The Best Cities In Scandinavia

Ask somebody what Scandinavia is like and they’ll probably say cold and dark. But that’s not a fair representation of a region that has so much cultural and historical heritage as well as incredible natural landscapes to explore. If you’ve written off Scandinavia in the past because you don’t think that it’s for you, think again. There is so much to see and do, especially in the best cities in Scandinavia.

The Best Cities in Scandinavia 

Reykjavik, Iceland

If you’re put off by the cold then Iceland probably doesn’t sound that appealing to you, the word ice is right there in the name. But if you can get past that, you’re in for a treat if you take a trip to Reykjavik. The first thing to see is definitely the Northern Lights; this incredible natural wonder is visible in other countries but you won’t be able to see it as clearly anywhere else as you will in Iceland. If you don’t want to stay in one place on your trip, you can go on Iceland tours and see some more of the natural landscapes outside of the city as well. The thermal baths are a particularly popular attraction and they’re perfect if you’re getting fed up with the cold. You can also go on volcano tours or try your hand at fishing for salmon and wild trout. The food and drink in Reykjavik are amazing too, but it isn’t always what you might expect. There are some great traditional dishes but the best stuff are things like hot dogs, pizza, and beer.

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, is a great city to visit because it offers a great combination of rich historical heritage with modern tourist attractions so you’re never left wondering what to do. The architecture in the city is simply incredible, which is why there are not one, but two UNESCO heritage sights in the city. The Royal Palace and the Woodland Cemetery attract millions of tourists every single year. The rest of the city is equally beautiful and you can easily spend a day wandering around the cobbled streets along the canals. While you’re there, make sure to head over to the Old Town area where you’ll find all of the museums and boutiques as well as some great restaurants serving delicious, traditional food.

Andoya, Norway

Norway is a great country with all sorts of great cities to visit but the best place to go for first-time visitors is probably Andoya. One of the things that the area is most famous for is the Andoya Space Centre which you can visit, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As well as the space centre, you’ll find the best wildlife watching spots in the country at Andoya. Whales, in particular, are very prominent in the area which is why tourists flock to Andoya all year round, hoping to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures.

 

These are the best cities in Scandinavia to visit but it’s worth remembering that they can get pretty expensive so if you’re travelling on a budget, you might want to consider going elsewhere.

 

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7 Reasons why you need to plan your Instagram game ahead

As much as I love my job as Instagram Strategist, it often takes over my personal life and other businesses and projects. Some people -including me-  don’t like the idea of pre-planning Instagram content. It was supposed to feel ‘insta = in the moment’. But if you’re using it for your business or your personal brand, you need to plan your Instagram game. This doesn’t mean that you are no more authentic or real, it just means that you put some thoughts ahead of time and can still carefully craft a feed that’s gorgeous to the eye as well as strategically planned.

All in all, it’s about having a clear direction for your Instagram gallery without leaving room for improvisation. In this way, you can increase engagement, sell more and reach new customers.

But WHY should you plan your Instagram?

1 – Specific Promotions & Events 

plan ahead your InstagramWhile launching my little stationery business last year, I quickly realised that launching a new product on the market and managing its Instagram strategy is oh-my so time-consuming. Especially if the business is a side business and while you are doing that you also have a full-time job, a family or whatever else. Planning ahead is necessary if you want to be ready for big sale events, new product lines, global festivities and so on. For example, if you know you’ll be launching your winter line in September, it makes sense to prepare promotion content ahead of time (the same is for influencers looking for partnership whether they are hotels, clothes or others – think about what THEY need, not what YOU want).

 

2 – Feed Consistency

Taking pictures every day is AMAZING. But coming up with photo ideas can be scary. Especially if you are running a business and/or trying to launch a brand.

So scheduling a day to take all your pictures is not only good for your mental health but also to keep your feed consistent both in terms of colour and vibe.So maybe you can put up a photo studio and take the pictures of all your new products in one session. The schedule them and have them ready.

 

3 –  Partnerships

Whether you are a small brand or an (aspiring) influencer, you know you can contact a potential partner the day before your promotion. Serious and busy influencers have their 3-6 (or more) schedule planned already and businesses might have a specific need just on certain dates.

4 – The right moment

As discussed here, it is essential to post when your audience is most active in order to get the most engagement. If you are going on holiday, it might well be that your schedule is different than your normal one, but it’s not the same for your audience which will most likely have the same routine. Timeliness is a super important element especially with the new Instagram algorithm, therefore if you miss the moment, your posts are almost useless and a waste.

To find your personal best time to post on Instagram, you can easily check this on the insights tab of your Instagram account like in the picture below. Once you know your best time to post on Instagram, you can create posts ahead and connect to the platform when you are meant to post.

5 – More time for Instagram Stories and IGTV

I still like to keep my Instagram Stories quite natural and unplanned. I know there are some people and brands who plan those ahead too, but personally, I like to keep those channel as the real connection with my life especially if I’m on a business trip or on holiday.

So, if by scheduling your posts, you free up time every day, you can then use it to share more on your stories and your daily life.  Don’t forget that Instagram Stories are a fun way to engage even more with your followers and have a real-time connection with them as well as stay on top of their mind, even when you are chilling by the beach and they don’t see your regular posts in their feed.

6 – Perfect Hashtags Strategy

If you plan your Instagram posts, you will also have time to find the right hashtags for them. You won’t have to rush at the last second using always the same ones with the risk of being banned by Instagram, but along with your captions, you will also have the key tags to add. (more about finding the right hashtags in a future article).


If you don’t use a planning app, you can also save them on a spreadsheet or on your notes app divided by category, so you can easily find them at the time to post.

7 – Unplug is necessary

While the holiday season is fast approaching, you and your brain will need to unplug. I find that every time I disconnect and let my mind free to wonder, I’m invested by tons of new ideas as well as energy. But remember, your Instagram can’t simply stop. There is nothing worst for the algorithm that disappearing from the platform even for just a few days, so JUST DON’T DO IT. Instead, plan ahead and maybe use some planning app to help you (next post about this coming up soon!).

Even without apps, you can use the draft function to save some posts on your Instagram app and have them ready when necessary. Obviously, if you are on holiday and really need to disconnect, you won’t be playing the engagement tips I’ve shared with you on this post, however, posting a few posts while you are away, you will show your audience that you are still there but just taking some well-deserved time off.

Do you now agree why is necessary to plan your Instagram game ahead?

Need more tips about how to plan your Instagram? Do you know that I will be hosting my first Instagram Workshop in Italy in September? Stay tuned and check the details here. 

Subscribe now if you don’t want to miss the next Instagram episodes and wish to receive my Instagram content calendar FOR FREE in my July’s Love Letter!


by @the_stortyeller 
Sabrina Andrea Sachs is an Instagram Strategist – among other things – and in the past three years, I’ve helped dozens of brands and people build and grow their Instagram presence. With my 85k (total) followers and over 6 years of Instagram experience, I will be hosting my first Instagram workshop in Italy in September 2018 while my Instagram course will launch the following month. 

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Slovenia: Europe’s best hidden cycling destination

Slovenia best European cycling destination

Why is Slovenia Europe’s best-hidden cycling destination? Well,I didn’t expect it. In fact, I had no expectations at all. I like to explore places without having preconceptions and ideas in mind. But, let me tell you, I’m in love with Slovenia now. While you’ve probably heard of Bled Lake and the capital with the impossible name to spell and pronounce, you are probably in the unknown with the rest of the country as I was a week ago. Keep reading to find out

I just got back from my cycling ambassador experience around Slovenia and I’m ready to share with you some tips and tricks about this little country as well as a great cycling itinerary for my fellow bikers.

