Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?
*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?
Dear Melanie! Today, we would like to know more about your work as a “digital influencer“. How important are community & networking for you, and where will the way still lead you both personally as well as in business?
We are curious to know more! Thank you for taking part and answering my interview. Here we go 🙂
I believe a “digital influencer” is someone people can identify with. Someone they can look up to for advice in trying new things, in traveling to certain destinations, etc. To become an influencer professionally speaking, is taking “the long way round”. You need to look at building your business constantly, overcome early critics or rejections, and be prepared to invest hours and hours of your (free) time in your channels, networking, and publishing work.
I ask myself: New blogs & Instagram channels open up every day, but have you got what it takes to be there two or three years down the road?
My experience is that during the first half year, no one except your friends & family will read your articles. Yet still, you have to write and share constantly, what with the first signs of success often only showing a year later or so. Networking is key – not only with other influencers, but also with potential business partners. One way to do this, is by attending travel trade shows and conferences. In addition, you can get a lot of (free) information through Facebook groups, niche blogs, and other websites. It is a very time-consuming process, and unless your full passion and heart are in there, you are unlikely to sustain most efforts in the long-term.
Interestingly enough, our readers love … our VW bus Luigi! We have rebuilt this bus and turned it into a really cool camper van; the hands-on DIY articles that we have published about Luigi have really driven traffic to our website. February 2017 was the first month where we had over 13.000 unique readers on our blog. For us as a niche travel media, this is a great success, and a direct consequence of our SEO know-how and work. We love it when readers reach out to us and tell us how much time and efforts we saved them in researching great destinations, useful travel tips, and advice for being on the road.
I love speed dating sessions with companies at travel trade shows and events! You are able to check first-hand if there is “good chemistry”, and whether you can work on the same grounds and projects. In addition, it is important to think outside the box and look at business opportunities besides the immediate travel industry partners, hotel companies, or else. There are many brands interested in working with influencers for reaching new target groups, and travel trade shows can provide some great contacts in the field. You meet up with some of your old friends, find new faces in the crowd and hook up with existing and / or potential business partners. It’s all very interesting, and relevant to what we do, really.
We’ve realised that we’ve really got our finger on the pulse of content creation. Social media campaigns and blog projects get our creative juices flowing, and we’d still like to do a lot more with it. The way forward may not be easy, but at the moment, we are trying to spread our income across various sectors, so as not to be too dependent on one single source.
Earlier on, many people did not trust the fact that you could earn a living from your blog. Meanwhile, I can say with some authority and experience that you can – all it takes is perseverance, persistence, and great personal / networking skills. Depending on the topic, it may take up to two or three years to really become a digital influencer and leverage business off that opinion-leader status. Nothing comes “easy” or “fast”, and you constantly need to learn and get involved.
We try and teach our business partners that it is not just writing the odd blog post and share some Social Media status updates while working / travelling with them. Much more, it is pursuing a long-term strategy of providing interesting, and relevant content that readers like to follow and engage with day after day, year after year. Hard work, for sure, but necessary in order to build successful partnerships I believe.
My tip is therefore not just to look for the stats, but also monitoring the rate of interaction readers have with your website. If someone approaches you with, say, 100.000 Facebook fans, but only reaches 5-50 people on an average post there, then this number is less relevant than someone with 3.000 fans showing 50 to 100 interactions per post.
Generally speaking, both business partners should always address expectations first, ideally in a written form. What is the target to be reached, how does the influencer come into play? What is needed in terms of sharing content (blog posts, videos, Social Media postings), and who does what (and when)?
In answering this question, I would like to mention that wind and water play an important role on our trips. My partner Juergen has a passion for kitesurfing, I prefer stand up paddling. We therefore spend a lot of time researching potential travel destinations, including time spent looking through forums, YouTube videos, and Social Media posts.
Earlier on in our lives, we planned a lot as we only had two or three weeks of holidays a year, and wanted to maximise that time. Meanwhile, we became a bit more quiet, and prefer instead to stay in one particular spot longer in order to “live like a local”, and not only visit the tourist highlights. Especially when travelling with our VW “Luigi”, we are so flexible that we just continue to drive whenever we want.
I am always bitten by the travel bug. I just love looking at life thinking about other people, the way they live, often also because I love to reflect on how well off we really are, and how satisfied we really should be. Nothing limits the mind as much as staying inside your own comfort zone all the time.
All my life, I have been fascinated by the written word, finding it natural and easy to express myself and my feelings in writing. I love reading books about places I will soon be travelling to. Juergen, however, prefers getting lost in editing film and photography! He is so much better at it, and has a lot more patience in looking for the right motive.
The classic little tools & toys, such as my camera, laptop, smartphone, GoPro and of course Juergen, my husband, best friend, and true “partner in crime”. Without him, there would be no “LifeTravellerz”, and there is nothing greater in life than sharing the happiness of a true work/life balance with your partner. Even though we spend almost all the time together as a couple, we hardly ever argue. Except for choosing music, or both of our poor sense of orientation.
Personally, I love to read and relax, as mentioned above. I manage to read about 50 to 70 books a year, the majority of them being thrillers and novels. In real life, I get scared quite easily, but love to identify with an FBI agent while reading. Besides, water relaxes me greatly. After a long day or when things go wrong, I just sit by the beach or a lake, and look out over the water. I love it, it helps me to find peace and put things into a better perspective.
I also love to cook and shop for (exotic) food at local markets and in different shops. Cooking takes my worries away, and I really enjoy travelling to a new country for its food, savouring all those flavours still foreign to me at first.
If you love the sea, water, beaches and the wind, you will love LifeTravellerz. Our community also loves the fact that we write up our experiences from a male and female point of view. We know exactly what the everyday life of a surfers’ couple looks like, what the man / woman cares most about, and what we value together as a team. Readers also always enquire about “Luigi”, our VW bus, the only thing all of us are really emotionally attached to.
I am so proud of receiving mails and messages from our community asking us for our opinion, or telling us how much they’ve enjoyed reading our blog.
Thank you so much, dear Melanie, for this extensive, very personal, and really interesting interview!