How to supercharge your organic growth on Instagram in 2018?

Instagram Marketing Interview with Rachel & Ruben: GAMINtraveler

How to supercharge your organic growth on Instagram in 2018?

Cornelia: Thanks for joining us today. I know you guys are in the Philippines right now and it’s late there, so I appreciate you talking with us.

Now, I know you have close to 130,000 engaged followers on your Instagram account @gamintraveler. Can you tell us when that started?

GAMINtraveler: We started in March of 2016. We took a course and studied Instagram.

At the time, we were doing both, a blog and Instagram, but then we started liking taking pictures and telling a story with Instagram, and with only 10k followers, we started getting endorsements with companies, so it encouraged us to use Instagram more than the blog.

Cornelia: That’s every influencers dream! You’re not only doing it for the travel industry, but you also do it for your clients. What are some industries that you have worked with?

GAMINtraveler: We started working on Instagram to supplement our travel writing. Then we started working with clients such as personal coaches, small businesses, e-commerce brands. It’s a mix of personal brands, depending on the strategy of the business.

Cornelia: In your opinion, is Instagram over-saturated? And why do you think it’s so important for personal brands to build a tribe on Instagram?

GAMINtraveler: Instagram is one of THE fastest growing channels right now.

Compared to Facebook, it is still very possible to grow quickly in 2018. We are hoping that it will continue. We know that it will eventually move to paid advertising, but for now, there are still many strategies to build your brand organically.

I think the oversaturation is a common worry for everyone, but there are always new users. And there are so many new features like stories. And the platform will only continue to grow.

Cornelia: Speaking of stories, a lot of people are confused how to utilize it. What is the benefit to using stories?

GAMINtraveler: There are many benefits to using stories, especially for business.

Now, on Instagram stories, you can add hashtags and locations, which is very simple and helpful. You can show a day in your life and get even more active in your social media. Now with the swipe up, it’s a great way to incorporate links and generate leads!

There is a little limitation with the swipe up feature. You need to have at least 10k followers to be able to use this function. However, one of our favorite features in stories is the poll. It’s a great way to get to know who is watching your stories by asking them questions and getting feedback.

For example, if you’re a personal health coach, you inspire by sharing your morning routine, so it’s a great chance to hold a poll and ask: are you a coffee person or a tea person?

People LOVE to engage in polls because it only takes them a second to answer, as opposed to writing a full message. So, from there, you have an idea on how to start a conversation.

Cornelia: I really like that. You can do free market research because it’s engaging. And you don’t have to have 10k followers to use that.

Let’s talk about daily engagement. What is a good number on how many times per day you should post? And do you have any tips on what you should post?

GAMINtraveler: The short answer – At least once per day.

But if you’re just starting out, posting a lot of content every day will help you to get more likes and engagement.

Right now, Instagram isn’t exactly chronological.

They use an algorithm that makes it so the people whose posts you actively like and comment on will appear higher and more immediate on your feed.

So, if you’re just building your following, posting frequently will give you better a chance of getting more engagement.

Cornelia: Is there such a thing as too much?

GAMINtraveler: In the beginning, 5-7 times a day is good. You want to cover many time zones and just be out there.

When we started, we would check the popular hashtags in our field for people who had posted in the last few minutes. We would comment and engage with these posts so that the people, who we know are active on the app, would come check out who we are.

It can sound like a lot of work, but like any organic marketing, it’s exponential. You have to put the work in in the beginning.

Cornelia: Can you use stock images or do you have to use your own images?

GAMINtraveler: The first thing you should do is decide on what kind of account you want to have, whether it’s personal or business.

If you’re a blogger, you’ll want to focus more on your personal photos, like a fitness blogger might focus on selfies, and a travel blogger might focus on landscapes.

Decide in the beginning what focus you will have on your account.

What worked for us is that we were very sincere. The caption is a good place to play around.

Cornelia: Should posts in your story be separate from your feed?

GAMINtraveler: Definitely.

In the feed, your photos are usually more highly rated. Most people take a little more time on these images, and in stories, you can be a little more raw.

Stories is a playful side.

