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Ep. 132: How this social media content creator quit her finance job to travel the world with Danielle Hu

In this episode, I speak with Danielle Hu who is a social media content creator and the founder of The Wanderlover, a travel brand sharing adventures from over 60 countries focused around freedom, creativity, and adventure.

She quit her cushy finance job in NYC to pursue her dream of being location independent, and now lives her ideal digital nomad lifestyle – working with luxury hotels, international brands, tourism boards, and clients around the world.

Listen on to find out how Danielle shares her passion for helping other entrepreneurs build their personal brands with social media so they can also design freedom-based lives they love.

Listen Below:

 


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Show Notes:

Debbie: 

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

Danielle:   

Hi, I’m good. How are you? Thank you for having me.

Debbie:

I’m great. Thank you for being here. Can you tell us a little bit more about you and why you live an offbeat life?

Danielle: 

Sure. So my name is Danielle. I am the founder of The Wanderlover. It’s a travel brand where I share adventures from around the world. Post quitting a corporate job in New York City. So, just over two years ago I was working a nine to five in New York and it just like wasn’t the lifestyle that I knew I wanted and I would like actually look at Instagram and see all other influencers really just traveling the world and living life on their own terms and like being able to monetize an online presence. And I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I pursued that route and two years later I’m here working from my laptop. I have my own brand and couldn’t be happier.

Debbie: 

That sounds like a lot of what people dream about doing. And you did this in a really great way because a lot of people I think look at social media and you become really discouraged and it makes you feel very envious and jealous. But you did the total opposite; you looked at what other people were doing and said to yourself “I can do this too”, and look where you are right now.

Danielle:

For sure. I think the main thing because I do work with clients and people who do also want to pursue this lifestyle. The biggest thing is the mindset, it’s all believing that you can, and that is really the spark and the trigger that everyone needs to basically set the momentum for pursuing something different.

Debbie: 

Yeah. Now, when you wanted to leave your nine to five and you were pursuing your business before you left, how did you prepare to do it and to make that big change? And how did you know what type of business you wanted to start?

Danielle:  

In the beginning, I actually dabbled with a bunch of different online marketing strategies and my main goal… So, I remember it all started when I looked around my office and I looked at my managers and my executives and they were basically sitting a cubicle over or like a few rooms over from me. I realized “if I stayed here in five or 10 years times, that’s where I would end up” and that’s not where I wanted to be. But then, I looked at bloggers or influencers and I knew that’s where I wanted to be in five or 10 years.

So as soon as that hit, I started creating a plan, like an actionable plan to when I could quit my job and what it would need by that certain date. So, the date I sent myself was July 11th of 2017. Around a year before, I knew I wanted a savings school and I wanted another way to be able to monetize or make money online outside of my corporate salary. Once that idea sink in, I was looking at online drop shipping, e-commerce, working with brands, building a following, just so many different routes. And the path that stuck most with me is content creation, outreach and basically creating photos and videos. Since then it’s evolved into a lot of online marketing but it all started with knowing how to make money outside of my corporate job.

Debbie:       

That is such an important point to put out there because we can’t just leave a job without having a plan. I mean I know a lot of people have done that before, but it’s most of the time just hoping for the best and then,  something happens. And then worst case scenario you have to go back to your day job. I mean it’s not the worst thing, but that’s really not where you want it to be in the first place. So, having a plan like you did, Danielle, is such a great way to do it

Danielle: 

For sure. And I think it’s more sustainable because you don’t want to be frantically looking for something after you quit because that just builds up so much anxiety. So, having even a vague idea as to how to make your first sale or like land your first client or work with your first company, it really puts things at ease

social media content creator

Debbie:  

When you knew that you wanted to do content creation and obviously you had to learn all of these things. How did you do that? How did you learn how to create content for other people and how did you get your first client?

