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Ep. 147: How this former corporate worker became a remote Instagram Content Creator with Shaunie Begley

In this episode, I speak with Shaunie who left her corporate career in NYC as a Director of Social Media in search of life’s greatest adventure.

Shaunie is now a full-time content creator on Instagram with a passion for life, fashion, and travel. She first fell in love with travel on her studies abroad in China and ever since has felt that travel has increased her desire to learn about other cultures and the world. 

Listen on to find out how Shaunie left her corporate job to become an Instagram Content Creator.

 


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Transcription :

Debbie:

Hey everyone. Thank you so much for joining us. I’m so excited to be here with Shaunie. Hey Shaunie, how are you?

Shaunie:

I’m good. How are you?

Debbie:

I am wonderful. Thank you so much for doing this interview. I know we’ve been trying to get together and to do this for a while since we actually met so thank you for putting up with me.

Shaunie:

Yeah, totally was so excited to be here, this is so fun.

Debbie:

Before we get to all of the amazing things that you’re going to tell us, can you tell us a little bit more about you and why you live in offbeat life?

Shaunie:

So I’m actually originally from Brooklyn, New York which is super strange because most people there are like kind of a unicorn – nobody is ever originally from Brooklyn. I started my career in marketing, that’s actually what I studied in college and I was kind of living doing social media marketing. I was a director at a corporate company for a long time and I just kind of felt like I wasn’t really doing anything creative and I really needed some kind of outlet.

So I started my Instagram page and I am a huge fan of travel. I was like, “I want to do this on the side just to fulfill that need that I would kind of felt like missing in my actual career.” So I started this Instagram page and got super into photography and I really didn’t know anything about photography before I totally thought that I like could do this all on my iPhone.

Now I have a legit camera and everything and I’m learning things every day and it’s so exciting and this whole thing just kind of turned into my full-time career which is so incredible. I’m so lucky I get to travel for a living and work for brands and work for myself.

Debbie:

Its a great story and it also seems like it was an easier transition for you because I’ve interviewed a lot of content creators who were able to transition to social media and Running their own website but they had no background on it.

But you were already an expert, right? You were a director in marketing and you did a lot of social media work. What was that transition like for you? From leaving that corporate job to finally realizing one day, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to start on my own and become an entrepreneur.”

Shaunie:

I’m a huge fan of the law of attraction. I was actually on a blogger tree the week before I left my job and I said to one of the hosts, “How can I not go back to work?” And then, the following week, they were laying people off and I happen to be one of the people that got laid off and I was like, “Oh my God! What am I going to do?”

And I was messaging all the girls that I was just on the strip with and they were like, “You should just do this full-time,” and I just kind of felt like life kind of gave me a kick in the butt and was like, “Okay, you’re going to do this,” ’cause otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have tried if I’m honest.

Sometimes you’re just kind of feel like you get kind of stuck and doing what you’re doing. You have like a bed of a safety net and I felt like, “Okay, I’m legitimately going to do this.” And I did not look for a job or anything and I just can’t continue to do what I wanted to do.

Debbie:

That’s really the thing about being an entrepreneur. There are so many different stories with us: whether you’re forced into it, whether you do it begrudgingly, you don’t want to do it at all or you just leap into it and risk everything.

So there’s always that interesting story with everyone’s journey and in a lot of ways if it does happen – its meant to be. And it’s so great that you had that community of women that really supported and pushed you because, you’re right, without that, there are so many things that we probably wouldn’t do without that support.

Instagram Content Creator

Shaunie:

Yeah, totally and I really appreciate it. Everyone is like, “You should totally do this. You’re ready.” I already had 10,000 followers at that point so, I was super ready but I didn’t think I was ready.

And this whole situation just made everybody in my life thought I was actually crazy. Well, my dad did and he was like, “How are you going to make money? How are you going to pay for your living? How are you going to do all this?” And I was just like, “I just know that I am. I just know that I’m going to be able to make it.”

Sometimes you don’t need to know the “how” or the “what”, you just have to believe that that is going to happen. There’s a quote by Martin Luther King that you don’t need to see the full staircase, just take the first step. And I think that that’s so true, like you need to just have that faith and just believe like, “This is all going to work out,” and that’s basically like I just had envisions checks coming in my door.

It will be two years in May that I’ve been full-time doing this so, it worked out. I have my own apartment so, it worked out.