They’re a chance to show your personality, and in time, you’ll learn what your viewers want to see.

Cornelia: I’ve noticed the great thing about stories is that when I post something like what I’m reading, people can respond by messaging me on more of a personal level because they feel like they know me.

Whereas your feed is more like a business card. Is it okay to cross-post to Facebook or Twitter?

GAMINtraveler: I think the only challenge is that the hashtag is part of the platform.

If you automatically post on Facebook, all of the hashtags will appear, and it might be a little weird. Sometimes we just go into Facebook and edit those hashtags out after it posts.

You also have to be aware of what voice you use in each of your social media accounts so that you can stick with that.

Cornelia: What about the stories? Would it be redundant to post your Instagram stories to Facebook?

GAMINtraveler: Well, you probably have a different audience on Facebook than you have on Instagram. So, you might have to cater your content to your audience.

Cornelia: That’s a good point. Your audience on each platform comes for a different purpose and from a different place.

Speaking of hashtags, how many are allowed? And how many would you recommend?

GAMINtraveler: You’re allowed 30 hashtags on Instagram. We recommend 27-28 and try to change most of them reflecting whatever picture you post. We usually use a specific 7 or 8 hashtags every time.

And you should put the hashtag in the post. For a while, people were hiding them in the comment section, but that doesn’t seem to be working anymore, so it’s best to just put them in the post.

Cornelia: Is it true that Instagram will shadow ban you if you use too many hashtags too much?

GAMINtraveler: We have heard of this happening to accounts that we were watching, so it’s important to change up your hashtags every time. If you post the same hashtags every time, it makes you look more like a bot than a real person.

We always keep in mind that we don’t know 100% what Instagram is trying to do with the platform. So, there’s not strict rules and it’s not like if you’re shadow banned, you’ll be banned forever. Just try to stick to the rules and change your hashtags up.

Cornelia: I know hashtags are a really important way to not only categorize your posts, but also to be found by new followers. Do you have any practice tips for using hashtags?

GAMINtraveler: When posting, if you use very broad hashtags, it will be hard to gain exposure because you will be so far down the list of posts in that collection. But if you find a good combination of niche and broad hashtags, you will have better chances of being found.

Cornelia: How often do you mix up your hashtags?

GAMINtraveler: About every two weeks. We have a set of 6-7 hashtags that we rotate to make sure that we are hitting our target audience.

Cornelia: Are engagement groups still working?

GAMINtraveler: Yes, they are still working if you engage when posting.

For us, networking is at the heart of our strategy. For example, if you’re in travel and you have a group of fellow travel bloggers and travel accounts, you can all post at the same time and engage with each other to gain each other’s followers.

Cornelia: Can you share how to put together an engagement group?

GAMINtraveler: One of the biggest strategies is to network with big accounts, and what we noticed is that once you posted a new picture, when you get engagement in the first half hour, the more engagement you get, and when you get engagement with accounts with high following, then your accounts get more exposure. It can become viral content.

Start hitting people in the DM’s. Send them an awesome first message like,

Hey, I’m a traveler and I’m trying to build engagement group for accounts for people with 50k follower,” and then you can add yourself as the organizer. People don’t want to be organizers, so it’s up to you start it.

Cornelia: How important is it to be original and not just reuse content from other accounts?

GAMINtraveler: For us, we do a mix.

If you’re a new Instagram user and you don’t have a lot of content, there are many feature pages out there that you can repost. Whatever you do, be intentional and give credit to the right people.

To be honest, in the business accounts we grow, reposting is a big part of the strategy. If you see an account that is growing well, and they’re posting a certain type of content, you just need to copy that style. Repurpose that content. Usually, there’s just a trend.

Cornelia: Do you have to reply to every comment?

GAMINtraveler: The faster you can reply, the better. If you reply in the first fifteen minutes, it makes the post stronger and more active.

Something that travel bloggers have been doing is posting in their stories that they will be posting and the people who comment within the first ten minutes will get a shout out. It’s a great way to promote engagement.

If you comment back quickly, your posts get stronger in the algorithm.

Cornelia: Do you use any tools or apps in your IG strategy?

