I was greatly honoured to be approached by Vahe Arabian of State of Digital Publishing for an interview. Vahe has kicked off a global campaign to connect and profile the everyday lives of digital media and publishing professionals for his collective and is publishing it here – State of Digital Publishing’s Features. This is my interview below.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
I’ve always loved travel and storytelling and have a great passion for the world and the diversity it offers. My background in the hospitality industry saw me found a bespoke tour operating company in 2000, working with high-end travellers visiting Southern and East Africa. After a decade I started to feel that as much I loved creating dream holidays for others, I wanted to take a few myself. It led me to sell my company and start my travel blog The Incidental Tourist in 2010. The past seven years have allowed me to grow an online presence, work on numerous exciting campaigns and establish myself as a writer and photographer.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
When not travelling, which I do for as much as ten days on average per month, I wake up slowly and enjoy meditation and yoga in my sunroom at home, before taking my two dogs for a long walk on the beach and settling at my desk with good coffee and a well nurtured to do list. Much time is taken up by emails and the correspondence related to running my brand, and in-between I work to deadlines creating content for my website, as well as the numerous other publications I freelance and create copy for.
By late afternoon my dogs gather around my feet, and I know it’s time to leave the house for that second walk. My evenings are usually quiet, as I cherish that time at home between adventures. I cook an easy meal, relax for a while and then inevitably return to do some late night writing. Photo editing can also be time-consuming, and I often do this late at night, with an inspiring podcast or audiobook for a company.
Of course, time with family and friends occupy my days too, as that is where the heart it, but I mostly leave this to the weekends in a bid to create a structured flow of creativity.
WHAT’S YOUR WORK SETUP AND EQUIPMENT LOOK LIKE?
I seem to have surrounded myself with pretty Apple products. The iMac on my desk is my best friend, and together we are most productive, somehow the big screen and defined space work for my active and creative mind. I have a MacBook that has done hundreds of flights with me and remains loyal too. An iPad for just in case and a faithful iPhone 7 that has all the apps I enjoy installed on it.
The distinct social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Medium, LinkedIn, and Instagram are installed, photo filter apps such as Snapseed and Afterlight. Airbnb and of course faithful Uber. For my travels www.xe.com for currency conversion, Kindle and Audible with a collection of podcasts as well as Pocket to save articles I can later read on a plane. My health apps are Headspace for mediation and Asana Rebel for yoga and fitness.
In my dedicated home office, postcards and books as well as a collection of external hard drives that are guardians of my photos and work, even though most are in a cloud too. My camera equipment is Canon focussed, with numerous precious lenses, a point and shoot for when I’m roughing it, and a GoPro added to the mix. It may be said that I’m a bit of a gadget girl.
WHAT DO YOU DO OR GO TO GET INSPIRED?
Travel is my inspiration. Having conversations with strangers and being very present in my surrounds, wherever that may be. I read, listen, talk, ask, learn and practice gratitude. As an immersive conscious traveller, I am always very aware of the environment I find myself in and try to show grace wherever I am. Books, blogs and other writers that I look up to and learn from constantly inspire me too, as do the people I’m lucky enough to travel with.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
“Travel. It leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller” Ibn Battuta is one of my favourite quotes. Of course as an African, this one too: “The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to”Richard Mullin.
WHAT IS THE PASSIONATE PROBLEM YOU ARE TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
Time and the balance between making a living off my words and stories and the campaigns I work on, and just writing stories from the heart. But I strive to do both, even if it means working around the clock. When it’s something you love, is it really working?
IS THERE A PRODUCT, SOLUTION, OR TOOL THAT YOU THINK IS A GOOD MATCH FOR YOUR DIGITAL PUBLISHING EFFORTS?
Research is king in my field and Google is my friend as I check and double check facts while writing, and when planning a trip or campaign. As old school as it sounds, I also never go anywhere without a notebook and pen, and remain an avid note taker, although more and more I am making use of voice notes to collect my memories and impressions and the sounds that evoke the feelings captured in the moments I want to recall once back at my desk. That and Dropbox and iCloud where I store all my precious photographs and video footage.
ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS JUST STARTING OUT?
Just do it, think of a name, register a domain and put up that profile pic and first post. Don’t be put off by the notion that you need to be travelling to exotic places or ruling the world to have an impact, write from the heart and remain authentic, professional and curious as you build your audience brand. Share the things that touch your heart, because, in turn, they will touch your reader’s heart. Never lose sight of the fact that your words come with responsibility, to the people and places you write about and the potential difference you can make. Always be a positive influence on the world.
Connect with the guys at State of Digital Publishing and consider joining their Slack Community to collaborate with other digital media and publishing professionals who are building better audiences with new media & technology. and follow them for their valuable insight and inspiring stories.
Pics: My best dog Tuscan and I on the beach in Pringle Bay, and cruising the Grand Canal in Venice.