One Woman Shop Member Spotlight: Kendra Barnes

One Woman Shop member spotlight - Kendra BarnesWelcome to our One Woman Shop Member Spotlight series, where we highlight what's going on in the businesses and lives of One Woman Shop members. Interested in joining this ambitious group of go-getters? Apply today! Today's Spotlight is on CUTEnCRAFTY founder, Kendra Barnes.

Hi there, Kendra! Tell us about yourself and your business.

Hi! My name is Kendra. I am a wife, daughter, avid thrifter, DIY project enthusiast, and self-proclaimed foodie. By day, I am an International Economist and in my spare time I run CUTEnCRAFTY, LLC.

My company specializes in wedding gifts for the groom, bride and bridal party. My main product is the “Cold Feet” label which is a cute gift that is usually delivered to the groom by the Maid of Honor on the morning of the wedding. It can really put a smile on a groom’s face - which is great to ease those pre-wedding jitters.

What led an International Economist to start a business that specializes in wedding socks? Though I realized during undergrad that I was not passionate about my career track, I continued my education and went on to earn my Master’s … because it seemed like the thing to do. I received a B.S. and M.S. in Agricultural Economics and started working full time for the government. Soon after, I met my husband and we got married two years later.

I made my first “Cold Feet” label ever for my husband for our wedding in April 2013. The morning of, I took my husband’s wedding socks and I made a label for them that read: “Just to make sure you don’t get Cold Feet. With love, from your bride”. I had the “Cold Feet” socks delivered to him by the Maid of Honor. It made for a great photo opportunity, put a smile on his face, AND ensured that he didn’t wear a pair of his holey socks to our wedding!

That fall, my husband was wrapped up in fantasy football three days per week. I started to get bored and wanted a hobby of my own. I had been encouraging my cousin to get on Etsy and sell her products and it hit me - now was the time to act on my craftiness and my desire to explore my entrepreneurial spirit! I spent an entire weekend getting my own Etsy shop up and running… and the rest is history! Since then I have sold over 3,500 pairs of “Cold Feet” socks and other items via Etsy and in three brick and mortar stores in D.C. and Pennsylvania.

I started this business on a whim, and instantly fell in love with entrepreneurship and the creativity it allows me to exercise (while making a little extra money!). I daydream about pursuing entrepreneurship full time but can’t help but wonder if that is the responsible thing to do. Should I leave the stability of a government job to pursue a passion? For now, I am making it work doing both but it may not be sustainable for long, especially since my business is growing so rapidly. Do any of my fellow OWS members have this issue? If so, how are you handling it?

What's your favorite social media platform and why?

Instagram! Most of the business resources that I have come across (including One Woman Shop) have been found through Instagram! I truly believe that it is one of the most powerful forms of social media and has an extremely far reach and broad influence.

What is the #1 lesson you've learned since being in business on your own?

Accept failure, embrace the lessons learned, but don’t get discouraged… growth awaits.

What's your one piece of advice for new solo business owners?

Just do it… take a leap of faith. If I hadn’t stepped out on faith and pursued my dream, the question of “What if?” would have been worse than trying and failing.

Give us a shameless plug for your latest project/product/freebie!

For the past year I’ve only featured gifts for the groom and groomsmen, but I am happy to announce I’ve recently added items for brides and bridesmaids! These champagne labels are such a cute way to ask your BFFs to be bridesmaids, and this coffee mug is great for brides and brides-to-be! More new items to come so stay tuned! I am so happy that you took the time to read my story.

In fact, One Woman Shop ladies, I’m so grateful, I’d like to give you 10% off your order if you shop with me! Just use the code THANKYOU at checkout.

Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us, Kendra!

Day in the Life: Sabrina Bolin, Intuitive Coach + Hypnotherapist

Welcome to Day in the Life, where we peek into the lives and schedules of solopreneurs and freelancers. Today we’re chatting with Sabrina BolinSabrina is an Intuitive Coach and Certified Hypnotherapist who guides the energetically stuck back to their soul's purpose by teaching them to release limitations, strengthen their intuition and take more inspired action in life. Head over to her site to join The Tribe.

MyMiBoSo office

Upon waking, I pull my two dogs up into the bed for morning cuddles with me and my man - an essential part of starting my day filled with love.