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 1 – Welcome to Slovenia! Europe’s best-hidden cycling destination!

 Get to know the capital

WHEN WHAT
morning Arrivals to Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana
late morning Explore the city by foot and stop for lunch / late breakfast at Pritličje. One of the best cafes in town (also ideal for digital nomads)
16:00-19:00 Cycling around Ljubljana with the Moustache Tour guides
Dinner Ljubljana Castle
Notes I will publish a dedicated article about Ljubljana since there is loads to see and explore there and I don’t want this article to be too long!
Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 2 – Dolenjska Region – Explore Novo Mesto, the hometown of Tour of Slovenia Race  

WHEN
10:00 – 11:00 Arrive in Otočec 
11:00 – 11:30 Cycling: Otočec – Novo Mesto (7km)
13:30 – 15:00 Lunch at Don Bobi and tour of the city
15:00 – 17:30 Cycle Novo Mesto – Kostanjevica na Krki (26.5km) 
17:30 – 19:00 Explore the Venice of Slovenia and then relax by SUP-ping down the river along the village
19:30 Dinner
Overnight at Balnea Hotel, Novo Mesto
Notes & more info: https://www.visitdolenjska.eu/en/
https://www.facebook.com/VisitDolenjska

https://instagram.com/visitdolenjska/

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 3 – Štajerska Region – North-East of Slovenia 

WHEN WHAT
8:00 Depart from Novo Mesto
10:30 Arrive in Maribor
11:00-15:00 Tour of the town and lunch at the Hotel Maribor
15:00 – 19:00 Afternoon at Pohorje Bike Park
20:00 – 22:00 Dinner at Gostilna pri treh ribnikih
Overnight at Ramšak Chateau Vineyard Glamping Resort*
Notes + Info https://maribor-pohorje.si/best-choice.aspx

https://www.facebook.com/VisitMaribor/

https://www.instagram.com/visitmaribor/

* I will soon publish a dedicated article about the gorgeous Ramšac Chateau – Stay tuned

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 4 – Primorska Region – Mediterranean Slovenia – The coast 

WHEN WHAT
7:30 Transfer from Maribor to Piran
10:00 Arrive in Piran and tour of the city
12:00 -12.30 Cycle from Piran to Portoroz (3.3km)
12:30 – 15:00 Lunch at Oštarija Portorož
15:00 Visit to Fonda Fish Farm
19:00 Dinner at Hisa Torkla
Overnight at Stara šola Korte Guesthouse
Notes + Info http://www.portoroz.si/en/

https://www.instagram.com/portorozpiran/

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 5 – Kranjska Gora Region – IMMERSE IN GREEN   

A must-try experience for any cycling visitor is the route between Mojstrana and Rateče, which runs along a well-maintained asphalt cycle path past several interesting abandoned railway stations, well worth taking a closer look at.

If for you cycling is synonymous with great exertion, adventure and adrenaline-pumping excitement, you may be the right person to tackle the ascent of the Vršič mountain pass, one of Europe’s most challenging road cycling routes.

You can also choose Bike park. The park offers three different trails – Downhill, Airline and Lunapark – whose names say it all about the styles of riding you can choose from. Featuring a 350-metre vertical drop, several kilometres of trails with varied surfaces, and all kinds of fun obstacles such as bridges, jumps and teeter-totters, the park has something for everyone who can ride a bike.

WHEN WHAT
8:00 Transfer to Kranjska Gora
10:00 Arrive in Kranjska Gora and pick one of the many cycling routes in the region
17:00 Chill by Jasna Lake with a book
Overnight at Hit Alpinea Kranjska Gora (Ramada Hotel&Suites)
Notes + Info https://www.kranjska-gora.si/en

https://www.instagram.com/kranjskagora/

https://www.facebook.com/KranjskaGora

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

DAY 6 – HIKING or MOUNTAIN BIKING in KRVAVEC 

Timing Activity
9:00 Depart from Kranjska Gora to Krvavec Mountain Resort / Bike Park
10:00 – 13:00 Enjoy and go cycling cray at Krvavec Bike Park
13:00-14:30 Lunch up at Hotel Krvavec
Notes + Info http://www.tourism-cerklje.si/en

https://www.facebook.com/TICcerkljeNaGorenjskem

Slovenia Europe's best hidden cycling destination

photo credits: Nace Production

Slovenia: Europe’s best-hidden cycling destination

This is probably the first of a series of articles I’m going to write about Slovenia (if I’ll ever find the time LOL). There is so much to see and explore in such a small country and Slovenia is Europe’s best-hidden cycling destination. You can find out more in the links above and by checking the official Tourist Board website which is incredibly well-researched and written. Make sure to drop me a line via the contact form if you have any specific questions or enquiries – I’d be happy to help you plan your trip to Slovenia!

*

I was invited by the Official Tourist Board of Slovenia as the Italian/British Cycling Ambassador 2018 – all opinions above are mine. A special thank you go to Slovenia TO team, Vesna for planning everything incredibly well, Marusa for making sure everyone was happy in such a pressure-filled week, the filming crew and especially Lea, Sašo and Nace for their ability to make me feel comfortable in front of the camera. 

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How to grow Instagram engagement – 5 secret tips

grow instagram engagement

How to grow Instagram engagement – We recently discussed how to grow your Instagram audience where I’ve shared tips and tricks I’ve learnt from being an active Instagram user since 2011 and becoming an influencer since 2012. Now it’s time to share with you some trick to increase Instagram engagement, since having a large following, but no engagement is a sign trick of faking it. 

Be calm, you are not the only one who want to grow Instagram engagement – everyone, from my my nephew to my butcher and florist are looking to get something back from their time investment in th popular photography social media.

There are no secret that since the Instagram algorithm was introduced, people have been getting less and less response to their posts, people have tried all sorts of things, from comment pods (will write something about in the near future) to “new post stories” and “turn on notifications” attempts. I’ve heard rumours that Instagram will be releasing a new algorithm soon, but god knows what that will be about, I’ll keep my fingers crossed it won’t be paid-advertising oriented again.

In the meantime, here are some trick that have helped me grow Instagram engagement in the last few months:

#1 Know when is the best time to post

It’s seem obvious, but in a busy life like mine, it’s hard to make time to check and post at the right moment. However, I found out in a recent test that if you do take advantage of that moment, likes and comments can be double or even more.

Posting at the right time, also means scheduling ahead. I’ve tried many services and now I have a couple of favourites (let me know in the comments below if you wish to know which ones I use). Scheduling your photos and captions allows to make sure you’re there when your audience is there too. We discussed how important is to give back to your instagram community in this post, so you already know how important is to also engage with others in order to have the same on your gallery.

#2 Know how frequently you have to post

Exactly like finding your best time to post on Instagram, you also find out how often you should post if you want to grow Instagram engagement.

The upside of the current algorithm is that your photos can appear on someone’s feed even three or four days after you published it. This means that Instagram posts have a longer life span than they used to.


grow Instagram engagement
After some experiments (secret experiment I only revealed to my clients on my one-to-one Instagram coaching), I realised that my best frequency is only when I am absolutely sure that a post is dead (i.e. it’s not getting any more likes or comments). If I do it before, it means that I’m losing engagement on that photo.

