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Going beyond free hotel stays: Meet 13 Inspiring Influencers who give value to their audience.

How to go beyond free hotel stays as an influencer.

In recent years there has been a rise in the amount of people who call themselves influencers. But what does it really mean?

I read an article recently from The Atlantic titled “Instagram’s Wanna-Stars are Driving Luxury Hotels Crazy” .

The article states that “Hotels are being forced to figure out how to work with a new class of brand-peddling marketers”.

Like many of you, when I first started using Instagram, I had stars in my eyes. I saw so many incredible feed’s with beautiful women and couples who travel the world and stay in amazing places.

I thought ” Wow, if I gain enough followers I can also work with those brands and get to stay in the most incredible hotels for free.”

Then I realized how much content I needed to create to get those “free” stays. And since starting The Offbeat Life podcast I have met incredible content creators who opened my eyes to what being an influencer really means.

I began to realize that to be an influencer, I needed to make a real difference. A difference that will not only help myself but also other people.

An influencer must have a real purpose that is valuable to their audience and skills that are  assets to brands.

The hard work and dedication that comes from being an influencer deserves more than just a “free” hotel stay.

So if you are a budding influencer, do not look at the amount of followers you have but the amount of lives you are impacting. If you can make a difference in one persons life then you are an influencer.

So, let’s move pass the freebies and create a difference that will provide a purpose for our work and allow us to make a real difference in the world.

Here are the top 13 inspiring  influencers who give value to their audience.

1) Jacob Fu and Esther Julee : Travel Bloggers – Local Adventurer

Jacob and Esther’s travel blogging career is what many wanna-be bloggers aspire to have one day.

They are one of the top 15 travel bloggers in the World and have worked with countless of brands such as Patagonia, REI, South Africa tourism board and so much more.

The Local Adventurer blog was started because  when they left Atlanta to move out west they  regretted not exploring the home town they have lived in for most of their lives.

Their purpose has been to “be grateful for whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, to see our hometown, state or country with fresh eyes, and to be open to new experiences and take baby steps outside our comfort zones”.

Today, Jacob and Esther live in a different city every year and have been able to create a successful fulltime travel blogging career that allows people to see their own city in a new light.

They are also coming out with a new e-course soon that will help you Become a 6 Figure Blogger. Stay tuned for more info on the Launch!

You can listen to their story on an episode with Jacob where he shares How to Create a Profitable Travel Blog.

2) Andrea Valeria:  Vlogger (Video Blogger) – It’s a Travel O.D. 

Andrea Valeria who is a Vlogger (video vlogger) gives her audience fun and realistic behind the scenes on what it is really like to live as a digital nomad.

Her videos will not only make you want to visit the places she has lived in, but also become inspired by her words that motivate other creators to keep the hustle going, even when the going gets tough.

Thinking of starting your own Vlog? Check out Andrea’s book “So you want to Vlog”, where she gives the most amazing tips and tricks to be a successful vlogger.

Not only is Andrea an expert Vlogger she is also passionate about highlighting creators who give true value to their audience and their clients – she started the #redefininginfluencers movement. Check it out and support Andrea’s cause!

You can listen to Andrea’s episode where she shares how leaving your 9-5 will not guarantee success unless you work hard to achieve it. 

3) Jennifer O’Brien – Content Creator and Founder of The Travel Women

Jennifer created The Travel Women community where she empowers women to travel outside their comfort zone.

Jen is also an expert Photographer, videographer, dronographer  and 360-  which makes her extremely valuable to brands who want quality and beautiful work.

Not only is Jennifer incredibly talented but she genuinely cares and has helped so many people connect with one another through travel.

You can listen to Jennifer’s story to find out how to create a travel community for women. 

4) Kat Gaskin:  Creative and Entrepreneur – Salty Pineapple


A post shared by Salty Pineapple 🍍 (@katgaskin) on

If you have come across the quote” Be a pineapple: Stand tall, wear a crown and be sweet on the inside.” Then you have seen  a glimpse of what Kat is capable of.

Kat Gaskin is the perfect blend of Creator and Entrepreneur. She has shown versatility in content creation, marketing and has a shop The Salty Pineapple.

Check out the shop to get a piece of the sweet pineapple and tropical vibe she has been spreading around.

You can listen to Kat Gaskin’s episode where she shares how to overcome missed opportunities and so much more!

