan, a vision board, use several ways to organize your business as an identity. Find out the tax legalities and eventually, if it is convenient, make your brand an LLC and/or open a business account. It is better to have your finances and the expenses of your business separate from your personal spending. TIP: Be organized with your records. It will save you a lot of time down the road.
Utilize your resources wisely. Social media opens up your world to many opportunities. Interact with others, ask questions, be attentive, attend events and conferences in your field. Basically, never stop learning and developing yourself. Knowledge is power! Do not forget to ask because if you do, you could receive! Ask nothing, you’re guaranteed to get nothing too.
Get a mentor or lifecoach
Mentors are so important in anyone’s life. Honestly, I would not have made it to this point without my mentors. I had different kinds of mentors during different stages of my life: From school mentors, writing mentors, lifestyle coaches, to friends who became family and supported me along the way, etc. You need to find people who make you stronger and better. A strong circle will support you during the good times and bad (we all have bad days). I have fallen many times, but I always got myself back up (or I did so with a little help). Being a self-made entrepreneur is not easy and you will have many lonely times. Just ask for help. Find your circle of support and treat them well! Showing appreciation is very important and always good karma.
Take spiritual mind breaks
We all experience burn-out at some point, thus we all need breaks. As a writer, you might even experience writer’s block (has happened to me a few times). Do not panic! Just take some time for yourself. Breath, relax, eat healthy, do yoga, exercise (even when traveling), meditate a few times a day…what ever works for you, just do it! We need to keep a healthy balanced lifestyle in order to be successful. Especially if your passion is travel.
If you want to become a full-time blogger/writer, you do not need a degree in Journalism
Many people are afraid to try, because they feel that they need a degree in whatever they want to do. The key to great writing is research, reading and writing. The more you write, the better you will be. I can tell you that from experience. I used to be an ESL student. I did not speak nor write in English. I failed the last ESL class once. I was about to give up on writing. But guess what? I had a mentor who pushed me to get help by connecting me with the tutoring; I passed the test and got to English 101. The best part, which I never forgot, is something one professor told me that changed my life, “You can always learn grammar, but never perspective, Olga Maria. And let me tell you that you have a very unique one.” Those words changed my life and, who would have predicted then that I would become a full-time writer, and in what language? English!
Find Freelance opportunities: Upwork, etc.
There are so many websites where you can find your first freelance opportunities. You can also apply to write for many magazines. I have done all of this. Do your research, ask around and find your way. If your best skill is not writing, what about graphic design, web development, social media marketing, etc. Use what you got!
Watch tutorials, read blogs and keep up with industry trends
Last, but not least, many of the skills that I later acquired, I learned from tutorials online, not from my college classes. I also learned a lot from other blogs and websites. Many times, you find hacks, tips and those help you to get better and better by the day. Never stop learning!
This is a small overview on how I created my own job (self made entrepreneur and digital nomad), and capitalized on my interests and strengths so that I could travel the world full-time, simply keep striving to become a better person, and to inspire others to do the same! You too can create your dream job. Go ahead and take your first step today! Don’t wait to be lucky, make your own luck!
Do you have more questions for me? Anything I should add or write more about? Do not hesitate to ask by leaving your comment below.
Additional Suggested Reading: 10 things this Latina Digital Nomad learned by being on the road for over a year
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