One thing is sure: never leave too much time between two posts because the alghoritm will definitely penalise you for that.

# 3 Post more Top Posts

What the hell?

Do you know what your tribe likes? Well, if you don’t, it’s not time to find out. Make a note of your most performing posts and see what they have in common. Then, post more of them.

Personally, I know my most performing pictures are those where you can catch a glimpse of me (I’m camera shy and mostly travel solo so that’s not so frequent!!!), or where I talk and share about my life-changing choices.

grow Instagram engagement

#4 Ask something

Among my experiements, I realised that whenever I ask a question to my community, I get tons more of comments and likes. It’s a little way to show that you care.

By the way, I really do care about each and every of my followers even thought it’s impossible to thank you all individually.

grow Instagram engagement

#5 Use Instagram Stories to create a relationship 

I wasn’t so happy when Instagram launched the instagram stories feature, but I have to say that it’s an easier way to stay connected to my Instagram community when I’m too busy with my life.

I’ve created a few different categories on my Instagram highlighted stories which I think of as different channels for my audience (there is one where I share all my secrets about Instagram by the way), in this way people can actually scan through my content and get to know me quickly and engage with me if they like what they see.

grow instagram engagement

But how do you bring people to see your profile? Well, telling them to do so! For example by adding a note on your caption about something new you added on your stories that day. I can see that this is working extremely well on my profile lately, especially since I’ve been sharing my tips about Instagram with you.

That’s all for today! See you on the next Instagram episode in a couple of weeks! 
SUBSCRIBE NOW IF YOU DON’T WANNA MISS A THING!

PS: Remember that my Insta-coaching one-to-one sessions are still available in June and July and I only have two spots left. Fill in this form if you wish to book now!
My Instagram Course instead will be launched in September.
Stay tuned.

by @the_stortyeller 
Sabrina Andrea Sachs is an Instagram Strategist – among other things – and in the past three years, I’ve helped dozens of brands and people build and grow their Instagram presence. With my 85k (total) followers and over 6 years of Instagram experience, I will be hosting my first Instagram workshop in Italy in September 2018 while my Instagram course will launch the following month. 

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How to grow your Instagram followers – 10 top tips by @the_storyteller

how to increase your followers

Due to large demand (=thousands of messages I receive every month) about how to grow your Instagram followers, I’ve decided to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learnt from my 7-year using the app to the latest tricks that I’ve been testing in the last few months, despite the (f**king) algorithm.

Let me first say, that the focus shouldn’t be having a large account, but I do get why many people aim to that, however, if you only want to gain thousands of followers, please google “buy Instagram followers” and stop reading this.

This post is mainly written for small brands and people who wish to expand their exposure AKA followers on Instagram and be part of the game. Nowadays with 800 million monthly active users, Instagram is booming like never before. From personal brands to bigger businesses, it’s becoming a priority for everyone to leverage the power of Instagram. Why? Simple, people are switching off their Facebook accounts and spending more time on its sister app.

But let’s do a bit of rewind first…

When I joined Instagram back in 2010 upon my then flatmate suggestion, I was super excited to have found an app to share my (shitty) pictures. I had a fotoblog since I was 14/15 years old but that was long deceased, so Instagram represented the digital union of my two passions: photography and writing. Back then, there were very few people on the app and the ones who downloaded where, like me, amateur photographers. If you can’t imagine it now, I can understand but just think about a mix of Unsplash and Flickr without the madness around adv, influencers and money.

It was only in 2012 after Facebook bought Instagram that things started to change. Suddenly, it was about all marketing and money. The little photo app was suddenly flooded with selfies, blurred photos and horrendous close-ups of food (and I’m not saying I’m Henry Cartier-Besson or Sebastio Salgado) but I wasn’t posting 547594388  random pictures of my daily life, I was trying to express my love for photography along with my storytelling and bits of my London life.

Fast forward to October 2013 when on Halloween’s morning I woke up to 10K more followers on my account. I remember thinking that my account had been hacked and that the devil took it over. I was wrong, after briefly checking my emails, I realised I was on the famous -and mysterious – suggested user list. In the next few days, I gained around 50K followers. To my surprise, this happened again a few months later and I gained even more Ks.

grow your instagram audience

## Was this amazing? 

I would be lying if I said no. It was great, I suddenly felt recognised for my work and passion (in the meantime I had attended several photography courses, including one at the Central St. Martins’ School of Arts in London and my photography improved dramatically). But did I really deserve it? Well, for the “SUP rules” absolutely yes. At that time, the SUL was mainly focused on the #communityfirst philosophy, recognising users who committed to creating opportunities for fellow instagramers to meet and share tips and the common love for photography. At that time, I had already started my global collection of coffee-shops and I was also organising events in London and abroad for fellow brunch- and Instagram lovers. On top of this, I also had an additional account featuring the best London houses pics. So yeah, I was giving back to the community and building one around myself. This was what was necessary to make it on the popular list. And I did it. Twice.

how to grow your instagram followers

## But then, I went travelling…

Back in September 2015, I left my London life and job to travel the world and after the first three months in India, landing in Australia where data is so expensive and wifi not so easy to find in the remote parts I’ve travelled to, I was over the addiction. It was a matter of months for the decline to hit me. I started losing thousands of followers every month and here’s when the new algorithm came to play.

## the fucking algorithm…

Following the Facebook acquisition, Instagram became a marketing platform vs a photography app where the chronological order was killed and shots became more and more similar. I had a couple of years of love-hate relationship with Instagram. I kept posting occasionally on it, but without engaging much and not replying to comments left on my feed. I was exploring the world, getting lost in faraway lands and the time that Instagram required to grow and keep the audience was something I wasn’t willing to take away from living in the moment and my travels.

## My strategy today

It was only around Christmas last year that I’ve decided to give one more (last) try to Instagram, which gave me so much in terms of new gigs, exposure, travel opportunities and so I’ve decided to try something new and set up to hit the stars again. At that time, in fact, my blog wasn’t as popular as it is today, I didn’t have a writing portfolio to vouch for me, so my Instagram audience was (and still is) a big magnet for small and big brands. It was through that I got to work with brands like Airbnb, Daniel Wellington, Royal Caribbean, Shinola and many others.

Here’s how I did and my top tips to grow your Instagram audience

1 WHO ARE YOU? CREATE A NICHE

At the beginning of my instalife, I wasted so much time building a generic community based on friendships and taste, but I later realised that I was just wasting my efforts. Since implementing my new strategy, I’ve focused more on the style and galleries which are more related to me (i.e. travel, coffee, minimalism, interiors, digital nomadism, stationery) but also to people who can inspire me to get better at this game.

How to create your niche? In order to create a niche and to beat the algorithm, I’ve turned the notification on of my favourite accounts, so I am sure I never miss their posts. Plus, I’ve also created a list of accounts I want to stay connected with which I (try to) check regularly and engage with.