5) Meagan Morrison – Travel and Fashion Illustrator – Travel Write Draw


A post shared by Meagan Morrison (@travelwritedraw) on

When I think of a woman who has truly blended her passions together to create a successful career, I immediately think of Meagan Morrison.

Meagan is a travel and fashion illustrator who created a new niche in order to do what she truly loves.

Meagan not only provides a unique take on travel through her illustrations, but also gives her Travel Write Draw community inspiring words and motivation to also pursue their passions.

You can listen to Meagan’s full journey where she shares how to be a trail blazer and deal with the pressure to succeed. 

6) Gret Glyer – Public Speaker and Founder of Donor See


A post shared by Gret Glyer (@gretglyer) on

Gret is the founder of DonorSee a company that is redefining the meaning of charity by allowing the donor to quickly and easily help the worlds poorest while seeing the results in raw video footage.

Gret shows us that changing the world can come from small acts of kindness which can create a ripple that changes the world.

Gret is the epitome of what real meaningful influence should be: changing the world and peoples circumstances for the better.

You can listen to Gret’s incredible journey and how he was able to create the Uber of charity.

7) Celinne Da Costa – Brand Story Coach –


A post shared by Celinne Da Costa (@celinnedacosta) on

Celinne Da Costa is not your average Influencer. Yes, she has amazing travel photos on Instagram, but she’s not there to get the free hotel stays.

Celinne is a brand story coach. What does that mean you say? Well, she helps brands and individuals create compelling stories that will resonate with their audience.

She’s worked with fortune 500 companies and individuals who want to grow their brand and scale their business. Celinne is also a big advocate for traveling the world and making real and genuine connections with every individual she meets.

Listen to Celinne’s amazing story and learn how to reverse engineer your fears.

8) Raha Moharrak – Public Speaker and the first Saudi woman to  summit the 7 highest peaks in  the world –


A post shared by Living Curiously (@rahamoharrak) on

Raha Moharrak is the first and youngest Saudi woman to ever summit the highest peaks in the world.

Raha is a public speaker who inspires women all over the world to live their life to the fullest and to push their boundaries.

Since her successful climb to the 7 summits, Raha has made it her mission to inspire other women to tap into their own potential despite the obstacles they will face.

You can listen to Raha’s full interview on how to deal with criticism and turn responsibility into an opportunity and much more.  

9) Meagan Cignoli – Founder and Creative Director of Visual Country


A post shared by Meagan Cignoli (@meagancignoli) on

When Meagan Cignoli uploaded her first stop motion video on Vine, she could not have predicted that a hobby and creative outlet would turn in to a multi-million dollar business a few years later.

Meagan founded the company Visual country and has worked with hundreds of brands such as Lowes, Tiffany and Co., Netflix, Google and so much more!

Meagan’s passion and talent shows on every content she creates and she continues to inspire so many budding artists today.

Listen to Meagan’s story on how to turn a hobby into a multi million dollar company.

10) Michelle Schroeder-Gardner – Personal Finance Expert and creator of Making Sense of Cents

Michelle created an incredible blog Making Sense of Cents that allows her to help people become wiser with their finances and encourage others to earn more, save more, and live more.

Michelle and her husband lived in their RV for several years, traveling across the country. They have recently made a change and traded their RV for a sailboat!

Michelle’s journey is so unique and she earns over 100k a month helping people become financially savvy.

You can listen to Michelle’s story on How to create a million dollar blog. 

11) Sara Melotti – Photographer and the founder of Quest for Beauty 


A post shared by Sara Melotti (@saramelotti_) on

Sara started out as a dancer and then became a fashion photographer. After working for 3 years as a fashion photographer she realized that she was promoting unrealistic standards of beauty.

This led Sara to travel the world and create Quest for Beauty- showcasing the beauty of every woman.

She has also gained recognition with her article How Instagram created a monster – which exposes the tricks that Instagrammers are using to gain more likes and following.

Today, Sara is an advocate for womens rights and being an euthentic content creator.

You can listen to Sara’s story where she shares how to stay authentic as a content creator. 


12) Erin Lowry – Public speaker and author of “Broke Millennial”


A post shared by Erin Lowry (@brokemillennialblog) on

Growing up Erin was given so many valuable lessons by her parent’s that she was able to take with her into adulthood. Lessons that allowed her to conquer finances at a young age by being debt free and financially savvy.

This knowledge led her to create the Broke Millennial blog which later turned into a best selling book “Broke Millennial”.

