Annabel Candy is a travel writer, blogger and delightful misfit. She is the Founder of “Get In the Hot Spot”, which is a travel blog providing inspiration, tips and ideas for people who love traveling, writing, and living their dream life. Over 20,000 people read “Get In the Hot Spot” each month, with over 145,000 visitors in the last year.
- “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill click to tweet!
- Annabel was finding some success working like others expected her to. However, it wasn’t until she realized what she was failing at that Annabel was able to turn it all around. Listen close!
Entrepreneurial AHA Moment
- AHA moment? Not so much here, or is there… Listen as Annabel talks herself into quite the AHA moment. It’s an insight for sure!
- Annabel has created a utopia for her family. Living in a beach resort, away from it all, doing what she wants, when she wants. Freedom is how you define it, and Annabel defines it incredibly well in this segment.
Small Business Resources
Best Business Book
She struggles a bit here, and ends up promoting the first fiction book EVER on EntrepreneurOnFire.com. I guess it’s good to escape occasionally.
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
John: Wonderful! Annabel is a travel writer, blogger and delightful misfit. She is the Founder of “Get In the Hot Spot”, which is a travel blog with inspiration, tips and ideas for people who love travel, writing, and living their dream life. Over 20,000 people read “Get In the Hot Spot” each month, with over a 145,000 visitors in the last year. I have given Fire Nation a little over view Annabel, why don’t you tell us more about who you are and what you do?
Annabel: Okay, well I started… I’ll tell you the long story, shall I? Since you said we’re going to have a long interview, when I was a kid I knew I wanted to be a writer. It was very clear in my mind that I was destined to write and I love writing I always kept a diary and so on, but when I was getting close to leaving school my parents said “look don’t be a writer, it’s just too difficult”. So I was a good girl and I followed my parents’ wishes and I decided I better not go into writing but I really didn’t know what else to do so I went to university and I studied French and English and then I travelled for about ten years. Looking around for you know what I was going to do with the rest of my life and after about ten years I realised that I just have to do the writing thing, you know that is what I wanted to do and had to run with it. So I moved into journalism and then I studied… I did an MA in Design for Interactive media because I wanted to learn about computers and I started copywriting and I hid behind the anonymity of copywriting so I was always writing for my clients so no one knew who’d written, what I had written, no one knew that I have written their website or their brochure apart from the clients themselves, So I just had no confidence basically. And I was still dreaming of being a proper writer and calling myself a writer and doing a lot of creative writing and keeping my diary and so on and around that time, this was probably about 2002, 2004 maybe, my husband said “Ah you should start a blog” so I said “Ah what’s a blog?” and I looked into it and I started my blog, that very night actually I setup my blog and I have been watching a lot of the show “Fear Factor” at the time, do you remember “Fear Factor” ?
John: Very well!
Annabel: Yeah I love that show anyway in my first blog post I said that “I was going to stab fear in the face” and I overcome my fear of being read, the fear that my writing would be judged, so I was very bold there. But what actually happened was I never wrote another blog post for 3 years. So you can see that the fear was very real and I was very much ruled by it, but 3 years went by and during the course of that time I had three children, I moved from New Zealand to Costa Ricco and onto Australia so there was a lot going on in my life but I still was dreaming of getting my writing thing going. So I decided I would go back to blogging and I’ll really give it a proper go this time and I decided to commit to writing blog posts 3 times a week no matter what and that’s what I did and since then, well that was four years actually that I started blogging but I haven’t had my own domain name that long I had my domain name about three years. So since that time my writing is being published in print, on some of the biggest blogs on the internet like Copyblogger and Zen Habbit and I get paid for my writing and I get hired by tourist boards and so on to write for them and there is just this amazing turnaround in my life because I finally dared to put myself out there and share my writing. So that’s really my story.
John: It’s a great story it shows how powerful it can be once you really force yourself to sit down and get on a schedule and for you that schedule was making yourself write three days a week and you just saw how that snowballed into what you have become today, so that is just powerful, Take Action! So thank you for sharing that Annabel.
Annabel: That’s okay.