GAMINtraveler: We do. Schedulers are a very important part of our work. If you can schedule out a few days or weeks in advance, it’s more efficient. Trying to post in the moment every day can be difficult. This way you can schedule a lot at once, and it helps with staying consistent.

Command for Instagram is an app that allows you to see the most popular posts in someone’s account. We would use this research in our field for repurposing content. Recently, I think it’s limited to the last two months, but it’s still useful.

Regram is good for reposting very quickly.

Cornelia: When is the best time to change from a personal account to a business account?

GAMINtraveler: With the new changes in Instagram, right now. So many of the 3rd party tools will be limited to show results. You have to be a business account.

If you want to use your insights, you’ll have to be a business account. And you’ll never know when engagement will be good, so it’s best to take advantage of those tools now.

Cornelia: How do you find top accounts?

GAMINtraveler: Start with hashtags.

The Instagram algorithm continues to grow smarter, and if you start interacting with travel content. In your search, you’ll start seeing all of the viral and trending content in your category.

Cornelia: How important is geotagging?

GAMINtraveler: If you’re posting in travel, it can help with getting reposted and find new followers. For example, if you know in advance you know you’ll be posting about Bali, we will do advanced research and know the top posts in Bali and we will tag them in our posts.

In the stories, we will put the location and hashtag in every story. Even if you’re not there, you can be featured in that town. People in that location can find you easier.

Cornelia: Do you have particular tips or strategies for service-based businesses?

GAMINtraveler: You want to think about the target audience. People will gravitate toward motivational content, but that can become saturated, so if you know the type of people you want to attract, research what kind of content they like.

People can get overwhelmed by focusing too much aesthetics, and while that is important, it’s more important to focus on what is trending in your category. Test a lot in the beginning and if something stops working, use the archive feature so that you keep your insights, but the post is no longer visible in your account.

Cornelia: Any last tips and advice?

GAMINtraveler: Do your research and really look at the growing, popular accounts in your niche.

See what the trends are and follow them. If you want to network with people, check the people who are commenting in the first ten minutes. Reach out to them and in time, you’ll be able to build your own engagement groups. They will likely to be inside your circle.

In the beginning there will be a lot of testing, but you’ll have to find the balance between what works for you and what people are connecting with. Focus on your audience. Find your voice.

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If you’ve enjoyed this article, be sure to SUBSCRIBE to this blog to be the first one to get notified of new, awesome posts coming to you weekly ;).

Also, you can get in touch with Rachel and Ruben from GAMINtraveler here: Website – http://www.gamintraveler.com/; Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/gamintraveler/

Finally, if you have a growing Instagram following and you’d like to learn how to optimize it for lead generation and really monetize your following, download our case study of how a client of ours made over $23,000 in just 7 days by utilizing her Instagram following: https://funnelgal.com/freecasestudy

P.s. You might also enjoy reading:

How to use social media and blog posts effectively for online lead generation?

How I Went From Boring Corporate Job To Blissful Boss In Less Than 1 Year

Or, how I quit my corporate job in 2015 at the age of 27 with $7,000 in my bank account, NO clue how to start an online business or make money online and had only 3 months to figure it out until I’d run out of savings.

And figure it out, I did. Read on…

To tell you my whole story, I’d probably have to go back a few years.

It started in college when I studied abroad in Seoul, South Korea. I took a few technology entrepreneurship and international management classes. Inspired by one of my professors, I started a blog.

My goal was to interview entrepreneurs. It quickly turned into a lifestyle blog. I was never able to really figure out how to monetize my efforts though.

So, it was more of a hobby. Regardless, it was back then, when my softly blossoming entrepreneur buds started to originate from.

Fast forward a few years and I found myself in a corporate job as an operations manager at an international corporation.

Okay, it wasn’t my awesome peeps that I worked alongside with that made my corporate job miserable.

Cornelia and fellow AON employees, 2015

Instead, it was the sheer monotony of it.

The fact that I did not use anything at all that I studied and was passionate in (diplomacy and sociology) or, my other creative talents.

You see, I grew up playing the violin professionally all throughout high school.

