My most asked questions are related to how I got to where I am today. I had no intention of going down this path or knew what an ‘influencer’ was growing up—but I’m so grateful I fell into this. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been an outdoor-lover, thanks to my dad. He always took my sisters and I on camping trips and hikes mostly around our home province. After high school, I started hiking and backpacking almost every chance I got with any friends who would go with me. For the next five years, I went to university where I earned a degree in Communications. It took me one year longer than normal because I went on two multi-month backpacking trips with my best friends—one to Europe and the other to South East Asia and New Zealand.
These trips opened my eyes to how much I loved traveling the world, exploring new places, hiking and even the little moments in between. I went to 15 countries before I turned 22 and I didn’t want to ever stop. I ate my way through Italy, sailed across islands in Croatia, soaked up the sun in Greece, learnt about a culture I knew nothing about in Turkey, danced every night in Spain, hiked as much as my legs would take in New Zealand, learnt about the history in Cambodia, rode motorcycles in Vietnam and more. I always had a part-time job while in school so that I could save money to travel. I’ll say now that I was very privileged and was supported by my parents. I didn’t have a massive student loan looming over my head like many friends I knew. The money I made was put right into my ‘travel fund’ and I know that not everyone has the opportunity to do that. After I graduated, my passion for hiking and travel only became stronger. Thankfully I live in beautiful British Columbia where the hiking is never-ending.
I worked full-time in a few different roles—at my step dad’s law firm, Red Bull and, most recently, lululemon. During this time, 2015-2018, I slowly gained followers on Instagram. It was the only account I had and it was made to share photos so my friends and family could see what I was up to. It was shocking to see people following me and liking my photos. My account growing was a very gradual process and I never made it a big deal. My audience kept growing and it wasn’t until my older sister sat me down after I came back from New Zealand where she explained to me that I had an opportunity at hand. An opportunity to grow a community online, inspire thousands to get outside and potentially make money doing it. After this conversation, I put much more effort into my Instagram.
That meant producing more content, practicing photography, meeting new people, learning about the business and so much more. Fast forward to 2018 where I was working full-time at lululemon and putting in all the energy I had left into my Instagram. All my time went into these two jobs. Juggling a social life, staying present with my family and going to the gym regularly was a struggle—and to this day, I don’t understand how I did it. At this point, my Instagram was generating the same amount of money, if not more, as my 9-5 job. I didn’t sleep much, I worked weird hours just to put in my full day at lululemon and went on road trips to Washington, Oregon and Alberta (even if I only had a couple days off). By the end of 2018, it was getting to be too much.
So many people that are freelancers say they hated their 9-5 job, the desk they were ‘chained to’ and couldn’t wait to leave. This wasn’t the case for me. It was the complete opposite in fact. I was on the social media team at lululemon, surrounded by inspiring people, I learnt so much every day, was captivated by the culture… I loved it. When I graduated university, I had no idea what my career path was supposed to be, but once I got to lululemon I knew I was heading in the right direction. Did I really want to throw that away for the unknown of freelance photography? I didn’t know this world or what was going to happen and it was nerve-racking for me.
Well, in early 2019, as you could’ve guessed, I took the leap and quit my job. I couldn’t have done it without the support and encouragement from my family and my friends—both my long-time friends and the friends I met via Instagram who were already crushing the freelance life. I thought I needed more time to get ready to quit, but I realized that I probably wouldn’t ever feel ready.
At this point, companies were reaching out to me more than I was reaching out to them—and it was really, really exciting. Now, I make a living off of social media promotion (via Instagram), content creation for brands, affiliate marketing via my blog, photo licensing and modelling. I collaborate with brands, like REI, Eddie Bauer, KLM, Fitbit, NIVEA, Twitter, Budweiser, 20th Century Fox, and tourism boards, like Visit California, Travel Alberta and Discover South Carolina. I am currently expanding my blog and finding new revenue streams to support myself. The learning never ends—which is a beautiful part in all of this.
Thank you to each and every one of you for the support. It means a lot that you’re here and want to learn more about my journey. I wouldn’t be here without you. If you’re interested in travel photography, content creation and/or blogging, check out this blog post to see how you can make money and my tips to get started!
Thank you for this! 🙂 Have you ever talked more about how you grew your Instagram following?
I’m happy you liked it, Piper! Not in a blog post. I recommend posting regularly and being active on the app in general, connecting with people in the same niche as you and hosting giveaways.