I cannot believe we’re more than halfway through the year — for me, 2019 has flown by with several big changes. First, my wife and I sold our house in the suburbs and downsized to an apartment in downtown Indianapolis. Then, I joined the BitLoft team in April. And finally, in May we launched Pardon Our Travel, a travel blog with a focus on weekend adventures around the Midwest.
Many of my friends and colleagues have some sort of part-time hustle or at least a side project going these days, and now I’m part of that club. The timing of getting our blog launched shortly after starting at BitLoft is no coincidence — having a culture focused on work/life balance paired with all of the creative projects around me energized me to make it happen. Not to mention a more flexible work culture means I’ve had the chance to actually travel more this summer, so I wanted to be ready to go!
When we first decided to start Pardon Our Travel, our thought was it would be a great excuse to get us off the couch and on the road over the weekends. We usually aren’t traveling to exotic beaches and overseas destinations (although those are great too), but instead, we’re traveling to wonderful and unique towns in or around Indiana that make up Smalltown, USA.
Initially, I viewed our blog as being completely unrelated and detached from my full-time role as an Account Executive — and one could quickly question whether there is really a connection between being a weekend travel blogger and full-time tech salesperson. I’ve found that answer to be an overwhelming yes!
Benefit 1: It’s a conversation starter.
My travel blog is a fantastic ice breaker when I talk to new, prospective clients. As an Account Executive, a large part of what I do is building relationships with people, and to me, the best way to do that is to find common ground; and more often than not, I find that people love to travel and share their stories, and I love to hear them. Not only is it a great way to connect, but it also helps with inspiration and ideas for the blog itself.
The main purpose of a conversation with a new, prospective client may be to let them know about the amazing, talented, creative folks at BitLoft and why we are the best team for any digital marketing, video production, or web/mobile dev project they may have. However, the majority of most first conversations is spent finding shared interests and connecting with prospects on a human level, and not just as another salesperson. I’ve found that talking about outside interests, such as traveling and blogging, is a great way to do just that.
Benefit 2: It breaks down the “comfort zone.”
Another commonality between sales and travel blogging is the mental hurdles salespeople need to overcome. Sales can be uncomfortable at times, as can traveling to new and different places (and not just because you’re driving with two crazy chihuahuas in the car). Putting yourself out there is never easy; cold-calling a new client and striking up a conversation with a stranger at a local dive bar can be both intimidating and uncomfortable, but it’s important both professionally and personally to get comfortable being uncomfortable. The uncomfortable zone is usually where greater success lives, be it landing a large client or having an unforgettable travel experience.
Benefit 3: It teaches the true power of content marketing.
The last thing I’ll share is that I’ve gained an appreciation for the power of content as a way to drive engagement. For the blog, it’s all about readership and getting people interested in what we’re writing about. To do that, we have to meet our readers where they’re at: Instagram and Facebook. Although we may be posting a blog only once every couple of weeks or even once a month, I’m finding it very valuable to continually engage and push content via our social channels to stay connected with our existing audience while also getting in front of a new one.
The same holds true in sales. As a company, BitLoft is doing great about pushing content to not only boost awareness of our brand but also to position our team members as thought leaders in the digital development world. Luckily, on the BitLoft side of things, I have wonderful resources to create and publish content for me. Seeing how those assets are helping drive customer engagement, I can use what I’m learning and relate it back to running our blog. The reverse is also true: What I learn from pushing my blog content, I can apply to sales.
I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that not only promotes a strong work/life balance but also encourages outside projects like my travel blog. It’s allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and embrace life as a journey. To quote a wise man,
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” — Ferris Bueller, 1986.
So, get out, travel, try new things, and then shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can talk about it over a cup of coffee!