Ep. 135 How this travel junkie landed a remote digital marketing position without previous experience with Grace F. Kim
In this week’s episode, I speak with Grace F. Kim who is a digital marketer and a recent digital nomad.
Grace is a self-proclaimed travel junkie who is able to become a remote worker by learning online marketing skills.
Listen on to find out how Grace is able to become a digital nomad as a remote digital marketer.
Ep. 132: How this social media content creator quit her finance job to travel the world with Danielle Hu
Ep.131: How this social media storyteller and strategist travels the world while supporting small business owners with Natasha Samuel
Debbie – Hey everyone! Thanks so much for joining us today. I’m really excited to be speaking with Grace. Grace, how are you?
Grace – Great. How are you?
Debbie – I am awesome! So, before we get to all the incredible tips you’re going to give us, tell us a little bit more about you and why you live an offbeat life.
Grace – OK. So, born and raised in Jersey. I grew up here my entire life. But I’ve always had an adventurous personality to myself and I feel like I’ve always been traveling from a young age. But I really didn’t get into it until literally a year ago. I’ve backpacked all over Italy. And from there, I just got so hooked on traveling that I started traveling every single month from there. And through it, I’ve traveled while working a full-time job. So, balancing it out was not so difficult. But it gave me that leisure that I have somewhere to go back home and work.
And currently, I’m still working a full-time job. I also dove into digital marketing. So, I’ve always been within the marketing space. But specifically doing things digitally is kind of new to me. So, over the course of the year, I’ve dove into email marketing, paid media, social media marketing, and SEO. And I recently got a digital marketing certificate in New York City. And I only learned so much from there. So, my journey continues.
Debbie – That’s really great. But also because you have a 9-5 that is able to allow you to keep traveling and doing it for so long. What kind of day job, 9-5 job, that allows you to do that?
Grace – So right now I work within Paid Search. And Paid Search, when I started, I knew almost nothing. It’s actually funny how I got into it. So at my previous job I was in marketing. But I also dove into e-commerce there. And it’s a really fun way that I got into e-commerce. I was going to the post office with a coworker. And she was dropping off a letter and I was dropping off this big box. And she asked, “Grace what is that?” And I said, “I just sell things on eBay.” And she was like, “What?! Why are you here? Do you sell on Amazon?” And I said, “No, I don’t.” And she said, “You should start selling on Amazon.” And I was like, “ok.” And from that initial question, I just went all-in into Amazon. It’s so funny how that happened. But I was selling on FBA. But it became more of a…I don’t currently sell on FBA anymore. But I learned so much doing it. Because I had to learn e-commerce from the ground up. And I had no one to support me with it. And I really didn’t know anyone who was selling unless I went onto Facebook groups and I met people online there.
But the one thing that killed me the most was not understanding how to read my advertising reports on FBA. And that’s where I lost all my money. I didn’t know how to manage campaigns or anything. So, I straight up told myself if I could find a job where they taught me how to read my reports and learn advertising, I’ll do it. So, I applied literally to three places. And one of those of those places I applied to was my current company right now. And it’s funny because I got the interview while I was traveling in San Diego at the time. And I had my phone interview while hiking Potato Chip. And they asked if I knew this company. But I said Not Really. I was just honest with myself and I landed a job. And now I’m at Paid Search. And it’s helped me with so many different outlets within digital marketing. So, I’m still learning the paid side of it. And it’s literally stretched my pain points and growing potential as I’m not a numbers or data person. But I am super happy that I’m in this field right now. So that’s how I came to be.
Debbie – Wow! Well, it seems like you’re the type of person that just if you’re interested in it, you go all in. And whatever it is that you don’t know, you try to learn as much as you can. Which is really amazing. I mean a lot of really successful entrepreneurs are those types of people who want to keep learning and you want to keep going and nothing is going to stop you. But Paid Search is really interesting! Could you tell us a little bit more about what that actually entails for many of us who don’t know what that is?
