10 TIPS FOR CONTENT CREATORS WHO WANT TO TRAVEL

  The seasons are changing and travel fever has sparked the minds of content creators worldwide. From taking on paid assignments to capture each moment with your creativity to hitting the beachy shores of Bali with your friends. Travel season is upon us. As a world traveler myself, one of the most common questions I get asked is how I’m able to get so many paid travel campaigns or free accommodations. Well, I’ve got some answers for you to make your traveling needs easier and help you save money (and make some too). So let’s take a look at ways you can master the art of travel as a Content Creator.   1. Make a Plan:  Every good idea starts with a good plan. I challenge you to sit down and make a list of beautiful destinations you want to visit and when you would ideally like to take your trip. Take it a step further and jot down a list of things you’ll want to do on your trip from finding a location for the perfect photo to just getting drunk with a bunch of locals while listening to great music. Visualize it. Write it down. Enjoy this process. Especially note what you want to do creatively on your journey. Do you want to focus more on being in front of the camera? Take photos? Shoot videos? Blog every moment of your adventures? How many times do you want to post on social media and which channels? Try to be as detailed as possible. This will make things so much easier for you moving forward. Trust me. Now it’s time to turn your plan into reality.


The seasons are changing and travel fever has sparked the minds of content creators worldwide. From taking on paid assignments to capture each moment with your creativity to hitting the beachy shores of Bali with your friends. Travel season is upon us. As a world traveler myself, one of the most common questions I get asked is how I’m able to get so many paid travel campaigns or free accommodations. Well, I’ve got some answers for you to make your traveling needs easier and help you save money (and make some too). So let’s take a look at ways you can master the art of travel as a Content Creator.

1. Make a Plan: Every good idea starts with a good plan. I challenge you to sit down and make a list of beautiful destinations you want to visit and when you would ideally like to take your trip. Take it a step further and jot down a list of things you’ll want to do on your trip from finding a location for the perfect photo to just getting drunk with a bunch of locals while listening to great music. Visualize it. Write it down. Enjoy this process. Especially note what you want to do creatively on your journey. Do you want to focus more on being in front of the camera? Take photos? Shoot videos? Blog every moment of your adventures? How many times do you want to post on social media and which channels? Try to be as detailed as possible. This will make things so much easier for you moving forward. Trust me. Now it’s time to turn your plan into reality.

  2. Contact the Gatekeepers  – Now, that you have a plan, you’ll soon discover why it was such a great idea to create one vs. spitballing it. You now know what you need, when you need it, and what you can offer. It’s time to reach out to the “Gatekeepers” who can make your travel dreams come true. Who should you contact? Typically, it’s one of these four (or in some cases all four): Airlines, Tourist Boards, Hotels, and local establishments in your destination area. Note, I did not say travel agencies. From my experiences, most agencies consist of lean nomadic teams and have limited resources to provide you with pay or even have any great hookups for freebies. You can honestly get more on your own. Be sure to make a list of the gatekeepers you need to contact (I typically do 8-10 of each four to contact). Making these lists may be a bit daunting if you’re not sure where to look for contact information. Simply do some research on Instagram (you’re always on there any, LOL) or fire away searches online. Once you build your lists it’s time to move fast with contacting the gatekeepers. How do you go about this?   3. How to Contact the Gatekeepers  – Make sure you have a clever pitch (see: “Step 4”  here ). You want to be clear about what you can provide with examples of your best work that features travel destinations, scenery, etc. This is where all of your cool “vibe” shots come to your aide. The best-performing methods to contact these gatekeepers is to do it via email (through company websites), direct messages via social media channels and good ‘ol fashioned phone calls. Yes. It’s okay to talk to an actual person on the phone. You’re going to be surprised at the awesome results. Special Note: Yes, there is much more power in pitching traveling pairs (best results) or groups (no more than 3).

2. Contact the Gatekeepers – Now, that you have a plan, you’ll soon discover why it was such a great idea to create one vs. spitballing it. You now know what you need, when you need it, and what you can offer. It’s time to reach out to the “Gatekeepers” who can make your travel dreams come true. Who should you contact? Typically, it’s one of these four (or in some cases all four): Airlines, Tourist Boards, Hotels, and local establishments in your destination area. Note, I did not say travel agencies. From my experiences, most agencies consist of lean nomadic teams and have limited resources to provide you with pay or even have any great hookups for freebies. You can honestly get more on your own. Be sure to make a list of the gatekeepers you need to contact (I typically do 8-10 of each four to contact). Making these lists may be a bit daunting if you’re not sure where to look for contact information. Simply do some research on Instagram (you’re always on there any, LOL) or fire away searches online. Once you build your lists it’s time to move fast with contacting the gatekeepers. How do you go about this?

3. How to Contact the Gatekeepers – Make sure you have a clever pitch (see: “Step 4” here). You want to be clear about what you can provide with examples of your best work that features travel destinations, scenery, etc. This is where all of your cool “vibe” shots come to your aide. The best-performing methods to contact these gatekeepers is to do it via email (through company websites), direct messages via social media channels and good ‘ol fashioned phone calls. Yes. It’s okay to talk to an actual person on the phone. You’re going to be surprised at the awesome results. Special Note: Yes, there is much more power in pitching traveling pairs (best results) or groups (no more than 3).

  4. Bring the right gear  – Pack light. Make sure you have clothes for every type of situation: rain, casual, dressy, swimwear, etc. There’s been more than one occasion where we thought we would have beautiful weather and it turned out to be a series of rolling thunderstorms or got VIP access to a club that had a specific dress attire. So pack smart. Also, here is a quick list of things to bring that I found essential to travel: notepad and pen (yes, this will come in handy when you don’t have wifi and/or feeling a bit creative somewhere), cell phone, laptop, iPad, camera, GoPro, toiletries, portable chargers (I like to use Nomad Goods and Bezalel – use CJ30 for 30% off products in shop).   5. Use the Best Travel Apps  – We all have amazing apps we like to use to use when we travel. What I did was I beta-tested the best performing apps on my domestic and international trips to see which ones I had the most success with. So the following listed apps are based on three variables: 1. Saves money 2. Saves time 3. Usability. So here we go: Google Trips, Skyscanner, Airbnb, Uber (Lyft isn’t available everywhere where Uber is), Google Translate, Olivia, Paypal, Workfrom, and Day One. Special Note: Always make sure the area you’re off to has wifi access. I was once stranded in front of the President of Mexico’s compound because my wifi wouldn’t connect to my Uber service.   6. Good Company  – I believe taking a big adventure by your lonesome is one of those experiences that help you grow as a person. But, traveling with someone else or a group is one of those things that make travel all the more special. So, if you’re looking to have good company during your travels. Here’s a great way to do it. First, I’d recommend signing up to  The Hub  (if you haven’t already, what the hell?) or if you’ve already signed up, it’s time to connect with next-level creative talent on the Hub. Secondly, there are tons of Facebook Groups and your trusty buddy, Instagram to help you connect with more people.

