Welcome to another Student Spotlight! If you’re wondering how to build a business online as a blogger or social media influencer, read on. In this series, I’m handing the microphone over to my students to tell their stories, share their missions, and give their best advice for working online.
Introducing: Carla Vianna
Meet newly-Rio de Janeiro-based travel blogger and influencer, Carla Vianna! We have loved watching this boss-lady fearlessly pursue her dream career and lifestyle and are excited to share her story with you!
Tell me your story. Why did you start your blog and Instagram?
Now that I think about it, I’ve been working toward becoming a blogger since my early days in college. I studied journalism so I had the writing part down. In fact, one of my very first assignments was to create a personal blog and brand, including business cards, a logo, the whole nine yards. I also delved into photography and social media courses, which led to me running the university’s social profiles for a semester as well as working as a student event photographer.
When I graduated, I did what most young journalists do: I accepted the first job offer I received
When I graduated, I did what most young journalists do: I accepted the first job offer I received because I knew how competitive the industry was. But a couple of months into my new job I began suffering from post-grad depression. I had taken little to no time to transition between being a full-time student to full-time employee. And I had a really hard time adjusting.
I found myself longing for the study abroad trip I never took or the monthlong Europe trip I had to cancel when I landed this new job so suddenly. And I began dreading going into the office, even though I was working in a field I knew and loved. That’s when I knew things needed to change. I had always wanted to move to NYC, and since I wasn’t happy in Miami at my current job, I felt that moving to New York would at least be a nice change of scenery.
After a while, my boyfriend finally agreed to NYC — and somewhere in between all that we came up with the crazy idea of taking a year off to travel before making the move. We spent two years planning and saving for a backpacking trip around the world. During our research process, I came across a really cool travel couple community doing exactly what we were planning to do. So I decided to start my own travel couple Instagram and blog a few months before the trip, working on gaining a small following before actually starting our adventure.
I was determined to grow so that I could reach more people and hopefully inspire
I don’t think I ever imagined I would become a full-time travel blogger and influencer. At the time, I was really intrigued with the community I had found online, and I was determined to grow so that I could reach more people and hopefully inspire some to step outside their comfort zones. The hashtag “#breaktheroutine” used to be my motto!
It wasn’t until we left on our trip that I began taking Instagram, photography and blogging more seriously. I started learning more and more about running a professional Instagram account as I traveled, sharing every aspect of our trip online. We slowly grew an incredible community of people closely following our journey. And with every photo taken and blog post written I found myself going increasingly passionate about travel blogging and Instagram.
We moved to NYC in 2018 after our trip ended, and at that point, I decided to rebrand the account and blog to make it my own. Travel By Carla Vianna was born in early 2019 — and I’ve been tirelessly working on it since!
Tell me about your business and your “why”!
The driving force behind my blog and Instagram has always been to inspire. At first, it was to inspire young working professionals to “break the routine” and chase after what would truly make them happy. I would do so by sharing every aspect about my own dreams of traveling the world and moving to NYC — and exactly how I was able to achieve them. This is why I strive to be as transparent as possible with my community because I feel that my journey can help their own.
My mission then morphed into inspiring people to travel to the incredible destinations I was discovering. I fell deeply in love with the thrill of arriving in a completely unfamiliar country, as well as all the life lessons each and every destination taught me. I was determined — and still am — to show my peers that travel is the single greatest experience their money can buy. Not only because of the incredible memories that travel can bring, but also the invaluable lessons that each unique destination can leave you with. I now continue to promote this message across my blog and Instagram, as well as offer tips on how to succeed as a blogger and/or influencer in the travel industry. I share destination guides and blogging tips on my blog, and share a bit more of my everyday life on Instagram.
How did you discover Christina?
I don’t remember exactly when I began following Christina but I know it was early on during my trip around the world. She was one of the first travel influencers I began consistently following and learning from while I was just starting to create my own blog and Instagram accounts!
Which courses of Christina’s have you taken and what inspired you to enroll?
