Nadine Sykora and Kristen Sarah are the brains behind the Ultimate Guide to Creating Travel Videos and Vlogging. These two work as full-time adventurers and film makers, traveling the world and documenting their experiences along the way to share with their global audience. Now they are teaching others how to do exactly what they do.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:47] – Kristen and Nadine produce videos, campaigns, and content for travel
- [02:48] – Value Bomb Drop: If you want something, teach yourself about it and learn how to be resourceful
- [04:24] – What is something you’ve changed your mind about in the last 6 months? – “Believing we could do everything by ourselves.”
- [05:44] – It’s important to bring other people on board
- [06:31] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment – Nadine made a t-shirt line she didn’t even believe in… Kristen tried mimicking other creators in order to create audience engagement.
- [09:06] – “You need to believe in your own product”
- [09:35] – Find your voice and be you
- [09:58] – Entrepreneurial AH–HA Moment – When Kristen quit her job to travel, and when Nadine turned down a government employment opportunity
- [13:35] – Never underestimate the first dollar you make
- [14:00] – You have one life to live: choose your path wisely
- [15:09] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? – People now understand the importance of online influencers, and there’s lots of money to be made working as one
- [19:08] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
- “My parents” – Nadine
- “Not being sure how much money I was going to make” – Kristen
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
- “Just keep uploading” – Kristen
- “Time is money” – Nadine
- What’s the personal habit that contributes to your success?
- “Being my own expert” – Nadine
- “Being more real on camera” – Kristen
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – CoSchedule
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – “Platform – it teaches readers how to monetize their influence.”
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
- [22:35] – Parting piece of guidance – “Just start” – Nadine
- [22:55] – Learn how Kristen and Nadine travel the world for a living
- [23:15] – Connect with Kristen and Nadine on their websites
Interviewer: Yes. Nadine and Kristen are the brains behind the ultimate guide to creating travel videos and blogging. These two work as full time adventurers and film makers, traveling the world and documenting their experiences along the way to share with their global audience. Now they're teaching others how to do exactly the same thing. Kristen and Nadine take a minute and fill in some gaps from that intro and give us just a little glimpse of your personal life.
Kristen: Sure. So this is Kristen here speaking. I have basically been traveling the world and making videos for the past six years, three of those years full time. And I've been to over 50 countries, many of those multiple times. I've worked with many tourism boards and brands. I've been to some incredible places and I get to showcase a little bit of these amazing places with my audience. Showing them my experiences and also teaching them how to travel as well, so no matter their lifestyle or their budget, I teach them how to travel the world.
Nadine: So Nadine here. And my story is very similar to Kristen as well. I'm a travel videographer. I've been doing this for over six years, full time since 2012. And essentially what we do is we produce videos, campaigns, and we create content for dozens of tourism boards, companies, brands, as well as we create content for ourselves. So we're part of the online influencer economy, where we are all over social media and we produce stunning content about the destinations that we visit.
I've been to 49 countries, as well as we give tips and advice and guides to teach others how they can do the same. But we live in the online influencer world. And both Kristen and I are our own brand, we're are own companies, and we wear many hats.
Interviewer: But Kristen is winning because she’s been to 50 countries.
Nadine: That’s true. She has been to one more country than me.
Interviewer: So listen, ladies. I will say that traveling is your game, and you guys have really figured this out. And you're sharing some great value with a lot of people. Give us one value bomb each, so two total, one value bomb that you want Fire Nation to really know about your area of expertise, so take it away.
Kristen: Kind of going back to what I was just saying is I teach people no matter their budget or lifestyle how to travel because travel is a luxury, and people automatically think that you need so much money to travel. And when they come to my YouTube channel and my website, they see through what I teach them and through my own experiences traveling on a tight budget. Once I traveled for ten months, including I went to 12 countries, including all my flights, eating like four or five meals a day, all the activities I did and I only spent $9,500 dollars Canadian.
Kristen: Yeah. And people think oh, my God, I thought I needed like tens of thousands of dollars.
Interviewer: That’s like 14 U.S. dollars; that’s like nothing.
Kristen: Exactly. So I think that’s very valuable, being able to teach people that anybody can travel, no matter their budget, no matter their lifestyle.