Danielle:  

I started off by basically learning everything there is like reading so many blogs. I reached out to a lot of other influencers and had like this community of people just starting out and we would be like sharing knowledge. I’d go out and start having photoshoots. I used to work in finance, so it was completely outside my comfort zone, but just learning everything about this industry. But the main thing was signing up for platforms that connected influencers with agencies.

Danielle:

So, there are a whole bunch and it was just starting out back then. I signed up to maybe like more than 10 and every day I’d get potential brands that were looking for influencers to promote their product. And so the first one I landed was actually with Seamless and you set your own price. Back then I just didn’t know what I was worth. So I just put down $60, which was completely undervalued. But I got it and that was when I realized when you have that first sale or when you have that first stream of revenue coming to your bank account I think that was the momentum.

Debbie: 

That’s the best thing about it is once you see that first dollar, it’s so exciting, right? And then, you can never go back and then you’re in a high and then all of a sudden you realize that there’s so much work that comes to it and you have to keep trying to get that client. When you finally were able to start creating income, how did you make sure that it was a long-term and not just one-off clients?

Danielle:

In the beginning, it was consistent outreach. So, I would compare it to if you publish a book or if you write something and there’s the aspect of creating the content but also get you getting your name out there. So, a lot of it was like forming relationships with new brands. Not even like asking to work together in the beginning, but just telling them who I am, asking if they had any references if they had any other people that needed a photo or video creation and really just getting my name out there. I will say in the beginning, I worked with a bunch of brands that weren’t even in my niche, which I’m not super proud of, but it really gave me the experience I needed to and to figure out what my niche was. And over time, as more people knew about my name, referrals started coming in and it became less of a push marketing and a lot of clients coming my way.

Debbie:

That is a really good idea because a lot of times we just want to wait for things to happen and you didn’t do that. You actually won out, you hustled and you did what you needed to do to create income and that’s a really good thing, especially if you really want to be prepared before you leave your nine to five.

Danielle:

And have you heard of the book 4-Hour Workweek by Tim? That’s like another one. I wanted to just another really solid piece of gold that I’ve found during my corporate job and it kind of just triggered my idea of quitting and like working for myself. Highly recommend.

Debbie: 

Yeah, it’s a really great book, by Tim Ferris. I think a lot of entrepreneurs have read that book and they really were pushed by him to be able to work from anywhere as well. So yeah, highly recommended that book for sure.

Now Danielle, what about when you finally left your day job and you were doing this full time? We all that “what now?” moment. What was yours like?

Danielle: 

To be honest, my moment was when I broke up with my ex-boyfriend because that was the reason why I stayed in New York because we were living together. And after that happened, I realized like I have my own company that I can work from anywhere and I don’t have anything really tying me down in New York, so I’m just going to travel. And I think that’s what set off my first, like big international, just kind of live abroad experience. I studied abroad, but I was also at the same time like studying.

But this was when I had my own online presence and I really wanted to see how long I could go without needing an apartment or a lease. And so, I booked a flight to Bali and Australia and then, it started off in that area of the world and I was like “Oh, let me go home.” And we went to the Caribbean and then, I went to Morocco and it was almost a year-long adventure. And all the while I was like reaching out to new companies, reaching out to new hotels, tourism boards and finding work everywhere that I went.

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Debbie:

You’re definitely a hustler, Danielle.

Danielle: 

Thank you.

Debbie: 

And I think that’s a thing that we all have to understand. You really are going to be working your butt off if you want to do this because as an entrepreneur, it’s not like your regular day job. That’s why a lot of people stay in it is because it’s so secure. You have that paycheck every month and you don’t have to worry about constantly getting a client and it’s already there for you and pretty safe. As an entrepreneur, you really have to go out there and look for work and it is really rewarding. But it can also be really tough on you mentally, physically, everything.