4. Bring the right gear – Pack light. Make sure you have clothes for every type of situation: rain, casual, dressy, swimwear, etc. There’s been more than one occasion where we thought we would have beautiful weather and it turned out to be a series of rolling thunderstorms or got VIP access to a club that had a specific dress attire. So pack smart. Also, here is a quick list of things to bring that I found essential to travel: notepad and pen (yes, this will come in handy when you don’t have wifi and/or feeling a bit creative somewhere), cell phone, laptop, iPad, camera, GoPro, toiletries, portable chargers (I like to use Nomad Goods and Bezalel – use CJ30 for 30% off products in shop).

5. Use the Best Travel Apps – We all have amazing apps we like to use to use when we travel. What I did was I beta-tested the best performing apps on my domestic and international trips to see which ones I had the most success with. So the following listed apps are based on three variables: 1. Saves money 2. Saves time 3. Usability. So here we go: Google Trips, Skyscanner, Airbnb, Uber (Lyft isn’t available everywhere where Uber is), Google Translate, Olivia, Paypal, Workfrom, and Day One. Special Note: Always make sure the area you’re off to has wifi access. I was once stranded in front of the President of Mexico’s compound because my wifi wouldn’t connect to my Uber service.

6. Good Company – I believe taking a big adventure by your lonesome is one of those experiences that help you grow as a person. But, traveling with someone else or a group is one of those things that make travel all the more special. So, if you’re looking to have good company during your travels. Here’s a great way to do it. First, I’d recommend signing up to The Hub (if you haven’t already, what the hell?) or if you’ve already signed up, it’s time to connect with next-level creative talent on the Hub. Secondly, there are tons of Facebook Groups and your trusty buddy, Instagram to help you connect with more people.

  7. Make time to create  – So, let’s address the elephant in the room… you REALLY want to travel… especially to exotic places, get paid to do it, eat/drink for free, relax, and look good doing it. But, the truth of the matter is that if this plan works out even half as well as you want it to you will have to find time to actually create premium content. So, be smart. Make a schedule for when you’re going to create and where you’re going to just relax. What I typically do for example is, make note of particular places I want to shoot at and see how far away they are from each other. If they’re close I will set aside a day just to create. This is where I bring out the big guns of professional equipment and showcase the brands I’m collaborating with. When I don’t have my professional equipment with me doesn’t mean I’m not creating. After all, we all have, don’t we? If anything I’m able to take two types of content: the stylish, premium, “holy shit” content and the authentic, in the moment “that looks fun” content (when I want to). I have both at my disposal and showcase my adventures.I also set aside time for editing content and when I’m going to post. The rest of the time, I’m really enjoying myself without lugging around my equipment or worrying about getting a shot. Also, as a courtesy, it’s a good idea to touch base with brands you’re collaborating with to let them know your tentative rollout schedule and a general message that lets them know you may be hard to get a hold of because of travel.   8. Pick the best time to travel  – Now, if you want to travel when everyone else does (Spring and Summer) that makes perfect sense. But, it’s the off-season that you’ll find the best deals and get the most attention with your creative content. While everyone is at the grind of work or school you’re sipping on tequila in Tulum and everyone is watching vs you’re posting about being in Bali with everyone else. Also, during the off-season, it’s the cheapest time to travel which means the odds of you getting exactly what you want just shot up.

7. Make time to create – So, let’s address the elephant in the room… you REALLY want to travel… especially to exotic places, get paid to do it, eat/drink for free, relax, and look good doing it. But, the truth of the matter is that if this plan works out even half as well as you want it to you will have to find time to actually create premium content. So, be smart. Make a schedule for when you’re going to create and where you’re going to just relax. What I typically do for example is, make note of particular places I want to shoot at and see how far away they are from each other. If they’re close I will set aside a day just to create. This is where I bring out the big guns of professional equipment and showcase the brands I’m collaborating with. When I don’t have my professional equipment with me doesn’t mean I’m not creating. After all, we all have, don’t we? If anything I’m able to take two types of content: the stylish, premium, “holy shit” content and the authentic, in the moment “that looks fun” content (when I want to). I have both at my disposal and showcase my adventures.I also set aside time for editing content and when I’m going to post. The rest of the time, I’m really enjoying myself without lugging around my equipment or worrying about getting a shot. Also, as a courtesy, it’s a good idea to touch base with brands you’re collaborating with to let them know your tentative rollout schedule and a general message that lets them know you may be hard to get a hold of because of travel.

8. Pick the best time to travel – Now, if you want to travel when everyone else does (Spring and Summer) that makes perfect sense. But, it’s the off-season that you’ll find the best deals and get the most attention with your creative content. While everyone is at the grind of work or school you’re sipping on tequila in Tulum and everyone is watching vs you’re posting about being in Bali with everyone else. Also, during the off-season, it’s the cheapest time to travel which means the odds of you getting exactly what you want just shot up.

7. Make time to create – So, let’s address the elephant in the room… you REALLY want to travel… especially to exotic places, get paid to do it, eat/drink for free, relax, and look good doing it. But, the truth of the matter is that if this plan works out even half as well as you want it to you will have to find time to actually create premium content. So, be smart. Make a schedule for when you’re going to create and where you’re going to just relax. What I typically do for example is, make note of particular places I want to shoot at and see how far away they are from each other. If they’re close I will set aside a day just to create. This is where I bring out the big guns of professional equipment and showcase the brands I’m collaborating with. When I don’t have my professional equipment with me doesn’t mean I’m not creating. After all, we all have, don’t we? If anything I’m able to take two types of content: the stylish, premium, “holy shit” content and the authentic, in the moment “that looks fun” content (when I want to). I have both at my disposal and showcase my adventures.I also set aside time for editing content and when I’m going to post. The rest of the time, I’m really enjoying myself without lugging around my equipment or worrying about getting a shot. Also, as a courtesy, it’s a good idea to touch base with brands you’re collaborating with to let them know your tentative rollout schedule and a general message that lets them know you may be hard to get a hold of because of travel.