Nadine: The abundance of information that we have as well. I mean, both Kristen and I, we've gone through trial and error of learning all this stuff, but now there's so much information out there. And if you want to do something, you can teach yourself. You can learn. You can find those resources. And just saying yes and taking that leap is one of the hardest biggest steps. But if you feel confident, if you can teach yourself how to learn, and learn from that, then that’s how you can succeed. And I think that’s a really really valuable resource is learning how to learn.
Interviewer: Nadine, talk to us about something that you’ve changed your mind about in the last six months. Meaning something that you believed in around six months ago, but you're like: I don’t really believe that anymore.
Nadine: Being able to do everything by yourself. I think I speak for both Kristen and I when I say that, like we do a lot. We grew up learning a lot of stuff. We had to teach ourselves how to be the editor, the producer, the negotiator, the on camera personality. And we put it all together in a package, and then learning how to expand beyond that. I mean, I think that’s every entrepreneur that kind of get to that point where they're like: I'm ready to expand beyond what I've achieved, but learning how to do that.
And before I thought: okay, you know what; I could just totally do this myself. And now I'm like: you know what; maybe it would be best if I let other people kind of help me out here and there.
Interviewer: What about you Kristen?
Kristen: That’s a really good answer. And that’s what I'm feeling lately, especially in the last year. I've just been so overwhelmed with all these opportunities, which are all incredible, but I'm trying to do too much, and I'm interested in too many things. And I feel like it's very hard to delegate different tasks to other people because I automatically think I can do that better. How can I put my trust into someone else to do it either just as well or even better than me? Like, I just – I felt like there was no one out there that could do it better than myself. I know it's kind of like an ego thing, but I feel like a lot of entrepreneurs are that way.
Giving up those, like those tasks, but in order to grow, it's so important to bring other people onboard. Because since I've done – and I've done that in the last year, I've brought two other people onboard. And since then I've been able to focus on the things that I really love the most, which is being on camera and editing, and doing video. And delegating all these other little tasks that I was doing that was taking up too much time to other people, and since then even more opportunities are coming. I'm making even more money than I thought I could.
Interviewer: Now we all love those horror travel stories, where there's just this messy debacle that happens, but of course somehow things work out in the end. Let’s kind of shift that to an entrepreneurial worst moment that for you two will probably have something to do with travel because that’s just what you do. So take us to your worst entrepreneurial moment in time, and tell success that story.
Nadine: Mine actually doesn’t have anything to do with travel surprisingly. It has to do with creating our own brand. Because as part of the job of being a travel blogger and an influencer is that you are your own brand, so there are a lot of offsets that you can kind of create around that. It’s like this celebrity – quote-unquote – it's like this celebrity industry that you have a lot of power, you have a lot of options, and you have a lot of things available to you, so one of the things that I tried was merchandising.
It seems like a pretty straight forward field, people like clothing, and I started making t-shirts. These were just general branded t-shirts that I was like: hey, this will be fun. This is easy. Well, I created them, and one thing that I noticed is that I don't actually care for t-shirts. I don’t wear graphic t-shirts myself personally. So I made this product, and then I never even bothered to buy it myself, which sounds really bad and it was bad because I wasn’t standing behind my product that I created.
And then I wondered why did this flop? Why does no one want my t-shirts? Well, I wasn’t passionate. I wasn’t creative behind it and my passion wasn’t there. So I learned from that that anything that I produce, that and otherwise, including my own videos, or any offset of my business, I have to actually want. It has to be a product or an item or a video that I'm passionate behind.
I have – I can put like 100 percent of me being like: yes, I stand by this product. I know you as my audience watching, or listening, or whatever platform you're on, are going to enjoy this as much as I do.
Kristen: It was just over a year ago and I was watching other people in the same field as me growing. Their audience was growing faster than mine. They're getting more engagement. And I was thinking what am I doing wrong? Do I need to be more like these people? And kind of trying to mimic other creators, and it wasn’t real. It wasn’t – I wasn’t being passionate – I wasn’t passionate in my work. I was trying to copy other people and instead it backfired on me and I wasn’t getting engagement, and I wasn’t getting as many – my audience wasn’t growing as much.
