We interviewed Carina Otero to find out her tips and tricks for working with a community of female travellers.
Tell us about how you got started blogging, and what lead you to making it a full-time gig:
I started She is Not Lost simply for fun, as I personally collected and bookmarked travel photography that I liked when researching a place I planned to visit. When I thought of the name I decided then to create a community in which people can become more engaged and ask other female travelers for recommendations and advice. As the page grew, I began receiving more and more opportunities as an influencer, and have been able to share useful tips and services with my audience through my Instagram and Blog. You could say I got my "start" rather unconventionally, because rather than creating a blog and building a following, I had a following and then created a blog.
When and why did you create She is Not Lost?
I created the community in September of 2015, simply in hopes of inspiring females around the world to see more beyond their own communities.
What is the goal of the community?
The goal of the community is simply to inspire. I have always told myself that even if I make one person smile and dream then what I have created is a success.
How do you monetize She is Not Lost?
I monetize the community with sponsored posts by partnering with companies relevant to traveling females. Additionally, I earn ad revenue for display ads on my blog and website.
What's the most exciting thing you've done since starting with She is Not Lost?
One very exciting opportunity that I was lucky to participate in was a trip to Sri Lanka, a country that originally was not high on my bucket list, but once I arrived I was so grateful to experience it. Being invited to a new place opened my eyes to experiences and lifestyles that are truly unique and special.
What is your favorite destination? and why?
My favorite location I have visited was Egypt, partly because I was so impressed by the history of the landmarks in and near Cairo, but also because I was surprised by the beauty of the Red Sea. My trip to Egypt happened quite unexpectedly and spontaneously, and I probably would not have gone if it weren't for my Egyptian friend who invited me. I had been hearing that Egypt was not a safe place for foreigners to visit, but when I arrived I was only greeted by friendliness and graciousness (especially from Egyptians whose livelihood relies on the tourism industry- shop owners, tour guides, and others). I was very grateful for the opportunity to visit Egypt and am looking forward to someday going back to spend more time and dive in the Red Sea!
How often do you travel?
I travel about 1 or 2 weeks a month.
Do you have any travel tips for our community?
My most important piece of advice is to speak with locals! Do not get so caught up in visiting landmarks and destinations just to take a photo, but rather enjoy the journey and learn something about the people who live in the places you visit. I also encourage my followers to be respectful when taking photos by asking permission, not trespassing and contributing to the businesses that are featured in your photos. For example, if you are at the souk in Marrakech and see a beautiful shop that would make the perfect backdrop for your photo, purchase a souvenir or two and show some friendliness to the shop owner. Not only will you be more welcome to take a photo there, but you will also leave with a nice memento from your travels.
What is for you essential when traveling?
Lately, I love traveling with my drone to capture photos and see a location from a different perspective.
Why do you enjoy working with companies and how do you choose certain collaborations, any criteria?
I only choose to work with companies that I personally find useful, and think my followers would find useful. I think my followers appreciate that I choose my partnerships carefully and do not dilute the quality or integrity of my feed with companies that are not reputable or not relevant to travel.
Tell us about your biggest personal achievement as a blogger/Instagrammer?
When I started She is Not Lost I was working in a 9-6 desk job in a position that was not inspiring or challenging. Rather, I had so much time during the day to daydream that I was able to put most of my energy toward growing the Instagram page in its earliest days. After about a year and a half I was able to monetize the page, and two and a half years since I started the page, a representative from the headquarters of the company that I used to work with reached out (not knowing that I was a previous employee) and asked if I would partner in a sponsored post! Once the campaign was completed I felt as thought I had come full circle and that I was where I am meant to be. :)
Do you have any lessons from past failures others could learn from?
Don't get frustrated if you don't see growth or sponsorships right away. Choosing to be a blogger as a career path doesn't always progress in a straight line, and there will be moments when you question if you are really doing the right thing. But if it is something you really want and enjoy doing, your followers will notice and your success will come!
Any advice for up and coming bloggers?
My advice would be to be real and honest and create a voice that works and stick to it. Consistency is key when it comes to entertaining or inspiring an audience.
What social trends are you seeing unfold for 2018?
I see a lot of influencers focusing less on staged, glorified, perfected posts and rather sharing with their followers the reality of the situation photographed. This makes the content and connection between influencer and viewer much more relatable, and likely more effective when it comes to partnerships.
What upcoming projects are you most excited about?
I am most excited about my recent partnership with a company called Hiptipico, which hosted me during my trip to Guatemala. I got to see how special the locals are and how lovely the country is, so I was already very happy to support a business with an important mission to empower and employ local women. However, just one week after my visit Guatemala was gravely affected by a volcanic eruption. Hiptipico has pledged to support the relief causes long after traditional media stops covering the events, which is why I am happy to continue sharing my experiences traveling through their beautiful country.
Campaigns with The Cirqle
What did you think about the campaign for Swiss Education?
The campaign for the Swiss Education Group was great, everything went smoothly and planning was thorough. I felt as though all of my needs were met and all the support was in place for me to provide the client with the set deliverables. I was very impressed with the level of support provided! I had been on other press trips (not organized by The Cirqle) as a social media influencer, and many details were not tended to- for example I was not given ample time to take photos, and in some instances photos and cameras were not allowed- making it very difficult to share my experience through photography! Traveling with The Cirqle was a breath of fresh air as the experience was clearly well organized.