Cornelia Pauline, 2010

Not only that, I graduated from a special Arts high school before moving to the U.S. to study.

I always thought that there was more to life.

I did not want to get stuck in a corporate job, pretty much having the same routine day in, day out.

I did not want someone else to be in control over my own time.

To me, being the boss of your own time means freedom.

Life is life, though. Plans don’t always work out.

There comes a time when it’s not just about those plans. It’s about your future and it’s about what purpose you decide your life will have (and has).

In other words, how do you want to spend your time?

For me, I knew I wanted to build a legacy.

I wanted to inspire people and wanted to help them break through form the constraints they impose upon themselves and live a life on their terms.

In other words and the only way you can do that is by figuring out what SKILLS and SKILL-SETS you already have (or that you’d love to develop), what innate talents/strengths and figure out how to package them in a way that they become valuable to the overall economy.

Understanding that and figuring that out for yourself will result in – you’ve guessed it, income.

Which, in turn, means you will never have to send out that resume again – hoping someone else will choose you and turn your life around.

No!

Make the choice today to turn your life around.

It all comes down to that, a choice. And that is what I did.

I decided.

So, I started scouting out freelancer websites upon a friend’s recommendation.

My favorite site that I used to experiment with the kind of value I could add to the economy and other businesses was Fiverr.

From when I first used it, it has changed and developed quite a lot.

However, throughout the next six months, I was able to replace the monthly income of my corporate job completely with the kind of money I earned from doing gigs on Fiverr.

First success, right?!

Side note: Yes, I do have a course on Fiverr and even wrote a book on the hacks I used to get those kinds of results. You can find out more about that here: https://fiverrwithfocus.com/welcomefwf

Now, once you get to a certain point, you quickly realize that you need to leave the mothership. It truly felt like that.

Though, I had hit a wall.

I realized that if I really wanted to start growing a successful business (and not only be a freelancer, which is totally fine if this is what you want. it all depends on what you want), I needed to start to figure out how to position myself outside of Fiverr.

So, that’s what I did next.

Once you start branding yourself and positioning yourself correctly, it is pretty straight-forward how to get new business.

And after a ton of trial and error throughout the next few months, I developed a system for this as well.

Hence, I wanted to share it with other aspiring or beginning business owners and entrepreneurs that still struggled with that stage ;). Born was CONNECT, Facebook Networking For Entrepreneurs.

Throughout the beginning and even nowadays, I get about 90% of my clients from being active on Facebook, without spending any money on paid advertising.

The next success!

Don’t get me wrong.

There was a LOT of trial and error involved. There still is. That never stops.

I had people tell me that I was, for example, crazy for ever offering services on Fiverr.

Though the thing is that if you have never before made real money online before to where you can imagine it completely replacing your regular ‘job income’, it’s hard to find the inner attitude and mentality to get and close new clients.

All in all, you have to figure out what works for you.

Though,most beginning business owners and entrepreneurs are either (or both):

(1) Sabotaging themselves because they do not think they have what it takes to live the laptop lifestyle so to speak.

I was the same.

Not only that, I did not know what to sell. Fiverr helped me figure this out without, for example, hiring an online business coach that would have charged me (rightly so) a few thousand dollars a month.

At that point, I was not ready to make that kind of investment.

Maybe I would have achieved my diverse small successes much faster if I had invested in a coach or program though.

What can I say? I can be a bit stubborn at times and want to figure things out on my own.

Nowadays, I’ve realized to not hold on and let go of my stubbornness much sooner. Thanks goodness ;).

(2) Overthinking things. 

You can figure everything out.

Just take it one new information at a time.

Relax.

No one has it all figured out at any given step in their journey.

That’s part of the mystery of life ;).

(3) Too slow when it comes to pivoting.

Yes, there is a difference between following every hottest new shiny object AND pivoting if something is truly not working.

I believe that every single person out there (and if you’re reading this you are certainly one of them), can create the life for themselves and their families that they always dreamed of.

You just got to take a chance on yourself.

Try something.

If it does not feel right after you gave it your best shot, pivot and try something else.