I then roll out of bed and into my closet, which doubles as my meditation space. Depending on the day, I go through a chakra cleanse, breathing meditation, or self-hypnosis visualization journey to get myself grounded and ready to receive insights from my inner wisdom for my life and business.

Because I believe a healthy body is the best way to support a healthy mind and soul, I like to move my body before I check a single email. On busy days, this simply means the long walk around the block with my dogs, but I also like to turn it up a few times a week with a jog to the park, kettle bell swings, or time on my yoga mat.

I'm fortunate to have the support of a daily accountability partner through a fellow entrepreneur and dear friend, and my work day officially begins as we text each other to set our daily goals and intentions to stay on track with the weekly ones we share with each other at the start of every week. I review my Google calendar at this time as well as my Trello to do lists to check on what needs to be prioritized for the various ongoing projects I feel called to devote my time and energy toward.

From there I move into my office where I focus on working on the growth of my business - whether it's with new marketing experiments (because truly everything is an experiment - some just more guided than others!), crafting new programs and offerings, and finding other ways to connect directly with the clients I'm meant to serve. Currently in the works: my "Get Unstuck" training series and "The Inspired Life" podcast.

I typically unplug midday for writing, intuitive practices, and practicing what I teach - because truly, I'm most helpful to my people when I release my own limitations and strengthen my own intuition first. Nature is my muse, and I'm so lucky to have a home office surrounded by trees, with both an indoor and outdoor workspace that allows me to stay connected to my soul no matter where I'm working.

Most of my client sessions are in the late morning or early afternoon, so I take a moment before each session to reconnect and then release any busy-ness in my own mind - these sessions are not about me after all, and it is essential I am fully present so that I can meet them exactly where they are.

The late afternoon is the time to get back online and reconnect with my tribe; I aim to make myself available at least a couple of times daily via email and on social media so that I am not "always on" but present enough to make a difference. This is also a great time to connect with my tribes in the Facebook groups, as I connect with friends and mentors old and new on the always-exciting journey of a heart-led entrepreneur.

My evenings are spent with my man, with friends, or just by myself, unwinding, playing in the kitchen, and giving my mind over to a little TV or reading. When it's time to call it a night, I often get out my journal to practice gratitude and reflections, listing out my moments of appreciation, priming my mind and soul for a good night's sleep and refreshed start to the new day.

Of course, what I just described was my ideal day - which realistically only happens a little more than half the time.

However, even on those days when I "break the rules," and spend too long on social media, skip my breaks entirely, or completely take an unplanned day "off" from my business, I practice what I believe is real balance: the awareness of those things that I value the most and the flexibility to allow my energy to ebb and flow where it's needed to honor all parts of myself.

So after a day completely off routine, I am able to get refocused and dive back in that next day - ready to serve the world the best way I know how and pour my heart into a business I love.

Designer Profile: Kim Lawler of Kim Lawler Creative

Welcome to Designer Profiles, where we profile some amazing designers and developers who focus on making kick-ass websites and graphics for creative women entrepreneurs and freelancers. Think: eye-catching, sleek designs, fun functionalities, and social media integration. If you're in need of a new website, blog, or other graphic design collateral, take note of these creative superstars! 

Meet Kim of Kim Lawler Creative. Kim describes her work as "clean, colourful, and organised" (she lives in the United Kingdom, hence the spelling 😉 )

She says, "I love working with clients who know they want a website, know what they like, but don't really know how to make it happen. I like to work honestly, telling the client from the outset if one of their grand website dreams won't work within budget, keeping my clients up to date with the progress, and keeping lines of communication firmly open (by email, Skype, or Twitter... you'll think I'm stalking you by the end of the project)."

Kim offers the following services:

    • Blog/website/e-commerce design
    • WordPress theme development
    • Blogger/Blogspot theme development
    • Shopify theme development
    • Bigcartel theme development
    • HTML newsletters
    • Mailing list set-up
    • Social media branding
    • Logo design & branding

And a fun fact about Kim: Jurassic Park is her favorite movie!

Connect with Kim: Twitter // Facebook // Email

One Woman Shop Experiments: Grammarly

Welcome to One Woman Experiments, where daring business women experiment with different parts of their business in order to find best practices. We hope these mini-experiments help improve your business and inspire you to test-drive new strategies. Have an experiment you want to test out and document? Check out our ideas and guidelines! This experiment was diligently embarked upon by author, editor, and writing coach Amanda Shofner.