John: So we’re going to move into the next topic which is the “success quote” because we like to at the top of the show really get the motivational ball rolling for the rest of the listeners of EntrepreneurOnFire and get them inspired with our guest favourite guess quote, what do you have for us today Annabel?
Annabel: Well what I am interested in is Perseverance, I know this is the old chestnut you know that you got to persevere in order to succeed and you could see that in my story and in every single story really its success but people have always persevered. So I was quickly looking for a post about perseverance, you know the kind of try, try and try again and I found a good one by Winston Churchill of all people which is also connected with optimism. So it says, the quote is “The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”
John: I love that quote and people rarely use Winston Churchill which is shocking to me because you could literally have a 500 page novel with just Winston Churchill quotes and actually I am going out on a limb here that this is the first time that anybody has quoted Winston Churchill who is my favourite historical figure so, thank you for that!
Annabel: That okay, it’s a cool quote, I like it because its connected with your state of mind, it’s not just about perseverance but maintaining that upbeat optimistic outlook which I think is really important for people.
John: Well, let’s continue on with that and why don’t you give us an example of how you use that quote in your everyday life or mentality?
Annabel: Well, when you’re a writer you get rejected all the time, it’s part of being a writer basically, so you know I told you earlier on about my successes and how my writings is being published in print and on some of the biggest blogs on the internet so on. But I still get rejected all the time, you know I send a lot guest posts sometimes I don’t hear back from them, I’ll suggest a print stories for newspaper and they won’t accept it for whatever reason, so I think it’s really important for people to know that even once you’ve become successful you’re still going to get rejected, you’re going to still have ideas that don’t work and you still have to carry on doing what you are doing. Quite often when you get rejected it’s not necessarily because it was a bad idea or someone didn’t like you’re writing for example, often it’s just about, you know, them having too many stories on a specific topic already so they can’t take another one. So you have to stop being so sensitive and just keep doing whatever is you’re doing, getting on with it.
John: Well you have shared some successes with us and you also shared what the other side of the success looks like, which is failure. So let’s just use that right now to set way to our next topic which is failure because here on EntrepreneurOnFire we really talk about your journey as an Entrepreneur and every entrepreneur’s journey is fraught with failure or obstacles or challenges which has to be overcome. We don’t let these failures define us as entrepreneurs, we really try to allow them to motivate and inspire us to move forward in a different direction. Can you tell our audience, the listeners here on EntrepreneurOnFire, can you tell Fire Nation about a failure that you’ve experienced?
Annabel: Yeah! I think this is an interesting story, it’s not a specific case of failure but when I moved to New Zealand I have told you I studied, I did a design for interactive media, I was in London at the time and we moved to New Zealand, me and my husband and we setup our own web design company and this was back in 1997 or 1996, people didn’t really know what a website was , a lot of them, they weren’t interested, anyway I have never worked in business before as I said I have been travelling, so I kind of reinvented myself as the idea of what I thought of a business person was and we setup a very professional looking website which was grey and blue, the logo and the colours, it was all very safe and I would go out in my, you know, pin-stripe suit and try to get work and the business grow and we did quite well with it. But it was always frustrating because I found that I could never get a job, and for ten years this went on and unless I met the client face-to-face and I knew that I didn’t need to meet people face-to-face honestly so it was very difficult for me, very frustrating that I couldn’t get work without hopping on the ferry because we lived on a small island and the going over to Auckland to find work, so then I moved to Australia as I have travelled around a bit before then and I started my blog and what I suddenly discovered was that people were contacting me and wanting to work with me from all over the world and I haven’t actually been writing about web design or copywriting work, I’ve just been sharing travel stories and a lot of those stories were kind of weird you know like how I had a really bad dream and was convinced that it was real so I ran out of the hotel room naked, just that kind of thing, and suddenly people around the world wanted to work with me and I suddenly realised that all this time for ten years I have been trying to maintain this professional front, not really share my true personality and as soon as I did that, people loved that and realised that people weren’t very interested in my qualification or my work experience, what really interested them was my personal experiences so I think I did fail for about ten years although I was doing quite well. I really found by hiding my personality and being scared to show that and I really recommend to people now that don’t hide their personality, they share their true stories with people because it’s all about human relations and working with people who you like and that you get.