Eventually, you’ll get there.

And some things which might be not right for you anymore tomorrow, are important and true and right in this very moment for you.

It is all an experience you have to go through to grow.

Don’t be afraid of trying.

Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there.

After all, what do you have to loose?

You can always go get another job.

If you have a job right now, you can skip going out with friends for Happy Hour and dedicate some hours during the week to start taking action towards your dreams.

Life can change A LOT in one year.

Heck, you CAN change your entire life in just 12 months!

Think about that.

When I first started, I still worked from a cubicle in an office doing the same thing every day.

12 months later, I developed into a business owner, traveled around the world with my husband and two dogs while loving the work I do for my students and awesome clients and intentionally, building my online empire.

 

Surprise yourself.

You’ve got this!

Oh and don’t forget to spread the love and share this article on your social media if you’ve liked it <3.

Let’s do this!

~ Cornelia Pauline

P.s. For daily hands-on online business and digital marketing tips, be sure to join my free Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/socialmediafunnelhacks/

P.s.s. You might also enjoy this related article of mine: https://corneliapauline.com/2017/12/03/can-realistically-make-100k-online-12-months/

30 Things I’ve Learned About Life Before Turning 30

Yesterday, I finally turned 30!

And boy, I’m feeling so grown up now ;).

But seriously, I’ve been sort of fretting this day for the past few months.

There is a lot of stigma that society puts on you for turning 30 – especially, as a woman.

Though little rebel that I am, I disregarded it as much as I could.

Instead, I wanted to focus on the things I was already able to learn in this life.

I love reading these types of posts that genuinely share another person’s experience with their readers.

So, in honor of my 30th birthday, here are 30 things I’ve had the honor to learn throughout my 30 years on this planet thus far.

Some of you might have already discovered them for yourself some, you might still experience, some might surprise you and some might make you laugh.

Enjoy <3!

  1. The term ‘success’ is subjective. Define it for yourself and don’t let anybody else’s definition of it define you.

  2. Love isn’t easy. If you think it is, you won’t ever be in a long-term relationship. Love is raw and real, hard and beautiful at the same time.

  3. If you’re trying to get somewhere by yourself – follow some goal – it will take you that much longer if you’re trying to do it all by yourself. It always takes a team effort to achieve any type of goal.

  4. Take risks. Embrace the fear that you feel before taking them. It won’t ever get any easier. But, the discomfort will serve as a reminder that whatever awaits you on the other side of that risk, is worth experiencing.

  5. Self-development is all about stretching those comfort zones. And damn, that can be hard. You will have to push yourself and it won’t ever get any easier either. However, you will develop stronger muscles to push through them. Practice. Don’t shy away from experiencing different things.

  6. Time is an arbitrary concept. Turning 30 and looking at how far I’ve come in my life compared to how much further I thought I’d be at this point when I was mere 20 years old, made me realize that to achieve things faster, you have to fail faster. You have to take faster actions. The action does not have to be perfect, though you do need to take it.

  7. Go through the process of elimination as fast as you can. There are SO many things in your 20s you think you want. You won’t know, unless you actually TRY them out. Say you think you want to become a digital nomad and travel the world, do it. Only then, will you realize if that lifestyle is something to strive for or, if you only want to experience it for a few months before settling down. Too many people spend a lot of time thinking they want something which they actually do not want, nor need.

  8. Self-awareness can not be learned. Self-awareness needs to be practiced. You need to fill up your time here on earth with experiences to learn faster about the kind of person you are and who you truly want to become.

  9. You can achieve anything in life if you stay focused on achieving it and continue to be consistent. Most people give up when it comes to the consistent part and because they seek instant gratification. Don’t. Realize that is is simple math. If you keep being consistent and make sure that you are making tiny progress every single day, there’s no way you wouldn’t get where you truly want to go.

  10. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It never is. Because you are you and you are unique in your experience of how you see the world. As such, the grass you are standing on right now is the only grass you should tend towards. Stop looking at other people’s grass’s 😉 .