I set out on an experiment with Grammarly, an automated grammar checker. The question I wanted to answer was simple:

Can Grammarly replace the need to have an extra pair of eyes on your blog posts?

As an editor, I know how important it is to have someone else look at your writing -- and how awful grammar checkers like Microsoft Word can be.

In the online business world, especially when you’re going it alone, it’d be convenient to have something to catch potentially embarrassing mistakes before you hit publish. If Grammarly could be that thing, I was determined to find out.

Tell us your methodology.

My Grammarly trial lasted three months. Because I was looking specifically at blog posts, I only used the Grammarly app when I was getting ready to schedule posts, which is when I proofread.

Being unfamiliar with Grammarly, I didn’t have specific measurables, but planned to pit Grammarly’s corrections against my own thoughts about editing. For every correction, I asked, “Would I have suggested this?” or “Would I have caught this?”

What were the results of adopting Grammarly into your proofreading process?

Full disclosure: I had mixed feelings.

What worked for me:

  • Each flagged item included an explanation so you can a.) decide for yourself if you want to correct it, and b.) learn from it.
  • The dashboard and app is very intuitive. If you can copy and paste, you can use it.
  • Grammarly picked up tiny mistakes I didn’t catch -- e.g., ‘roadblocks’ is one word, not two.
  • It pointed out vague words and suggested alternatives.

What didn’t work for me:

  • The “business” mode is formal, which means it flags contractions, prepositions at the end of sentences, and conjunctions (and, but) at the beginning of sentences as wrong. In blogging, though, if want your personality to shine through, those things are good, not bad. You can use the personal mode for blog posts, but it doesn’t catch as much.
  • The explanations provided were filled with grammatical terms, which only helps those who know them. (It’s unavoidable, I know, but it won’t benefit those unfamiliar with grammatical terms.)
  • Grammarly may be better than MS Word, but it’s still a software program, which means it can’t grasp all the intricacies of grammar -- numerous times it told me something was wrong when it wasn’t.

Here’s an example of my last point:

Grammarly Trial - One Woman Shop

“When your binge on writing”? Not exactly. Problem: Grammarly wants me to use binge as a noun. I used it as a verb. Binge can be a noun or verb.

Based on what didn’t work for me, I suspected that Grammarly wouldn’t help proficient writers. You might catch a few minor mistakes here and there, but you’re probably smarter than you give yourself credit for. Read your post out loud -- that’ll catch mistakes too.

But I wasn’t ready to give up. I formulated a new question:

Can Grammarly help self-proclaimed ‘less-than-proficient’ writers with their blog posts and online content?

I roped The Stacey Harris into helping me, because she’s talked about not being a fan of writing multiple times. Using the same methodology above, we took one of her sales pages and ran it through Grammarly.

Here were some of our mutual observations:

  • It’s easy to use.
  • It’d be great for her son once he hits the point in school when he’ll be required to write papers.
  • Some of the suggestions weren’t helpful. (Stacey would say, “But I liked it the way I wrote it.”)
  • I had to explain what some of the explanations meant, like the one on passive voice, and how to fix it.
  • The cheapest subscription plan was $139.95 for a year (or $11.66 per month). A monthly plan is $29.95 per month.
  • My edits of her sales page (which I did for comparison’s sake) were more in-depth, but that’s because Grammarly is a proofreader, not a copy editor.

Side experiment: a quick run with Grammarly Lite

We discovered that Grammarly has Grammarly Lite, a free version of the browser plugin.

The free version checks contextual spelling, commonly confused words, article use, capitalizations, and comma use in compound sentences. Sounds decent, but the pro version checks for word choice, subject-verb agreement, pronoun use, run-ons, and comma splices, where the majority of people’s troubles lie.

If you want the browser plugin, the pro version will catch more of those embarrassing mistakes.

Conclusions + Summary

In the end, I had two questions to answer. Can Grammarly replace the need to have an extra pair of eyes on your blog posts? and Can Grammarly help self-proclaimed ‘less-than-proficient’ writers with their blog posts and online content?

