2 Years Self-Employed: Blogging Coach, Travel Influencer, Social Media Consultant! / Carmen Varner // Travel Influencer, Blogging Coach, Social Media Consultant


2 Years Self-Employed: Blogging Coach, Travel Influencer, Social Media Consultant!

It's official! I've been self-employed for 2 years. June, although midway through the year, always signifies a fresh start.

I never mentioned this before, but only 10 days after my resignation from my corporate job, I went on my first press trip as a self-employed travel influencer, blogging coach, & social media consultant for small brands. (Yes, I do a bit of everything as a digital influencer. I kind of have to!)

Is it stressful? Oh yes.

There's no boss to blame because I am my boss. Well, I guess I could blame myself, & that does happen from time to time. I'm in charge of what I do, when I do it, & what I earn. While this might sound like the ultimate freedom, this journey comes with a learning curve.

Last year I wrote my one-year self-employment anniversary post after I'd gotten back home from a familiarization tour to El Paso, Texas. The tourism board flew a few journalists, bloggers, & industry leaders to El Paso to see the city in person. It was a whirlwind experience.

About me: I'm a San Diego blogger. I love Earl Grey tea. I was a Netflix girl but I'm digging Disney+ these days.

San Diego Blogger Downtown San Diego Travel influencer and California blogger shares her self-employment journey as a blogging coach, social media consultant.
San Diego Blogger life! Downtown San Diego before an event - I was invited to a restaurant opening (September 2018)

Things I Learned

I learned a lot this year as far as SEO (search engine optimization), going outside of my comfort zone, understanding the true meaning of networking/connections (building genuine & authentic relationships with people in which you can mutually help each other but in different ways).

Year 2 as a Travel Influencer

In my second year of self-employment, I explored frequently as a travel influencer. I'm grateful to receive invites to travel influencer press trips to places like Lompoc (where I went skydiving!!!), Long Beach (where I rode in a gondola down the river), & Oxnard (where I slept in an ocean view room at Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach & saw a pod of dolphins off the coast of Anacapa Island).

What is a Press Trip/FAM Tour?

The idea of press trips/FAM tours is to bring awareness of things to do in these California cities, whether that's sharing hotels to stay at, best restaurants, hidden gems, & nature spots. Sometimes you write a blog post, sometimes they prefer social media shares or geolocation tags. I explain more about press trips & familiarization tours on this Instagram photo. The press trip itself always ranges, but the goal is always the same: bring a bit of tourism into the city, a bit of awareness, eyeballs, interest, dollars. 
Downtown San Diego Travel influencer and California blogger shares her self-employment journey as a blogging coach, social media consultant. Photo of Girona, Spain San Diego Blogger
Photo from my travels to Girona, Spain (October 2018)

My Own Travels

I'm always thankful that my blog & social media presence allow me travel influencer/travel blogging opportunities because most of the time I plan & purchase trips myself. I visited Mexico on three different occasions since I live less than one hour away from Mexico. I explored some Tijuana breweries. I stared at the stunning pastels of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato & Peña De Bernal, Queretaro. I went to Oslo, Norway; Berlin, Germany; & Barcelona, Spain.

Downtown San Diego Travel influencer and California blogger shares her self-employment journey as a blogging coach, social media consultant. Photo of Pismo Beach, California San Diego Blogger
Pelicans in Pismo Beach, California (May 2019)

Life as a California Blogger & San Diego Blogger

There are many places to visit & things to do in California. As a San Diego blogger, I traveled all over the County & I mean all over. I'm talking about Balboa Park, Cardiff, Carlsbad, Clairemont Village, Coronado, Encinitas, Escondido, La Jolla, Normal Heights, Oceanside, Old Town, San Marcos, Solana Beach, Vista.

Looking for things to do in California? I also explored other parts of California such as Hesperia, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, Ventura. As a digital influencer, I share visual stories online with my audience about each place.

Sponsored Blog Posts & Campaigns with Brands

During my second year fully working remotely, I partnered with some cool brands for sponsored posts & campaigns on my blog such as iWi (a vegan omega-3 supplement) & Nurx (affordable female health care like birth control & HPV testing). I did an affiliate campaign with Soo Jin, a clothing company.

Downtown San Diego Travel influencer and California blogger shares her self-employment journey as a blogging coach, social media consultant. Vista Library, California
A partnership with Soo Jin, a clothing company (September 2018)

Life as an Instagram Influencer 

On my Instagram digital influencer platform, I had sponsored posts with Subway & Wallaby Yogurt. The Subway campaign was a local San Diego blogger campaign. Here's the Subway campaign photo on Instagram. I didn't do too many sponsored posts in my second year of self-employment.

Compared to Year 1, my sponsored blog post & sponsored social media opportunities went down for two reasons. 

1) I was pickier with the brands I worked with.
2) Brands shifted toward social media marketing vs. blog marketing.