 

# 2 ENGAGE WITH YOUR COMMUNITY

Instagram’s algorithm works a bit like karma: it basically gives you back as much as you are willing to give in. It decides who they will show your photo to (yes, I read about the latest chronological news but they aren’t going back to fully pure chronological, they are still playing the algorithm game and I can’t really see them dropping it aanytime soon (read never!). So, I was talking about instakarma: if you take the time to find similar accounts to yours, follow them and leave them good comments on a regular basis, sooner or later they too will take the time to return the favour (if they like your work, of course). Start by liking 5-10 pictures of a profile you admire and leave MEANINGFUL comments to their gallery. Something that sticks out, not the generic “great pic”, “wonderful” or some hideous emoji which might seem created by some random BOT. If you truly like someone’s gallery, let them know you do! I also feature the new profiles I find quite regularly and I have a highlighted story on my profile too (see under Inspired By) To give you an actual example, if you come by and never interact with my account, I’ll hardly notice you. But if you leave me comments on a daily basis, this is how I can see you and potentially (if you take good pictures!!!) have me to follow you back. And it’s not about ego, it’s more that it’s hard to keep track of everything, likes are superficial and too fast when you have a large following, but I ALWAYS read the comments left below my pictures. And by the way, this is exactly how I’m finding profiles to follow and to add to my community. 

EXTRA TIP #1: 

Photos that get the most likes in the first 15 minutes are most likely to show on top of the feed and on the popular page. So, if this is how it works, you want your followers to engage with your new photo as soon as possible and you can trick the algorithm by doing the same to their accounts who will be happy to return the favour (sometimes). If you manage to get at the top of the feed of many accounts, you also manage to create quick engagement so that your photo is shown to many more accounts than usual. This is what happened with this picture for example: 

EXTRA TIP #2: Direct Messages are great and it’s obviously a great way to create a personal relationship with someone you admire, but bare in mind that checking DMs takes time and most people I know don’t open their request messages (a message received by someone I don’t follow) for months. WHY? Most of the requests I receive are spam or trying to sell me something, so I normally check them quickly every now and then. So, stop the DMs and start with the comments to be noticed!

Oh! and it’s not called social media for nothing, so reciprocate: if people leave you comments, reply to them! (sorry! I am guilty of this, sometimes real life takes over!!! )

3. FIGURE OUT WHAT YOUR AUDIENCE LIKES

Once you have done step 1 and 2 it’s time to look back a bit. Do a little research. If you have turned to business profile you already have some stats available there otherwise you can use other tools and software (let me know in the comments below if you are interested in this and I might write a specific blog post about the apps and software I use). Otherwise, you can simply go back through your photos and see which ones got the most likes and comments — and of course, the least. What hashtag and tags people click on your stories? Don’t be as stupid as I was a few years back when I totally ignored people’s feedback to my content. They wanted me to go back to storytelling, but I wasn’t keen to share stories of my life, they asked me for more London but I stubbornly kept sharing pics of my travels. I’m not saying you must do exactly as your followers ask – I should be posting naked selfies if I did – but do carefully listen to those aficionados who are genuinely giving you precious feedback.

4. CREATE A THEME FOR YOUR PHOTOS

So if you followed #1, #2 and #3, people will naturally start to notice your username popping up on their notifications and may check out your account. Now you need to give them a gallery to fall in love with!One of my most recent “strategic” actions, upon an insta-friend suggestion and help @maride_ was to create a theme for my photos. I always admired people who were able to create a consistent chromatic gallery, but every time I tried, there was a bright orange/red or b&w picture I wanted to post that would mess my gallery. Since, last month, I’ve decided to be more selective with the pictures I post to keep the chromatic feed I choose. 

 how to grow your instagram followers

On top of this, use the limited space of your bio to describe who you are and what you stand for: it doesn’t need to be wordy, but it’s essential to give an idea of who you are here which is the first thing people normally check. With the latest update, you are also able to add hashtags and other accounts you manage to your bio, so use it well to show your entire portfolio/brands.

5. CREATE A HASHTAG AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO USE IT, TOO.

This is a great way to build a community around your account. In the past, I had launched two hashtags which became quite popular: #makeitremarkable and #livemoredomorebemore but back then I didn’t know how to use them and in fact I wanted to keep them for myself only. I was in fact, annoyed when people did use them (SORRY!) I only understood the real power of creating hashtags when after abandoning my coffeeshops account I checked #cafesaroundtheworld and it now has almost 8000 pictures. It was organic, natural and fabulous, but I did not jump on the winning horse, I instead changed handle and hashtag as part of my new strategy and focus on digital nomads (follow @digital_cafes and tag your work-friendly spots with #digital_cafes).

I know I need to do this more and more often, but I’ve seen other accounts creating a viral ripple effect with the use of this technique. My favourite is @disasterofathirtysomething, an adorable and witty girl who created the hilarious and brilliant #thepeakandpitcollective, where people share the ups and downs of their lives like Sarah does on a daily basis. 

6. SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT YOU!!

For the first two or three years, I was so shy to let people know about my photography, that my closest friends and family did not know I had an Instagram account. I remember the shocked face of some of my closest friends when I told them I managed @the_storyteller. I also recall a very funny episode when at a London meet up I met a girl who was raving about how much she loved my account, without knowing I was right in front of her. I might be weird, but I’ve always wanted to keep my social life separated from my real life (blog post about this coming up soon!!), so much that I don’t use my real name on any social media, I didn’t show my face for years on any of my pictures and I struggle so much with the current trend of being in every single photo. Anyhow, I learnt that people want to get to know you, they want to connect with you (or your brand) so it’s necessary to give parts of you every now and then. And so, a couple of years ago, I decided to link my blog, Twitter and Facebook and tell people I was on Instagram. Well, this resulted on thousands of new followers who did not know I had an instagram account before.

7. CALL TO TAKE ACTION

People are incredibly lazy. I’ve seen people scrolling Instagram for 30 minutes without double-tapping once!!! It’s crazy if you ask me. What’s the point of staring at a screen without reading the caption or interacting with people? Do you remember that the pictures you see are (mainly) taken by actual people who put a tiny effort to create something. But also: what’s the point of following someone if you have no intention of interacting with them. Are you just another stalker? I know we are the voyeur generations, but how crazy is this? I have people – now blocked – who kept stalking me on my stories but would never interact with me via comments or likes (in fact a few of these people are actual friends from real life). So, nope, stop stalking me if you are not willing to give something back.

8. GEOTAG YOUR PHOTOS

Posting a photo of that cool restaurant or city you recently visited? Geotag it! This allows people who are researching for a specific place through the search bar can actually end up on your photos. Obviously, London and  New York already have millions of photos geotagged, so try to be more specific by tagging a neighbourhood or even a street or a shop/restaurant.

9 USE HASHTAGS, BUT NOT TOO MANY

Hashtags are a great way to get your photo seen by people who aren’t following you. But unlikely 7 years ago when I first started using the app when we were all aiming to get featured by the giant hubs, today is all about finding the right niche hashtags that fit with your gallery and style. 

How do you find the right hashtags for your account?

It’s been a few weeks now that I regularly take the time to “analyse” a profile or two that I like. I normally check out the kind of hashtags they use and then see how and who are using them. When you find good hashtags then check out the number of posts that hashtag has and what the top 9 grid looks like. I’ve recently read an article that suggests to use a mix of small (<10K pictures tagged), medium (between 10k and 100K pictures) and large (above 100K) to your pictures. I also read that using the whole available capacity of hashtags (30) can also get you into the shadowban (if you don’t know what this is, leave me a comment below and I’d be happy to explain it to you). 

