Canadian travel addict La Carmina is “one of the best-known names in the blogging world”, has written three books and hosted dozens of TV shows for some of the world’s biggest networks.
Not bad when you consider she only started her fashion and travel blog as a fun hobby.
Read on to find out how she built herself up to become one of the biggest faces in media. We also got some tips from La Carmina on how to make YOUR blog just as successful. You might even get a job as a TV presenter if you play your cards right.
1. How did you know you wanted to work in the media?
To be honest, I never found traditional media that appealing as I was growing up. In my teens, I dabbled in newspaper writing but found the format to be rather stifling. When I started my La Carmina blog in 2007, I realized that this “new medium” was a perfect fit. Blogging let me put my personality and passions into my stories and photos. It gave me the freedom to build my own career, on my own terms. As my La Carmina site grew, it led to travel journalism work, two book contracts (with Random House and Penguin), and appearances on TV shows like Bizarre Foods, ABC Nightline, and various Travel Channel, Discovery and National Geographic programs. Funnily enough, establishing myself first in new media (blogs and social networks) enabled me to work in traditional media — in a way that felt right.
2. How did you get started?
I always enjoyed non-fiction writing, and dabbled in web design in high school. I discovered blogs quite early on, and started my La Carmina site in 2007 – back when blogging as a career was unheard of. I simply did it as a creative outlet, without any expectations, and it grew beyond anything I could have imagined.
3. What’s been the most important moment in your career so far?
It’s hard to pinpoint one, since everything is constantly evolving. For example, I never thought that blogging could lead to regular work as a TV host and producer. Some of the highlights include being on travel television shows like Bizarre Foods, The Doctors, Oddities, Taboo and an upcoming network series that I can’t reveal yet, with some household names. In the past years, travel has become an integral part of the “La Carmina universe.” Thanks to my work as an influencer and travel blogger, I’ve been able to visit dream destinations: safaris in South Africa, temples of Angkor Wat, hidden elf caves in Iceland, henna and beauty workshops in Morocco, and other adventures worldwide.
4. Talk us through your day…
Each day is different. I generally have “travel days” and “work at home days.” For the former, I focus entirely on exploring and capturing a destination, meeting locals, and immersing myself to the fullest. This year alone, I travelled to 12 countries for jobs, including Vietnam, Singapore, the UK and Portugal. When I’m on the road, I try to keep computer work to a minimum so that I can make the most of my travel experience. It’s the opposite when I’m home — I’m glued to the screen, catching up on photo editing, writing, business emails, contracts, planning next projects, and other work.
5. What are the best things about doing what you do?
Travel and friends. I’m very lucky to work with my close friends Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann, who are professional filmmakers and produce and direct the videos for my travel series (which is published in Business Insider, Huffington Post and Yahoo). We’ve filmed episodes about alternative art and culture in Dubai, Maldives, Budapest and more, which you can see on their Borderless Media site. Now, we’re leaping into the new technology of virtual reality, which lets you capture environments in 360 degrees. With a headset, you’ll feel like you are actually traveling with me, in the Fez market or looking over a view of Lisbon! Our most recent virtual reality travel films are found on their Radius VR site.
6. What are the worst?
With a job like mine, nothing is ever stable. Plans change, and projects can fall through. Sometimes, everything happens at once and you’re scrambling to meet all your deadlines and responsibilities.
7. What do you think people don’t realise about your job?
There’s a lot of back and forth, contracts, logistics and meetings before something takes off. A 3-minute travel video can be the result of months of negotiations!
8. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Create your own niche out of your passions. A lot of fashion and travel bloggers / influencers go on the same trips, or write outfit posts or destination guides in the same ways. If I had tried to fit a certain mould, I wouldn’t have the multi-faceted career that I have today.
9. What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the industry?
Don’t cut corners when it comes to learning and quality. Some people think that all that matters is number of likes, or social media popularity. However, this type of goal is insubstantial, and doesn’t give meaning. I always encourage people to learn, be curious, and work hard on skills like writing and video editing. Experiment with the latest technologies, as we are dong with virtual reality film-making. In the long run, this will build a strong foundation that you can apply to any field.
10. Have you ever had a moment of self-doubt? What happened and how do you get through those?
I think it’s human nature to have doubts and self-judgments all the time. The important thing is to be aware when these feelings arise, and see them for what they are — instead of getting lost in them.
In recent years, I’ve been putting a greater focus on looking inward and investigating the nature of the mind. I don’t talk about this much online, but it’s helped me maintain stability, no matter what life throws at you.
11. What would you say to your 15-year-old self?
It’s a good thing that you aren’t like your fellow 15-year-olds! Pursue and express your alternative interests to the fullest, without regard to what anyone thinks. And don’t worry.
12. What are your career goals?
I never imagined that starting a blog would lead to what I do today – so it’s hard to set exact goals, as everything is constantly shifting. I’ve been enjoying my recent work as a travel TV host, and would love to keep pursuing that. In addition, my team – Radius VR – and I are excited about the possibilities of virtual reality films, especially in sharing travel experiences. We’re keen to keep on pioneering this new technology in the next years, and launch a virtual reality travel TV series.