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The SuccessLab Podcast: Where Entrepreneurs Collaborate for Success

Aug 25, 2014

The SuccessLab Podcast: Episode 16

Welcome to the SuccessLab Podcast episode #16. In this episode, I’m in The Lab with Kirsten Alana, a travel photographer, content creator, digital marketer and conference speaker.

Interview highlights:

  • Kirsten started her travel photography blog 5 years ago, which led her to leave her office job and begin a career in travel photography. As the blog grew, it became her business in conjunction with photography.
  • Although the blog is not her primary source of income, Kirsten monetizes it with Google Ads and sponsored content. She said she earns most of her income by hosting travel chats for brands, and Instagram takeovers. The blog is more of a passion than a paycheck.
  • Kirsten has been using Instagram since its inception - gaining followers organically by commenting and responding on as many photos as possible. She has also been featured by several national publications (Grazia Magazine, Huffington Post) as an “Instagrammer to Follow”.Her favorite app for productivity is Buffer, which she uses to schedule Tweets. But she tries to use social media as organically as possible - preferring post quality over quantity.
    • Tips: She never uses more than 1 or 2 hashtags for any Instagram post and adds the hashtags in the comments rather than the post caption. This keeps posts looking cleaner, yet the post remains hashtag searchable - they are just hidden from view.
  • She recommends for bloggers just starting out to go through some sort of specific training to the type of blogging they wish to do - like the Matador Network's travel writing and travel photography courses, or courses through Book Passage. She said this would have helped her gain a good footing to build up her business.

Connect with Kirsten on Instagram or at


This weeks Biz Hack: The last couple of Biz Hacks have focused on productivity, so if you missed the last two episodes, you should definitely check those out. This weeks hack builds off of last weeks, which was about tracking your activities to see where you are spending your time. Hopefully you took the challenge and discovered some of your working habits and patterns. One thing I discovered is that I try to pack way too much into a single day. I get superhero syndrome and try to tackle it all. Once I became aware of this, I experimented with shifting my thinking. Instead of trying to complete an impossible laundry list of tasks, I borrowed from Warren Buffetts process for focus (from episode #14) to find my most important things for the week and then for the day. To do this I still made my long list, but then ranked them by importance, finding my top 3 to 5 MITs or most important things. You can then figure out all the little subtasks that particular task or activity might entail and determine what can be delegated.

The goal is to not move onto the next activity until the first one is complete. By scaling it down to a few MITs, I noticed I finished each day feeling more accomplished, which is a huge motivator. When I would go about the day or week with my impossibly long to-do list I didnt realize I was essentially setting myself up for failure. Its deflating to finish the day looking back at a long list that you didnt get through. This also significantly impacts your productivity the next day.

One other key thing is to also build in flex time for all those unexpected things that can pop up throughout the day - a delay in traffic, an urgent client request, a chatty friend, or an extra long meeting. We all have them, so be real with yourself and build in adequate time.

Keep this list pruned. Focus on the day, and if you have ideas, store them in a separate place where they are out of sight, but easily accessible. I like to use Evernote for this. I found if I put them in my task management tool, Asana, I get overwhelmed every time I log in to view my to-do list.

Action Items: This weeks action item is to apply the Warren Buffett focus process to your to do list. Make your list as usual, writing to-dos down as they come to mind, but then find your top 3 to 5 most important things (MITs). Once youve got those, list any subtasks that may be required to complete each task and determine what can be delegated. Some people do this at the end of each day so they can start the next day with a clear direction, and others do this each morning. Just find what works for you.

Quote of the week: Another Seth Godin great! How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be great.

Next week were in the lab with Robin Bramman, an amazing business brand and digital strategy coach. We talk all things branding and even get into when you should think trademarking. So dont miss that one! And all past action items, biz hacks and quotes of the week can be found at Weve also got our SuccessLab Forum up. Head over there to collaborate with other entrepreneurs. Until next time, have prosperous week!