The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team. Brianna West is up.
Who are you and what do you do?
Hi everyone, my name is Brianna West. I was born in the United States originally but have been a digital nomad for the last 7 years living in Europe. To answer the question of “what I do” is always a fun story. Truthfully, I do many things as many digital nomads tend to. My top forms of income are from my personal brand Travel Munchers. Through my brand I run my own Digital Nomad academy to help other people make the transition step by step to leave their 9 to 5’s and become full time digital nomads! (https://brianna-s-school-86c5.thinkific.com/courses/DigitalGlobtrotterAcademy). The second stream of income is through content creation. I am a photographer, blogger and videographer who not only creates content for my own site and socials but I work with brands, hotels and tourism boards to create (UGC) content for their marketing and socials as well (https://travelmunchers.com). Finally I am a social media manager and freelance writer! While I know it seems like a lot, all of my income streams work well together and it helps to keep me always interested and working on new projects!
What did it take/how did you get started?
I have always loved to travel and when you live 6,000 miles away from home you are often getting update request multiple times over and over. I decided to create my travel website originally so as to help loved ones keep up with my travels.
It slowly evolved into people coming to ask me for help, tips, recommendations and so on for their own travel plans. I started to write articles to help others in addition to my travel reviews. At first it was just a hobby that I truly loved.
Then when covid hit, my partner and I were separated due to work. He is a professional hockey player and we were living a few hours apart but in separate countries. With borders closing it made life much more complicated. I started to think about finding online work so that I could instead move with him for the full hockey season no matter where he went.
A friend suggested that I try to monetize my brand. That meant learning how to properly build my website, optimize it for SEO, and learn the basics of coding! It was intense and took a few months until I finally felt ready to launch. At this point I had a few brands and hotels who had reached out to collaborate but I was new to the content creation game and decided I needed to learn as much as I could. I found multiple online courses and spent HOURS every week learning more and more about content creation, improving my photography skills and how to properly edit content. I also needed to learn how to pitch and reach out to brands.
While I was learning I worked online as an Independent travel agent to make some income through my transition. I enjoyed this for a little over a year until I was focused mainly on my photography and content creation business. After doing this for a while I started to get a lot of people reaching out to me asking how I manage to travel so much. They were all interested in what I did for income and when I shared my business the response was usually the same : “ I want to do that” !
This lead to me often helping people learning how to transition into the online world for work. Eventually I decide to build my own Digital Nomad Academy (https://brianna-s-school-86c5.thinkific.com/courses/DigitalGlobtrotterAcademy) and this became my true passion project!
I absolutely LOVE being a digital nomad coach and helping people step by step create their dream lives!
What does the future look like for you and your business?
To be honest, I hope to continue to do a lot of the things I am currently doing! I hope to find new brands and hotels to continue to partner with that allow me to keep crossing new destinations off of my bucket-list! I hope to continue to grow my academy and perhaps expand on my courses offered!
My favorite is to help my students find the freedom that the digital nomad lifestyle can offer. As for future growth, I would love to start to venture into the world of commercial videography. My partner has recently joined me in learning the content creation business and he is very interested in videography. It would be amazing for us to work together during his off season in this capacity!
What drives / motivates you on a daily basis?
Simple, travel and freedom. As I mentioned, travel is my greatest passion in life and it is my driving force. I can set attainable goals in the form of certain destinations or activities on my bucket-list. Every time I am able to cross one off it is a huge reward as well as a reminder that I was able to achieve it because of the line of work I chose.
While travel is what drives me, I would say freedom is the true motivation at its core. Even growing up I never understood the concept of working in an office, 9 to 5 for five days a week, having maybe 10 sick days a year and not being able to have the freedom to control my life until the age of 65. Why would I want to wait to travel until my 60’s. My life is NOW and I want to enjoy it NOW. I doubt I’ll be wanting to parasail, bungee jump, swim with sharks, or windsurf at the age of 65.
