I can hardly believe that August will mark the one-year anniversary since I launched The Modern Jetsetter – and wow.
I, like probably many of you reading this, was working a 9-5 desk job. Though it was my absolute preconceived “dream job” I conjured up in journalism school – working as an international culinary and lifestyle editor at a top German publisher – I decided I needed to make a change. My passions for travel, real storytelling and writing were never going to manifest into anything tangible and worthwhile if I tied myself down to a desk for the rest of my career (or in my case, the beginning of it didn’t suit me either). The entrepreneur fire was burning inside me – I wanted to be my own boss and inspire people on my own terms. I wanted to grow a platform that celebrates life in the way it’s meant to be lived – adventurously, romantically and fiercely inspirational.
Despite a glowing recommendation letter and job offers, I spent an entire summer traveling on zero income (on savings alone) in my favorite region in the world – southern Europe. I immersed myself in the most gorgeous destinations in the world. From wine tours in Croatia and basil farms in northern Italy to mingling with socialites in Turkey to driving through the French Riviera, that summer made me certain of my direction and that decision – my life would be built on travel and storytelling, and so I launched The Modern Jetsetter in August 2016.
One of the questions I’m often asked when people learn The Modern Jetsetter is less than a year old: how did you do it so fast? I’m now expanding in big ways that I can’t wait to reveal soon…but let me tell you, the road wasn’t easy and it required sacrifice. It wasn’t until a six months ago that my income generated via this blog matched my income at my old editorial job – and I managed a move to New York City, plan a wedding and save for Italian real estate in the midst of it all. Now that momentum is in swing and my direction is more focused than ever, I’ve had to adjust my life and plans over the next few months to accommodate that growth.
So you’re probably wondering what’s next? I’ll tell you – but first I want to reflect on the 10 lessons and pieces of advice I want to extend to every woman who is itching to transform their passions into their career and the life of their dreams. Because, girl, it’s so possible.
Always Choose Authenticity; it Will Set You Apart
Don’t waste a moment on caring what competition is doing or whose Ibiza bikini photo looks better on Instagram – there is no substance to that and the quest to keep up with perfection is nothing but a rat race and distraction from building your empire.
Be different, disrupt and be bold in discovering what inspires your audience. Hone your deepest (the deepest of the deep) passions and don’t ever veer away from them. Combine that with healthy social, SEO and editorial strategy and lofty growth goals and run steadily toward your summit of potential – you got this, girl.
You are Your Own Brand; Make Sure Your Actions Reflect That
From the way you dress, answer emails to the voice you weave throughout every sentence of your writing…you are your own brand. I’m currently expanding my reach in the editorial world by branding myself in a certain niche ahead of my redesign and I’m very mindful that every action I take in life affects that brand – from taking five minutes to be grateful in the morning for this journey and a 6AM spin class that helps me feel healthy despite my regular exploration of Italian cuisine to taking online Italian classes to perfect my language skills, I’m constantly working on my brand. When your actions match your business intentions regularly, success manifests much more quickly.
Know Your Worth and Never Settle for Less Than It
I did pro-bono editorial work and features on my blog for that one summer I mentioned earlier – before I launched. From day one of The Modern Jetsetter, I was charging for sponsored posts.
Yes, it was a modest amount compared to my rates now, but knowing the breadth of editorial experience I brought to the table before I launched was the foundation of all I did and I always promised first-class quality to all the amazing companies, brands and products I chose to feature.
Ladies, never sell yourself short. Decades of gender norms have made us antsy at the thought of negotiation and deals – stop, respect yourself and never settle for less than your value in any aspect of life.
Watch Your Money, Never Borrow and Side Hustle for Side Dreams
I waitressed tables to pay for journalism school with the help of my grandmother who delivered newspapers, was raised by a single mother and spent 22 years of my life with my only two destinations being Arizona and Italy (because I am Italian) – being handed achievements was not in my DNA. I was always determined to make my world bigger through my writing – and 20+ countries, 30K+ readers, a top 50 travel lifestyle blog, a massive expansion, a BEAUTIFUL upcoming redesign and a novel in the works – I’m happy to say this is only the beginning.
What’s important in making all that happen is never forgetting the importance of healthy investments, a growing savings account and remaining 100% debt free. I started my business with only a savings account and a blog-driven income goal on the distant horizon. I made that happen, but I kept setting new income goals and investment goals, and until I reach a six figure blog-driven income alone, I will always use my skills to side hustle on outside projects for side dreams – we are currently searching for both NYC and Italian real estate simultaneously and planning our wedding. Side hustles won’t last forever, but they are always a great way to save for bigger investments. a
Your brand will always be your #1, so don’t be afraid of working extra hard and freelance – it’s OK and it will pay off.
Be Selective with Who You Work With
Don’t ever sign a contract with a brand or business until you’re certain that you are getting your worth and that you are excited to share this brand with your audience. Can you present it in a way that elevates your reader’s lifestyle? Does it fit into your editorial strategy – really? Does it inspire you? The answer to each and every one of these questions needs to be yes.
You are the one who decides who you work with, so never settle and don’t be afraid to chase your dream collaborations – they will happen with persistence.
Think of Multiple Ways to Monetize
The first rule to launching your own business – don’t rely on one stream of revenue. After owning your brand for a year, you’ll have a firm grip on your niche and in which ways you want to grow. Once the nine-month mark hits, think of at least five ways to monetize your influence, skills and services through your brand/website alone. Plan a business refresh (a website redesign, for example) and put all those revenue streams into place one year after launching and building your audience/clientele.
The goal is to have your income streams become passive so you can focus on new areas of growth. Constantly evaluating the current and new ways you can create revenue opportunities is mandatory to a healthy empire.
Network Outside the Blogging World
I filled up my first year with multiple blogging conferences but quickly found that my most lucrative business relationships were formed outside the influencer industry. Surrounding yourself with creative business owners is imperative to social satisfaction – yes. However, constantly forming and nurturing relationships in the verticals surrounding your industry will give you an edge.
Perfect Your Daily Routine
Every successful business owner and entrepreneur has a fine-tuned daily routine they don’t stray from. I used to think perhaps that was detrimental to the creative process – WRONG.
Since adopting a strict daily routine, I’ve been able to maximize my working time while making sure my personal life doesn’t take a backseat…which it easily can with a non-stop hustle for your business. Burnout is a real thing (and yes, I’ve had it happen to me two times since I launched my business). Adopting a fierce rhythm that works for you will maximize your results across all areas of your business and personal life.
Have Personal Rituals for Work-Life Balance
Identify five things that make you happy and do them throughout the week – unconditionally. I wish I could say that you will be able to “check out” of your business easily, but that’s not true. You will always be tuned in to some degree. What’s important is that you designate a few activities every week to “shut off” time.
A few of my go-to escapes:
- When in town, always squeeze in a weekly NYC date night with my beau
- Read for one hour daily (bonus points when it’s not business related)
- Go for a 20-minute walk AND sweat for at least one hour in the AM – no excuses
- Indulge in beauty time once a week – facial, massage, pedicure, etc.
- Grab dinner or a Skype date with a friend
Enjoy Being a Beginner; You Won’t Be for Long
With hard work, consistency and a vision for growth, your niche will become clear to you quickly and you’ll need to be prepared to nurture your business and give it what it needs to sore to the next levels, revenue milestones and reach.
Enjoy those precious days of finding your brand and making it your own – they will be some of your most golden business milestones and define you as an entrepreneur (and be prepared, once you have your eye on a summit, you’ll never go back).