Grace– Yeah, so, Paid Media, as a whole, is creating campaigns and advertisements on platforms such as Facebook, Google, Bing, Instagram, and all that stuff. But I mainly focus on Google and Microsoft Bing as my main platforms. But the skills that I’ve learned here can translate into social media. So, if you’re deciding on running Facebook ads or Instagram ads or Snapchat, it’s all within Paid Media. So, pretty much, I just create campaigns. I make sure that the company is making money and tweaking them from there. It actually opens myself up to being more creative with my side. And that’s pretty much it. And it’s a whole science to itself. And it’s really fun and interesting. And I really feel that if companies want to be successful these days, organic searches are important, but if you want a scale quickly, I think anything Paid Media or Search related is a much.
Debbie – Absolutely. I think with SEO it’s definitely a long time and long-term gain and it’s very slow. But it is a proven method to have. But like you said, Paid Search and making sure you’re doing ads and all of those things are also really important. As it’s a lot faster. But that’s a pretty incredible thing that you did. And you’re getting paid to learn!
Grace – Yeah, exactly! That’s what I tell everyone. I’m just so happy that I landed this job because it’s something that I really wanted to learn. And they’re paying me to learn how to use all the UIs and just the platforms themselves.
Debbie – So, now Grace, now that you have this job in this company, and you have all of this knowledge that you’re gaining and learning every single day, what are you planning to do with it? What is your end goal for learning all of these different things?
Grace – Well, ever since I was younger, I always loved marketing and sales. And you could have asked me when I was 10 years old, what do you want to do when you grow up. And I didn’t know the full extent to it, but I did always want to do marketing and sales. And with my current job and with the current skills I have within digital marketing, to be completely honest, I’m don’t know exactly what I want to do with it.
But I want to be able to help people grow their businesses or grow their platforms or give advice to people who do not understand these types of niches themselves. I know a lot of it you can find online. But getting dirty with it, a lot of people don’t know how to navigate through these types of platforms. So, I don’t know. I’m not really too sure. But right now, I just want to be able to build up my skill sets.
Debbie – Well, I mean that’s the biggest thing about it is that you’re getting so much from this and you’re getting paid for it which is pretty incredible to me! (laughter)
Grace – I know! I actually last week I got a digital marketing certificate In New York City. And that taught me everything about ads, analytics, SEO, digital marketing, email marketing, so I want to try to leverage everything I learned there and use it for work and for my outside things.
Debbie – Yeah, and we’re going to be talking more about this for an extended interview with Grace where she’s going to share with us how you can also become a digital marketer and work anywhere you want and learn all these skills. So that’s going to be really exciting.
Grace – Yup.
Debbie – So, Grace, you have been delving into so many different things. You were at Amazon. You’re doing Paid Search. You’re doing digital marketing. What has been the biggest set back that you’ve encountered so far?
Grace – Hmm…I think the biggest set back to all of this was accepting my learning curve. So, I grew up working my butt off as I never thought I was good enough for school and in the educational world. Because I’m a Korean American myself. And a lot of people think Koreans are so smart and whatever. And I grew up in a town that was half Korean, half Jewish people. And everyone was so smart and so competitive. But I was never able to reach up to that point where, again, in my mind, I never thought I was good enough because I was always in lower classes and I wasn’t approved to take any AP classes. It just distraught me. So, because of that negative type of feeling, I just worked my absolute butt of for everything. So, I would study for exams for literally months in advance and I would start papers literally at the start of the semester because it always took me so much longer to get them done. And this did translate up until I went to college. And, actually, at my current job right now, too.
But I think my biggest setback was being able to understand data. It’s funny because when I graduated from college, the one type of position or industry that I wanted to go into was anything data related because I was just not a numbers person. But it’s so funny because right now my job forces me to be a data scientist. And this really, really stretched out what I thought I was capable of doing. But, yeah, everything else that was going on in my life, and currently going on in my life, was going uphill except for like me fully accepting that this was a field I wanted to get better in. And now I feel like I’m trying to get over this setback but that was one of my biggest setbacks for a while.
Debbie – Yeah. It’s really funny because when they see Asian people, you know, I’m Asian too, they automatically think we love numbers. We’re really typical stereotype of Asians and I’m just like, you agree? I never liked math until I started a business and I’m like, okay, I really have to use this. But it’s honestly, it’s also about interests, right? Now that you’re interested in this, the numbers are really exciting. You know, it’s getting you somewhere that you want to be. So before I was like you, when you were telling your story, I was saying to myself, Oh my gosh, we are from the same class.