And recently in the last year I decided to say: you know what, screw that. I'm going to do things my way. I'm going to be my complete self. I'm going to screw up. I'm going to add those screw-up moments on camera because I want to be real, and I want people to relate to me. And since then my audience has grown so much more. And I'm getting a ridiculous amount of engagement now, which is what really matters.
Interviewer: So the two takeaways that I want to really make sure we're driving home, Fire Nation, is number one, if you don’t believe in your own products, your own services, your own communities, like who’s going to? I mean, don’t just do something to do it, do it because you believe in it, because you're excited about it. And also video and audio; they're both such transparent and just authentic forms of media that people can hear and see that authenticity, or lack thereof.
And we just hunger for authenticity for genuineness in this world, so you need to have your voice, your message, your mission, and shine from within. And it’s not going to come over night. I mean, it didn't start for me from episode one, or Kristen or Nadine when they first started, like you're going have to find your voice, but just know that that is a journey you're on is to find that voice and then be you. Now share with us one of your greatest ah-ha moments. One of these ideas that you just said wow, that might work, and it did.
Kristen: Yeah, for me, three years ago, I was a server at a restaurant. And at that time I got my first paid video gig. And it wasn’t –
Kristen: It was like – it blew my mind. It wasn’t much at all, and it was over a weekend. And I was being flown to Jasper, Alberta from Toronto. And I thought this was just the coolest thing. Someone is paying me to travel and make videos, something that I've been doing for free and I absolutely love. So I was like super happy, super excited. I went. I did it. I came back and I went to my serving job again. And the manager called me over and gave me crap for switching a shift, so I could go on this trip. And instead of saying oh, I'm sorry, like it won't happen again. I'm like: you know what, I quit.
Interviewer: You're like sorry, not sorry.
Kristen: Exactly. And then i went and had a beer at the bar there, which was hilarious, to celebrate. But at that time I knew, like my business was not making enough money to pay my rent or eat or anything like that. I knew I’d go in debt, but I'm like: I believe in what I do. I believe in my product and I'm going to do this. And since then I haven’t looked back. It’s just been so much more than I could have ever imagined.
Nadine: It's a transition to doing this full time. So I actually went to university for computer science, not anything related to what I do now. And I had this, my first big job offer, it's from the government of Canada, like the government.
Interviewer: Oh, Lord.
Nadine: Yeah. It was a full time job, you know, good pay, good benefits, the full deal, this is why you go to school for. And I had another job that kind of popped into my email inbox because I was doing the video thing and shooting travel videos part time here and there for fun. And it was this option for a three month long partnership with a youth travel company. And I was like – yeah, it was low pay, but I could travel, like I was going to travel the world. And I was like oh, my gosh doing videos, traveling, that sounds like the most exciting thing ever.
But at that time, like several years ago, YouTube wasn’t a thing. Influencer economy didn't exist. There wasn’t really money in this and nobody knew what social media was really. I'm talking like circa 2009 here, which isn't even that long ago, but it is in the online world. And I was on the floor with this contract, like crying my eyes out, having these like back and forth. Like, I was supposed to start on Monday and I was discussing this on Saturday with my mom. I mean, like what should I do? What should I do?
I worked four and a half years in university, my butt off to get this job, to do this career, but I have this small glimmer of an opportunity to go travel and to do the videos which I'm so passionate for and I love to do so much. And like that could lead to other things. I don't know where it’s going to lead; it's a total unknown for me. And what I did end up choosing, fast forward several years, is I did end up going on the travel trip with the youth tour company. And it ended up being the start of my biggest partnership ever.
One of the first ever, like major YouTuber sponsorships in the travel video world, and it just lead and lead to my career as it is today. And if I didn't take that chance and take that risk and just stick with the comfortable thing, I wouldn’t have been where I am. And just that leap there was the first ah-ha moment, to many aha moments. That I'm like okay, what if I just take this what-if? I don’t know where it’s going to lead me but if I don’t at least see what happens, then I can’t cross it off as that didn’t work out; let me try the next thing.