Today, Erin travels around the country as a speaker promoting her highly successful book “Broke Millenial” and continues to help others Get their financial life together #GYFLT.

Erin shares incredible insights on how to live well and spend your money wisely.

You can listen to Erin’s story and how to go from flat-broke to financial badass.

13)  Elise Darma – Digital Nomad Entrepreneur and Founder of Canopy Content 

Elise Darma is a travelpreneur who has created a business she can run from anywhere.

Elise helps online brands grow through their social media channels. Elise gives valuable tips on how to grow your business through Instagram.

She has create an incredible brand that not only helps you grow your business but allows you to do it in your own terms and live the freedom lifestyle.

You can listen to Elise’s tips on how to use your current skills to become a traveling freelancer. 



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Going Beyond Likes and Follows: How Instagram friendships have changed my life.

How Instagram friendships have changed my life.

I know there are so many of you- myself included who have been extremely frustrated with this platform.

The constant change of the algorithm, unauthentic “influencers” who are buying likes and followers, our followers no longer seeing the posts we work so hard on. I can go on and on but, there are enough articles and blog posts about this issue, am I right?

Let’s talk about the biggest reasons Instagram has changed my life and how it may have changed yours too!

I can talk about the extra income we can make or the countless careers that have sprung up just by sharing images and videos on your phone screen. Who knew taking selfies of your self in beautiful destinations can create legit income?

These opportunities are incredible, but the biggest reason why Instagram has changed my life is because of the friendships that I have made from it.

Years ago if you wanted to find like-minded peeps who did similar things you would either have to place an ad, answer an ad or meet someone totally random in a chatroom. Sounds super safe right! No? Yeah, we had it rough back then.

Now we can make friendships and “stalk” so much easier just by logging on to Facebook or IG and following others who share similar interests, and guess what? It becomes even easier to connect with them when you can just send a message and receive a response within hours sometimes minutes.

For so many of us who live an Offbeat Life, it can be tough to find connections with people who get our quirks and our special kind of crazy. It can be an extremely lonely feeling and we may not have the right support system around us. I talk to my IG friends who are now real life friends daily and they get the every day struggle to hustle.

In the last year that I have become a “serious” Instagrammer, I have made the best connections with the most talented and unique individuals whom I may never have met if it were not for this platform.

Here are 5 ways Instagram friendships have changed my life:

1. I am constantly inspired and motivated by the creativity that I am surrounded by, which makes me a better content creator.

Yes, we can get caught up with the success of other people, but if we use this platform as a source of inspiration instead of the source of ugly competition, it can be a really powerful platform.

Andrea Valeria is the hardest working content creator I have met and she has encouraged me to work harder and smarter when creating my content.


A post shared by Meagan Morrison (@travelwritedraw) on

Meagan Morrison has created an extremely successful business from a niche she created from scratch and I am always in awe of her content.

2. They understand all the Instagram lingo and I do not have to explain why I need to change my preset colors so it matches my whole feed ( If you got that – then you should be part of my posse).


Color pop.

A post shared by Sierra ✈ Passport Voyager (@passportvoyager) on

Sierra Dehmler is my NYC IG bestie and she gets my quirks and survived 12 hours of road tripping and being my roommate for a few days while we traveled in California.

3. Since we are all in the same travel niche – we meet in different locations and I can have travel companions all over the world.

instagram friendships have changed my life

 IG friends as pictured: (left to right) happilyeveradventurespicturesandwordsblogpracticalwanderlustapassionandapassportpassportvoyager, and travelsandtreatsblog.

4. Instagram has introduced me to amazing people, who went on to introduce me to more amazing people. because as you know –awesome people hang out with other awesome people.

Venus featured me on Refinery29 before we even met and we are now close friends!

5. It has allowed me to create incredible interviews and content for my podcast which has led me to find my purpose and of course more opportunities.

I was fortunate enough to interview Jacob and Esther for my podcast and got lucky when they decided to move to New York City, I have learned so much from them in the last few months and they are honestly the most helpful people I’ve met in this industry.

If you’ve been feeling down and unmotivated with social media, don’t worry we are all in the same boat. The struggle is real, but the rewards have also been really great.

So thank you Instagram. Thank you for creating a platform that has changed my life and so many others.

Thank you for allowing us to create friendships that may have never happened. Thank you for allowing us to create these offbeat careers that would have been impossible before you came along.

Thank you for allowing us to find each other.

How has Instagram changed your life? I’d love to hear your stories too!



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