Grace – Seriously. People are just like, aren’t you good at math? I’m like, not really. I like it. I just don’t understand as quickly as you do.
Debbie – Yeah, exactly. I know I get, I come from a family who was really good in math and science like, and here I am. I, Oh my goodness. I had such a hard time in school with that too, so I totally you.
Grace – Well, I mean you literally tell me how my Amazon business failed, but the biggest learning curve from there too. So, I just didn’t know how to do a number that was like a one-man team for like a whole year.
Debbie – And I think a really great thing about you, Grace, is that you don’t let it stop you, right? I think a lot of people, it’s true though. There’s a lot of people who will see this and listen to this and they’ll say, “oh my gosh, you know, there’s so many things that I didn’t try or do because there was one thing in there that I wasn’t good at it”. And look at what you’re doing, you’re actually embracing it.
Grace – I do my best. Thank you.
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Debbie – So now that you are doing this, you’re learning so much from it, right? How does this really want you to strive to be location independent and live this type of lifestyle? How are you able to get to that point?
Grace – So there is so much power with it and the digital age these days. And you know there are actually so many ways you can monetize online. So many ways as long as you put the time and effort into learning how to do that. You could do it literally with a laptop, with WIFI anywhere around the world. And personally, for myself, like I’m not money driven. I, it’s funny because I don’t really care about financial freedom. I care more about my life freedom. So if I’m able to work on something that I’m really passionate about and help people out through the digital, like through media, then I will do everything in my power to get to that point. So right now I’m trying to build all my social platforms right now. So my blog, my Instagram, YouTube, everything in order to have that type of life freedom. And I’m so addicted to traveling. As long as I literally have like a bathroom, WIFI and a laptop, I’m set. I’ll literally just like sleep on the floor and live out this nomadic life. Like I just need those three things and I’m fine.
Debbie – Yeah. For a lot of people that is kind of the dream, you know?
Grace – Exactly.
Debbie – And like you said, it’s about the freedom to live the life that you want. And it’s, the money is not necessarily the most important thing. Obviously, we all need it. But for some that’s not really what they would choose as their measurement for success. And I think there’s different ways of looking at success and freedom and so many different ways is a huge part of that. And that’s definitely something that you want to strive for.
Grace – Right. I mean, don’t get me wrong, a lot of people do strive for financial freedom and most people do. But for me personally, like the way I see it is that if I work on something I’m very passionate about, I’m sure the money will follow eventually. So that’s like the motto I’m going for right now.
Debbie – Yeah, definitely. That is really true though. If you’re not passionate in anything, and I’ve done this before, where I started at businesses that I wasn’t passionate about, but I thought it was going to make money. It did not succeed because I just didn’t have the passion for it and it really showed. And people will see that, your clients will see that. And also you’re not going to keep going. You’re not just going to be driven to do it. And it’s, you know, for the most part it’s not going to go very well.
Grace – Right. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I know there has been like a few times where like I’ve tried to like delve into things that I’m not passionate about to find that like making successful. And it just, it falls from there. Cause I’m like, I just don’t care about putting more time and energy into this.
Debbie – So I know you are not driven by money. But do you do anything currently to help you set off to be location independent? Do you budget yourself so you can make it last later on when you do finally go full time to be location independent?
Grace – Yeah, so I’m currently in that process right now. I want to be able to monetize through the blog. And it’s like three weeks ago that I worked with my web designer to redo the whole entire to the whole entire layout. So, I’m hopefully in the next few months, I’m able to live off the blog. But actually, I am looking into like other ways as well which is currently in the process. And I was going to say one more thing.
Debbie – Okay
Grace – Oh, I started budgeting this year when I got really serious about traveling. And how I did it was I got a financial advisor. And I’m just so thankful that I got an advisor right now cause he’s really helping me set up for financial success and freedom. So I mean, even though like I’m only 24 years old and a lot of people don’t consider getting an advisor at 24 years old, I highly encourage it because he’s really helping me understand where my money is going and helping me putting my money into like diversify my assets pretty much. So, I would say that is like the one thing that I’m like really working up to, and saving and budgeting and all that stuff.