  11. You can make a ton of money and still not be happy. Money does not equal happiness, nor the other way around. Money is just a tool, an energy, we use in this world. Knowing this, you want to make sure to find fulfillment and purpose through the kind of work that you do. Don’t do things just for the money. If you do, you will end up feeling depressed, unsatisfied and lost.

  12. Don’t follow your passion. Passions light up fast but can blow out just as fast. Follow the things you love. Love is what matters in all things in life and business, not passion.

  13. Practice not to make judgements based upon somebody’s appearance. Appearances can change and can be fake. There are many layers to a person. Focus more on learning about and uncovering those layers of a person than to judge them based upon their appearance.

  14. Prioritize the things that are important in your life. There are so many things that will pull you in different directions and distract you. However, you will turn 30 and 40 and 50 much faster than you can possibly perceive right now. Be sure to make the most out of every day and make time for the things that are important to you.

  15. Refrain from giving in to peer pressure if a situation doesn’t feel right to you. There’s no reason to do so and your true friends will respect your decision. Otherwise, you do not need those types of friends.

  16. Have the courage to stand up whenever you witness or face injustice. We need way more people like this in this world.

  17. Be kind. For if you are not, what purpose is there for being in this world?

  18. Dieting sucks and there are so many different opinions on how you should eat and live your life. Everyone is different and unique. Figure out what feels right for you and your body after trying out different things. Do more of that. You are the only one occupying your body, you know deep down what’s best for you.

  19. Do not push your opinions and truths onto other people. There are many truths. There is no point for that and it just takes away from the precious time that you do have in this world. If someone wants to learn more about your opinions and truths, they will ask you.

  20. Life is tough. It is not easy, especially if you want more out of life. Don’t be scared of it. Don’t shy away from it. Jump head first into the wild ocean that is life and learn to swim.

  21. The things that you are trying so hard to gain (if it is money, a romantic relationship, kids, etc.) are going to be too scared to come to you if you put too much pressure on obtaining them. Let things flow.

  22. There are different story patterns that are pre-determined and woven throughout your life. You will understand them looking back. Don’t try to figure them out in advance. Stick to what you can control and have faith that you make the right decisions.

  23. Chances are, you are severely underestimating yourself and the power that you have over changing your life (and other people’s lives) at any given moment in time. Believe in yourself more. Practice doing so.

  24. It’s okay to feel blue, alone and down sometimes. I do too. Quite often actually. The important thing is to let those feelings run through you and acknowledge them. Don’t shy away from them. Accept them but do not let them define you. You still have control over the types of actions you set each day.

  25. Life never works out the way you have initially planned and that’s how it’s supposed to be. There’s beauty in this mysterious uncertainty. Since you can’t control that, just relax into it.

  26. 99% of the things you worry about never happen.

  27. If you’ve been having a tough day, the best way to relax is with a great glass of red wine (or two), a great smelling bath (hello essential oils and Lush bath bombs <3) and a fantastic fiction book or movie.

  28. It’s important in life as well as business to pivot if things are just not working out.                                                                   

  29. It’s NEVER to late to change your life. I thought that because I would reach the 30 milestone and haven’t become a multi-millionaire yet, produced a movie or published several books, I was a failure. You are only a failure if you give up on yourself. Don’t ever do that! Even though you might be 40 or 50 or 80 already, there is still time to make different choices. Let’s do this!

  30. Travel! Until this day, I can best connect with people who have traveled or lived in different countries (or states) before in their lives. Reason being is that they are some of the coolest people that I’ve ever met and some of the most tolerant. They understand how small our own very unique experiences are in comparison to how vast the world is. The more you get out of your own ‘bubble’ you live in, the more you realize what life is all about – whatever that is. Hey! I’m just 30 and still searching ;).

Thanks for reading and be sure to share this blog post if you’ve enjoyed it <3.

P.s. You might also like: https://corneliapauline.com/2018/02/14/people-succeed-life-others-dont/

The Paradox Of Following Your Passions

And How To Really Get Paid For Doing What You Love!

I’ve been super naive.

You see, when I was this young dreamy Pisces girl, growing up in Vienna, Austria,

My head in a book most of the time (romance novel that is *cough, cough*),
Heart in the clouds,

I thought that I would never do something in my entire life that I wasn’t truly passionate about.