John: Well thank you for sharing that challenge that you were coming across, consistently and also giving us the lesson that you learned from that because that is truly valuable. When we have life experiences that we just have a breakthrough and… It’s so powerful about hearing your story as an entrepreneur because it’s going to be such of aid to our listeners, a kind of jump ahead in just start at the beginning and just be themselves, not have to go through the challenges that you went through before you truly realised that. So thank you for sharing that Annabel.
Annabel: That’s okay! I hope it helps people.
John: So let’s transition now into our next topic and this is really an inspiring topic because it’s that moment that every entrepreneur lives for, now obviously as entrepreneurs we are always having small AH-HA moments throughout the course of every single day, every single opportunity that we see for moving forward and having some little AH-HA moments but those are propelling us forward, but the lucky ones the lucky entrepreneurs have this great light-bulb moment where they just see something clearly and all of the sudden the clouds part, the sun-rays come through and the angel sing and there is this light bulb just goes off and they are just like “yes that’s it that resonates so well with my audience”. Have you had an AH-HA moment Annabel?
Annabel: No, really no, I can’t think of any specific moments like that, I think the way I work is that I do a lot of experiments, so, you know I do a lot of reading and I am a great learner so I am constantly reading and experimenting with things I do the experiments and I do the results but I have my AH-HA moment so a good example of that is a numbered list. When I started blogging I kept reading about how we are to write numbered list and they were so popular and I just thought “Oh that is so hackneyed, I am never gonna write a numbered list in my blog in my life and then you know six months went by and no one read my blog so I thought Ah I was getting desperate so I am going to try an experiment and write a numbered list. So I chose the most popular topic in the world which was happiness and I wrote 101 ways to be happy and of course it went on go viral and became a hugely popular post on my blog, way more popular than anything else I had ever written, so that was an AH-HA moment for me and it kind of show that my stubbornness to not try something new was wrong and that you should keep experimenting, when you do keep on experimenting you will get failures, you will get some blog posts or ideas that people aren’t just interested in but you’ll also get those ideas that suddenly are hugely popular and allow you see what path you should follow.
John: That is a really solid AH-HA moment and it was one of those AH-HA moments that was stretched out over a period of time, you are right! That wasn’t an AH-HA moment that just struck you like a lightning bolt and you jumped out of the shower to go get a pen to write down your thoughts and your ideas at that moment but the one that came over time and those can be extremely valuable as well. So, the lesson there was keep experimenting, keep trying and always be open to exactly different opportunities as they present themselves .
Annabel: Yeah I think it’s really important to keep experimenting despite the failures because every now and then you’ll hit the nail on the head and you’ll know it when it happens.
John: Lovely! So Annabel have you had an “I have made it” moment?
Annabel: well I have them quite often, I am very lucky. Me and my husband both work from home and we have done for about 15 years. We live on the beach in a beautiful tropical resort so we are extremely lucky we’re living the kind of dream that a lot of people dream of, you know, working from home, living by the beach and so on, a lot of the time I really get bogged down in my work, and forget about how lucky I am. I think it’s easy to start comparing yourself to other people and I think there is sometimes more opportunities when you live in the city because a lot of business successes about networking and who you know. Honestly because I don’t live in the city there is a natural geographical barrier separating me from people but, I am extremely lucky to be living where I am and I do appreciate that every day.
John: That’s so important because it’s so right as entrepreneurs we get so caught up in what we’re doing that we really don’t take a step back and just appreciate exactly what we’ve created for ourselves, that we’re not waking up at dawn and slogging through the rush-hour traffic , go to a place where we abhor to work for people that we don’t like, to work with people that don’t inspire us instead, you’re choosing where you’re working who you’re working with, the environment you’re working with, it’s all very special and its so important to truly appreciate that and it’s so easy not to because as entrepreneurs beside getting wrapped up you’re always just setting these lofty goals and once you do reach that goal it’s just the natural course of action to set another goal higher so to really take a step back, take a deep breath and say I’ve made is very proper and I am really glad to hear that you do that.