Debbie:

It’s really interesting how life works in mysterious ways especially now we have so many different options and it just happens that way. It’s true that you don’t know what’s going to happen and I think one of the things that really bother me when I talk to people who don’t take that leap, especially when you don’t really have anything that stands in your way, is that they’re just so afraid, right?

I mean, obviously, we all have fears and we have to get through it and some people its harder to get over that than others But if you’re just talking about it and you don’t do anything then it’s on you. You don’t have anyone to blame if you don’t have a huge responsibility on your shoulder or if it’s not that big that you can’t make that leap – that’s really going to be your issue.

So, a lot of times I’m like, “Stop complaining, just do something. Even if its just one thing every single day – just do it.

Shaunie:

I totally agree with that. That’s the key: you have to choose one thing everyday that’s different and then you’re just doing something that you never thought you would do before – its crazy.

Debbie:

It’s also funny because we all never thought we could create and come from all of these different creative jobs that we have that a lot of people tell us is crazy, right?

No one would have thought years ago that you can create income from social media, from websites, from podcasts – all of these things. Things that people think are impossible to do and there’s so many of us that actually do it.

So, if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking this is impossible – it’s not, it’s just a lot of hard work. But also think about all the work that you had to do when you went to school. The job that you’re doing now, how hard did you have to take in order to get there?

So, it is just put as much effort as you’re putting there to what you really want to do and it’s not going to be impossible to make money.

Shaunie:

100%. I totally agree with what you’re saying about if you’re listening to this and you’re like, “Oh my God, I can’t do this.” I’ve totally been in that situation. I was there 100% like I knew people that actually did this for a living and I would be like watching their stuff and I feel like, “I would be good at this, I know social media.”

I used to be a singer when I was in high school and stuff like that and I am a creative person. I feel like this is something that I would really love but I felt so afraid of it and it’s not so much “I can’t do it”, it’s more of “I think that it’s just social norms” and kind of getting outside of what you think other people might think.

I think that’s the biggest hurdle that you’re really coming across is what other people might think because when it comes to social media, and I know this is a hard journey for me, you actually have to put that yourself out there in front of people necessarily that you know and they might be like, “Why is she posting everyday? Why is she doing this?” And that was really hard for me when I first started and I had to just be like, “This is what I want and if people don’t understand it, then they’re not really my friends – they’re not supporting me.”

And so I need to do what’s going to make me happy because, at the end of your life, you’re not going to be sitting there thinking about all the things that you didn’t do. You’re going to be thinking, “I didn’t do these things that I really wanted to do.” And all of these things like, “I should have done that.” You don’t want to be sitting there doing that.

You want to be like, “I did this. I made this whole life for myself.” like Imagine taking that leap and actually going and doing that like that’s something that you want to be on your last day like, “I’ve accomplished all these things.” Just make that leap of faith.

Debbie:

But I definitely agree with you on that one. And also I think as Millennials, we also have this bad rap of “we’re just going doing things”. Like, “do your best life” or “make it your best life” and I am so tired of hearing that but in a lot of ways, yeah, you should live your best life but do it in a way where it’s sustainable, right? That’s the key to it has to be sustainable.

I don’t think anything is technically impossible, obviously there certain things that are impossible, but for the most part, it’s really on you and how you see yourself and how you get there. And I’m a huge believer in taking little steps to get anywhere.

I just read this one quote that one of my friends had posted online, “could you imagine what you would accomplish if you just stick to something.” And it’s so interesting to me that we all stick to our 9-to-5s. We all stick to getting a degree in something, you spend 4, 6 years, 8 years, however long it takes you to get that degree. But if you spent that time to actually do what you love to do, can you imagine what you would’ve accomplished? And its also something that you really love to do.

Shaunie:

100%. I totally agree. I feel like at some point we’re just kind of being herded into these things that society is like, “Yeah, go to college.” Were just all like getting herded from high school to college. While I think college is truly beneficial, I don’t necessarily believe that everybody needs to go there. Like if you don’t know what your plan is, maybe you don’t need to go to college right away and maybe you need to pursue something else.

Like I really, really, really, wanted to pursue singing and mind you, I don’t regret anything, I have no regrets, but I didn’t do that because I was told. While we’re talking about generation, I feel like our parents’ generation is kind of like, “Okay so you can go to school you, get your education. You do this and follow all these plans and then, you get into your corporate career. You get your health insurance, you retire and then you do all these things ’cause it’s super safe.”