I personally don’t like to see the hashtags directly posted on the caption, so I normally add them as a separate comment. I use an app to preview my feed which also allows me to save set of captions divided by theme/category. You can also do the same on your notes app on your phone. 

Some niche hashtags in travel are:

#vacationwolf , #traveltagged,  #lovefortravel

I’m also entering the Instagram digital nomads community, so I often use the followings hashtags:

Some popular lifestyle/architecture hashtags I like and use are: #seeksimplicity#flashesofdelight#thatsdarling#livethelittlethings,  #morningslikethese, most recently I fell in love with @theshopkeepers and I regularly check their #sharingaworldofshops.

10 THE POWER OF INSTAGRAM STORIES

Since we are a consuming-focused society, people are switching more and more to Instagram stories. They are totally passive, easy to consume and very much like television you can spend hours checking them. However, they are a great way to reach current and new followers. Most people use it to show some sort of behind the scenes, to make tutorial videos and so on, I personally use it to interact with my community on a more personal level. I still find it hard to be consistent with them now and that’s why I created for myself and my clients a sort of editorial calendar for the stories too. Also, an extra point you can achieve with the stories similar to the photos is to get featured on the Explore tab which will obviously boost your account. So these new users, if they like what they see, they might even give you a follow! This is another great reason to try to have an active Instagram story up at all times and maybe carefully features a few as highlights

 

Remember to use location and hashtags as you could be featured there too and exactly like with posts people search a lot by geotag and #s. (Do you know how to geotag a picture or add #s? if not, please let me know in the comments and I’ll write a specific post about it!)

WRAPPING UP – HOW TO GROW YOUR INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS

Well, I’ve been playing this “new game” for about two months now and I’ve realised that’s working. SLOOOOOWLY, but it’s working so, as long as I have the time to do it, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing as best as I can. That’s all for now folks! As requested by you, I’ll be sharing another article about how to work on Instagram very soon. Stay tuned.

And you? Do you have any other interesting strategies on how to grow your Instagram followers? Are you experiencing the opposite? Leave me a comment below or drop an email if you’d like to have a private free evaluation of your account (limited to the first 5 emails I receive).

by @the_stortyeller 
Sabrina Andrea Sachs is an Instagram Strategist – among other things – and in the past three years, I’ve helped dozens of brands and people build and grow their Instagram presence. With my 85k (total) followers and over 6 years of Instagram experience, I will be hosting my first Instagram workshop in Italy in September 2018 while my Instagram course will launch the following month. 

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Going home after a long time…

going home after long trip

I am going home after a long time

As you are reading this, I’m finally boarding the plane that will take me home to Italy. If I planned everything really well and there haven’t been any delays, in this exact moment, I should be taking off from Bangkok and toward Myanmar, India, UAE, Germany and eventually, home. I am finally sitting on board that same plane that I’ve already cancelled and postponed 3 times. It’s bittersweet, I’m still shit at saying goodbyes to old friends, new road friends and places, despite the millions I’ve already said in the last few months. But it is time.

I’ve finally accomplished all the things I wanted to do during this long solo journey and this chapter of my life is now completed. In the best way possible in fact. I could not ask for more since the main goal has been achieved. That is becoming a calmer, wiser, slower, finest, better version of myself. The world and its beautiful people have shaped that little, scared, lonely “girl” that was desperately crying at the airport in Istanbul in September 2015. That  girl does not exist anymore and she has been replaced by a stronger, fulfilled, empowered woman who loves herself and the world around. I can travel alone. I can travel alone for twenty months (and counting). And not only I can, I LOVE travelling solo! In fact travelling solo is THE BEST and nothing compares to it.

I am ready to go home also because I’ve managed to achieve my second, accidental goal. After so much struggle and hustle, doubts and failures, today and for the past few months, I am standing tall on the tiny successes of my location independent lifestyle and since it’s been exactly 12 months that I’ve been able to travel only with the income made on the road, I can finally call myself a real digital nomad and for thsis I stick a little invisible DN badge on my chest. YAY!! I made it. I freaking made it.

The journey has been incredible and so powerful and so amazing and especially humbling. The places and people I’ve met made me the person I am today. And I gotta be honest with you, I’m having a massive crush on me right now 😍. Like my first real self love in 32 years, mate.

As I have learnt so much about myself, I realised that I was more scared of the known than the unknown. I realised that the fear that normally entangles people to stay in normal lives was what boosted and fuelled my trip. Where others remain stuck in the intricated world of doubts, fears, insecurities, I took advantage of them and decided to shape new opportunities just for myself.

And I forgave myself. I realised that all the things I did, I said, I wanted were necessary. Every single little thing. Finally, I looked up to the mirror, deep into my big brown eyes  and while hugging my naked self, I said the words: “you are forgiven”. Because in life, sometimes, you can prepare yourself, but you cannot predict what life throws at you and you can’t blame yourself for wanting more, for having bigger dreams, expectations, love for life, for loving the unexpected more than the expected, for loving freedom more than boredom. You can just be you. And I can just be me.

And I am finally ready to go home 

In the past 20 months, I have had some of the most incredible experiences of my life, I have slept in the middle of  deserts, I climbed on top of mountains, volcanos and rocks, I’ve swum with turtles, dolphins, sea lions and clown fish, I have seen countless sunrises and sunsets, I have slept in 543875426043 hostels, campgrounds, luxury hotels and in my tiny tent on the side of many Aussie roads. I have been blessed by incredible people, my time was wasted by a couple of assholes too (hello, f***ing German mechanic in Cairns!!).

I’m scared but also excited for everything that lies in front of me during this Italian summer that I’ve been dreaming for a while. I am mentally getting ready to be overwhelmed with emotions, smells and tastes. I am already physically ready to welcome all those familiar hugs, kisses and strokes I’ve been missing for so long.

649 days.

20 months.

13 countries.

4 continents.

25 flights.

15 trains.

43 buses.

6 cars.

35 scooters.

3 bicycles.

1 camel.

Everything is exactly as it is meant to be

During all this time, I have planned little, the few plans I had were normally cancelled, postponed or changed. My return couldn’t have been any different. During my journey around the world, I always tried to get off the beaten track, often missing the must-see, must-dos, must-bes. Some days I was plain lazy, others too busy with work, others too sad to leave my bed, some days I was filled with such an intense joy that I thought my heart would explode. On this trip, I learnt what pure happiness means. I was blessed by it when I was staring at the Taj Mahal while the sun rose on the horizon and my incredible friend, Prabu took the beautiful photo that symbolises my trip.

I was overwhelmed with true joy when surfing for the first time in Sydney, but also when I was lying naked and alone on a beach in Western Australia or when I hiked the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand, danced the traditional dances in Fiji and Samoa, when I first tried Muay Thai in Chiang Mai, when I relaxed tubing in Laos, or while seeing my business blossom naturally and effortlessly after so many stops and failures. I was happy surfing again in Canggu, hugging a dear friend on top of the rice fields in Ubud, or while talking about love and commitment with a long-lasting stable couple or when I realised that perfect love does not exist and we are human with another favourite couple I am lucky to call my friends. And I was happy to discover that life is all this. It’s made of little, brief moments when everything is exactly as it’s meant to be and nothing, absolutely nothing, could be any better.

Because everything is already perfect. It is as it is meant to be.

SEO storyteller

Am I ready to go home?

