First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jeanie Fang: Thank you for asking! It has been a rollercoaster of a ride this past year, but we are hanging on. I hope you and your family are doing well!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Travel Jeanieous.
Jeanie Fang: I’m the founder of Travel Jeanieous. I am a travel content creator and a micro-influencer. As a content creator, I create digital content for brands, hotels, and tourism boards. As a micro-influencer, I help my audience discover beautiful hotels, brands, and destinations around the world for their next vacation.
I founded Travel Jeanieous to inspire people to remember to travel while working full time. As an ambitious professional eager to climb the corporate ladder, I was often working long hours and did not have enough work/life balance. I noticed this was happening to my friends as well. So I made it my goal to figure out how to travel and be outdoors, while still excelling at my full-time job. When I figured it out, I wanted to inspire my friends to do the same, so I started sharing my travel photos to spark wanderlust. Eventually, my audience grew from just my friends to thousands of people, which made me think I should turn my travel photos into a business to spark wanderlust and work/life balance for even more people.
How does Travel Jeanieous innovate?
Jeanie Fang: On the content creation side, Travel Jeanieous does extensive research on Google Earth to find lesser-known places and hidden gems to create content. When people see a photo or video of a place they haven’t seen before, they will spend more time looking at that photo. If a product happens to be in that photo, the product will get seen more, which will drive more sales to the brand. If the place resonates with the viewers, they will make a note to go there on their next vacation, leading to more money flowing into that city’s hotels, restaurants, and stores. Brands and tourism boards wouldn’t get the same attention if Travel Jeanieous were to create content at more mainstream places that people have already seen over and over again.
On the micro-influencing side, Travel Jeanieous is tailored towards the majority of people who work full-time jobs. Every other influencer in the travel industry encourages people to quit their jobs and travel (pretty sure you’ve seen the million and one articles about why you should quit your job to travel), but for many people, quitting their job is not realistic nor desirable. Travel Jeanieous shows that it is possible to both be a boss babe and to have fun traveling. It is not about choosing one or the other, but living the best of both worlds.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jeanie Fang: Being in the travel industry during a global pandemic is tough.
On the content creation side, Travel Jeanieous had an exciting lineup of brand deals at the beginning of the year, but when the pandemic hit, all the deals got cancelled. Brands no longer wanted to be associated with anything travel related. Tourism boards and hotels were dealing with their own loss of business since physical travel was not allowed, so they didn’t have a budget for deals. So Travel Jeanieous pivoted slightly and moved into more lifestyle and product content creation for the time being.
On the micro-influencing side, it was harder to pivot. Travel Jeanieous’s audience follows along for travel inspiration, so pivoting to a different niche would risk losing existing followers. However, posting about travel during the beginning of the pandemic was not only sensitive but irresponsible – imagine if someone saw your post about travel and thought it was okay for them to then go out and travel themselves. As such, Travel Jeanieous halted travel posts.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jeanie Fang: Deciding to halt travel posts was very difficult, even though it was the right thing to do. As a micro-influencer, your audience is expecting you to be consistent and to show up for them. Halting posting is not showing up for them.
Recently, months and months into the pandemic, more travel brand deals started to pick up again. It was difficult deciding whether to accept the deals or not. On the one hand, these were great brands to work with; on the other hand, the number of covid-19 cases still isn’t under control. I decided to work with a select few brands and start posting content for them. I received a lot of messages from my followers about safety and about wearing masks. Through this, I learned that I need to state clearly that social distancing and wearing masks is key.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Travel Jeanieous in the future?
Jeanie Fang: I normally deal with stress and anxiety by going out in nature on a hike or to the beach. Those really help tone down the stress and anxiety. However, going out in nature wasn’t as easy to do during the pandemic. As such, I’ve resorted to aromatherapy and yoga to release stress and anxiety. I also continue to remind myself that ebbs and flow are part of life and that business and travel will return.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jeanie Fang: There are many travel influencers, but many don’t also offer content creation, and vice versa, so it really depends on what the brand is looking for. According to Business Insider, the influencer market is projected to be a $15B industry by 2022, so there’s plenty of room to grow!
Your final thoughts?
Jeanie Fang: “This too shall pass,” so don’t worry too much. If the pandemic directly impacts your business, take the time now to work on something new or rebuild so that you’re in a good position once the pandemic ends!