8. Pick the best time to travel – Now, if you want to travel when everyone else does (Spring and Summer) that makes perfect sense. But, it’s the off-season that you’ll find the best deals and get the most attention with your creative content. While everyone is at the grind of work or school you’re sipping on tequila in Tulum and everyone is watching vs you’re posting about being in Bali with everyone else. Also, during the off-season, it’s the cheapest time to travel which means the odds of you getting exactly what you want just shot up.

  9. Airbnb vs Hotel  – I did a compare and contrast with this too. I took a two week trip to New Orleans and for the first week I stayed in a fancy hotel for free (collaboration) and the second week was a string of Airbnb’s. Which experience was cooler? Depends on your needs. With the hotel experience, we got free breakfast, wifi, cable tv, room service, etc. With Airbnb, we got our own private getaway and the same (minus the free food). Which was more costly? Airbnb. Which place allowed us more creative freedom? No difference but as a content creator, we actually created more stylish content staying at a hotel. Special Note, if you’re pitching to hotels, aim for 2-3 nights (3 at the most).   10. Traveling is the best  – If you’re a Content Creator and not interested in travel… rethink that. Traveling will provide you brand-new life experiences that won’t just help you grow in a personal way. It will also help you grow as a creative. Imagine the reason why you wanted to be a creative in the first place and the creators you admire. They all traveled often. New places spiked their imagination. Allowed them to express themselves in a brand new way.  I’ll close this out with one of my favorite quotes… “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharlal Nehru

9. Airbnb vs Hotel – I did a compare and contrast with this too. I took a two week trip to New Orleans and for the first week I stayed in a fancy hotel for free (collaboration) and the second week was a string of Airbnb’s. Which experience was cooler? Depends on your needs. With the hotel experience, we got free breakfast, wifi, cable tv, room service, etc. With Airbnb, we got our own private getaway and the same (minus the free food). Which was more costly? Airbnb. Which place allowed us more creative freedom? No difference but as a content creator, we actually created more stylish content staying at a hotel. Special Note, if you’re pitching to hotels, aim for 2-3 nights (3 at the most).

10. Traveling is the best – If you’re a Content Creator and not interested in travel… rethink that. Traveling will provide you brand-new life experiences that won’t just help you grow in a personal way. It will also help you grow as a creative. Imagine the reason why you wanted to be a creative in the first place and the creators you admire. They all traveled often. New places spiked their imagination. Allowed them to express themselves in a brand new way.

I’ll close this out with one of my favorite quotes…
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharlal Nehru

6 BIGGEST MISTAKES CONTENT CREATORS MAKE WHEN PITCHING TO BRANDS

 Have you ever wondered how this  content creator  got to work with this brand or how in the hell is this  blogger  is traveling around the world for free and getting paid for it? Maybe your buddies with some other content creators and you get general responses or nothing at all when you ask what works for them. It’s as if no one wants to spill the beans about the one thing everyone else is trying to do. Why? Competition. But the Influencer market is constantly evolving so what worked yesterday won’t work tomorrow. Because of this a lot of content creators send a ton of bonehead queries, complain way too much, and end up missing out big opportunities because they don’t get how this all works. As someone who manages collab campaigns and as a content creator who works with brands all the time, I compiled a list of the 6 biggest mistakes I see content creators make.   1. You Have No Clue How This Works and Who’s Running Things   You’re interested in collaborating with a brand but you’re not too sure who the gatekeepers are and who you need to touch base with. Even more annoying, you’re not quite sure how this all works behind the scenes. Well, allow me to explain:  There are two entities that oversee collaborative campaigns and connections. It’s important to know this so you know why some things work and some don’t:  Publicity firm or Marketing agency – This outside entity gets paid for the sole purpose to find you, the content creator. How did they find you? Simple. They use automated  programs to search out keywords like “blogger”, “photographer”, “model, etc. They do the same with locations. This little nugget of information is actually why it’s important that you use keywords in any of your social bios. In some cases they may designate these tasks with team-members. These team-members are usually interns or assistants doing manual searches, gliding through your Instagram profile to see if you fit their needs. Keep in mind, I said interns or assistants. Not CEO’s, the payroll department, or even anyone with authoritative power.  The In-House Social Media Manager – The in-house SM Manager is the toughest gatekeeper to get past. Why? Because they are incredibly busy with their day to day tasks of social media management: engagement, curating posts, and even dealing with your countless queries (and follow ups, LOL). Most of them don’t even have the time to respond or seek you out because they are already overwhelmed by their workload. Imagine getting 10-20 queries a day from people wanting to work with your brand. You just simply wouldn’t have time to respond to every single query. In some cases when they do they may immediately pass in a polite way or pass you along contact info to another team-member. Keep in mind, Social Media Managers also don’t have the final say if the said brand wants to work with you or not. They have to present you to their team and get their feedback before approval. So there are a lot more checks and balances than you may be aware of.  Now, you know who the gatekeepers are. What do they do if they do find you are or you reach them with success. They put your names and information in a huge database. If they reach out to you vs you reaching out to them the truth is in nearly most cases… no, they really are not really huge fans of your work. No, they didn’t really find your content captivating. They just want to get you on board to whatever campaign they are managing as soon as possible. Usually each campaign is looking for 15-20 content creators. As soon as they get what they need, that’s a wrap. Also, at this point, that’s when they take a closer look at your content.   2. You Don’t Understand Why They Won’t Pay You   The name of the game when it comes to marketing is keep the spend low and deliver on a larger ROI (Return on Investment). What does that REALLY mean? That means the number one goal for brands is to get YOU to create content on their behalf for free. In  most cases, of course for them providing you products in exchange for spreading the word. But, because this is such an overcrowded market, some really don’t even have to do that. This is why negotiating can be difficult from both sides. You want as much money as you can get and brands want to spend as less money as possible. So, now you know the truth. Don’t pout about it. Understand how this works so you can adapt your game. You might have received crafty outreach messages or responses to your inquiries about getting paid for content with the good ‘ol “ startup with no budget ” or “ we just ran out of budget ”. In some cases that’s true. In other situations, it’s not and there are even guidelines and written instructions on how to respond to you if you ask for pay. So how to you get paid? There is usually a small budget to work with and they spend it on quality content creators (I’ll get into that in a second). Typically, this type of content creator has 100k+ followers, creates sizzling content, and has a proven track record of working with high-level brands. A smart thing to remember, is to know your value and always want to think of cost of time and the value of the brand you’re negotiating with to agree to terms.   3. You’re Not A Quality Content Creator   You read blogs like this, watch countless YouTube videos on how to grow your following, long debates with fellow content creators, and even iron out a tight schedule of content. But you’re just not growing the way you want and not getting the responses you want from brands. Why is that? This is where you take a critical look at the value you are presenting. On the other side of this, this is what brands typically look at: your content, number of followers, and comments. What’s the most important? Comments. Why? Because it proves your work reaches an engaged audience and alleviates concerns of bought likes/followers. Yes, we all know you can buy comments too but, out of the three this is the one we all look at the most to see if you’re the real deal or not. What’s a secret weapon to put you over the top? Your analytics and proof of success. If you create a media kit with those two things it makes a world of difference. It’s the biggest mistake I see content creators make. See brands want to work with you because your content is like a commercial for them. So if  Daniel Wellington  hires you and sends you a check along with a free watch they hope that your creative posts will bring them more revenue in sales and bring more followers to them. That’s what all of the brands want from working with content creators. So let’s say you don’t REALLY know your impact when you do influencer campaigns. Then you should stop everything you’re doing right now and find out. Yes, it’s okay to reach out to brands you previously worked with and ask if your content helped with sales at all. In fact, they like that quite a bit even if they don’t respond. It shows you genuinely care about the brand and there may be more opportunities for you in the future. Numbers don’t lie and it’s what we’re all looking at so use them to your advantage.