Danielle: 

For sure. And I think the main thing that also helped me through it was I started the practice of vision boarding a few years ago and really having what I’m working towards. And at that point, it was being able to sustain a living from anywhere for the rest of my life like that. I was just so passionate about that, that I knew if I were to keep hustling every day, I’d be learning something different. Right? ‘Cause when you’re in a corporate job, you get taught everything you need to know and it’s safe. But then when you’re on your own, there’s so much that you don’t even know that you didn’t know.

For me, it was a lot of negotiation. Like I’ve never had to really negotiate as hard as I did for the rates that I wanted to charge. I never really had to pitch to so many new companies while I was in my corporate job or learn about marketing. When I first launched my blog, I thought it would just be out there and everyone would read it. But then, I didn’t know even like about Pinterest, about Facebook ads, there was just so much and it was up to taking action and really going through the day to day and believing in yourself and it all comes and you start learning about the whole industry.

Debbie:

And that’s a really good way to do it. It’s just learning as you go and being really meticulous about what you’re doing and you’re gonna make a lot of mistakes in the beginning, but that’s part of the learning process. We all have failures and setbacks. Now, speaking of that, what has been the biggest setback that you’ve encountered as an entrepreneur and how are you able to deal with it?

social media content creator

Danielle:

In the beginning, one thing that was just always looming, it wasn’t one specific thing, but I was very fearful. Fear came up in my day to day in every aspect. So, first it was not having a salary coming in because that was just so new for me. And I remember having fear to even reach out to new people because that’s not something I’ve ever done before. Or the fear of me having to go back to corporate, even though I had just quit and I was like starting this whole new chapter.

But there was always something I was worried about or something that wasn’t going right and over time as I pushed through all of them and just kept going with what I knew I wanted, which was to build my brand and sustain this type of lifestyle, everything went away. And even during moments of failures such as when I pitched 10 companies and didn’t hear back from everyone, I realized there was experience in that, there was success in that and it wasn’t really a failure at all because what I would now define as a failure is if I didn’t even try.

Debbie:

Yeah, for sure. Now, what would you say is your secret sauce for making everything work for you?

Danielle:

For me, just such a big proponent of mindset, but to go a little more specific, it’s to develop an abundance mindset through it all, which people might define as like too much optimism. But it’s really coming from a place where you are grateful for everything like all the opportunities that you have in front of you. But, in general, just knowing that things will work out and if you give it your all, you will reap the benefits of it. So, believing that you can and coming from that place where you’re not worried to invest in a new course or invest in a coach and not worried about where your next paycheck is coming in from, it will start the actions needed to give yourself a payday that you’ve worked hard for it, right?

Being so fearful, as I mentioned in the beginning, it really prevented me from finding my full potential. I was like scared to spend money on things and I was like holding onto every penny and it just prevented so many productive things from happening.

Debbie:

Yeah. It’s a lot of that scarcity mentality that we have. Especially in the beginning, I think, because we don’t know what’s going to happen and I feel like we all have had those moments of “where’s the next paycheck going to come from?” “How am I going to live the next month?” “My savings is getting lower, oh my gosh, how am I going to do this?”

Danielle: 

Yeah. And it trickles not only into your jobs but to clients that repelling away from you, your relationships and in general, just the money. Like you’re repelling money away from you.

Debbie:

Now, how much were you actually able to save before setting off to be location independent and how were you able to budget that money to last?

Danielle: 

Okay, so the number kept changing because at that time I was paying like a monthly lease so that had to go out. And also I did have money saved in, but my goal was by the end of June, ’cause I was quitting in July, if I had made two to three months consistently plus or minus, maybe a thousand. I wanted 10 grand in my bank account excluding retirement savings and everything. But I wanted just 10 grand for me to be able to live and travel and invest into my business.

Debbie:

Now, how were you able to make it last?

Danielle:

So, the first thing was changing my habits because honestly, I used to party a lot. I had like a very frivolous lifestyle in New York City and I stopped almost all of that. Because I had to reach my savings goal and also downgrading a lot of subscriptions. So, basically looking at all my expenses and seeing everything that I could cut out. And a lot of times it meant like I couldn’t go out with friends at all for a few weeks because I was just so adamant about having that savings goal. And then over time, after I’ve had four-hour workweek and really thinking it over and again, after breaking up with my ex-boyfriend, I realized that I could spend that money and go live somewhere cheaper or travel to cheaper places and it would be less than living in New York City.

