WAS IT ALWAYS YOUR GOAL TO START A, ACTUALLY TWO LOCATION INDEPENDENT BUSINESSES AND HOW DID YOUR TRAVELPRENEUR JOURNEY START?
It started probably when I was 18 years old.
My desire for freedom beyond like what we were told we needed to do in order to be successful.
Through high school I was a straight A student and I was probably an overachiever.
I worked really hard.
I had a piano teaching business, I volunteered for my community.
So I really worked hard.
At 18 years old I took a trip by myself to Europe. I went to Europe and spent 30 days traveling around and it just opened up my eyes so much to this world that I just did not know it existed.
I got addicted to this feeling and when I got back to school I didn’t get into the groove of things. I just wanted to be free like I felt free when I was traveling Europe. So I never lost that drive to get back to that feeling of ultimate freedom and so I went about the regular path.
Well, I took a break from school and worked on a cruise ship.
I became a real estate agent, worked for my parents.
So I tried a few other things and eventually found my way back into school.
I got my degree in radio and television arts and after my degree I knew I wanted to have my own business.
I wanted that freedom. I just didn’t know how.
So I started working in a job. I started working for a university (the university I went to).
Then that’s when my business really started.
I had my day job, I worked in social media marketing for a tech incubator called The DMC and because I was running social media at that time and being a social media manager at that time (2010) was a very new job and concept and I was working around other startups in that space they saw me as a social media person.
So eventually it led to me being asked to help companies with their social media.
So that’s how I got my first client – a friend of mine was looking to hire a marketing rockstar – how he called it.
And I said, ‘Well actually I’m taking on some clients on the side of my day job‘. And so I was hired to run their Instagram and do their influencer outreach and stuff I didn’t really have a direct experience in but I just said ‘Yes.‘ and figured it out and this is pretty much how I got my first client in 2013.
That’s how my journey started and nine months later I quit my job so I could work on my clients business full time.
IN THE ONLINE WORLD WE HEAR A LOT ABOUT „OVERNIGHT SUCCESSES“ WHICH IN MY OPINION IS BS. HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU UNTIL YOU COULD LIVE FROM YOUR BUSINESS?
Yeah, I agree. I think it’s not true. Like for me it was years in the making, right.
The desire started at 18 years old. It wasn’t until I was about 24/25 by the time I actually started a side business.
9 months later I was able to quit my job but it was 9 months of doing my day job plus clients on the side and then I reached a point where a client wanted full time attention from me (two days a week).
And the only way for me to do that was to quit my job.
So it kind of put me in that position where I reached that fork in the road and I had to make a decision: Was I gonna keep doing both for longer or was I going to leave ‚security‘ of my day job and run my business full time. And that’s what I chose to do in mid 2014.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY TODAY IF YOU HAD TO START AGAIN?
For the first couple of years of running my business I really was making it up as I went along.
I really wasn’t looking for external endorses or mentors.
I had a good support group with my boyfriend at that time and his friend who both were in the tech startup space and had experience with business.
They were just casual mentors but they were also a strong support system.
So, if I would have to start again today I wouldn’t spend so much time or as many years as I did with kind of like blinders on.
Making it up as I went along, which is fine, I’m sure veryone makes it up when they get started; but just not being super aware of online communities I could have reached out to for help or business mentors or coaches that I could have reached out to to help me learn more about the online business world.
I thought I had an online business. I did have a location independent business for many years but I really wasn’t aware of a lot of the online business tools and strategies that could help me grow my business faster.
For the first couple of years my business stayed the same. Same income, same number of clients and I think if I had been more aware to educate myself it probably would have helped me to grow my business faster.
CAN YOU GIVE US YOUR FIVE BEST, I MEAN THE ABSOLUTELY BEST TIPS TO GROW AN EXISTING INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT OR WHEN YOU’RE JUST STARTING?
I have a few blog posts that I’ve written on this (How to get your first 1000 Instagram followers). It has some good actionable tips. I also wrote another blog post on how I kick started my Instagram to I think 45,000 in the first year.
But to the best five tips there is a concept I’ll teach. It is called CHECT which is a made up word:
Every time you post on Instagram you need to double check these five things:
- Content: A quality content that fits the design of the feed. If it doesn’t meet that criteria, don’t post it. So high quality means high resolution, not blurry and needs to fit what your audience is used to see in your feed.
- Hashtags: Are you using strategic, targeted hashtags instead of hashtags that are targeted by bots or so big that when you post your post is gonna drown.
- Engagement: Are you engaging with your current followers and other potential followers through the hashtags you are targeting.
- Captions: Are you writing captions that inspire, educate, entertain? Do they give value? So the captions are not just like here’s an emoji because you don’t know what to say. They’re not really adding in anything more. With an Instagram post you’re gonna grab the attention with the image but you can gain even more of their attention with a captivating caption. I really suggest to story tell, give value or tips through your caption.
- Tagging: Are you using Instagram’s functions to their fullest to tag in your post? Location, other accounts, brands, yourself and that sort of thing.
Those are my tips for Instagram. CHECT.
DO YOU THINK IT IS STILL POSSIBLE WITH ALL THE CHANGES AND THE FOLLOW-UNFOLLOW MENTALITY THAT’S HAPPENING, TO GROW A BUSINESS ON INSTAGRAM AND TO STAND OUT?
Yeah, I do. I mean, obviously the best time and I quote: „The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now“. We could all look back and think, ‘Yeah, back in 2013, why wasn’t I focusing on that Instagram thing?‘
We didn’t know but I still know of accounts that are still accounts today that are starting or even a year ago. My friend who runs Tourdelust. She’s now a full time Instagram influencer and that’s just a year and a half for her.