Have you ever wondered how this content creator got to work with this brand or how in the hell is this blogger is traveling around the world for free and getting paid for it? Maybe your buddies with some other content creators and you get general responses or nothing at all when you ask what works for them. It’s as if no one wants to spill the beans about the one thing everyone else is trying to do. Why? Competition. But the Influencer market is constantly evolving so what worked yesterday won’t work tomorrow. Because of this a lot of content creators send a ton of bonehead queries, complain way too much, and end up missing out big opportunities because they don’t get how this all works. As someone who manages collab campaigns and as a content creator who works with brands all the time, I compiled a list of the 6 biggest mistakes I see content creators make.

1. You Have No Clue How This Works and Who’s Running Things

You’re interested in collaborating with a brand but you’re not too sure who the gatekeepers are and who you need to touch base with. Even more annoying, you’re not quite sure how this all works behind the scenes. Well, allow me to explain:

There are two entities that oversee collaborative campaigns and connections. It’s important to know this so you know why some things work and some don’t:

Publicity firm or Marketing agency – This outside entity gets paid for the sole purpose to find you, the content creator. How did they find you? Simple. They use automated  programs to search out keywords like “blogger”, “photographer”, “model, etc. They do the same with locations. This little nugget of information is actually why it’s important that you use keywords in any of your social bios. In some cases they may designate these tasks with team-members. These team-members are usually interns or assistants doing manual searches, gliding through your Instagram profile to see if you fit their needs. Keep in mind, I said interns or assistants. Not CEO’s, the payroll department, or even anyone with authoritative power.

The In-House Social Media Manager – The in-house SM Manager is the toughest gatekeeper to get past. Why? Because they are incredibly busy with their day to day tasks of social media management: engagement, curating posts, and even dealing with your countless queries (and follow ups, LOL). Most of them don’t even have the time to respond or seek you out because they are already overwhelmed by their workload. Imagine getting 10-20 queries a day from people wanting to work with your brand. You just simply wouldn’t have time to respond to every single query. In some cases when they do they may immediately pass in a polite way or pass you along contact info to another team-member. Keep in mind, Social Media Managers also don’t have the final say if the said brand wants to work with you or not. They have to present you to their team and get their feedback before approval. So there are a lot more checks and balances than you may be aware of.

Now, you know who the gatekeepers are. What do they do if they do find you are or you reach them with success. They put your names and information in a huge database. If they reach out to you vs you reaching out to them the truth is in nearly most cases… no, they really are not really huge fans of your work. No, they didn’t really find your content captivating. They just want to get you on board to whatever campaign they are managing as soon as possible. Usually each campaign is looking for 15-20 content creators. As soon as they get what they need, that’s a wrap. Also, at this point, that’s when they take a closer look at your content.

2. You Don’t Understand Why They Won’t Pay You

The name of the game when it comes to marketing is keep the spend low and deliver on a larger ROI (Return on Investment). What does that REALLY mean? That means the number one goal for brands is to get YOU to create content on their behalf for free. In  most cases, of course for them providing you products in exchange for spreading the word. But, because this is such an overcrowded market, some really don’t even have to do that. This is why negotiating can be difficult from both sides. You want as much money as you can get and brands want to spend as less money as possible. So, now you know the truth. Don’t pout about it. Understand how this works so you can adapt your game. You might have received crafty outreach messages or responses to your inquiries about getting paid for content with the good ‘ol “startup with no budget” or “we just ran out of budget”. In some cases that’s true. In other situations, it’s not and there are even guidelines and written instructions on how to respond to you if you ask for pay. So how to you get paid? There is usually a small budget to work with and they spend it on quality content creators (I’ll get into that in a second). Typically, this type of content creator has 100k+ followers, creates sizzling content, and has a proven track record of working with high-level brands. A smart thing to remember, is to know your value and always want to think of cost of time and the value of the brand you’re negotiating with to agree to terms.

3. You’re Not A Quality Content Creator

You read blogs like this, watch countless YouTube videos on how to grow your following, long debates with fellow content creators, and even iron out a tight schedule of content. But you’re just not growing the way you want and not getting the responses you want from brands. Why is that? This is where you take a critical look at the value you are presenting. On the other side of this, this is what brands typically look at: your content, number of followers, and comments. What’s the most important? Comments. Why? Because it proves your work reaches an engaged audience and alleviates concerns of bought likes/followers. Yes, we all know you can buy comments too but, out of the three this is the one we all look at the most to see if you’re the real deal or not. What’s a secret weapon to put you over the top? Your analytics and proof of success. If you create a media kit with those two things it makes a world of difference. It’s the biggest mistake I see content creators make. See brands want to work with you because your content is like a commercial for them. So if Daniel Wellington hires you and sends you a check along with a free watch they hope that your creative posts will bring them more revenue in sales and bring more followers to them. That’s what all of the brands want from working with content creators. So let’s say you don’t REALLY know your impact when you do influencer campaigns. Then you should stop everything you’re doing right now and find out. Yes, it’s okay to reach out to brands you previously worked with and ask if your content helped with sales at all. In fact, they like that quite a bit even if they don’t respond. It shows you genuinely care about the brand and there may be more opportunities for you in the future. Numbers don’t lie and it’s what we’re all looking at so use them to your advantage.