The answer is yes, but you need to understand what you write and what you want you want.

Grammarly was created for students and corporate businesses, and for those purposes, it’s a great tool. Having Grammarly when I was writing my Master’s thesis would have been awesome.

But because Grammarly is best with formal language, bloggers or brands who pour their personality into their writing may struggle. The business option suggests changes that are too stuffy; the personal post option doesn’t catch enough. A business casual option would go a long way toward easing that struggle.

My final note for you: remember it’s a proofreader, not an editor. An editor digs into who your audience is and what your post needs to accomplish. She’ll rearrange your sentences for clarity or make suggestions to better develop your post. If you’ve got that down and want to focus on surface issues, Grammarly will work for you.

This post contains affiliate links. We only promote products + services that we believe you might find valuable. 

Designer Profile: Kathie Wiehanne of BluChic

Welcome to Designer Profiles, where we profile some amazing designers and developers who focus on making kick-ass websites and graphics for creative women entrepreneurs and freelancers. Think: eye-catching, sleek designs, fun functionalities, and social media integration. If you're in need of a new website, blog, or other graphic design collateral, take note of these creative superstars!

kathie wiehanne designer profile 

Meet Kathie of BluChic. When we came across BluChic's WordPress themes, we fell in love with all of them. Sleek, feminine, and professional? Yes please! We even use the Hailey theme on this site.

Kathie describes BluChic's WordPress themes as chic, minimalist, and timeless. In her words:

We specialize in chic feminine designs and every element of your theme will reflect that. So be you, be your brand, be lovely. Your customers should see your branding instantly when they stumble upon you online. The colors, the fonts, the images, the layout. They reflect your essence. With BluChic premade WordPress Theme and marketing kits, you'll get your brand into your hands in no time.

And a fun fact about Kathie: When she's not designing, you can find her organizing each and every space of the house. She is a self-proclaimed organization freak!

Connect with Kathie: Website // Facebook // Twitter

Disclosure: We are part of BluChic’s affiliate program and may receive a commission on sales bought through the links above. However, we are huge fans of BluChic and use their products all the time (including on this site), so all opinions are our own!

One Woman Shop Chats with…Halley Gray

Welcome to One Woman Shop Chats, an interview series where we- you guessed it- chat with solo business owners. Want to chat with us? Email us!

halley gray evolve and succeed

Hi Halley! Tell us about yourself and your business.

I'm Halley Gray, founder + marketing strategist at Evolve and Succeed. I work with online freelancers and business owners (who need clients) to get them booked out in advance. My clients go from struggling to being booked out (up to 8 months). Marketing at its core is persuasiveness. The ability to make your customer feel understood, liked and excited which in turn makes them buy more.

Are there any things commonly accepted as truths in the business world that you flat out disagree with?

That making 6 figures is viable for most first-year, first-time business owners. If you're new to your industry, running a business and being online then there's no freaking way that's possible. If you make enough to cover your bills and not go in debt then you're a success in my eyes.

If you could do just one piece of your business forever, what would it be?

It would be listening to people talk about their businesses and helping them come up with new ways to sell their stuff easier (and with more sales) each time.

If you had to describe yourself or your business in one word, what would it be?

Bullshit-free.

What is the #1 lesson you've learned since being in business on your own?

That great sleep is expensive and that money doesn't buy happiness but definitely great mental health.

What's your one piece of advice for new solo business owners?

The first year is tough but keep flexible and experimenting. I really do recommend getting custom marketing help so that you can sell better.

How has running a business changed you?

It's boosted my confidence! I was pretty out-going before but now I've started doing amateur comedy stand-up nights and I love it! (Although it makes me wanna puke every time.)

Give us a shameless plug for your latest project/product/freebie!

I'm booked out for the next 6 months but I'm running in-person workshops on getting you more clients and booked out in advance in DC, Portland and San Francisco this September. Grab a ticket if you want more clients.

Editor's note: Halley's e-course, Supercharged Sales Pages, is now available! 

One Woman Shop Chats with…Elizabeth Bradley

Welcome to One Woman Shop Chats, an interview series where we- you guessed it- chat with solo business owners. Want to chat with us? Email us!

elizabeth bradley savouring simplicitiy

Hi Elizabeth! Tell us about yourself and your business.