I couldn’t have been more wrong for a number of reasons but to that later.

Fast forward a few years and I had the opportunity to make money from playing the violin professionally while growing up in Austria.

At first, it had been a blast.

Though, it was getting more and more in the way of my high-school studies.

The passion for music – as I was getting paid for it – seemed to become less colorful and it was eventually replaced by the desire to go travel the world; to fully experience what life was all about.

The thing I had not realized until that point was that passions change.

Yes, for some people there are passions that last a lifetime.

For many others, passions change quite frequently, or every few years.

As I am writing this, I am still figuring out why that is so in case you have an opinion about this, be sure to leave a comment down below ;).

Back to my story…

I made the hard decision to stop playing for money.

I cried on the day I quit playing the violin professionally and informed my teachers about it.

For years, I pondered about this decision. Though, would I be thrown back to this very point in time, I would probably do it all over again.

So, I concentrated on getting accepted to an American university and off I went, studying in Hawaii.

There, I realized another passion and talent of mine – writing. I set a new goal for my life – to become a published author of fiction books.

The thing that I do not even mention a many of my friends was that I failed.

I failed to become published and it stunk.

I wrote three entire novels and sent out hundreds of letters to literary agents and publishers.

None of them wanted to publish my novel.

I got one rejection after the next.

The more rejections I got, the further I found myself falling back into this dark whole of not knowing what to do with my life.

Maybe I should start to listen to my father who grew up quite poor during war-ravished Europe after World War 2 and went on to follow a strict corporate career path?

Maybe I should stop dreaming and start taking responsibility for my life?

And you know what?

It was then and there that I realized that even though, I was working and writing and trying to get an agent… I was not really taking responsibility over my life.

I expected something of life, rather than showing the world that I deserved to achieve my goals.

For many more years to come though, I fell back into the same cycle.

A cycle of trying to be responsible and taking on a corporate job to quitting said corporate job and working on living life on my own terms.

Regardless, it seemed like I could still not figure out how to get paid for something I was truly passionate about and it made me wonder about what ‘passion’ really means to us as humans.

My romantic heart started to slowly stop dreaming more and more.

I barely recognized the little girl and romantic teenager I once was.

My heart hardened. I became more angry at life!

Depression and anxiety set in.

The depression I think and the anxiety resulted out of this complete loss of identity.

You see, growing up my mom always encouraged my brother and I to dream bigger. To not be afraid to ask for the moon and the stars.

An orphan that nobody wanted, she was the complete opposite to my father. She desperately needed to dream to be able to survive.

The problem was that we still struggled financially growing up.

I asked myself, what was the purpose for me to ask for the moon and the stars and to dream about them, when those dreams don’t pay the bills?

After all, in this society and culture we live in, we need to make money to survive and to make a fairly decent living.

Yes, money is just a tool for the decisions we are able to make throughout our lives (big and small) but the older you get, the more you can’t help to measure your achievements based on the number in your bank account.

So, I continued to feel stuck and oh, so confused.

What was the next logical step for me?

I tried to be smart and figure out what skills I had that allowed me to add value to other people in exchange for money.

From doing random English-German translation work to teaching the violin, to doing some social media work and copywriting, dang, I did it all.

However, you see, the interesting thing about us humans is that just because we are good at something because we have developed certain skill sets with which we can add value to people and get paid for it in return is like DOPAMIN on steroids,

It does not necessarily mean that we are also in love with said transaction.

In other words, the passion subsides fast.

If you’ve ever been with a hot guy or gal just because you thought they were hot and wanted a quick fling… you know what I mean.

No way would you be able to build up a serious life-long relationship and commitment off of a fling.

This understanding and knowledge, however, did not translate for me into my professional life.

So here is where I got naive.

I thought that reaching the point in my adult life of where I only had to answer to myself (aka, the famous ‘be my own boss’ mentality) and not to some manager that is part of a big corporation, that it would make me satisfied.

Happy.

Passionate with life.

Well, it did not.

Not all of it.

How so?