  4. Your Pitch Is Wrong   The amount of direct messages I’ve received on behalf of myself and brands that are simply “ let’s work ” is enough to make my eyes melt out of my sockets. Then there’s the “ I’d be happy to create content for you… ”,  “My blog gets 100 million users a day. ”, etc. etc. Listen. No brand wants to hear how awesome you are and why they should work with you. What they actually want to hear is how obsessed you are with them and how much value you can bring them. In other words, you want them to get excited about the possibilities of working with you to the point that it’s almost impossible to say no. Here is a nice breakdown of what your initial message should look like. I’ve used this strategy myself and not only do I get most responses back but all of them are usually excited to work with me:  First line – Provide overwhelming enthusiasm about how much you like the brand and one poignant detail about that particular brand that excited your the most. For example:  “ I’m completely blown away by your menswear shirts. I love your IG. I finally had to reach out b/c it’s so lit. ”  Second Line – Ask them if they are looking for content/collaborations, etc. Again, ask. Don’t assume or state anything. Remember, the influencer marketing industry is booming right now and we get tons of queries in daily so jumping in and assuming anything is not the way to go about it. Instead ask, “ By any chance do you collaborate or work with content creators? ”  Third line – Okay, I know you’re dying to brag about what you can offer. Here’s your chance. Humble brag with why you’re kind of a big deal. Remember it’s a humble brag with a one sentence highlight real your best value. So know your value! Ex: “ I am super model with over 100 million loyal followers, best known for my commentary on fashion. ”  Fourth Line – List 3-4 of recognizable name brands you worked with. Always make sure the brands you list are in similar scope to the brand you’re talking to. In other words, don’t reach out to Airbnb and only have examples of fashion brands you’ve worked with.  Ex: “ I’ve worked with Facebook, Airbnb, Uber, etc so (insert name of brand here) would be perfect to collab with. ”  Fifth Line – Really hit home that you want to be a part of their community and company culture. Again. This is supposed to be appealing to them and they want to feel special. Ex: “ I’d love to be a part of your community so if there is anyway we can do something together that would be so cool. ”  Sixth Line – Provide a gentle CTA to make it clear the next steps you’d like to happen to wrap things up. Ex: “ If interested, mind if I get the email of who I can connect with about this? ” — Notice, all they have to do is provide me with contact info. No real work needed on their part. You get to be in full control of what happens next after they provide you info. In all cases you better hit up the person you contacted ASAP and refer to your initial exchange.  Seventh Line – Provide a link that showcases your social proof. This is where you provide a write-up/interview you’ve done, your official website, and yout top-performing social media channel. If this is an IG Direct Message query you would NOT provide your IG link. It needs to be something else. Ex: “Social Proof/References, go here: (insert link here)”   5. One and Done Collabs   You created content. You got paid or got free shit. On to the next one. Right? Wrong. You want to create long-term relationships with the brands you work with. Why? Because you will constantly have work without you having to break a sweat, searching night and day for projects to work on. It also increases your value as an Influencer because it adds credibility to your value. I never quite understood the “one and done” projects. That should never be your goal to “on to the next one”. Your goal should be to cultivate relationships because that’s actually how “word of mouth” works. When you do the “one and done” thing you don’t stand out at all. You’re putting more work on yourself. So develop stronger bonds and relationships with brands.   6. You Don’t Share or Pay It Forward   Remember #1? Brands want to save time and save money. What’s the easiest way to help them with that? Give everything to them in a tight package that will allow them to do the least work possible. That means not only do you give them a little extra content (nudging them to share on their own channels to boost your profile) but you also ask how you can help more. You even want to follow up with providing metrics (if they are worth sharing). As a cherry on top, tell them you have other friends/colleagues you would like to recommend if they’re interested. It’s a simple way to increase your value that most people don’t take advantage of. So take advantage of it already.  If you avoid the above pitfalls and understand this is an evolving business then you’ll be set up for success. Now, take some time to yourself and brainstorm. Strategize. Then attack with your unique voice and chase after the stars. If you think I’m missing some more massive mistakes content creators make when connecting with brands, leave a comment below. We all need your insight and tips to crush it!

4. Your Pitch Is Wrong

The amount of direct messages I’ve received on behalf of myself and brands that are simply “let’s work” is enough to make my eyes melt out of my sockets. Then there’s the “I’d be happy to create content for you…”, “My blog gets 100 million users a day.”, etc. etc. Listen. No brand wants to hear how awesome you are and why they should work with you. What they actually want to hear is how obsessed you are with them and how much value you can bring them. In other words, you want them to get excited about the possibilities of working with you to the point that it’s almost impossible to say no. Here is a nice breakdown of what your initial message should look like. I’ve used this strategy myself and not only do I get most responses back but all of them are usually excited to work with me:

First line – Provide overwhelming enthusiasm about how much you like the brand and one poignant detail about that particular brand that excited your the most. For example: 
I’m completely blown away by your menswear shirts. I love your IG. I finally had to reach out b/c it’s so lit.

Second Line – Ask them if they are looking for content/collaborations, etc. Again, ask. Don’t assume or state anything. Remember, the influencer marketing industry is booming right now and we get tons of queries in daily so jumping in and assuming anything is not the way to go about it. Instead ask, “By any chance do you collaborate or work with content creators?

Third line – Okay, I know you’re dying to brag about what you can offer. Here’s your chance. Humble brag with why you’re kind of a big deal. Remember it’s a humble brag with a one sentence highlight real your best value. So know your value! Ex: “I am super model with over 100 million loyal followers, best known for my commentary on fashion.

Fourth Line – List 3-4 of recognizable name brands you worked with. Always make sure the brands you list are in similar scope to the brand you’re talking to. In other words, don’t reach out to Airbnb and only have examples of fashion brands you’ve worked with.  Ex: “I’ve worked with Facebook, Airbnb, Uber, etc so (insert name of brand here) would be perfect to collab with.

Fifth Line – Really hit home that you want to be a part of their community and company culture. Again. This is supposed to be appealing to them and they want to feel special. Ex: “I’d love to be a part of your community so if there is anyway we can do something together that would be so cool.