I'm a writer slash photographer that turned into a social media strategist after diving deep into marketing and online platform building when I started freelancing years ago. As a writer I mainly have written in the travel niche as well as in wellness and gaming. As a consultant I help companies of all sizes expand their online platform and develop social media and content marketing strategies that rock.

What's thing people might not know just from reading your website and following you on social media?

In addition to my writing and consulting endeavours, I'm studying herbalism and working on my yoga teacher training plus I'm certified as a Holistic Life and Wellness Coach. I have waaay to many interests and I try to pursue as many of them as possible, just for the heck of it.

What's your favorite social media platform and why?

INSTAGRAM. I rave about it and tell all my clients to get on there NOW. In fact I was just interviewed on the Lifestyle Architects podcast and waxed enthusiastic about it for most of the show. The reason being is that Instagram is a form of microblogging and the best personal branding tool a company has. People buy from people now, and if someone doesn't feel they connect with a company on an intimate level their is so much competition that they can easily go elsewhere. Showing who you are and your brand's values and USP is integral and Instagram is the best way to do it.

If you could do just one piece of your business forever, what would it be?

Photography. Usually my photos accompany by articles/posts but I would love to have them at the forefront of my career really. I'm a student of photojournalism and it's making my passion for photography grow by the day.

If you had to describe yourself or your business in one word, what would it be?

For my EK Bradley brand, I would say edgy. For Thriving Healer (my division for holistic entrepreneurs such as yoga teachers), it would be holistic.

What's your favorite app?

Dropbox of course 🙂

Multipassionate Muse: Jess Lively

Welcome to our Multipassionate Muse interview series, where we chat with self-described multipotentialites. Need a multipassionate crash course? Take a look on our terminology page and take the multipassionate quizToday we’re talking to Jess Lively, a writer and consultant who helps people live with intention. 

jess lively multipassionate

In your words, what is a multipotentialite/multipassionista?

I would describe a multipotentialite as someone who has many interests and talents that they want to include in their life or career. They don't feel the need to hone a specific skill at the exclusivity of other opportunities.

Describe your various passions and projects.

At the moment, I help people design lives and businesses with intention. This includes one-on-one consulting, live workshops, interior decor, brand direction, an ebook, and a business launch program.

Where did you first hear the term multipotentialite/multipassionista? Did it immediately resonate with you?

To be honest, I have never heard the terms multipotentialite/multipassionista before, but I have seen that Marie Forleo has talked about "multi-passionate" entrepreneurs for a while.

Though the terms themselves never really resonated with me, I totally fit the description to a T!

Looking back, would you say you've always been a multipotentialite (were you that kid running multiple businesses from your front yard?!)?

I definitely was one of those kids! I started my jewelry business at the age of 15 by accidentially selling ankle bracelets at a local pool. That very day, I decided to launch a jewelry business and little by little took a hobby and turned it into a part-time babysitting alternative.

By the time I graduated high school, my little jewelry line was carried in 12 stores and I was on my way to business school at the University of Michigan. After graduation, I took that same jewelry business full-time.

What is the biggest challenge of being a multipotentialite?

For me, lately, I am struggling to find a good balance between all that I am juggling. There are times when I am handling way more than is healthy for me.

In fact, my project manager a few weeks ago sent me an email encouraging me to take it easy because she knew all that I was juggling at once. And though I appreciated her concern, I thought she was crazy.... until I found myself on the verge of tears at a FedEx store exhausted and overworked on a Friday night. Needless to say, she was right.

Now, I'm working on being more selective about what I'm doing and learning to say no or to delay projects until I truly have enough time. It's not easy to wait on awesome ideas, but it is necessary for me to enjoy my career and my life.

What parts of living a multipotentialite lifestyle are the most rewarding?

The most rewarding thing is that I feel like I have a career that is truly made just for me! It includes all of my strengths and interests. Though it can be hard to explain at a dinner party, it is in many ways my dream career.

We hear a lot these days about side hustles, solopreneurs, and multipotentialites. Do you think it's a fad or the way of the future?