Interviewer: A couple takeaways that I want to make sure, Fire Nation, we’re really walking away with from these stories is No. 1, that first dollar, like never underestimate it. It is the most important dollar you will ever make in your passion because you actually see something that you love, that you’re passionate about, that you’re excited by; you actually get handed something for that in the form of compensation. You’re like: things jut got real. This can happen. Now I just need to figure out how to turn that one dollar into two, two to four, four to eight; how can I leverage and just continue to scale up?
And then the second thing is you have, Fire Nation, one life to live. I get sad when I hear people like Nadine just shared it was her dream to get this job out of college, this comfy government job; maybe not her dream but it was her goal. That’s why she went to school. She got this nice, comfortable, mid-five figure a year but with all the great quote-unquote benefits; that was the goal? That’s your goal for this one life that you have to live? And I really hope that the millennials are the last generation that actually think that is the goal in life.
Because I know that my generation, that was 100 percent what we strove for. How can I just – it doesn’t matter how much debt that I accrue because it’s all going to make sense because I'm going to get a job that I can slowly pay down my college debt and then eventually buy a house and a mortgage and kids and all this stuff. I just hope that this is the last generation that’s going to go through this, the millennials and they’re not going to think that hey, I need to mortgage my future, mortgage my present for my future because that’s just not how it has to be anymore in this world.
Now, let me start with you, Kristen. What’s one thing right now that you are most fired up about today?
Kristen: I think it’s the fact that more businesses and tourism boards are getting it. Even just compared to a couple of years ago, or even last year, just not many people are understanding or not many businesses or tourism boards and brands are understanding the power of an online influencer. And now so many more are understanding our power; that we’re real people and our audiences want to connect with us, they want to relate with us. And that’s so much more beneficial to brands than just working with, let’s say, a celebrity who’s endorsing a product, doesn’t really wear the product and you can tell.
So I think it’s a really exciting time to be doing what we’re doing; more than any other time before. And yeah, it’s really exciting because there are so many opportunities. I feel like there’s endless opportunities right now. Every day I open my inbox and it’s just like bursting with opportunities every day.
Interviewer: That’s a good feeling.
Kristen: Seriously. It’s such a good feeling. And not just for me. I'm just like: yes, people are understanding, they’re getting it, they’re seeing our power and it feels amazing.
Nadine: As an entrepreneur, I'm sure there’s lots of people out there that are starting a career, starting a job. And they’re like: are people going to take me seriously? I mean we’re essentially traveling the world for a living; that’s our job. We produce content as well but we travel the world. It’s pretty exciting and people are like: that’s a thing? You can do that? And the more resources there are out there, the more people like us, the more stories, the more podcasts are telling people that yes, they can, the more variety there is going to be in the world of career options so you don’t have to take that 9 to 6.
You don’t have to work your way up the corporate ladder. You can see if you are creative, if you have that little spark or if you have just the desire to try something and take a risk and go out there and create the life that you want to create, it’s possible; it’s totally possible. So just the amount of information, the resources, e-courses, blogs, videos that can teach people how they can achieve the life and the dream that they want; that’s just so exciting. The internet, thank every – oh, my gosh the internet is the wonderful, wonderful world.
Kristen: I just wanted to add one thing, too. I'm not just excited for us but I'm excited for other people that want to break into this industry because there are so many opportunities. It’s not like we’re the only people that can do this. There’s actually more opportunity than ever. That’s why Nadine and I, and Matt from Nomadic Matt, created our course. It’s for those people, letting them know hey, there’s room for you and here’s how you can get there.
Interviewer: Yeah, the mindset of abundance, Fire Nation, is the only way to happen. That’s why I love people pouring into the podcasting industry. And I have, when I launched back in 2012, it was a little bit of a desert. But now it’s just this teeming jungle and it’s amazing; it’s good for everybody. If you think that you’ve gotten value bombed thus far, Fire Nation, you ain’t seen nothing yet so don’t you go anywhere because we’re about to crush the lightning round. But take a quick minute first to thank our sponsors.
Kristen, Nadine, are you two prepared for the lightning rounds?
Nadine: I think so. Let’s do it.
Kristen: I am.
Interviewer: What was holding you back, Nadine, from becoming an entrepreneur?