Sixth Line – Provide a gentle CTA to make it clear the next steps you’d like to happen to wrap things up. Ex: “If interested, mind if I get the email of who I can connect with about this?” — Notice, all they have to do is provide me with contact info. No real work needed on their part. You get to be in full control of what happens next after they provide you info. In all cases you better hit up the person you contacted ASAP and refer to your initial exchange.

Seventh Line – Provide a link that showcases your social proof. This is where you provide a write-up/interview you’ve done, your official website, and yout top-performing social media channel. If this is an IG Direct Message query you would NOT provide your IG link. It needs to be something else. Ex: “Social Proof/References, go here: (insert link here)”

5. One and Done Collabs

You created content. You got paid or got free shit. On to the next one. Right? Wrong. You want to create long-term relationships with the brands you work with. Why? Because you will constantly have work without you having to break a sweat, searching night and day for projects to work on. It also increases your value as an Influencer because it adds credibility to your value. I never quite understood the “one and done” projects. That should never be your goal to “on to the next one”. Your goal should be to cultivate relationships because that’s actually how “word of mouth” works. When you do the “one and done” thing you don’t stand out at all. You’re putting more work on yourself. So develop stronger bonds and relationships with brands.

6. You Don’t Share or Pay It Forward

Remember #1? Brands want to save time and save money. What’s the easiest way to help them with that? Give everything to them in a tight package that will allow them to do the least work possible. That means not only do you give them a little extra content (nudging them to share on their own channels to boost your profile) but you also ask how you can help more. You even want to follow up with providing metrics (if they are worth sharing). As a cherry on top, tell them you have other friends/colleagues you would like to recommend if they’re interested. It’s a simple way to increase your value that most people don’t take advantage of. So take advantage of it already.

If you avoid the above pitfalls and understand this is an evolving business then you’ll be set up for success. Now, take some time to yourself and brainstorm. Strategize. Then attack with your unique voice and chase after the stars. If you think I’m missing some more massive mistakes content creators make when connecting with brands, leave a comment below. We all need your insight and tips to crush it!

Challenge Yourself

We live in strange times. There has been a constant barrage of anger, frustration, and devastating losses on a scale we've never witnessed before. Sometimes it feels like we stepped into another world that's on the cusp of the apocalypse. What do you do when the world is literally falling apart around you? It's something we're all struggling with right now. I think back in this moment to how I used to check my social media when I woke up in the mornings just to see what's trending, catch up with people and now... I get anxiety every time I log into anything in fear of the negativity that seems to be constant. I always try to see the light at the end of the tunnel and offer motivation to anyone I can. I feel like that's my true purpose in life. But, honestly, I'm just as drained as a lot of you are. But still... we all have to move on and I think now more than ever we have to live our lives to its fullest. 

My challenge to you is to take at least 30 minutes to yourself and write down these questions and answer them as brutally honest as you can:

  1. What makes you truly happy?
  2. What are the Top 5 Things you accomplished in your life?
  3. What are the Top 5 Things you want to do before you die?
  4. Who means the most to you in this world?

And after you answer each questions:

  1. Do what makes you happy. 
  2. Never forget how far you've come and what you've accomplished in life. Remember how tough it was to do. Try to remember every detail. Then remind yourself you can do anything you put your mind to. Keep this as a constant reminder.
  3. Keep 2. in mind and go forth. Chasing after what you want the most in life. Move quickly as if there is no tomorrow because honestly it's not guaranteed.
  4. Contact that person that means the most to you in this world. Do it immediately. Tell them how much they mean to you. How much they affected your life. It doesn't matter if it's someone you lost touch with our someone you're having a war of words with... let love and honesty take over here. If you can, go see that person. When you see them, give them the biggest hug you've ever given anyone in your life. 

I hope you can take on this challenge and take full control of your universe. In any case I'll be doing the same and rooting for your success.

Wardrobe:  N 2-B Barricade CTN jacket is from Alpha Industries

 

Alpha Industries

Photography by Madi Mae

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Don't Hold Back

In a time where the world literally feels like it's ending, it's more important now than ever to remember to surround yourselves with the people you love. Challenge yourself today to find time to thank every person who inspired you, showed you love, or looked out for your best interest even if at the time you didn't think so. Live today as if it's your last and don't hold back. You never know what tomorrow holds. 

 Hoodie, jacket, and jeans are from Kollar ClothingShoes are Frank Wright

What You Get: Stylish streetwear that's blowing up right now. Check out their catalog here.

 

Kollar Clothing

Photography by Madi Mae

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No journey is easy

"Everyone is handed adversity in life. No one's journey is easy. It's how they handle it that makes people unique." 💯

Season change. People change. Time flies. Etc. Etc. I've had one of the toughest years of my entire life so far in 2017. Most people wouldn't know this because I've chosen to focus more on being outwardly positive and keep things moving forward. That doesn't mean there haven't been challenges that have tested by own beliefs and self-worth. I've had so many enlightening conversations, especially lately that always keep things in perspective for me. I woke up this morning, feeling like I should share some words with you if you have ever faced tough times:

  1. You are Special - At times you may feel scared, sad, unworthy, envious, downright angry about the obstacles life has presented you. But never forget how great of a person you are and you are in full control of your own destiny. Know that you are special. 
  2. It's okay to be wrong - It's okay to be wrong. It's okay to accept fault. You shouldn't feel embarrassed to admit a mistake. Life is full of mistakes. You're going to make plenty more. It's how you respond that shows your true strength. 
  3. Know your character - You don't have to pretend to be something you're not. This life is your own. If you want to be kind and generous, then show it in action. If you don't. Same. Just be true to yourself. We often make this mistake of trying to be someone we're not because we want to match the opinions or perspectives of others. We shouldn't though. The truth is no one will ever put as much thought into what you're up to with your life than you will. 
  4. Show compassion (especially to the people who don't deserve it) - I'm not going to lie. This is the hardest thing for me. I can be a very vengeful person and if you challenge my well being or the people I care about... there will be hell to pay. But, I've learned that the best thing you can do is let go and show compassion for people even if they don't deserve it. We're all hurting in some way at different stages in our lives. Nothing makes that abundantly clear than to come in contact with someone who goes out of their way to hurt you. That's why compassion is the right response. It may not seem like it at the time but showing kindness is both liberating and a true test of character.

That's about it for now. Just wanted to share. If you have tips of your own, leave some in the comments section. I'd love to hear from you. 

My shoes are from the UK shoe brand, Frank Wright. Which if you visit their site...