Of course not. I thought I would by now, but the thing is that no one ever feels completely ready when the moment to board that last plane comes. Surely no one who has the bad habit of setting super high expectations for themselves. And I’m guilty of that, of course. Nobody feels as changed as they had planned to be when they firstly left home. Personally, I don’t know if I have truly changed or if my current conditions and mindset make me act as a different person to whom I was before. What I do know now, and I know it really well, is what freedom tastes like. And it tastes like sea water and honey, watermelon and chilli. And it tastes like Life.

During my journey, I also learnt the meaning of losing everything. Of feeling lost and really alone. Of not knowing who you are or what do you belong to. But the most important lesson of the entire trip was that Another Life is Possible. If you really lose everything, if you don’t have anything else to lose, then you gotta start all over and build something new, something amazing just for yourself. And believe that you can

I am scared. 

I know I’ve lived as much as I could. Not by ticking off things off of a list, I’ve only been to 13 countries in 20 months, but by embracing the people and the world around me. By letting it go under my skin, day by day, person by person.
I am not going home only after 20 months of travel around the world, I am going home exactly after 10 years of living abroad and away from my family and friends.

It’s freaking scary. It’s overwhelming and is frightening and exciting. As I walk down into the tunnel to the plane, there are thousands of emotion exploding inside me. While I was packing Frank (my big backpack), one more time, I had tears in my eyes. Today, I learnt to welcome all these emotions as I know they are all part of the journey, they are all part of life. And I also know that soon enough I will be going back to the other home I’ve created for myself. The one up there in the sky. Or on the road. Because I feel home everywhere. The world is my home. Because my home is everywhere and anywhere I have been. But also where I haven’t been yet.

They say home is where the heart is

But my heart is wild and free

So am I homeless or just heartless

Did I start this, did it start me

They say fear is for the brave

For cowards never stare it in the eye

So am I fearless to be fearful

Does it take courage to learn how to cry

So many winding roads

So many miles to go

(Passenger)

I am always gonna be fine

But as I went through security, as I got another exit stamp on my passport, as I am sitting on this plane, I feel stronger. Stronger than ever. Because the road taught me that I will be fine. I will be fine always and everywhere. Nothing can break me because nothing was fixed to start with. The truth is that not only I found myself. But I found that little, permanent home, just inside myself. The perfect place to rest after a long day, the cosy home I made for me only. In a world where nothing is permanent, constant, I learnt that I AM my own constant element in the equation of life.

Only me on both side of the equal sign. And it’s more than enough.

going home after a long time

Embrace Life as it comes

It’s impossible to know what might happen next. Or why. What this situation will bring to you. Or which way you will take when faced with a big decision. Why some things will be destroyed. What makes some other blossom, die or change. How people get sick, change or leave. How people can love you, make promises, break them, break your heart. Live without you. Forget you. It’s impossible to explain why children die while the sun still rises every morning. It is impossible to understand. But it is unavoidable.

It took me 5 years, 1 month and 2 days to become the person I dreamed to become. To fully transform the little girl I once was into the woman I imagined I could be. I aspired to be. I ought to be. It took so much out of me. It broke me into a million little pieces, but they say that sometimes you need to smash a crumbling house in order to build a stronger one. And so I did.

Set fire to your boats

I set fire to the boats of my safe life, I scratched my title and experiences, I chose freedom while fear, hustles and struggles were burning all around me. And I fell. Oh gosh, I fell so deep. I burnt myself too.

I felt more alone than ever. It was like I was the only person remained in the universe. But that was ok too. Because alone was what I needed. What I wanted and because by learning to be alone I became much stronger, so much wider, so much better.

I no longer beg for attention, for love. I no longer need love to fix me. The waves crashing on the beach, the birds singing, the clouds moving above my head, a familiar tune in the background, a smile of a stranger, my own smile. All of this are enough. They are more than enough, they are everything.

They are everything.

My life, my wonderful life, like all lives, so impermanent, so imperfect, so fragile, yet so powerful, so mesmerising, so scary. So remarkable. So mine.

going home after long time

Live life to the fullest.

Exit your comfort zone. Feel uncomfortable, feel scared. Do something on your own. Miss your friends. Feel lonely. Eat the food you’re not used to. Pack your backpack, sweat. Sleep on bunk beds. Sleep in the middle of the desert. Don’t sleep and party all night. Rise early. And feel strong, feel connected. Lose yourself. Lose everything. Just let it be. Breath. Look at a beautiful sunset on the other side of the world. And feel at home wherever you are. Feel that you are exactly where you need to be in this moment. Live in the present, forget the past, don’t stress about the future. They do not exist. Be. Here. Now.

Make it remarkable. 

So yes, after these last 20 months exploring the world, exploring myself, loving the world, loving myself, I am ready to go home. I am ready to go home after a long time.

 

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going home after a long time

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“Mystery” Revealed: How I afford to Travel

money

The question I get asked the most is:

Why ?

Why I left my job to go travelling?

It is usually accompanied by wide-open eyes and incredulous disbelief.

I actually never seriously thought about the answer up to when I really had to think about it for an interview I was giving. It was the right time to stop the automated answering-machine of the “I needed a change / I wanted to see the world”.

It was time to be honest with others and mostly myself and I finally put it out there and you can read the latest version here.

The second thing I get asked more frequently is How? Or better:

How do you afford to travel?

This question is  also normally accompanied with wide-open eyes and huge curiousity, suspicion, envy and/or a good degree of hope.

Well, let me tell you now once and forever. I’ve answered this question many, many times individually, but I’ve limited free time now so I don’t want to do it anymore. I will be replying to all the future messages with a link to this post and as I’ve been working on it for weeks I believe I’ve created something really honest, comprehensive and clear. So, I’m pretty sure the below -with some percentage variations- will be valid throughout 2016. Unless, something major will change in my income flow (like I win the lottery! Hurrah!), in which case I will promptly update this post. 🙂

I hope I’ll be able to answer all your questions and curiosity, but if, after reading through, you still have doubts or need advice, please feel free to leave me a comment below and I’ll try to answer and help you the best way possible.

Like my very good friend and inspiring travel blogger Gloria said in an Huffington Post article that went viral last year: “People think there’s this magic formula out there. This one-size-fits-all-encompassing route that gives everyone an equal chance of seeing the world.”

There is not such a formula!

You are alone and you need to find your own formula and make it work for you and only you know which one is it. I won’t tell you what to do, not will I say that my path is the one you need to follow. This is my experience and it can work for you or cannot.

So, let’s set things straight right away.

 [This is a long, honest post, so if you wish to read the juice, short answer, you can jump to a few paragraphs below to the first numbered  list]

I am not a millionaire and my family isn’t either. In fact, my family probably sits in the lower end of the Italian middle-class AND I’ve been independent since I was 14.

Yup, at that age I got my first job, waitressing in restaurants, cafes and pubs. That year I received one of the “worst news ever” for a girl that age: I suddenly had to wear spectacles and, as I was competing at regional and national level in gymnast tournaments, I surely did not want to do that: I had to buy contact lenses and my  parents would never approve such an superfluous  expense.  week after the diagnosis, I got my first job. I was 14 and I never took a break up to last May (2015), when I left my 8-year corporate job.

I’m 31 years old now.

That means that I’ve worked 16 years straight in my life.

NON – STOP.