So it’s definitely possible to grow as an influcencer, to increase your product sales or to increase your service sales through Instagram.
WHAT DOES THE TRAVELPRENEUR LIFESTYLE MEAN TO YOU?
If you were following my account (Instagram) I was really branding myself through the term travelpreneur.
It’s a term that I like to use as well, especially in my earlier days because I liked that it was a combination of two words.
In my mind it was traveling entrepreneur. And that to me was the best definition of what I was, who I was and what I was doing with my business and my lifestyle.
I was an entrepreneur who wanted to travel. Some people use the term digital nomad.
I also use that one now. To me a digital nomad now is someone who has not really a home base, who is constantly on the move.
Moving from one city to the next. I’m more of someone who has a home base and to me I think that’s what’s more of what a travelpreneur is or someone who calls themselves location independent.
I prefer to have a home base and then I travel. I’m working abroad for a third of the year or more. That’s what the travelpreneur lifestyle means to me, is having that consistency with an office, a home base, but you have location independence and freedom to be wherever you want to be. That’s the key.
I can choose to stay and work from home as much as I want to, or like last night I just booked a trip to California, and I’ll be there next weekend because I now I can take my business with me.
So it’s freedom in the location independent sense. That’s what the travelpreneur lifestyle means to me.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACED IN YOUR BUSINESS SO FAR AND HOW DID YOU KEEP GOING?
There’s a few that come in through different phases. With my first, my services business, canupy.com, the biggest challenge there has been finding team members who to work with. Who believe in the mission of the company, who are trainable to what they need to know and who are just committed to the vision and really take on the business as it’s their own.
Finding the right people to hire, especially when you’re running an agency or service business like mine, was initially the hardest part for me with my Canopy business.
Then I decided to create a second business that was a personal brand called EliseDarma.com because I started blogging on my canupy website and it just felt like I needed my own platform to share my story as a remote worker and a travelpreneur. So I started Elise Darma and then the challenge was just to get on speed with all the online tools, platforms and strategies who are out there to really create an online business. One where I’m not in it every single day and I’m trading my time for hours to earn an income, but a business where, if I’m not in it every single day, it doesn’t means I’m losing clients or money.
It means I created a business that I can kind of run without me I I take some time away. That was the biggest challenge, but worth it.
WHICH BOOK IMPACTED YOU THE MOST AND WHY SHOULD WE READ IT TOO?
The book that really got me on this train is Tim Ferriss’s The 4 Hour Work Week. I’m sure you’ve heard about it.
It’s been around for so long. I read this book in 2012 and that’s what’s really opened up my brain to the possibility of creating a location independent life and business for myself. So I read it in 2012 but it took me like a year to take any action on what I learned.
I was thinking about it a lot and it wasn’t until 2013 that I thought I’m gonna do my own business through services. It took me some time to get there.
ANY ADVICE FOR THE FEMALE TRAVELPRENEURS OUT THERE?
Specifically to female travelpreneurs. It’s tough to generalize based on gender but I think in the entrepreneurial world you typically think of a man. You think it’s a very male focused role but more and more females really dominate that CEO title and that boss title.
I think as a female travelpreneur the sooner you can really step into that comfort zone of being a boss, being a CEO and really like driving the ship of your business, the better.
So much of running a business and even travel is about overcoming fears, facing fears. That’s why I like business and travel because they are both a sense of adventure. They both require you to face fears at times and overcome them. The sooner you can step into the strength as the boss and CEO of your business and your life, the easier it will become for you to overcome those fears that you might face as a business woman or as a traveler.
WHERE CAN WE FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOU AND WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?
EliseDarma is the best place to find out what I’m doing and then Instagram obviously keeping up with my travels and more of the cuff thoughts and my Facebook page where I have more of my live, real talks. I really enjoy connecting with people on a live level there.
What I’m working on: I’m going to be focusing more on a YouTube channel. I’ll be creating videos where I’m blogging more and sharing more tips through video format versus blog posts.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE ON EARTH (PLUS ONE TIP WHAT NOT TO MISS THERE):
When it comes to Europe I really love Spain and Portugal. My dad was born in Malta, so Portugal reminds me of a really big Malta.
If you go to Portugal I would say to head to the Algarve coast and eat all the sea food and drink all the wine there.
The other favorite place is Bali. Bali has a special place in my heart because it was literally my goal when I was a 9to5 employee to make it to a co-working space I found in Bali, in Ubud. A year later I found myself there. January 1st, 2015, I flew into Ubud and I got to experience the first time bringing my business the first time on the road on a full time basis and I got to experience just this dream come full circle moment. So, Bali is special.
If you do go there what not to miss: The monkey forest is cool. I had some interesting experiences with healers there. Some are legit, some where not. As to Ubud I would say to just roam the streets . I was in a culture shock when I got there for the first few days. Yeah, just taking in all the sights and sounds. That’s plenty.
YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE?
My favorite quote is and has been for a while is: Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.
WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SPEND A DAY WITH?
That’s a good question. I’m in the online business space and there are a few female entrepreneurs I really respect and admire the way they’ve run their business. I would love to spend a day with like Amy Porterfield, Melissa Griffin or Mariah Cause or Jill Stanton. These are top female entrepreneur ladies that I would love to spend some time with.
YOUR FAVORITE APP?
It’s gotta be Instagram. Whenever I look at my battery usage it is always Instagram which is sucking it. On my phone Facebook is next, because I blocked Facebook on my desktop with a Chrome extension so it doesn’t distract me. I’m on Facebook a lot for my work. I only use it for work and I scroll through my feed on my phone for fun.