I have taken both The Influencer Bootcamp and The Blogger Bootcamp because I knew the courses would be well worth the money. I have been following Christina for the past couple of years and have grown to trust her as a fellow influencer and blogger, and now educator. And I love that Christina values transparency as much as I do, and she always approaches every aspect of her business with such professionalism. These are two huge pluses in my book!
What 3 – 5 “lightbulb moments” did you have while taking the courses?
My major lightbulb moment came during the Influencer Bootcamp. There was a specific section on working with brands and landing press trips where Christina explains the value of making connections with PR professionals. Odds are PR companies probably aren’t going to stumble onto your Instagram or blog by themselves. That’s when I understood the importance of creating a professional media kit and personally introducing myself to the companies and brands I wanted to work with. My business (then a side hustle) really picked up steam after this, and within a couple of months I was working on multiple paid brand collaborations each month.
The second lightbulb moment was when I realized the importance of connecting with other bloggers in my city. In the Influencer Bootcamp Christina talks about how beneficial it can be to get together with other bloggers to create content. That’s when I decided to reach out to a few NYC-based women whose work I admired. I’ve since made some of my best friends in the city this way! I now have an incredible community of fellow bloggers who I create content with, travel with and chat business with on a weekly basis.
Another important lesson I’ve learned from Christina is the important of truly connecting with my community. When I began opening up to my audience about my journey, answering all of their questions, addressing their pain-points and making my platform as open and as receptive as possible, I found growth in every aspect of my business.
What are the 2 – 3 most exciting things that have happened since completing the courses?
The most exciting thing that’s happened since completing the Influencer Bootcamp has surely been quitting my job. I left my journalism job in NYC in late 2019 when I realized my “side hustle” was starting to interfere with my actual job. I crunched some numbers and said I’d give myself six months to try out full-time blogging. Since then I’ve been able to set up multiple streams of revenue that have helped me stay afloat during the pandemic.
Another really exciting thing that happened this year — despite it being the worst year I could’ve quit my job to become a full-time travel blogger, ever — was landing my first paid press trip. Not only was it a paid press trip (my first one ever), but it was also a trip I had personally pitched and negotiated myself.
What do you love most about the work you do?
I love nearly every aspect about the work I do! Of course, there’s the glamorous part of being able to work with my favorite brands and beautiful hotels as well as the freedom to set my own schedule. But I also really love the creativity behind what I do, too. I’m super passionate about capturing my favorite travel memories in a way that can transport the viewer to that very moment. I love when someone tells me they were inspired to visit a certain destination. Or try a specific experience after I posted or wrote about it.
I also really enjoy the hustle of chasing after brand deals and freelance clients — it’s certainly not easy. But knowing I’ve been able to work for myself for the past year (and financially survive the pandemic) is an incredible feeling.
What’s next for you?
Well I just embarked on another grand adventure: I recently moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! My boyfriend is from Rio and had always dreamt of returning one day. So we made the big move from NYC to Brazil in October.
I’m in a bit of a transitionary period now. But my biggest goal is to build a truly location independent business. Now that I am living abroad, I can really test the revenue streams I’ve created for myself as a travel blogger, influencer and freelance writer. Of course, my business model will have to change a bit now that I am abroad — but I have a few exciting projects I hope to launch over the next year, one of them being a group trip to Rio! Stay tuned.
What is your number one piece of advice for aspiring influencers or bloggers?
My best piece of advice for aspiring bloggers and influencers is to find your WHY. This is something I am still working on (and adjusting) to this day. But it’s so important to understand what message you’re trying to carry across while growing your brand.
My other major piece of advice is to just keep at it, even when the going gets tough. It’s not going to be easy but if you really want something, you have what it takes to make it happen. Never give up. Success can be right around the corner!
What are your favorite accounts to follow on Instagram? Favorite bloggers?
There are so many accounts I enjoy following on Instagram! I absolutely love following @reneeroaming for outdoor adventure inspiration; @carlynogg for photography and editing inspiration; and @mariefeandjakesnow for all the travel inspiration.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND YOU?
@bycarlavianna on Instagram