Downtown San Diego Travel influencer and California blogger shares her self-employment journey as a blogging coach, social media consultant. Instagram influencer campaign with Wallaby Yogurt
My campaign with Wallaby Yogurt (September 2018)

Trends for 2019 - 2020 

Brands didn't focus as heavily on blogging or SEO, they were really focused on social media content. For example, both the Subway & Wallaby campaign required two Instagram posts within a short period. It would benefit to have longterm campaigns so an audience can get introduced & acquainted to a brand over a longer period of time. But that's just me. :]

The Instagram influencer trend is already changing. SEO is a gamechanger if you do it strategically. I've noticed a difference in 2019 for myself & my clients. I work one-on-one with people as a blogging coach & I work with brands as a social media consultant. These two segments are separate but they absolutely benefit each other.

Year 2 as a Social Media Consultant

I recently refocused on this aspect of my business. I wasn't as enamored with the digital influencer life because it's financially unstable. You never know how the month will go. In November 2018 I landed a new social media client, writing SEO-friendly product descriptions on their Shopify e-commerce website, writing blog posts with SEO keywords, & creating all their online ads (Google, Facebook, Instagram). Then a few weeks later I onboarded my second client. Those two social media clients have been steady, while others come & go. Some require short-term projects, some don't have budgets for continuous work.

Downtown San Diego Travel influencer and California blogger shares her self-employment journey as a blogging coach, social media consultant. Instagram influencer travel blogger at Chichen Itza Mexico
Exploring Chichen Itza, Mexico (December 2018)

My Intentions & Goals for Year 3

My intention is to shift some of my focus toward actively finding social media consultation clients, small businesses & brands looking for assistance over longer periods of time. I'm always open as a blog coach, but I'll let people find me who want to me to coach them, rather than me seek people out. If that's you, hey!!! :] So I want to have more social media management clients. I want to focus on being a travel influencer & creating fun digital content. I'd like to also create long-term relationships with people in the industry in a way that we each work together to help each other.

Are you a brand or small business interested in social media management, content creation, community engagement, reputation management, SEO, copywriting? Please fill out my Discovery Questionnaire & I will email you within 48 hours.

Are you an individual who has questions about social media, how to start blogging, how to find your voice/audience, working with brands, how to get invited to press events as a San Diego blogger influencer? Please fill out my Discovery Questionnaire for Coaching.

Have a question?? Please leave a comment! :]


  1. I admire people who decide to go freelance, it's so much hard work and motivation. But I guess it leads to so many great experiences that you wouldn't have otherwise. Well done to you, and I hope your career flourishes this year!

    Julia x
    Last Post: Easy Sustainable Habits To Help Our Planet | https://juliaspeaksbeauty.blogspot.com/2019/06/easy-sustainable-habits-to-help-planet.html

  2. Congrats on your second year working as a self employed coach and influencer! I think it's amazing to create a career you love and to be able to do it full time, on your own, it's so inspiring! xx

    Sending light & love your way,

    My Lovelier Days

  3. congrats on your second year of being self-employed. You're amazing!

  4. Excellent Carmen. Congratulations and wish you all the best in your future travels.

  5. Sounds like you've had a jam packed, successful two years! All of that traveling sounds so amazing!


  6. Wow, good for you girl! What an accomplishment to be self-employed, and experienced all those press trips. Congrats


  7. MoreThanDestinationJune 17, 2019 at 2:44 PM

    Two years is not such a long time and you were able to achieve so much. Congratulations!

  8. Yea brands are definitely more into social media than blogs these days. I just want to travel and get paid for it. Is that so much to ask? :)


  9. Incredible! I admire this so much. We should chat someday over coffee :)

  10. Ah that is the dream! Travel often, eat well, sleep comfortably. :]

  11. You're right - it's not long at all (now that it's over) but HOLY MOLY each day & month was stressful. I'm SO glad I made it through the hump because I have a much better grasp of business, clients, & creating long-term opportunities. Any goals for 2019? :]

  12. Thanks Angela. I've been on a handful of press trips & I'm always humbled by the other other industry leaders who come too. I have a lot to learn! :] Any goals for 2019?

  13. The travel became smoother as we learned how to travel effectively/on a budget. It took a while to get the process down!! :] Any travels/goals for 2019?

  14. Thank you!! :] It was so stressful but the last 2 months have been better. Maybe it was the 2 year hump??

  15. Thank you Diana! Your words truly mean a lot. In the day to day, it's almost impossible to see results, but now that I can reflect on the past 2 years, it's a pleasant surprise!!

    Do you have an travels/goals for 2019?

  16. I have to be honest - I don't think I realized the amount of work needed to freelance. But now that I'm in it, I can't see myself at a full-time desk job. I still work for clients ( but sometimes it's at a desk but sometimes it's a coffee shop or couch or bed or plane. Do you have any travel plans/life goals for the rest of 2019, Julia?? :]


Thanks for reading & writing. :] // ▲


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