Annabel: Yeah it’s good to know what you are aiming for and what you’re dreaming of and I know a lot of people who’re hugely motivated and they want to me millionaires and have multiple houses. But me and my husband really want to live quite a simple life we have decided to keep our business quite small, it’s just the two of us although we hire extra people on a contract basis if we need them but it’s all about living a great lifestyle having low stress and honestly if you know and being able to maintain the kind of income that we need to support ourselves and our family. But, yeah everybody’s got to work out what their idea of success is I suppose and make sure they concentrate on achieving that and don’t get carried away by other people’s idea of success.
John: And you’re calling the shots, am I right?
John: That’s a good place to be, so Annabel lets transition now into your current business, you have a lot of things going on with your family, with your business, with where your living, it’s all very inspiring to hear but if you had to pull one thing out that you are really excited about right now, what would that be?
Annabel: Well there’re all kind of different travel opportunities coming my way I think this is the interesting thing about me, you know, I love passion and travel that is my true passionate life and what I found out is just by sharing that passion of a travel of my writing, that people are actually started to invite me on trips and actually paying me to go and travel and then write about it and I think that’s just an amazing thing I never actually dreamed of John I thought that would be never possible but it’s happening to me because I have shared my writing, I ‘ve shared my love of travel with people. At the moment I am earning a small income from my travel blogs through advertising, I get very frustrated because the business is growing very slowly, when I say business I mean the kind of travel and the blog marketing industry here in Australia. I know it’s much further ahead in the States and in the UK but I can see that there will be many more opportunities coming in the future so I am excited about that and seeing where it all goes and I am excited to be a part of it I think am in a great place at the moment.
John: I personally think you are in a great place, I am kind of surprised to hear that you feel as though it is growing slowly in Australia as oppose to united states, in the UK specifically because I have been quite a traveller in my life, I was in the army for a number of years as an officer and I really enjoyed the travel, I did, within the military, but when I got out I also had the opportunity to do some travelling on my own as well and I travelled a lot Costa Rica, Guatemala, I went over to India and Nepal and trek the Himalayas and had the great travels and I am talking like four to five months trips each time so I really getting in and immersing myself in these cultures and really just becoming one with whatever country I was with and I really enjoyed that and one commonality that was always coming across was that such a large percentage of people that I was meeting were Australians, for such a small country population wise there is a large percentage of people who were taking that minimum one year and just going and travelling the world.
Annabel: yeah that’s a big –passage for Australians to take a year off and the British people. I did that was 25 years ago so.
John: That definitely is not taking a hold here in united stated, it’s no time off. It is, graduate from college, immediately get a job and start climbing the corporate ladder and then you can take your two week preferably in a place where you can fly to within 2 to 3 hours.
Annabel: Ah, that’s terrible isn’t it? Well its good you’ve done it and travelled, I think it’s so important you know and there is nothing I want more for my children to do the kinds of things you have done and really experience other cultures and customs. I think you learn so much about yourself and so much about getting along with other people for doing that, it’s really important.
John: Yep, and I truly look at those experiences as valuable and believe me they’re a large number of Americans who do get out and really do things along those lines. I would just like to see more of a right way passage so to speak as the Australian culture has, I really truly love that.
Annabel: Yeah well that’s good isn’t it? Well not all Australians are doing it maybe more than Americans that would be interesting to know.
John: Much more percentage wise, definitely.
Annabel: I think it should be compulsory for all school leavers, age 18 to just go off around the world for a year and get a job, you know take some nasty freak keeping job or nanny job or whatever they can get and see what the real world’s like.
John: Awesome! Well you’re blog is a great place for people to start being inspired about travelling.
Annabel: That’s true, yeah!
John: So Annabel, the word entrepreneur is a mystery to most people, like I said we have a lot of our listeners who have very traditional jobs that I’ve also had in the past where I’d be getting up, I’ll be going to corporate America, I’d be working, very traditional settings. And people now kind of look at me like “wow! what you do whole day” like it’s a question mark and I can understand that because I had the same questions prior to becoming a solopreneur myself so I like to, kind of pull the curtain back when I get the opportunity to speak with people such as yourself and obviously no day is the same for you, day and the day after you have variety of tasks come at you however there is definitely some commonalities that do require a portion of you time every day, can you give us two tasks that you do seem to do on a day to day basis in regards to your business?