I believe that it is extremely popular at the moment, and in many ways can feel like a fad. On the other hand, I do believe that as people begin to ask for more from their careers and their lives, they will find new and creative ways to explore their interests. So in essence, it feels like a fad simply because it is new in contrast to the past few generations, but it will continue to mold and develop in the future in interesting new ways as Gen Y and Z make their mark in the workplace (editor's note: read more of Jess' thoughts on this in her post My Take on Whether Entrepreneurship is a Fad).

Any words of wisdom/warning for other multipotentialites?

Having just gone though a burnout phase after trying to do everything that I wanted all at once, I suggest exploring 2-3 things at any one time. In order make true progress, avoid burnout, and hone your skills, I think it is important to recognize our limitations as a single person or small team.

We can do everything we want throughout our lives but we cannot do it all at once. We need to look at this season in our lives and decide to intentionally focus on a few things at a time. We can later let those pursuits evolve into other new areas as our intuition advises.

One Woman Shop Chats with…Gigi Griffis

Welcome to One Woman Shop Chats, an interview series where we- you guessed it- chat with solo business owners. Want to chat with us? Email us!
Gigi Griffis

Hi Gigi! Tell us about yourself and your business.

​My name is Gigi Griffis and I'm a writer, content strategist, and world traveler. About 3.5 years ago, I started a small business called Content for Do-Gooders. The idea was to provide content strategy and copywriting services to companies that cared about the world.

While I was running that business, I was also traveling the world full-time (working remotely) and doing a lot of creative writing on the side, including magazine articles, a humorous dating memoir, and a growing travel and inspiration blog.

Then, in September, 2013, I took a month off to hike in the Alps--my first real vacation since starting the business. And while I was hiking across ridges and past waterfalls, I realized that my real passion was for the creative writing I was doing.

I wanted to help inspire people to live brave, breathtaking lives. I wanted to help them travel. I wanted to help them feel like the whole world is within their reach. So, I quit my copywriting and content strategy business and transitioned into full-time creative writing.

My biggest project, which just launched, is an unconventional guidebook for those who want to experience Italy like a local would. ​

If you had to describe yourself or your business in one word, what would it be? 

​GO! I want people to go for it...whatever "it" is in their lives: to take that leap, to start their business, to travel the world, to simply stand up for themselves.​

If you could do just one piece of your business forever, what would it be?

​Writing my blog.

The most fulfilling thing about my business is the emails I get from people who stumbled on my blog and suddenly felt supported, more capable, more understood, or simply better able to do whatever it is they've been dreaming of doing.

If I could make a living off the blog alone and just keep giving all my ideas away for free, I'd do it in a heartbeat.​

What is the #1 lesson you've learned since being in business on your own?

Every big, fabulous idea starts with a lot of small, less-than-fabulous steps. ​The thing I constantly remind myself is this: just keep going. Because building a following, a business, a demand, a platform...it all usually takes time.

Are there any things commonly accepted as truths in the business world that you flat out disagree with?

​People always say that you have to "put in your time." When I started my business (even with 5+ years of work experience), people told me I should spend more time working for someone else, learning from them. They told me I was too young. And it simply wasn't true.

Sometimes you have great ideas or great talent at a young age and without as much experience. Sometimes you get tons of experience in a short time (ah, 12-hour ad agency workdays). Sometimes you just need to take the plunge because your ideas are pressing.

The real secret to doing things in life is to simply do them. And so, when the whole "I need to put in more time" thing comes up, I think we all have to ask ourselves, "Am I putting in more time at this job/internship/school because it is truly making me better, preparing me, pushing me toward my goal...or am I doing it because I'm scared, because someone else told me to, because I'm putting off what I really want?"

Because, while we certainly grow and improve in our industries with time and experience, it's also true that most people never feel ready to start their business and at some point you have to take the leap. ​

Any funny stories from your time in business?

​When I was working from Croatia this winter, I met an interesting artist who invited me to drinks with her friends. When I arrived and introduced myself, telling them that I was a writer, one woman responded, "Oh, so you drink?"

Thank you, famed writers of old. ​

Give us a shameless plug for your latest project/product/freebie!

​My new book--Italy: 100 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, and How to Fit In--is all about helping people experience authentic Italy. Instead of a list of restaurants or hotels, it's a guidebook full of interviews with people who live and work in Italy and who can tell you how to find the best pizzeria in Rome, the most charming neighborhood in Florence, ​or the cutest towns in the Italian countryside.