Debbie – That is a great way to do it. Because like you said, most people at that age in our twenties, we don’t think about where our money is going. You kind of just think, “Oh, it’s going to keep coming and I’m really young. Everything is going to come, whatever. I can think about that in my thirties or forties or wherever.” But the younger you are and the more you think about that, the more you’re going to have freedom financially later on and you don’t have to think about that and struggle and stress about all of those things. And believe me, that’s going to come in handy when you’re older and you have to think about these things.
Grace – Yeah, exactly. So, I mean for myself right now, if I’m abroad and I literally become bankrupt, like what do I do? And I have this some money set aside for me on the side where I can just tap into. So that’s like, like one of the things that I’m like, I’m so happy that I got an advisor for.
Debbie – You’re doing a smart thing and you’re young enough to be able to save and to splurge and you know, as long as you have that person to kind of keep you going. That’s really great.
Grace – Yeah. I mean trust me, I used to be a huge spender. Like swiping my credit card left and right. Like not caring about how much I’m spending. It was so bad. But now I’m really cautious about budgeting.
Debbie – Yeah. It’s really easy to do that, especially when you live in a place like New York City. And you live in an expensive place too. So sometimes you have really no choice to do it. But that’s the beauty of being a location independent is that Grace can actually leave and then go somewhere where it’s cheaper and she doesn’t have to spend so much. And I think that’s the really best thing. And I think one of the best things about being location independent is you have the option if you want to do.
Grace – Exactly.
Debbie – So let’s fast forward to 50 years from now and you’re looking back at your life. What legacy would you like to leave and what do you want to be remembered for?
Grace – You know, I always say like, I don’t even know what I’m going to do next week. But if we’re looking 50 years from now, the legacy, like I want to leave for people is that I’m the type of person that always wanted to share everything that I’ve gone through. I’m super vulnerable as it is, not only in person but all over the media. Like I like to share a lot of the stories that made me struggle and help me become who I am today. Because I know there are a lot of people out there who go through really similar things in their lives, but they don’t know what to do and they don’t know how to come out. And most people will not come out and be as vulnerable, because it is like a very, like, it can be very dark parts of their lives. So, I just want, people to remember me as the girl who just didn’t care about what anyone says and just wanting to help people out.
Debbie – Yeah, and you’re right, it’s, it’s really hard to do that, especially when there are so many eyes looking at you. It can be really daunting and intimidating. But it’s also good to remember that so many people are probably going through something really similar to you and would love to hear your perspective and how you are able to deal with certain stressful situations or trauma. And I think that is a really good thing to leave, it is just to be that type of person who is open and honest about what they’re going through. And I think that’s really important, especially when you’re going through the journey and for other people to understand the realities of it.
Grace – Exactly. Like in the beginning when I started sharing online, I was like, like sometimes it’d be a little nervous, but I’m like if one person could get something out of this post, then I’ve done my job. I’ve done my part. And I’ve gotten a lot of people I’ve met randomly and, I honestly forgot about them, but reaching out to me and telling me like how much they could relate to my posts. And I’m like, wow! That just like makes you feel so good like deep down in the heart.
Debbie – I definitely think that’s one of the most rewarding things is when you see that you have impacted somebody, even if it’s just a little thing and you don’t know who else you’re impacting and they just haven’t said anything. So, you know,
Grace – Exactly. I live for that.
Debbie – so are there any questions that you wish people asked you more of?
Grace – Hmm…You know, I’ve never really thought that. I think because I am so open that people are open back with me. But I don’t think there’s anything specific that like I wish people asked me more. I like, yeah, I’m kind of like stumbled on that one cause I don’t really know.
Debbie – So, Grace is an open book to everybody.
Grace – I am.
Debbie – So, she shares.
Grace – You know, like a lot of people usually will, when I’m talking to someone, they tell me like I asked very specific questions. So, I guess in that sense if people could ask me questions about myself that are not from the norm if that makes sense. Like I don’t know how to explain if I’m elaborating correctly. You know, I like that. I like challenging, like minutiae questions like that. I’m like, Oh, that makes me think it’s weird like that.