Annabel: I am pretty on to it with my emails, I get about a 100 emails a day, so I really like to stay on top of those and all of them are kind of if spammy emails people who wat their products or services featured on my blogs so I have canned responses so I can reply to those really quickly but I also need to check my emails regularly to see if there are actually any clients or other opportunities coming up or important emails for me to respond to, so that’s a big part of my job and then the other thing that I do is, I am constantly looking other people’s blogs and websites to see what they’re doing and looking at my own blogs and websites to see what’s working and what’s not working on there. I already said not everything you do works, you’re gonna have failures and successes so it’s very important for me to know what content I write is the most popular and try and workout why and write more stuff like that. So these are the two most important things I do every day.
John: Now when I get the opportunity I really do like to bring up a resource that is working for me that I love and use on a daily basis when its relevant that you brought up, you spoke of canned responses and for me I love text expanders because that just allows me to like hit three buttons like the word F three times I’ll have a whole paragraph that will just popup from that.
Annabel: What do you use that in? In Gmail?
John: it will populate in anything, in word, on blogs on anything you want. It’s called “Text Expander”.
Annabel: Ah ok! So it’s a free piece of software that just works with everything.
John: Well it’s not free, its 34 bucks, it integrates with your computer once you’ve downloaded it and again your talking about canned responses, I would spend hours going to and copying in a place, word document, copying something different and pasting it, but then you could get to the point where every key on your keyboard can response with just three strokes of your key and its extremely valuable and I definitely fell in love with it the minute I used it, for instance you know I have to write my domain on Entrepreneuronfire.com about 50 times a day but I just hit the letters “E-E-E” and boom! It expands to that full domain.
Annabel; Ah yeah its fantastic, it sounds very useful, you know I have heard that before I’ve heard people talking about it but I haven’t actually used it so I’ll have to look into that now.
John: It’s phenomenal for someone who needs canned response often.
Annabel: Like you and I have a different canned responses and some of them are email so that’s ok Gmail handle those quite nicely but sometimes I need to put in a bio for example at the bottom of the blog post so then I that those are all in my draft emails, sorry no in my draft blog somewhere and then I have got another draft things in my Evernotes so I am constantly going to those three different pages and look for the different canned responses I suppose so that would be useful, yeah.
John: Annabel, what is your vision for the future of your blog?
Annabel: Well! I just like it to keep going the way it’s going actually, I am hoping to write more of my travel stories I suppose this is why I started writing and blogging originally, I told you I wanted to share my writing and I’ve always dreamed of writing a book, I have actually written a book about blogging now and successful blogging in 12 simple steps but I am still dreaming for writing my travel books and that’s what I hope to do through my blog, you know keep writing my short blog posts and keep writing commercial blog posts, blog posts that help other people travel, travel more cheaply and so on but I also need to get my head down and write my travel book, that’s my big plan.
John: So, Annabel we’ve now reached my favourite part of the show, we are about to enter the lightening round and this is where I provide you with a series of questions and you come back at us the audience with amazing and mind blowing answers, that sounds like a plan?
Anabel: Well I hope I can achieve that, you’re putting a the pressure on.
John: I put the bars high for people I know “Can” make it happen.
John: What was the number one thing holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
John: What is the best business advice that you’ve ever received?
Annabel: Big commercial don’t be afraid to sell.
John: What is something that is working for you or your business right now?
Annabel: Constantly changing and making adjustments, not stagnating.
John: So I’ve given you a great resource “Text Expander” simply phenomenal, do you have a resource similar to that, like Evernote or something that you just love and would like to share with our audience?
Annabel: Well I always recommend Gmail to people, do you use Gmail?
John: Absolutely! It’s like people only understand like oh you’re John of entrepreneuronfire.com like did you have to go through a domain server for that and it’s no, like google apps, you can create any email you would like as long as you do own that domain and run everything through Gmail I run everything through Gmail, well really through Google, you know I have the google calendar, Gmail, google drive which is there docx, I absolutely use them in every facet of my business.
