January 1, 2020, I was so proud of myself for stepping fully into the new year as a full-time business owner. I had just ditched my 9-5 to pursue my dream job of becoming a digital nomad. My vision was promising and I was ALL booked out to host group trips in six countries around the world that year.
I was bringing in 250,000 which was amazing since I was only making $40,000 a year in my 9-5 as a Digital Campaign Specialist. Life was promising. I could have never guessed that only two months later on March 13th, President Donald Trump would announce COVID-19 as a National Emergency. Within seconds, my phone was ringing off the hook. All of my clients wanted their money back.
I wasn’t prepared for this situation. I told my clients, no. I couldn’t offer them a refund per the client’s contract. I didn’t have anything put in place for a National Emergency. I was a first-time true business owner and was terrified. I was still learning how to handle things.
I spent the next couple of hours that day, thinking about everything. How was I going to handle this situation? If I gave every person a refund, I would have nothing. I would struggle and have to go back to work. I thought I had made it and was so finally proud of myself for my accomplishments.
I gave all my clients a refund back and lost 90% of my income. I took a major hit and only had a couple of dollars in my bank account after paying my bills that month. I had to make a major pivot. I decided to focus on the ‘Your Life Travel’ podcast and go so hard on it that it would become my main source of income. I was able to triple listener count in that first month but I still had no idea how I was going to make money from this.
I did my research and decided to utilize my Bachelor’s Degree in Communication- Advertising from the University of North Florida to help companies advertise on my podcast. I made sure that I wasn’t focused on taking their money but truly offering them a real value which helps me stand out from other podcasters.
Not only did I end up branching out as a podcaster but I truly decided to market myself as a Travel Influencer. I never would have thought that I could or would branch out as a Travel Influencer and didn’t get it until the major lockdown.
With the lockdown came another set of challenges for me such as not being able to travel. How was I supposed to market myself as a Travel Influencer if I wasn’t able to travel the world? That’s when I decided to travel locally.
I think one of the hardest things was truly knowing where to go and how to get there. I have never traveled around the United States before. One would have been so completely lost if it wasn’t for the Roadtrippers' app.
I was able to find the “Little Grand Canyon” in Lumpkin, GA, formally known as Providence Canyon State Park. I went out there hiking one day and that’s when it hit me. You put in your start and stop destinations and the app recommends places along your route to see based on other people's recommendations and reviews. That's how I discovered this AMAZING place a few hours away from my home town by car.
I was changed. I no longer was that girl who just went on international trips. I was the girl who longed for the outdoors and adventure. I was the girl who dreamed of hiking, climbing and seeing all the beauty that is the United States of America.
Honestly, it started one day from searching on the internet for a road-trip planning app. That’s how I came across Roadtrippers. Their in-app navigation system directed me from my home in Jacksonville, FL to Providence Canyon State State Park.
I would have never imagined that I would have discovered my love for the outdoors in a time that was so hard for me. I went months without making any money in 2020 before finally understanding how to utilize my degree to make money plus creating an e-journal for my customers. I struggled for a long time and in that struggle, I discovered happiness all thanks to this app.
I not only got to see Providence Canyon State Park but also discovered Cloudland Canyon State Park and Lookout Mountain in the same trip. I love that the Roadtrippers app gave me recommendations on my drive of places to see and I got to plan everything out so easily and flawlessly.
2020 wasn’t my year, just like it wasn’t for so many other people. But, I am so grateful for having resources like Roadtrippers, being able to discover my love for the outdoors, and having a flexible mindset that allowed me to adjust my business. I am grateful for clients who stood by me and provided me moral support this past year and family who love me. I am thankful because in 2020 I adopted a dog who I love tremendously and who lives hiking.
Here is to 2021, the year I travel more across the United States with the help of Roadtrippers. Cheers to more adventures with my dog, more hikes, and more money (anything is better than where I have been). Cheers to life!
Tell me in the comments, what has been the best highlight of 2020? How has 2020 changed you?
Want to download the Roadtrippers app? Download it here on the Apple App Store and here on the Google Play Store.
Cienna Richards is a solo-female traveler who has traveled all around Europe and is currently on her way to traveling through the entire United States of America. Cienna is the CEO of Your Life Travel Club and also hosts the 'Your Life Travel' podcast. Her mission is to empower women to travel the world and to live their best lives. Connect with Cienna and Your Life Travel Club on social media.