Debbie – So are you working on anything currently that is really exciting to you?
Grace – Yeah, I think like my long-term project is just working on my blog. I learned to love writing throughout the past year. And I feel like writing has been my passion. It’s ironic because writing used to be my worst suit, so even worse than my math skills like I was so bad at writing. And long story short, I mean, growing up in high school and college, I was just never good at writing. And, in high school I think like the teachers thought that I was really slow or I had ADHD or something. So, they actually put me into special education without even like testing me. I don’t even know if that should be a thing, but they just kind of placed me within special education classes and, I was called sped growing up and it was like, Oh, like, why am I being called sped? It was really embarrassing.
And then when I got into college, I was like, oh, this is over. I don’t have to be called sped anymore. But I went to work with the university in New Jersey and there’s a writing course there that is mandatory for you to pass or you can’t graduate. And it’s called expository writing. And I was placed in that class and they have a practice test in the first or so there is less than a 1% chance of people failing that class and I failed it. So, they put me into a lower class and I was like, “Oh my gosh.” Like I wasn’t sure if this process was going to end. But the thing is, I’m so glad I was placed into the lower writing course because it forced me to write the whole year. I took two semesters of really hard-core writing and I feel like through that, I’ve begun to learn writing and it’s become more of like a more than just muscle memory. It’s become a part of me and I write every single day. And that’s what I want my blog to come out to be like. I’m just to show more of my passion projects from there. So yeah. So, if you go on my website you have all these posts.
Debbie – Everything that other people have told you, that you weren’t good at or you felt even yourself that you weren’t good at, you kind of turned everything around. And now it’s the things that you are excited about. So that’s really unique about you is that you don’t let those things stop you. But seriously, cause a lot of people whenever we face these setbacks and struggles, we kind of let it rule how we are and then we don’t want to touch it anymore. But with you, you do the total opposite. You just kind of go into it and you learn to love the things that you were not good at. And now it’s like the best part of you.
Grace – I always, I feel like I’ve always learned, I’ve like learned to live through this model where the things that I wasn’t good at or the things that brought me down were my biggest drivers and motivators and that really pushed me to want to be good at it. So that came with like writing, even sports, school, everything. It really just pushes me to just want to get over that hump.
Debbie – Yeah. And honestly, I think that should be one of your legacies to tell people and teach people that it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. And even if you think that about yourself, you can overcome that and it can become your biggest strength.
Grace – I mean, we put it into perspective with that, I guess. So. Yeah.
Debbie – Sure. Look at what you’re doing now. You’re handling math, writing.
Grace – (laughing) Pat me on the shoulder.
Debbie – Everything, right. You’d be like, yes. Finally.
Grace – Guess if you put it in that way. Yeah.
Debbie – So Grace, if our listeners want to know more about you, where can they find you?
Grace – You can find me on my blog. It’s GraceFKim.com. Or my Instagram handle. It’s GraceFKim. Basically, anything social media related it’s GraceFKim.
Debbie – Well, that’s really easy. And that makes it easy for all of us.
Grace – Well I try to make everything in sync.
Debbie – Yes, that’s a good way to do it. That’s a good tip actually.
Grace – If we have time, I have a short and funny story on how that name came to be. So, when I was in college, I was using the email address that I had since I was 12 years old. And it was one of those with lots of numbers and letters. And I wanted to have a more professional email as I was applying to jobs and internships in college. So, on Google, I literally typed in every single letter in between Grace as I don’t have a middle name. And I don’t have a Korean name. So, I didn’t know what to do. Every single letter in the alphabet was taken except for the letter F. So, I’m going to be Grace F. Kim. And that’s literally how it all started. So now I’ve changed everything I have to GraceFKim.
Debbie – Well, it’s working for you now. You got it. It’s yours.
Grace – I know. I try to capture it everywhere. Like on Youtube I’m GraceFKim, Twitter, everything is GraceFKim.
Debbie – Well, that’s a good thing. And now everyone will find you wherever you are.
Grace – I know, I know.
Debbie – Well, thank you so much, Grace. I really appreciate all your knowledge that you shared today.
Grace – Thanks so much. Thanks for having me, Debbie. This was so much fun!
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Audio Engineer: Ben Smith