What You Get: Badass Mens Shoes. Check out their catalog here.

 

Frank Wright

Photography by Madi Mae

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#enjoytheadventure

I've been thinking of ways to introduce more insight into what I do behind the scenes so I thought sharing my latest commercial with you is a fantastic start. One of my main goals with crafting this blog was to offer a bit of inspiration with my creative content and offer tips/advice for you. I wanted it to be more personal than professional. This is great and the responses I've been getting have been wonderful. But, I've been getting a lot more questions asking me to share more examples of what I do day-to-day and more examples of brands I work with behind the scenes. So, this post is to show you what that looks like. Also, if you're interested in learning more about professional work and brands I've worked with, just visit my agency's site here: www.janueljohnson.com.

This particular campaign is called "#enjoytheadventure", showcasing the brand-spanking new wireless car charger, OMNIA for a longtime client of ours, Bezalel. J+J is responsible for the visuals, marketing, and branding for the company. We always approach the tone/style of Bezalel with a "fashion meets tech", highlighting the lifestyle approach. We like striking a nice balance of highlighting users and product. We believe showcasing the experience vs a million close ups of product shots is much more appealing to people.

In this particular concept, my partner and I wanted to showcase a romantic adventure set in Joshua Tree. When we're not filming big budget projects, we typically use skeleton crews when the project allows. This makes it easier for us to be more flexible and save costs. Usually I direct our video projects and occasions like this I'm also the Photographer. I try not to pull double duties but in some campaigns it's important to maintain a consistent tone and style. I always think it's smart to hire a Photographer for video shoots. This strategy usually saves time, money, and actually helps keep the energy up for everyone. In a world where creative content is a necessity you can never go wrong with getting more quality content.

You can see the full video with a few select photos from our campaign below.

What You Get: 20% off any product when you use my special discount code: CJ20.

Get it here.

🌴 #enjoytheadventure Credits:

Pacific Issue

"Bootstrapped and scrappy." That's how the Pacific Issue team first defined themselves (still do, actually) when they created a company that's focused on creating the perfectly fitted and perfectly designed shirts. Their shirts are stylish but that "perfectly fitted" mantra is what sold me. The Pacific Issue team is really obsessed about getting the perfect fit for their customers and want to make the customer experience a good one.

Listen, I work with brands all the time and I feel that's one of the things that's been lacking in recent years. Too many brands focus on making money/saving costs vs. providing a great product/customer service. I never understood that. Simply create a great product. Deliver on great customer service = happy customers, thus great word of mouth... duh.

But I digress... the shirt I got fit perfectly and I was feeling those chill vibes. Check them out below and while you're at it, be sure to visit Pacific Issue here.

What You Get: 30% off your first custom shirt when you use code: CJJ0683. 

 

www.pacificissue.com

Photography by Madi Mae

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Nunca Te Rindas

I try my best to offer advice based on the knowledge that is been passed down to me by highly successful people and first-hand experiences. I do this to make sure I'm not bullshitting anyone and I can offer realistic expectations on what you need to overcome the many challenges life presents to you in your career and in life. This year so far has been one of the most challenging years I've experienced in my entire life. I was presented a whole new set of obstacles that I never faced before and put in situations that made it nearly impossible to move past. Even with the arsenal of tools that I have at my disposal I was still worn weary and taken back by some situations. 

I'm also at a stage in my life where I'm becoming increasingly more comfortable with talking about my personal life as you can see here, here, and here. But, currently I'm still navigating uncharted waters that I'm not quite ready to share with the world. I also don't think any amount of passive aggressive posts or cryptic messages change the reality of one's situation. I would rather focus on embracing positivity and love. If there is one thing each of us are in control of it's our mind, body, and spirit. 

I'm writing this post for those of you who are going through tough, confusing, and ultimately challenging times. Understand that you are not alone. At times, each and every one us feel scared. Sad. Angry. Frustrated. Lonely. Each one of us at one stage in our lives have asked ourselves, "Am I good enough?", "Can I do this?", "Am I loved?", etc. 

I say this to you... "Nunca Te Rindas". Never Give Up.

No matter how many disappointments you face. No matter the failures that get you down and make you second guess yourself. No matter the cold toxicity of other people's insecurities and lack of self-awareness that gets thrown at you. No matter how overwhelming that sinking feeling of despair you have. Never give up. Keep moving forward. Stay positive (which may seem impossible at times). Always remember that life is supposed to be hard at times, that's why the "sweet is never as sweet without the sour". 

In tough times, repeat this to yourself "nunca te rindas". Provide a random act of kindness to someone you care about or even a complete stranger. Accept love and positivity. Send it back out to the rest of the world. Love yourself. Respect yourself. Be kind to yourself.

Always remember...

Nunca Te Rindas.

What You Get: I customized my shirt with Apolis. Check out their catalog here.

 

www.apolis.com

Photography by Madi Mae

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Saving Lives and Water with MAHI

As seen in high-level publications like GQ and Vogue, MAHI Leather is taking things to another level with style while giving back to the world. Aside from the beautiful leathered goods they have, their mission is intriguing. MAHI Leather takes its name from the Mahi River. The coordinates, posted on their badge, "22° N, 72° E", represent the mouth of the river, where it joins the Arabian Sea in Gujarat, India. According to MAHI, this is a sacred river and in a country where 103 million people lack safe water it's also timely. So, this is one of the reasons why I love MAHI so much. From each sale of their product, they donate $1.50 to FRANK Water Projects (registered Charity No. 1121273), a UK based charity which has helped over 300,000 people gain access to clean water since 2005. If you're interested in supporting Frank Water, visit here.

The leather bag I received was customized with my initials so... YES, I've been roaming around like a baller, pointing at my initials everywhere I go. Just kidding (no, I'm not). My bag is perfect for travel and for a digital nomad like myself. If you like to travel and do it with style, I recommend doing it with MAHI. Below you'll see some awesome photos I took in Playa Del Rey, California with Madi Mae behind the lens. She's got skillz.

What You Get: The power of giving. $1.50 from every bag sold donated to FRANK Water. Safe Water. Saves Lives. We call this a "win win" Check out their catalog here.

 

www.mahileather.com

 

 

Photography by Madi Mae

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Game Of Thrones Pop-Up Pub

Game Of Thrones Season 7
 

Game Of Thrones is hands down one of the best damned TV shows on the face of the planet (don't @ me). From the thrilling battle sequences to the Shakespearean like storytelling, GOT is not just a ratings/critical hit. It's also a cultural phenomenon. The best part of GOT is the world building and how detailed the locations are. That's why when I was told about the pop-up pub gracing the streets of Washington, D.C. with a Game Of Thrones theme I knew I had to hit that spot up.