As one reader said: “She asks the eternal question of 'what to do,’ sure. The difference is *who* she asks: clearly, the most delightful, enthusiastically interesting and deeply engaged people she has come across in her singularly extensive travels. They, predictably, have the raddest answers. They are niche answers. They are answers from people who really, really LOVE their particular slicelet of the country. And they are totally captivating. Loved it.”

Digital Nomad Profile: Susan Shain of The Travel Junkette

It’s Location Independence Week here on One Woman Shop! Join us as we chat with digital nomads and provide you with resources to jumpstart your location independent life. Want more resources via email? Sign up for our location independence interest list!

Today we're chatting with Susan Shain of The Travel Junkette about her location independent lifestyle.

susan shain travel junkette

Hi Susan! Tell us a bit about your business and how you keep it location independent.

In a nutshell, I'm a travel blogger and digital content creator. I don't make much money off my travel blog, but it's my passion project, and it serves as a platform for me to get other jobs. I've also recently begun travel coaching.

As a content creator, I help several small businesses with writing, editing, and social media marketing. My clients are all virtual, and I've only met a few of them. Our communication is mostly over email, with occasional phone or Skype calls.

What does an average month/year look like in terms of your location (we assume there's no average day!)?

Well, being a travel blogger, I travel a lot. That's why I love this career; I can travel all of the time if I want to! But these days, I prefer to spend significant chunks of time in one place. That way, I can get work done during the week, while also going on some weekend trips. (But of course, I still have to sprinkle a few multi-week trips in here and there!).

In 2013, for example, I spent the first three months volunteering in Nicaragua, the summer in Alaska, the fall traveling in Europe, and the winter in California (with a trip to Japan for new year's!).

How do you handle the logistics of working while traveling (finding reliable internet, being available, time differences, etc)?

When traveling in the States, it's pretty easy. I have a smartphone, wifi is widely available, and all of my clients are based here.

Traveling abroad, however, can be difficult. Most importantly, I let my clients know that I'll be traveling abroad and won't respond to emails as quickly. Since most of my work can be done ahead of time, time differences haven't been a real issue for me yet -- but finding internet can be quite frustrating, especially in developing countries. I just try to do as much work as possible without internet (writing, editing, etc), and treat a good internet connection like a precious resource!

How do you balance making the most of travel while still staying on track with your business?

It's a tough balance that I definitely haven't mastered yet -- and am not sure I ever will. I think it's easier when I'm spending a few weeks or months in a place; I can explore a little at a time, while keeping up with my work.

If I'm moving every day, however, I just try to set aside solid chunks of work time. Maybe it's a few hours each morning, or maybe it's one day for every two days of travel. Since I enjoy my work, it's sometimes tough to pull myself away -- but once I'm outside enjoying a new place, I remember why I chose this career in the first place!

I also remember that I don't have to see everything. Just being immersed in a different city or country, visiting coffee shops or chatting with shopkeepers, is often a fascinating cultural experience in and of itself.

Any location independent myths you want to bust?

I'm sure I won't be alone here, but I'd have to say the myth that location independent workers are "on vacation" all the time, or that we are just "playing on our computer." Yes, it's amazing to have such freedom in our work -- but it's still work!

What are your business/travel must haves?

Macbook, Beats wireless headphones, Kindle, notebook + pen, B12 tablets, pocketknife (with corkscrew!)

What are some of your favorite resource sites for affordable travel and/or location independent business?

For travel: HotelTonight, airbnb, Travelpony, and Couchsurfing for accommodation; ITA software, momondo, and GetGoing for flights; and HappyCow for veg-friendly restaurants. (Here's a full list of my favorite travel resources).

For business: Google Calendar for organizing my brain, Freshbooks for invoicing/time tracking, GetPocket for saving articles, Todoist for task management, Mint for finances, Buffer for social media updates, and Smugmug and Backblaze for backing up. (Here's a full list of my favorite productivity tools.)

What do you think the future holds for you (staying in one place, periods of travel, being a full-time nomad, etc)?

I'm so happy with what I'm doing right now: finding places to live for several months, then taking a few big trips each year. I don't think I will ever be a full-time nomad -- though I admire those who can do it, I cherish my routines and relationships too much for that!

Questions for Susan? Ask them in the comments!

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