And I feel like some of us that are millennials, maybe Gen X or whatever. We’re kind of like, Why why are we just doing the same thing, just following this past that has been laid out for us. We have this life, it’s an incredible thing to have and we’re just kind of just following the path that has been laid out before us.”

And for me, when I was starting this, some nights I was just so nervous like, “What am I doing?” I would just say to myself, “I don’t want to think like I could have done this. I have this time where I can try to pursue this, try to make this happen. I need to believe in myself. I need you to try to make this happen because I don’t want that to be how I did in the past where I didn’t pursue singing because I was told to go to college to do this, do that.”

So I was like, “I don’t want to have this other opportunity be something that I didn’t pursue. And I think that because I had that prior, I kind of had this feeling like, “I don’t want to feel that way about something else again.”

Debbie:

Yeah. It’s so crazy how we think of life so differently from our parents and obviously they thought something different from their parents. So it just evolved in that way. But the one thing that I do have to say and I will keep saying this, “It’s great that we’re doing what we’re doing.” But I also still have that like immigrant mentality or even just that mentality of making everything sustainable because I also don’t believe in just taking that leap and you have nothing to back yourself up with.

You can’t just live your best life and then you’re living off mommy and daddy’s money. If you’re going to take that leap, you have to own it and you have to make sure that you do your hustle. So we’re not here to tell you, “Yeah live your best life, do whatever. Spend all your money and just travel.” And that’s great for the first half but what happens after? How are you going to make this life more sustainable?

And that’s, I think, the most important key to this – that you can’t be truly happy if there’s no balance, right? It’s all just like living your best life but then there’s nothing else. It gets old after a while guys.

Shaunie:

Yeah, you definitely don’t want to be doing that. You will never actually feel like you own something or you’re actually running your own business or like you’re accomplishing anything. I think that’s one of the things that’s so amazing about what we do is that sense of accomplishment like you made something. So I think its really important to actually make it yourself and not be relying on you know, mommy or daddy or whatever.

Debbie:

Yeah, we don’t want to do that ’cause we also don’t want to live in our parents’ house or basements our entire life either. But if you’re doing that right now, it is really expensive, so no judge tag on that.

Shaunie:

Do you have mommy and daddy? I mean, I got.

Debbie:

Yeah. I know. Like take advantage as long as you can but not too much.

Shaunie:

I’m speaking from being like in my thirties and if you’re 23 and listening to this – that’s fine.

Debbie:

Exactly. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you’re helping out at home. Just don’t take advantage like that.

So, now, as an entrepreneur what has been the biggest setback that you’ve encountered so far and how do you usually handle it?

Shaunie:

That is a good question. I’m a one-woman-show, I don’t know if this is necessarily considered a setback but some of the things that I find most difficult is kind of like organizing my day because it’s just me. I don’t have anybody managing me and sometimes its really hard to get everything done because I have nobody holding me accountable.

Holding myself accountable has been difficult. Just having a schedule in general because if I wake up and like I should be working. So, I start to work and I’m kind of just working until the day is over periodically and there’s no real set schedule to what I do. So I had tried to organize it in like different time slots for what I’m going to do throughout the day but basically I would say holding myself accountable to schedule and making sure that I’m getting everything done has been the most difficult thing for me in this career I guess.

Debbie:

That’s been a lot of issues I’ve been hearing with a few of the creators that I’ve talked to and also entrepreneurs because we also don’t know when to stop, right? Once you leave your nine-to-five it’s like a 24/7 type job and you’re constantly thinking about it. Even when you’re not working you’re thinking.

It was funny the other day, my fiance goes to me because we were going out to dinner, Shaunie, and I asked him, “Should I bring my laptop with me?”

Shaunie:

Oh my God!

Debbie:

And this is on a Sunday.

Shaunie:

Okay, I’m about to be like, “It’s worse if it’s Valentine’s Day.”

instagram content creator

Debbie:

He looked at the watch and he’s like, “Oh it’s past 6, take the night off.” And I’m like, “Oh my God!” So then, I looked at him and then I said, “Wow! what is happening here?” I need to be able to stop myself from actually doing work because you don’t realize that.

For me, at least, I’m so used to working and constantly thinking about what else I need to do that its just second nature. It’s like brushing your teeth every morning – it’s part of your routine. But its really hard to be able to keep up with it whether if you’re trying to make it more organized or even just stopping yourself from actually working. It’s so hard to do that.