Debbie: 

Yeah, it definitely takes a lot of discipline to be able to do that. Especially when you live in New York city and there’s a lot of people around you who want to go out because it is a really stressful environment.

Danielle: 

It is and very distracting.

Debbie:

Yeah, it definitely is. I mean, I’m living here right now and it’s ridiculous how distracting it is. Sometimes I just kind of place myself in our apartment and like I’m not going to otherwise fund too much money.

Danielle:   

It’s funny ’cause this past year, so many of my friends have visited and they’re like “wow, this whole meal in Bali costs less than like a cup of coffee” and I’m like “I know”.

Debbie: 

You said “yes” and it’s way better than most of the meals you’ve probably tasted in New York city, like half more than half of what it will cost in New York.

Danielle: 

It’s funny. Yeah. This world…

Debbie:  

Yeah. So, would you say is your biggest accomplishment so far as an entrepreneur?

Danielle:

For me, I think knowing that this is going to last or I can’t say that, but having the confidence that what I have built is sustainable and if I choose to, I can work from my laptop for the rest of my life. I think that’s my biggest success. But most recently, I guess this past year, is taking pride in helping other people do the same because throughout my journey, like the past few years, so many people have reached out to me being like “oh my God, this is so cool. I want to do the same.” And I would give them some tips and share essentially what I’m doing now like how I’ve done it.

But I understand everyone’s situation is different. But given adopting the right mindset and having like concrete action items to save to find out what you’re about, find out what you want. I started taking on clients and helping other people kind of go to this similar direction of building their own brand and finding freedom. And that gives me such a rush. Like being able to re-experience what I went through, like creating my brand and quitting my job and getting my first income or my first paycheck outside of corporate and being able to live that again through someone else who I helped. That’s my newest definition of success.

Debbie:

It’s kind of a drug, right? Once you helped someone out and you feel their excitement, you want to do it over and over.

Danielle:

I feel so bad for all the corporations. I hope they don’t find out about me or going against me. They don’t want me preaching “you don’t need to rely on a corporate salary if you don’t want to”.

Debbie:

Yeah. Well, I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of people that don’t want to do what we do. So you’ll be safe.

Danielle: 

Not for everyone

Debbie: 

I know for sure. 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?

Danielle:

I think I would love to be remembered as… I don’t know for anything specific but in general like the ethos or the ora I would like to be remembered by is following my heart and doing whatever it takes to live the life that I know will make me happy. I guess in the process, inspiring other people to do the same. I really think one of my biggest core values is freedom.

And growing up I’ve always been like super rebellious against my really strict Chinese parents. And even in corporate I was rebelling against this society of nine to fivers and starting to create a movement of freedom for a few people or maybe a larger mass. I think that’s what I would ideally like to be remembered by – pursuing passions and freedom.

Debbie:   

Well, you’re already also helping other people doing that as well. So you’ve started.

Danielle: 

Thank you. Yes, the beginning…

Debbie: 

What are you working on currently that is really exciting to you?

Danielle: 

Right now, my main focus, because when I have a goal in mind, I’m really stubborn about it, I want to be fluent in Spanish. So, in the middle of December, over a little over a month, I’m moving to Argentina or relocating to Argentina because I just want to be surrounded by Spanish speaking people. And every day I’m doing Rosetta Stone, I’ve downloaded that and Duolingo and I’m taking Spanish lessons every week. So, that’s something I’m really excited about because I just want to be able to speak a new language fluently.

social media content creator

Debbie: 

I have been trying to also learn Spanish for a really long time and I did learn it for a bit when I got sick and I watched a Mexican telenovela for like, oh my gosh, I can’t tell you. I watched like 300 episodes of it and I couldn’t go anywhere ’cause I was sick. So, I literally watched every single episode for like a month. And it’s funny because about four weeks later I had to go to Chile and I was speaking almost fluently, I knew like 70% of everything.

