2020 | Year 1 of Paula Pins the Planet
2020 was is a year we will never forget!
It has been the most challenging year of our generation for sure, between the pandemic, lockdowns, cancelled travel plans, putting a lot of our dreams on hold, a lot of people got financially hurt, a crazy moment in our political world (especially here in the USA), not seeing our friends and family, not knowing what comes next…and this list can continue. Every person on the planet had their lives touched directly or indirectly by COVID-19, and we were all tested individually and as a society.
But personally, the big challenge for me actually started in January 2020, when I took one of the biggest decisions of my life. I decided to leave my successful career as an International Marketing Manager to work full time on my blog.
Little did I know of the blur of a year ahead of me.
I made a leap of faith from working in the Biopharmaceutical industry, with a very stable financial situation, to fulfill my dream to travel the world, while helping others through my blog. It sounded like a great decision – and then the Pandemic started!
This was a very chaotic and emotionally draining year for me, and for this reason, I decided to take a deep breath, reflect on all I have learned, and write about it.
Also, it gives me an opportunity to take credit for how far I’ve come, both personally and professionally.
On a positive note, 2020 was a year of road trips, exploring my own backyard, working hard on my blog, studying a lot, taking extra care of my health, and finding Life Balance.
Paula Pins the Planet 2020 Travels
After I left my job, I decided to travel to Africa for a month. I rented a 4×4 truck with a tent on top, and kitchen utensils and “lived” in it while I drove to the most amazing and remote places.
For a few weeks at the end of 2019, I went on a self-drive road trip around Namibia while exploring the incredible Sossusvlei desert, climbed some of the tallest dunes on the planet, and loved my self-drive safari in Etosha National Park. I also connected with the beautiful people and made some new friends, who I still maintain contact with WhatsApp.
I continued my exploration with a self-drive safari around Botswana, starting my journey in the Chobe National Park, living incredible adventures in Savuti, and going on land and water safaris in the Okavango Delta. It was one of the most incredible trips of my life.
On the way back to the USA, I stopped in Germany for a few days and did a self-drive from Frankfurt to the Rhine Valley and the famed Rothenburg ob der Tauber – and what a great way to close my 1 month trip.
Returning to the U.S., I renewed my passport, this time with additional pages, and I had trips scheduled to India, Brazil, Morocco, Germany (again), and Austria – all of which I had to cancel due to the Pandemic.
I was going crazy without being able to travel internationally like I planned. So I decided to make the most of it and start to explore my backyard, Florida. It is funny how anxious we can be to explore the world, and not take advantage of adventures close to home.
During summer I spent almost every weekend going to Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island with my dogs. I took a great trip to The Ten Thousand Islands and a couple of trips to natural springs and rivers around Florida.
During the fall I rented a cabin in the woods in North Carolina and took a few days to explore the outdoors and to go hiking with my dogs. It was refreshing and a great mental break from all the changed plans for the year.
Finally, during the winter I had a brilliant idea to travel safely inside my own “bubble”- I rented an RV to go on a road trip from Florida to Arizona, exploring as many National Parks as I could – a total of 5,000 miles driving and 15 National parks visited.
I have learned that even during difficult times when we cannot travel far away, we still can find beauty to explore around us.
what is happening on the blog
I launched my blog at the end of 2018, but since I had a full-time job, it was just my hobby, but most importantly, my goal was to help the local destination businesses and communities through my blog.
January 2020 is when I decided to treat my blog as a business. Blogging is tough! After many months of thinking about my brand, and my value, I feel that I am starting to carve my niche just now, a year later!
But I am always very hard on myself and writing this particular blog post is a healthy reminder that, really, I accomplished a whole lot last year, and I am excited about the future:
- I TOTALLY CHANGED MY CAREER and made the biggest decision I’ve made pursuing a career in travel and healthy lifestyle writing, blogging, and content creation.
- I re-designed my whole website (even without any experience as a web designer)
- I spent tons of time studying and understanding the basics of successful SEO and Keysearch strategy
- I connected with the blogger community and made some amazing friends
- I wrote one blog post per week and I continue to improve as a writer and content creator
- I am a proud travel writer for the Plurale magazine in Brazil and I even made a magazine cover
- I wrote articles for renowned travel blogs, such as Mapping Megan and many others
- I participated in the international Solo Female Traveler community as a speaker about “How to find life balance between travel & being healthy” and took part in the panel discussion on safe road trips for solo travelers
- I launched my YouTube channel with some travel content, and also, videos to help people stay healthy with a workout-on-the-go series
- I partnered with many amazing local businesses to help them through tourism, and offer a discount to my readers: Zambezi Rental Car (Namibia), Wild Wonderful World (Africa Tours), Morocco Trip Sahara (tours in Morocco), and Epic Adventures (tour company in Nepal & Tibet)
- I hired a VA (Virtual Assistant) in Brazil to help with the workload
- I started a new course, Build Blogging Freedom, and I am working to grow my brand and my audience
blogging business reality
A lot of people ask me if I can make money with my blog, or if it is considered a real job.
I can tell you that running a blog is the hardest job I’ve had. I work more than 40 hours/week, I am constantly learning and improving, and YES, blogging is a real job where you run a whole business by yourself (content creator, social media manager, photo editor, writer, speaker, marketer, general manager, manage accounts…)
While no one becomes rich by blogging, there are ways to make a small income from blogging. If you click on the hotel link in one of my articles and make a booking, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, even if you book a different hotel.
The same applies to Amazon, any tour company I partner with, or any product or service I recommend on my blog.
So, next time you are making a holiday booking or having a splurge on Amazon, keep me in mind 😉
You can have full access to my Travel Planning with these 10-easy steps.
what happened on my
fitness & healthy lifestyle
Since I had to cancel all my travels in 2020, I decided to prepare myself for Figure Competition.
I worked out so hard, twice/day, 7 days/week. I followed a very strict diet of 6 meals with a tailor-made diet prepared by my coach and I drank 1 gallon of water/day for 16 weeks.
Preparing for a competition helped me to keep my focus, my discipline, and my sanity. The good thing is that I won 2 first places and the Overall title – all the hard work paid off.
looking ahead for 2021
It is still too early to make travel plans, so let’s wait for that vaccine first and for the world to start to get back to normal – I have big plans, but right now, I am not going to have high expectations.
But certainly, the first trip I want to take is to go to Brazil and to spend time with my family that I haven’t seen in 15 months!
My main goal is to continue to study and learn how to grow my brand, improve my writing skills, and make my blog profitable – while continuing to help and inspire others to go on incredible adventures and to find a life balance between traveling & being healthy!
I blog because I love what I do, not because it is financially rewarding (yet). My blog will become a means to support my love of travel, cultural exploration and helping others to get to know more about our world and the people and nature that make this planet so amazing.
On a personal level, I want to continue to learn and grow as a blogger, and focus on my fitness journey. Travel is my passion, fitness and eating healthy is my lifestyle and living a balanced life is my mantra.