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About Me

About Me

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Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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FAQ: Freelance Writing and Contributing to Big Media Brands

Posted on February 6th, 2017

writing
 
For a writer, there’s nothing like finally seeing your name under the big media brands you’ve always dreamed of writing for. You think, has this been photoshopped or did they really publish me? 
 
This month I got published for the second time on Fast Company and now have the opportunity to start talking over opportunities to write for them on a more regular basis. For six months, every month, I had sent the editor my best thoughts in 1,000 words or less and, saint he is, he’d write back, “Thanks, Elaina. This just isn’t what we’re looking for right now.” It was nice on his part and pretty demoralizing on mine.
 
I also pitched Huffington Post for a year before they finally said yes to my first piece about a year ago. I tried Matador Network for an equally (and painfully) long period of time and now I get to joke with the editor about coming to Burning Man with me this year. I’ve also written frequently for Fortune and Business Insider since 2014. 
 
It just goes to show you that persistence and good content is (almost) all it takes to make it in the publishing world.
 
There’s also nothing like being able to support yourself as a freelance writer, which I did for the better part of both 2015 and 2016 until deciding to refocus on my international business career. I remember the first $20 I ever made writing and now I make ten to twenty times that per piece, depending on the client.
 
I get a lot of emails from readers who want to know I’ve managed to get on the sites I currently contribute to, what my tips for aspiring bloggers are, and how I make a modest living as a freelance writer. Here are some quick answers to those inquiries.
 
Q: When and how did you first start blogging?
 
A: I started in 2012 when I first started feeling frustrated in the corporate world. Blogging was an outlet to sort through my experiences and find practical ways to improve my situation. I basically wrote what I myself needed to read. Eventually I developed a specific message focused on helping my peers reject conventional paths and embrace adventure and growth while still developing an exciting and practical career. I started on Tumblr, which was free, and only invested in my current customized WordPress site once I had found my audience, my voice, and my content niche. When you see my content on a major site nowadays, remember that I’ve been doing this for over 5 years. It’s about time!
 
Q: How did you get started making a living as a writer?
 
A: The first step was to establish my own site and produce quality content there because that essentially serves as an online portfolio. Then I posted on Facebook and asked if anyone knew of anyone opportunities to write for someone else. I found a couple opportunities through my personal network and jumped at them just to get published. After that, I got an intro at Go Overseas and I’ve been writing for them ever since. My first article paid $20 and now I handle clients like Tourism Ireland, the Australian government, General Assembly, Zespri, Zady, and Global Nomadic, both through their channels and my own.
 
After that, I simply got referrals or had people reach out who found my blog on social media, thought my message resonated with their brand, and I made up ridiculous prices that they actually said yes to. These days I can charge a lot more because I have a stronger brand, I’m widely published, and (some) people like my writing. I’ve also always made it a point to periodically poke around in my network and see who knows about new opportunities and I submit my portfolio to them. The more experience I’ve gotten, the easier it's gotten to land paid work.
 
Q: How did you land your first major publication?
 
A: So first things first, the biggest names don’t pay. I make my dollars writing for smaller outlets or specific clients, as mentioned above, and then leverage the visibility on big names to channel traffic back to my site, a good bit of which results in inquiries on my coaching program (the other part of my freelance income). I got my first “major” publication by submitting to the lowest hanging fruit I could get. I think I got on Thought Catalog first (which actually has great traffic), then Project Eve and Escape the City, then I made the leap to Matador Network and Elite Daily, then finally my “big break” to Business Insider (still my best traffic), Fortune, Huffington Post, and finally Fast Company. I found that once I got in one somewhat well-known name, it bolstered my credibility and helped me get up another rung of the publishing ladder. These days I’m pitching (to no avail) The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Time, and Conde Nast, but I’m not easily discouraged. I find the more I write for bigger names, the better I understand what makes it into higher quality publications, so I’m naturally and gradually fine-tuning myself for those audiences. 
 
Q: How do you pitch the places you want to write for?
 
A: Pitching is an art, not a science. Personally, I have a dream list of where I want to write next, so I'll spend awhile studying their content (topics, voices, word count, etc.) from a distance. Then I write entire pieces, on whatever topic I'm interested in at the moment, and submit them one at a time to the outlets I think would be most receptive to that topic. I submit the piece with a brief summary, my writer’s bio, a headshot, and links to previous publications. I try to make it easy on the editors so they have everything they need to throw up the piece if they like it.
 
I find pitches to be just as much about who I am and why I’m qualified to write about what I’m writing about as the content itself. I also try to find the editor’s direct contact info, often trying different creepy iterations of john.smith@theguardian.com and john_smith@theguardian.com until something gets through. That helps at least get my pitch in front of human eyes. Then I give it 6-12 months and a lot of silence or rejections and then, presto! Eventually they take something I send! Just kidding. I suppose it's actually because I’ve become more appealing over time as the sheer quality of my content has improved, my message has been fine-tuned, and my qualifications in terms of my overall portfolio and professional profile have become better, as well. 
 
Q: What’s your advice to other aspiring bloggers?
 
A: First, you need to have a professional-looking blog with content that has a strong voice and good creative niche. In my case, I’ve found there to be a lot of self-development, travel, and career blogs, but none that really tackle how to develop a professional international career, which is what I focus on when I write for external publications. On my own site, I write whatever I want because it’s catered to people who’ve already found me and want to dig deeper. I don’t write on any particular cadence, I just write when I think I have something helpful or interesting to say. At the beginning, you need to be mindful of generating a sufficient quantity of content, but later on you can focus on pure quality, whenever good ideas come to you. I recommend starting out on a platform that’s easy and free (WordPress has great templates for $0-$50) and then upgrading to something more comprehensive when you’re ready.
 
Above all, never write for the money or recognition, write because you have something to say and at least five people you think who’d read it. Don’t be self-absorbed; focus on helping people by sharing your experiences. If you stay committed to your message, the opportunities to reach a larger audience will come naturally.

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About Me

About Me

IMG_5937

Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

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Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

Do you want to travel but are scared to quit your job?

Do you want to find a job overseas but don’t know where to start?

Do you wake up in the morning dreading what’s ahead?

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

img_6015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Hot

Recent Posts

Coaching

Coaching

Step into my office!

 

Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

Do you want to travel but are scared to quit your job?

Do you want to find a job overseas but don’t know where to start?

Do you wake up in the morning dreading what’s ahead?

Read more

Like Me on Facebook

Like Me On Facebook

Follow me on twitter

Follow me on twitter

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Elaina on Instagram