I also have a unique perspective as my educational training was actually in psychology. After I got my masters degree, it dawned on me that for years I studied mental health and yet I wasn’t doing the things that gave me a true balance in life. When you work a normal 9-5 you have to spend your free time doing all the other things that life demands from you (grocery shopping, laundry, errands, exercise etc) and this often leaves you with very little true free time. There’s no reason people shouldn’t be allowed to find a schedule that works best for them.
I am much more productive when I know I don’t have to worry about finding time to fit in all the tasks that life demands of me. I plan my laundry during a quick break. I get my exercise routine in at different times on different days. Some days I have worked 11 hours and other times I’ve spontaneously decided I needed a week off and booked a last minute vacation. The best part, I didn’t have to ask anyone else’s permission to do what was best for myself and my own well-being!
What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?
Be realistic about what the lifestyle is and can be for you. I absolutely know that being a digital nomad has benefited me in so many ways. It gives me the freedom to live with my partner no matter where we need to move but yet have the stability to keep my same income. It gives me the freedom to travel and constantly have new and exciting work.
However, like anything else in life it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows! There are plenty of obstacles you will face and it will take a lot of work. You are also on your own unless you have someone to help you. It can be a shock to make the transition into being self employed and fully responsible for every aspect of your business. This is why I created my academy so that others wouldn’t have to dive into the deep end alone, because I’ll be the first to admit it’s easy to sink instead of swim.
What has been the hardest part of your business journey?
I would say there’s two aspects that are the hardest. The first that its all on me. I am responsible for every single part of my business. There is no safety net which means I have to know how to run every part of the business.
This leads to the second aspect which is the technical side. I have had to learn so many topics. I had to improve my photography, videography, and editing skills. I had to learn how to code and build a website on my own. I had to learn SEO optimization and how to improve my website rankings. Pitching to hotels, brands and tourism boards as well as setting rates, negotiating deals and writing up contracts. I had to learn how to create an online course and build a site for my academy. This is honestly just the tip of the iceberg but you hopefully are starting to get the picture of what it takes.
How have you managed burnout thus far?
Burnout is such a problem these days and it stems from a lack of work life balance. It took me a while to figure out how to find that balance and honestly it’s an ever changing system so it is something you need to always stay on top of.
I have experienced burnout and I can say it’s much easier to prevent it from happening than to recover from it. So my advice is to learn the signs and make sure you are proactive. I even have an article I wrote to help others prevent burnout. I discuss overbooking yourself, isolation, setting deadlines, dealing with payments, setting boundaries, delegation and more.
You can check it out here: https://travelmunchers.com/burnout-as-a-freelancer-how-to-avoid-it/
What are a few resources that you'd recommend?
My top 3 book recommendations for people wanting to grow or help their mindset for this type of life would be:
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
- The Power of Letting Go by John Purkiss
-The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight I believe some of these may also be available via audio book if you prefer a podcast vibe.
List the founders
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?
This is always changing. I have had weeks where I worked 11 hours every day for 6 days because I was on a hot streak of motivation and was mentally ready to take on the workload. I've had other weeks where I decided to take it completely off and not work at all. That's the beauty of this lifestyle is I can choose what is best for me every week. This also depends on how many students and clients I am working with at a time. Some weeks demand more and others are quite free.
# of Employees?
Right now I really only consider myself a full-time employee. I may delegate certain tasks occasionally but no one is on full-time with me currently.
When did you start?
2019 is when I started to focus on my website and started to build my brand.
How much did it cost to launch?
I cannot remember honestly but I would say less than $1,000. I took some online course, bought a domain, had hosting fees and subscriptions for editing software etc.
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised?
My own savings and the money I earned from my multiple income streams are my funding methods.
What's the #1 thing you need right now?
Perhaps a tax advisor hahah. When we are constantly changing locations, learning new laws for taxes can be a burden.
Nomad academy: https://brianna-s-school-86c5.thinkific.com/courses/DigitalGlobtrotter Academy Website: https://travelmunchers.com Instagram: https://www.Instagram.com/travel_munchers YouTube: https://youtube.com/@Travelmunchers LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianna-west-1a11a1164 TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@travelmunchers?_t=8WdDMHST4pC&_r=1