You probably already know where this is going, but let’s do some melancholic and nostalgic fast-rewind first that will help you to have a clearer picture of how I afford to travel.
At the age of 17, bored of my low-paid waitressing job, I decided to spend a summer entertaining German and French  kids in a resort in Sicily, Italy. The same year, as I had to pay for my driving license, my income wasn’t enough so I managed to get a leafleting job in the afternoon in the freezing winters in northern Italy, and another one at a bakery on Sundays where I had to start at 6am, get changed in the car around 12pm to go to my other restaurant job for another 8-10 hour shift.

Later on, when I was at uni, I had four jobs at the same time AND attended lessons.

Yes, I was tired. Actually I was exhausted most of the time. I wasn’t great at uni and I often fell asleep in class or missed  lessons because I was too tired to drag my poor body and mind out of bed, or I had to take extra shifts but I was saving money.

So, what happened after?

Well, after my shining 8-year career in the hospitality industry – while I saw and experienced very little of what people my age where doing – it was time to move on and hope for a new, more-rewarding, less tiring job and I happened to find a (paid) internship in London.

Most people would say that I was lucky (but I don’t believe in luck, so call me that if you wish, but I know I worked my a** to be at the right place at the right moment. So, Mrs Luck has very little to do with this story (or my life in general; but this is another article I’m writing at the moment).

The internship which was meant to last only two and half months, ended up lasting 6 months (insert here: I worked 12 hours, went the extra mile on every single project, took on more projects than expected and beaten the competition) and again, as money were not enough as an intern, I got an evening job in a pub too. Bear in mind that at that time I didn’t finish uni yet. I was still writing my thesis while working two jobs and trying to enjoy London too!

After I graduated, I got hired on a permanent basis by the company where I was interning and there you go, I was on the corporate ladder in no time.

From here, I don’t want to bother you with the details of all my achievements, frustrations, fights, tears, FOMOs, promotions, loneliness and injustice I went through to get where I was last year. Let’s just say I spent 8 years working extremely hard  in corporate, less-corporate, non-corporate companies in London and Milan to arrive where I wanted to be by the age of 30.

Throughout my first 30 years on this planet I also made a lot of sacrifices – not going out drinking, clubbing, dining or spending money on stupid things (even though I have done that a few times!) while consciously keeping my greater goal in mind.

When I did entered the forth decade of my life and I had to change the number 2 with the number 3 in front of my age, I was, in fact, proud, satisfied and accomplished in all my career goals and it was time to do something new. It was time to open that mental drawer where I secretly herded all my sheepish dreams and take them out and see what would happen.unknown.gif

Saving is my lucky pot at the end of the rainbow, a pot I’ve built for myself through the years and where nobody ever chipped anything on my behalf. Nope, my parents never gave me any financial support, if we exclude the time I had to change tires of my car and I had not enough savings.

earned  every cent that now represents the fuel I’m currently and slowly burning to explore this wonderful planet of ours.

What else am I doing?

I’ve decided to be completely honest with you as I think there is already so much bulls*** online about bloggers who show off their full-time blogging career when daddy is actually paying all their expensive stays and first-class flights around the world. Or where in fact bloggers and instagrammers are sent off to wonderful locations (Yes, I’ve done it too!), but for free, so they are not actually earning a living, they are simply having a great holiday in a fantastic place and the price tag for that is a blog post or a few insta-pictures. Well, a little advice here: don’t get fooled by those who say you can make a living out of blogging. They can’t. You can’t. I can’t. 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999999% can’t live J U S T off of blogging (and I’m including Instagram here). I saw and know too many people who left their solid job to pursue a career as blogger or Instagramer and the majority of them failed miserably. I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m saying it’s truly hard and uber competitive. For a million users who are dreaming to travel the world on press trips and a suitcase pack filled with sponsored gears, there is one or two who actually do. For a 10000 who receive gifts and props there are a handful who (ask to) get paid. And no, I don’t get paid to *just* travel and sit by a pool drinking cocktails after a Swedish message at a spa. I wish! 🙂

unknown.gifKeeping this truth in mind, I knew that once I left my safe job, I had to re-invent myself and possibly create a new me.

So, let’s fast-forward to last Summer when I actually left my prestigious job to pursue my passions and my desire to travel.

What did I do exactly? I decided to become a portfolio worker, or a creative freelancer or a jack of all trades, call it what you like: I’m somebody who’s left behind the idea of sitting in an office for 40 years, but is realistic about her needs and will work hard to make ends meet.

Wrapping up the answer now, mystery is finally solved! Here is how I afford to travel. It doesn’t mean it is how you can afford to travel, it doesn’t mean you need to copy and paste the below to your life.

As I said above, you need to find your own magic formula!

Here is how I diversified my income  (as you can read in more details under my Contact page):

  1. Savings (as mentioned above and there is a whole chapter about minimalism and saving I’m going to write about soon…
  2. Management consulting/Project Management: the same job I did before but for my own clients and on a freelance basis now;
  3. Writing
    • Magazines: The Guardian, Il Sole 24 Ore, Mission and others
    • Blog posts, guest posts and reviews
    • Ghost writing (you would be shocked to know the amount of famous bloggers who actually don’t blog at all!!!)
  4. Photography:
    • photographic assignments: travel, lifestyle editorial and commercial (since February 2016, I’m represented by Townsend/London
    • Instagram coverage
    • prints – check my shop now! My first photographic memoir about India is available in pre-order now with 20% discount till end of February, Shipping worldwide from September 2016
    • photography workshop (you can book your ticket for the next one on my shop)
    • photographic content for my clients’ channels
  5. Social media:
    • Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat strategies and campaigns, competitions, brand ambassadorships, takeovers for small, medium, large clients in travel, leisure and lifestyle. You might have seen some on my channels but others are handled completely behind the scene (anonymously) by me
  6. Affiliation: you might have noticed that in the last few posts I’ve added some affiliated links. I’ve only used these for products I LOVE and brands I TRUST. It’s an incredibly tiny income (0.12$ in December! YAY!), but every little helps, right? By the way, it doesn’t cost you anything extra, but it gives me a micro percentage of your purchase.

So it’s H A R D and you might be thinking that I’m suggesting to give up your dreams, but I’m not. I’m actually giving your some

Practical Tips:

  1. Jump like Tarzan.
    Yes, don’t leave your current liana before you safely caught the next on: If you have one, keep your safe, permanent job as long as necessary before you start your gardening, photography, writing, knitting, painting or whatever business you want to get in. Keep your focus and goal, but don’t get fooled by the people bragging about how easy it is. It is not easy. And it requires loads of work, day and night, weekends included.
  2. Keep doing what you love on the side, until you are 80% sure that your new creative lifestyle can be sustainable.  Keep doing it  because you love it not because you seek success or you think you deserve success.You don’t.
    I don’t.Nobody was born with the granted amount of success. Or money.Maybe your art will be successful or maybe mine will. But I know for a fact that what people appreciate the most (even in terms of Instagram likes if you want), is when I put my heart our there when I share my creativity and not when I think I got a good shot or I’m aiming for thousands of likes.
  3. Ask yourself this simple question:
    Are you willing to try without the success or without the guarantee of success (and I’m not talking just about financial success), or not?Because if you are not, then perhaps you shouldn’t pursue a creative life. Maybe this isn’t the right path for you. Perhaps you should get your head around the fact that if you mainly want money and fame, there are plenty of jobs that pay extremely well (I just left one behind) and the path to get those is tough but not as tough as in the art / creative world.But, on the other hand, if you are really committed to your dream and your art, well then forget the money, stick to your job and keep creating on the side (at sunrise or at night if necessary!)
  4. Save. Save. Save.
    Yes, I hear you, your answer is: “Well, you *did* leave your job!”Yeah, I did, but before doing that I spent years saving up for this big jump. I carefully decided exactly my moves and crafted a budget that  allowed me to take the risk without becoming homeless but actually travelling in the meantime. As I said, I’m a realistic dreamer: 2016 is the year of my leap of faith, the plan is to eliminate the use of #1 and #2 from my revenue stream above while increasing the others. Is it possible? I don’t know yet, what I do know is that I’m working super hard to get there, I will work extra-time and constantly pushing the boundaries of my creativity, inspiration and comfort zone.And unless you are willing to do the same (or have very rich parents/partner), don’t jump. The cliff is extremely deep, wide and dangerous. If you jump without a working parachute, you are mad. No, you are stupid.
    And stupid people don’t succeed. They normally just smash on the ground and then bother others to pick them up. Well, I’m not going to pick anybody up because… Well, because I told you not to jump in the first place 😉
  5. Don’t set yourself  an irrational monetary target, if you do, you are going to fail. When you try to create anything under that pressure, you won’t be able to to put your heart in it and your work will be s***, your art will pay the consequences and ultimately you will too.So. Just. Don’t.So, my ultimate honest and heartfelt advice?
  6. Get a job that pays well, start saving from your very first check. Expand your knowledge and become a portfolio worker rather than a specialist. Or, at the opposite, become the best expert of a niche where you can indeed expect to be paid extraordinarily well. Stick to the job until you are ready. Then, and only then, set off for your trip/start-up/restaurant/art studio whatever you have in mind.

Is it hard? Immensely.

Is it fun? Absolutely.

Is the best choice I have ever made? No doubt.

Think about these points and make your own decision and ask yourself: am I still willing to sacrifice my savings, my free time with an extra job and maybe sell my beloved possessions?

Well, if you are, get ready and go. If you are not then, maybe you can try with the lottery or wait for that third-degree auntie to leave you a million $ inheritance.I’m going to leave you with  two examples of success that I’ve recently came across.

One is Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the world phenomenon Eat, Love and Pray, who kept her three jobs while and after publishing that book. Now, here we are talking about millions and millions of dollars, but still she kept waitressing during the day and writing at night. What does tell you? If you really love your art, you will find the time to dedicate some time and maybe, just maybe it could become your full-time job.

The second is an insightful podcast interview to Lauren P. Bath one of my ever favourite and most inspirational instagramers and one of the earliest “influencer” (probably when that profession didn’t even exist!) She worked super hard both in her career as a chef and later as an Instagramer/marketing strategist. She never took anything for granted. So, why should you? Listen to the podcast here.

And, remember…

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Start Somewhere.

Make it Remarkable. 

[And about books, if you wish to join our bookclub and discuss about her latest best seller Big Magic , register your attendance here.]

The moment you stop expecting success and money from your art,
you will finally be free to create and dedicate your heart and soul solely to the purpose of art.
Nothing else.

 

Pushkar – A photo Essay

Last post: Jaipur | Next: Udaipur
Stay Tuned on #thestoryteller_inIndia and Steller

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Copyright © 2015 Sabrina Andrea Sachs. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on these pages are copyrighted by Sabrina Andrea Sachs. No part of these pages, either text or image may be used for any purpose. Therefore, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system or retransmission, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise is strictly prohibited without prior written permission. If you are interested in buying any copy or prints, please email me to thestorytellerphotos@gmail.com

Agra – A Photo Essay

Agra is that one city that everybody who visits India has to pass through. Not because it has something special, but because it’s very close  to something extraordinary and famous in the entire world. A little bit like Alice Springs in Australia or Anaheim in California, Agra is a gateway to something else, something pretty incredible in fact, it is not exactly a city you would normally include in your itinerary if it didn’t host the best, grandest, most beautiful monument on Earth – at least, in my humble opinion.  Something that everybody in Europe, USA, South America, Australia and the rest of Asia has seen at least once in a postcard, TV or a magazine.
I’m obviously talking about the Taj Mahal, that one and only building I wanted to see since I was 5 or even younger as I found a postcard and fell in love with it straight away. 25 years later and having brought that card with me in 3 different cities across two countries where I lived in the past,  the dream became real as I was standing in front of all its grand beauty.

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal, the white marble mausoleum on the southern bank of the Yamuna River is in fact a tomb that Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned for his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal.  It took about thirty years and about 20,000 artisans to complete, but Shah Jahan didn’t actually had time to enjoy the outstanding monument as his son quickly imprisoned him to take over the reign.

Anyhow, enough words for now, I let this white, huge, moving, perfect building speak for itself.

Photo Tips:

#1 Leave  your tripod and big expensive lens at home. They might let you only take one camera/lens, definitely not a tripod or a gorillapod and you will be asked to leave it outside, no storage facility from the gate I entered, so I kindly had a shopkeeper looking after my stuff while I was inside.

#2 Enter from the southern gate, it’s the least popular for some reasons, but the queue is also the faster one.

#3 If possible, go there in the morning as soon as it opens (normally at sunrise), to get some nice #empty shots, but stay there until people arrive to give some scale to the building. If you wish/can, you should go back around sunset to capture the changing colours of the marble. Ideally, find a place to set your camera on a stone or something for a long time-lapse.

#4 Boat trips are not longer available; the river’s water is very polluted, therefore dangerous  – however, local people keep having sacred baths by its shores.

#5 Tickets are 750Rs (about £7.50) for foreigners . It’s worth going back if you have the time!

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While in Agra, there is also another outstanding place you should visit: Agra Fort, the one fort (among millions) you must visit while in India. The photo essay continues:

Stay tuned for my Indian adventures!

On the right track…

Why on the right track? Because, cycling is cool again. Thanks to the Olympics and Bradley Wiggins, owning a bike and being able to get around London on it, now represents an achievement. We are back on the right track because cycling respects the environment and allows us to do some inexpensive exercise on top of seeing the world at a different pace from an overground perspective.

But cycling is back also around the world, and a little selection of my bikes’ hunt from my travels exhibited at Vinarius in London, wants to show that people are cycling again and more than ever, not only here, but also in Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, Ubud, Venice, Rome and beyond… In this show, bikes are pictured as models, as status symbols as objects of desire or as part of our daily life. But what if you couldn’t ride? What if your disabilities didn’t allow you to cycle the world? What if your legs wouldn’t collaborate when you were sitting on your shining fixie?

On the Right Track supports Wheels for Wellbeing a Brixton-based charity that removes barriers to cycling. Through their person-centred approach they enhance disabled people’s lives by ensuring that anyone can access the physical, emotional, practical and social benefits of cycling. For this reason, and to get us all back On the Right Track, I’ve opened a JustGiving page where I’m hoping to raise £500. Any piece sold through this exhibition will contribute to this goal with 100% of the sale given to “Wheels for Wellbeing”.

These pictures are available in other size, type and format; if interested please contact me to thestorytellerphotos@gmail to arrange your prints and/or make an “offline donation”.

If you are not interested in any prints, but still wish to contribute directly to the fundraising, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/OnTheRightTrack to make a donation.

Thank you for your help and support.

 

In loving memory of P, a great cyclist who helped me to get back…

On My Right Track