Shaunie:

Yeah, it really is. I wouldn’t say that I’m a master of it even after two years. I have some organizational things that I used to kind of try and keep my projects on track. But at the end of the day, I think that one of the most difficult things for me are things that I don’t know how necessarily to do ’cause I’m a one-woman show.

It’s like I keep putting those off like working on my website and like, “I have no background.” And currently, I was telling which gonna release presets I had to create the store on my site and I have to do all of the setups and I’m like, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”And I have to create all the marketing materials for it.

Because I used to be in a marketing team, I feel like I’m better off than most people trying to set up this process. But because I know the kind of the journey that you need to go through in order to set this stuff up when I had a team. Like setting up all the different… Like, “You need to create this. You need to create that.” But then, me, having to do it, I was like, “Oh my God! Like I don’t know if I did this all correctly.” And I’ve never set up like an API or a store before.

Luckily, I love to stay in touch with like my old colleagues and I’m going to meet up with our old web designer and he’s going to just take a look at it and just basically make sure I didn’t mess anything up on Friday. So, I was like, “Thank you!” Hopefully, I did it correctly. If I did I’m going to be so proud of myself and I’m definitely rewarding myself a glass of wine on Friday to celebrate.

So, yes, my old colleague who is a website designer is actually going to meet up with me on Friday and just make sure we’re going to go through the entire process of ordering the preset to make sure I didn’t mess anything up because I’m like, “I don’t know if it sends an email after it goes out or if there’s a download link.” I’m like, “I don’t know any of this stuff.”

So he’s going to take a look at it. And if I did it correctly and 100% going to be celebrating on Friday night and getting myself a drink.

Debbie:

That’s a big one. When you first start this, you don’t know a lot of things. Have you used any resources to help you start your website, aside from your friend, to make the tasks that you have a lot easier?

Shaunie:

Interesting. Well, my site is a WordPress site. So I definitely think that WordPress is good because I think that it is just the best platform out there right now. However, I also know that it’s not super user-friendly if you don’t know necessarily what you’re doing.

I’ve been using YouTube a lot. That’s how I actually went through creating the store. There’s a lot of YouTube tutorials out there and I always forget about YouTube like thinking, “Oh I could just Google this and find out how do I set up the store?” But my friend, when I started talking about how do I set this up, he’s like, “You can just look it up on YouTube. There are so many things.” I was like, “Oh my God, why didn’t I think of it then?

Every time I think of texting him and be like, “I don’t know what I’m doing.” I go on YouTube and I’m like, “Oh, there’s literally like a short little code for me to just enter it and it creates this entire page.” This was like 5 seconds. So, I guess YouTube is super helpful.

Canva -I don’t know if I say it correctly. Everybody says it differently but that’s super helpful for creating so many different graphics, Pinterest graphics, and stuff like that. And Tailwind for scheduling up pins on Pinterest.

Debbie:

Those are really great resources and I definitely agree with you on all of those things. I used all of that and because there’s a lot of to-do lists that we need when we’re starting our website when we’re starting our business. And it just piles up and I do agree with you for Canva, its really great. And WordPress, I also use that as well.

And one of the things that I also had to do when I first started my business was like finding the right name for it. I don’t know if you found this the same way but it was so hard for me to figure out something that really resonated with what I was doing and also people actually understood what was happening with my business.

I used to think that having a cool name is the most important thing and yeah and as I started the business I realized that it also has to be like SEO-friendly and also the domain name has to be available online. You go for like weeks and weeks and sometimes even months agonizing all of these things and you have a list like you have a notebook, at least with me ’cause I’m a weirdo and a nerd about it.

And then, you go online and it’s taken so that’s why I’m really excited to be sponsored by Hover.com. Hover is a really easy and intuitive domain name registrar that’s easy to use. With Hover, you can go to the site search for your name and then add it to your cart. There’s no must, there’s no fuss and they also have over 300 domain name extensions to choose from.

So, if you don’t mind it, they’ll help you do it. And also if you want to make your life easier, you just go to them they help you build your brand online and get that perfect domain name ASAP. Make sure you guys visit hover.com/theoffbeatlife to get 10% off all of your purchases for more details because that’s really helped me especially when I was like, “Oh my God! This is taken. That’s taken.” It just makes things so much easier.

Shaunie:

I love your name by the way. I wanted to ask you, I was thinking last night, is it like kind of the off-beaten path?