Annabel: Yes, so I really recommend that to people because a lot of are still not on to it but it’s so fantastic to have all those different email addresses you may have forwarded to the one place and have constant backup so they are all going on. So that’s my main tip for people.
The other one is WordPress of course. If you are setting up a new site or new blog, definitely run with WordPress.
John: Well for you, you had become at a time before there was a word press, you can truly appreciate as how amazing WordPress is.
Annabel: Oh absolutely! Back in the day, you know I setup an online magazine about 14 years ago and that all had to be coded up in HTML and so on and it is only recently you know since I moved to Australia within the last 4 years that WordPress has become powerful enough to do everything we needed it to do, but now it is an incredible tool.
John: Yeah, it is incredible, and a lot of people, that’s all they know so they kind of take it for granted but, man, it’s a powerful tool that just makes it easy to just create and create and create.
Annabel: Yes it’s fantastic.
John: what is the best book that you have read in the past 6 months?
Annabel, Ah, well I will give you a good fiction book then, I am reading a great thriller at the moment called “Gone Girl”, so, you know, I am a great escapist, I like to work hard and I like to play hard and when I am playing, one of my favourite things to do is to escape in a book, so that’s a great one, I think it’s by Gillian Flynn, if you want a good thriller “Gone Girl”.
John: I will absolutely link that up in the show notes, this officially the first non-business book that we have recommended on EntrepreneurOnFire which I like it, it’s a little different, so you know people really enjoy the business books, but like you said every now and then we need and an escape so I will definitely link this in the show notes and we’ll see if anybody comes back and says that they really enjoyed that.
Annabel: Ok that sounds good, I would also recommend, it’s not really a book but a website that I love for business tips which isn’t very well known. Its radsmarts “R-A-D-S-M-A-R-T-S.COM” and this is a guy in Sydney and he writes…he is a really switched on entrepreneur and consultant but what he does is that he comes up with these funny cartoons about social media and about business so you don’t actually have to read anything, you just have to look at one of his cartoons and you will get some really good insights into business from him. So that’s robin Dickenson’s radsmarts.com.
John: Wonderful! I’ll have to have him on the show.
Annabel: yeah you should actually, he’s very switched on.
John: so this last question is my favourite Annabel, it’s kind of a tricky one so feel like you can take your time and digest before you answer. If you woke up tomorrow morning and you still have all of the experience and knowledge and money that you currently have right now but your business had completely disappeared, leaving you essentially with a clean slate which many of our listeners find themselves right now, what would you do in the next 7 days?
Annabel: Well I definitely setup my website and you know I have been in this position a few times because when we left New Zealand we sold up our business and we hope to start a new one in Costa Ricco but we couldn’t get any internet there for 18 months so we moved to Australia and we did have to start again a clean slate effectively. For me the most important thing is to invest in really good logo something that’s gonna give you confidence and look smart and professional, the you could get the business card made and then you get website made, within 7 days you should have a clean professional look and you should be out there start selling your products or services.
John: Wonderful! I am looking at your logo right now and I am impressed!
Annabel: Oh good!
John: So listen, Annabel you’ve given us some great actionable advice and we are all better for it. Give Fire Nation one last piece of guidance, then give yourself a plug and then we’ll say good bye.
Annabel: Okay, well my advice to people who are just getting started is to you know be very clear about what you want and get that professional blog or site setup because it’s so important to create a winning first impression when you meet people online might be on Facebook, Twitter, where ever it is consistent and professional and a kind of person that someone would really like to work with.
If you want to find out more about me, if you want more blogging or business tips you can go to successfulblogging.com and that’s where I help other all small business owners and writers to tap into the power of blogging and I also share my travel stories and travel tips on “getinthehotspot.com” so it will be fantastic to see anyone of you over there.
John: Wonderful! I will link all of these in the show notes. Thank you once again for your time and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Annabel: Brilliant! Thanks for speaking to me John. It’s good to talk to you.
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