Because I often times focused so much on the hot guy or gal in the room that was great for a short fling when all I finally wanted was a long-term, meaningful and romance-novel-deep relationship.

Guess with what you can identify a ‘fling’ in the professional world?

Money.

Crazy, isn’t it?

So if you’re just going after the money and you are in it for the money for the money’s sake – boy, you’re doing it all wrong.

If, instead, you’re focused on building up the relationship, the money will come to you and just flow ;).

What a paradox, isn’t it?

But it’s true.

So, what should I have focused on?

I should have focused on the things that light me up inside;

That make me get out of bed in the morning;

That make my heart feel all giddy and intoxicated with purpose.

In my crusade to “be free”, I have yet again trapped myself a bit.

This was a realization that I have come upon this past year.

Now, I am making the intentional steps to move my business and my life step by step to something that I feel strongly about and committed to.

One of the things I use to help me do so is to be one hundred percent honest with myself, take weekly self-inventory and be as authentic as I can possibly be throughout my content creation and business operations.

That is the paradox of following your passions.

First, you need to identify a passion in regards to its level of ‘hotness’ and ‘long-term commitment capability’.

Sometimes, you just know before even acting upon a passion.

Other times, you have to act on it first to know.

There is no right and wrong answer ;).

Second, you have to become smart during the process of self-discovery so to speak.

In order to fully discover yourself,  I found out that you have to forget about purely ‘making money’ while at the same time, managing your existing money in order to truly create that life of your dreams in the long-run.

I say, challenge accepted.

Regardless, I do believe that there is some truth to the statement that you should follow your passions.

Ultimately though what I think it comes down to is love in its purest forms.

Like I mentioned before in this article, passions so often times subside while when you truly love, you love forever <3.

In order to differentiate one from the other, we are in this constant state of discovery, identifying if we are lieing to ourselves in the ‘heat of the moment’ or, if certain endeavors are really true passions that we want to dedicate ourselves too.

One last realization I want to leave you with, just making a good income is not enough.

Trust me, I know.

There were (and still are) times I make a multiple 5-figure income per month and I still feel somewhat hollow inside.

So, I want to make a new commitment to myself.

And that commitment can be summed up in two words:

BE INTENTIONAL.

Let me know your thoughts about this topic in the comments down below.

I can’t wait to chat more about this with you <3.

 

P.s.: You might also like: https://corneliapauline.com/2018/02/14/people-succeed-life-others-dont/

38.

38.

38 times we’ve moved over the course of the past 10 years together.

38 times of packing our lives up into rather small and constrained boxes.

38 times of lifting and heaving those boxes from an old home to a new home.

38 times of starting fresh.

38 times of spreading our love again in that new home.

I remember in year 8 when I lost my wedding ring during one of those moves,

I was SO devastated.

It was the ring you had bought me when we were still 2 young poor college students.

It was the ring you gave to me on that summer night,

A nervous smile on your face, teeth showing a little and a vein popping on the left side of your neck.

It was the first ring I ever accepted from you, from anyone.

And I had lost it.

Unexpectedly.

Surprisingly.

Than again.

That is when loss often happens.

It’s like an unwelcome guest that is forcing his way into your life.

All you can do, is accept its presence.

Deal with it.

And move on.

That’s what I did.

We did not have any money to replace it.

And for almost an entire year – 365 days – I was a wife without a ring.

My hand felt naked every time my gaze fell onto my ring finger.

Oh, how I’ve missed the soft weight of my ring!

Funny what you get used to at times and what you miss.

2 years later, almost for our 10 year anniversary, you presented me with another ring.

A ring SO beautiful and SO rare…just like you.

I remember how I fell in love with it from the first moment I saw it.

IMG-20171124-WA0000

How I was drawn to its boldness – a deep red ruby as its centerpiece, surrounded by diamonds.

A ruby as rare as you.

This is my love letter to you, honey.

To a love as old as time itself.

Thank you for coming into my life.

Thank you for staying.

Thank you for being you.

I love you.

cornelia and ben

 

 

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Welcome to my personal blog…

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Taking creative risks are among my favorites.

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