Debbie:

Yeah, it was. The funny thing is when I first changed it to “the offbeat life” it was “the offbeat trekker” because before I really branded myself, I was into hiking so it was “the offbeat trekker”. And then I started the podcast it was “the offbeat life” and I was thinking, “Yeah, people have a lot of offbeat life especially people that I’ve been meeting when I travel so this is a good name.”

So then that just stuck and I changed it on everything. Now, I made sure that it was free on Instagram and on the website ’cause that’s really important. That’s real estate right there: having a great domain name and actually buying it – that online real estate.

Shaunie:

Buying a domain name is so invigorating and exciting. I remember when I bought my domain name and I was just like, “Oh my God! I have like a little piece of the internet. This is just my little corner.” I was like Cinderella. I don’t know if you know that, it’s like, “I’m in my own little corner, in my own little chair.”

Debbie:

Yeah, it is so funny. The little things that make you excited even that just that name, that little online real estate that you have makes you so happy. After you do that, it’s like you accomplished something – it was amazing

Shaunie:

Yeah. All I did was put on my credit card. I would press “complete” or anything like that.

Debbie:

Then, you get your name! But, you know, the thing is those little steps really make you feel like you’ve accomplished something. So, don’t ever underestimate that one little thing you do every single day guys.

So, let’s fast forward to 50 years from now, Shaunie, and you’re looking back at your life. What legacy would you like to leave? And what do you want to be remembered for?

Shaunie:

Oh my God. So, 50 years from now. Like I said, “I don’t have any regrets.” I’m a true believer of “what’s meant to be will be”. So, I think that everything that has led me up to here is how I got to where I am today. But what I think I always want to feel is that I went for it. I don’t want anybody to ever think that there was a challenge or there is an adventure – I don’t know how to fully explain it.

But then, basically, I live life and I experience new things. I learned things about new places and I think that through traveling you basically learn more about yourself. I think that makes you a better person to yourself and to other people. I think that I’d always want to be remembered as someone who said “yes” to adventure.

I’m just making this up on the spot because I never thought about it. Perhaps a person who encouraged other people to go out there and experience life to their fullest. Is that a good answer?

Debbie:

Absolutely. I mean, that’s what you’re there for, you have those images that will live on and I feel like it’ll be part of our Memoriam when we’re dead and getting buried is like, “Look at all of these things that Shaunie did when she was younger.

Shaunie:

I would have to bury my Instagram feed with me especially all the pictures of bikinis.

Debbie:

Hey, that’s something you’re going to be proud of when you’re like a hundred years old and you’re like, “Damn! That was me.”

Shaunie:

My grandkids are gonna be like, “Look at this! Look at granny.”

Debbie:

Yes, that’s something to be proud of girl – show it!

So, what are you working on currently that is really exciting for you?

Shaunie:

Well, as I said, I’m releasing presets so I’ve been working on that. It’s basically like a sunset pack. I love editing sunset so a lot of my sunsets are like cotton candy skies. And I feel like a lot of people release all their presets and I wanted to release things that were a little bit different.

Sometimes sunsets are super hard to edit and then, I’m going to release underwater presets for GoPros. I’m a big fan of GoPro underwater photos. I used to be on a swim team when I was younger. So get into the water and I’m taking these pictures. Taking pictures on a GoPro proved to be quite difficult. I plan to film a YouTube video like a how-to on how I shoot underwater and the settings that I used to kind of make it a little bit easier along with releasing my edits for underwater photos.

‘Cause I used to be in a swim team when I was younger I thought I was a little mermaid when I was a kid. So I guess part of my life is like, “Explore. I want to be a part of your world.” So I get under the water and I’m doing these underwater photos and I just feel like this like little mermaid babe just under the water.

I mean they’re very difficult to shoot but they’re like definitely my favorite. They’re more fun than just kind of like posing. I feel like a little water babe.

Debbie:

Well, you also have a lot of fun so that’s important. Now, if our listeners want to know more about you where can they find you?

Shaunie:

On my Instagram which is @shauniebegley and then my website which is www.shaunieandthecity.com. That used to be my handle too ’cause I’m a huge fan – that’s where my original Instagram handle and my website actually was derived from.

Debbie:

That’s a cute one. Thank you so much, Shaunie for being here with us. It was so much fun.

Shaunie:

Yeah. I had a great time. Thank you for having me.

GET THE EXTENDED INTERVIEW WHERE SHAUNIE SHARES HOW TO GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY AND BECOME A REMOTE CREATOR


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Show Credits:

Audio Engineer: Ben Smith


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