Danielle: 

Do you remember the name?

Debbie:   

It’s like the Mexican version of Ugly Betty. It’s a really good show. Yeah, I forgot the name of it. I will look it up for you.

Danielle: 

I really need to go to get on that… Watching something entertaining that’s completely in Spanish.

Debbie: 

Exactly. And one of my good friends, Marisa Anwar, she knew how to speak Hindi because she watched so many Bollywood movies. It’s crazy. She’s fluent in it now because she’s watching the movies.

Danielle: 

It makes sense now because a lot of my friends who speak English as a second language, they will say they watch so much American television and movies. Yeah, I need to do that. Thank you for the tip.

Debbie: 

Well, now I lost everything because that was a while ago, so I think I’m gonna try to do that. You’re inspiring and driving me to do that today. I’ll be like “Hey…” Now, Danielle, when you are traveling, do you often use any travel or international insurance?

Danielle:

So I do have travel insurance, but I don’t have international health insurance.

Debbie: 

Yeah. I really love talking to digital nomads like you because most of the time, like myself, I didn’t know about this. I would just use travel insurance when I’m doing longterm travel and finding the right insurance when you’re in a steady location is really hard but it’s even harder when you’re always on the road like you are of course. Now you’re in London, you’re going to be in South America soon and it’s really confusing when you’re looking at the requirements and I need so much help to get through the process when you’re claiming something ’cause like me, you and anyone else, that would be really hard to do that, especially when you’re not in a place that you know.

That’s why I’m really glad that I’m partnering with Integra Global who has the most incredible customer service and they help you with everything that you need. They have 24/7 hub, you can submit a claim through their app and your claims are managed by their inhouse global expert team who are able to handle any issues, which means less stressed and less panic because that definitely gonna happen to me. So Danielle, if you or anyone you know or if our listeners want to know, you can definitely go to IntegraGlobal.com for more details because that’s definitely something we all need especially for really long travel like that and it’s so different.

Danielle:  

Awesome. I’ll check it out.

Debbie:  

Yeah, for sure. So, Danielle, I’m so excited that you were able to talk to us and I’m also excited for our extended interview together where you’re going to share with us how someone can also hit their first five-figure month with a travel brand as you did. So, I’m really excited to talk about that. But also Danielle and I actually met by co-writing a book together with like 18 other females it’s just so exciting. Danielle, can you tell us a little bit more about the book that we co-wrote together?

Danielle:  

Sure. So, the book’s name is Branding Quickies. You can find it on Amazon and it’s basically a 20 badass females killing it in the branding game. So us, along with 18 other people, we really share our biggest struggles, our biggest pieces of advice, just being so raw and authentic with our journeys, getting to where we are today. So whether you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, whether you’re interested in marketing, I guarantee you there is something valuable in this book that would help. So, check it out.

Debbie:

I’m really excited about this book and I’m also interviewing pretty much almost every single person that’s in that book. So, you’re all going to be introduced to all of these incredible females and definitely check that out. You can get it on Amazon as well. Danielle, if our listeners want to know more about you, where can they find you?

Danielle: 

Feel free to send me a DM. I’m really responsive on The Wanderlover. You can email me at danielle@thewanderlovefor.com or check out my website; TheWanderlover.com.

Debbie:

Perfect. Thank you so much Danielle for joining us today. I’m so happy for you to be our guest.

Danielle:

Thank you so much for having me.

GET THE EXTENDED INTERVIEW WITH DANIELLE WHERE SHE SHARES HOW TO EARN YOUR FIRST 5-FIGURE MONTH AS A CONTENT CREATOR.

 


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Show Credits:

Audio Engineer: Ben Smith


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