Nadine: My parents. Remember that story about the job, holding it down? That’s what my parents wanted from me. They grew up in a traditional world and that’s what they knew. My dad’s worked the same job for 22 years; pretty much the majority of his working career. And for me to chase this crazy dream of running around with a video camera halfway around the world was beyond them. They just were like: what is she doing with her life?
Kristen: Not being sure of how much money I was going to make. I didn’t think I'd be making the same amount of money that I was making serving. Yet today, I'm making a lot more than that. So it was just taking that one little risk and going for it.
Interviewer: Kristen, what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Kristen: One of my favorite YouTubers, Casey Neistat - many of you might know him out there – once said in a video, “Just keep uploading.” And I was like, yes. Because you’re going to make stuff that you’re not 100 percent happy with but if you don’t keep trying new ways to be creative, you’ll never find out what works and what doesn’t work and you won’t be able to grow. So just keep uploading.
Nadine: Time is money, my friend. I think that was a quote from a video game but learning the –
Interviewer: Did Mario say that? I think he might have.
Nadine: He might have. I don't really know. But it kind of always stuck with me that people don’t always value their time and how valuable it is. Like even just your opinion, sitting down and having a cup of coffee with you and picking your brain… Love that: picking your brain, especially if you know something. Your time is worth money. And if you can figure out a way to monetize that, you’re on the right path.
Interviewer: Nadine, what’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Nadine: Being my own expert and being an expert in something I think is pretty valuable. I’ve always tried to not be the jack of all trades. So I tried to like pick one thing, narrow it in, and learn as much as I can about that subject so that I can speak well on it; I can educate others and I can teach others, and I can learn from that and expand beyond. So picking one thing and then expanding to broader things once you know that one thing well.
Interviewer: Know your strengths and amplify, Fire Nation. Kristen?
Kristen: Be way more real on camera and in my work, and not being too hosty; not trying to mimic other people. Just be you. Because there’s only one you, as they say. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true. Use your strengths and go for it because you’re going to succeed that way. I 100 percent believe that; if you’re just yourself and work on your strengths, or work off your strengths, I think that’s success right there.
Interviewer: Kristen, what’s an internet resource, like an Evernote, that you can share with Fire Nation?
Kristen: Oh, my gosh: CoSchedule. Love CoSchedule. It’s a great planning and organization tool. It allows you to schedule posts, you can schedule social media and events, and you can also delegate tasks to other team members. It’s been my way of being organized. I love it.
Interviewer: Nadine, recommend one book for Fire Nation.
Nadine: It would probably be Platform, by Michael Hyatt. It’s a really good read. It teaches readers not only how to extend their influence but how to monetize it and how to build a sustainable career by building a platform.
Interviewer: So let’s end today on fire, you two, with a parting piece of guidance, the best way we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye. And Nadine, we’ll start with you.
Nadine: Well, the best advice I can give is just to start. It’s literally the hardest thing is just to start. And before you do that, understand your strengths. Because like I said, if you know your strengths, you can use that to your advantage and then you can develop your weaknesses as you go along.
Kristen: And just to add on that, that’s why we created the Ultimate Travel Guide to creating travel videos and blogging. It’s an e-course designed specifically to kick start your career, for those wanting to do exactly what we do, which is travel the world and make videos for a living. And if you want to know more about that, you can head over to superstarblogging.com.
Interviewer: Superstarblogging.com. Is there any other calls to action you want to leave Fire Nation with?
Nadine: If you want to connect with Kristen, you can connect with her at hopscotchtheglobe.com, or you can connect with myself at heynadine.com.
Interviewer: Love it. Fire Nation, you know this. You’re the average of the five people who you spend the most time with and you’ve been hanging out with JLDNS and KS. So keep up the heat and head over toe eofire.com. Just type either Kristen or Nadine, or Kristen and Nadine, whatever you want to do in the search bar. Their show notes page is going to pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. Best show notes in the biz: time stamps, links galore and of course head straight over to superstarblogging.com. You can check out the course they have available today.
Kristen and Nadine, I just want to thank you two for sharing your journey with Fire Nation. For that, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Kristen: Of course, thanks for having us, John.
Nadine: Thank for having us.
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