I went on a day that an especially hot as hell summer day. The line to get into this place (opened at 5pm. We got there at 5:05) was insane. Wrapped around several blocks. The wait was an hour. So, if you hate waiting I'm just letting you know. Once we finally got in, the pub featured several areas that were meticulously laid out to provide you with various experiences. The pub span nearly 3,000 square feet, replicating settings from across the realms: the North, the Red Keep, Mereen, the House of Black and White, and the Throne Room. They're cocktails will get you hyped up with their names like "What is Dead May Never Die" and "The Lannisters Send their Regards". This is all paired with the show’s soundtrack. Swords, dragons, horns, and an Iron Throne help celebrate the show’s summer return.

The main attraction was a the throne that rules them all. You get scheduled photos to sit on the throne as soon as you enter the pub. So you get to have a good time before your name comes up. The drinks were overpriced and not particular amazing. The snacks were so simple and overpriced that it might make you "what the f^8k is this?". But, overall it was A LOT of fun. It was great to talk GOT with so many fans but even more interesting to see people that have never seen the show and just wanted to visit to see what all of the fuss is about. I recommend you check it out now because the themed pub will end on August 27th. So, embrace the GOT summer fantasy now while you still can. 

Hours:

  • Monday - Thursday 5pm-12:30am
  • Friday - Saturday 5pm-1:30am
  • Sunday 1-7pm

What You Get: The Experience

Disclaimer: If you have you have an interesting destination you would like for me to visit, please feel free to send me a message directly so we can talk about future collaboration opportunities.

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Clean Cut. Clean Face.

I don't endorse skin care products unless I use them myself and see great results. So, when I linked up with Chimere by Clear Essence brand I took my sweet ass time to see its impact. I was impressed with the results. My skin was fresh, smooth, and I haven't experienced any razor bumps since I started using the products. Firstly, I used the bath gel, shaving/after-shave treatments. There's a cool breeze and awesome scent to all of the Chimere products that made my skin feel invigorated. 

One of the most interesting tidbits about Chimere is their brand message -- the products cater to men of color because there aren't too many skin care products that currently do that. This is also a family business which you know how much I appreciate homegrown businesses. Chimere also prides itself in providing skin care tips for men. Here's a few tips they shared with me that I wanted to pass along to you: 

  • Always use a men's face scrub before shaving to help with a deep skin clean and prepare your skin to handle a closer shave.
  • Always use fresh blades and change them regularly.
  • Shave while showering because it makes your hair stubs plumper and easier to shave. The moisture also keeps the irritation to a minimum.
  • Don't use shaving products with alcohol because that can contribute to ingrown hairs and razor burn. 
  • Use a men's after shave.

Key Ingredients: Shave Gel - Triclosan; The shaving gel minimizes the appearance of razor bumps, controls mild acne, and evens out the skin's blotchiness. After Shave Treatment - Camellia Sinsensis Leaf Extract, Lactic Acid & Citric Acid; Brightens the darkened shaved area and evens out your skin tone while calming the irritated shaven area.

What You Get: FREE US Ground Shipping when you use code: CJOHN

Get it here.

www.chimere.com

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The Coolest Coffee Spots in Los Angeles

coffee-los angeles-cjjohnson

I've been on a personal mission to visit the best coffee spots in Los Angeles. Those who have heard of this spur of the moment decision have supported me on my journey. I'm a digital nomad and my work doesn't require me to be beholden to any one place unless I so choose. So, why the hell not?

I first started with a simple online search for the best coffee spots in Los Angeles that evolved quickly into a long list of places to visit. I curated a master list from places listed in The LA Eater, Thrillist, Google Places, Yelp, and a few other outlets. From that list I cross-checked the names and if one spot came up more than once it made the cut. I selected a spot for each day. I visited a few more places not on my list too. When I began my journey I had fun discovering so many gems and meeting so many great people along the way.

With each place I visited, I was told of even more spots I never even heard of. People seemed delighted about this mission I had. It has nothing to do with the coffee brew and no I'm not obsessed with coffee. It has more to do with discovering new chill environments where I could enjoy myself alone or with company over a cup of coffee, get some work done, and cool ambience. I don't know if this is "Part I" of whatever because I'm still in the thick of this. But, here's what I have so far...


Bar9 - This is one of my favorite getaway spots. Tucked away in a Culver City neighborhood near my office. It's a fantastic spot to get work done. The staff is incredibly nice. Very chill atmosphere. A lot of open space. You even get to see how they make their coffee. It's all fresh.

 
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Go Get 'Em Tiger - Great coffee choices. Food is just OK. This place is incredibly crowded all the time. Especially for brunch on the weekends. Not a lot of places to sit and chill inside so it can get crowded fast. It gets so busy that the service can be a little suspect. But, it's a cool spot to visit. If you want to get away and work for a little bit this is not the place. BUT, if you want to have a good time with your friends and cool vibes, I'd recommend this spot for sure. 

 
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Bardonna - The Bardonna is a small and can get a little uncomfortable on a hot day inside. But they have a big back patio that's a lot cooler and very chill. It's a great spot to meet up with a friend or get some work done. I saw a lot of college students there. More writers too. The staff was really nice and very funny. 

 
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Here's my first list of places and there will be many more forthcoming. If you have any recommendations or your own feedback about some of these places, hit up the comments section below and let the world know your thoughts. Until then to be continued...

The Republique - I have mixed feelings about places like The Republique. They're hugely popular which means there's always a wait to get a table, always crowded, and everything can get a bit pricey. But, dammit the food is good and so are the drinks. It's still a great place to grab a latte and get some work down. There's a lot of ambience and always an interesting story to hear and even more interesting people to meet.  

 
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The Verve - This was a great spot to chill and get work done. I saw a few famous faces come in and out of the spot during my visit there. They also have a fantastic menu of tasty treats and refreshing drinks. There seemed to be quite a bit of writers here so this is a great spot to draft your next great screenplay. 

 
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Milo & Olive - This cute spot on Wilshire has great food and a great coffee menu. Everything here was really classy and tasty. 

 
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More Gems (not pictured):

Blacktop Coffee - in the heart of the Arts District down town. This was an interesting spot to me. They had no wifi and the place is tiny so you'll end up sitting outside. But I guess that's what makes this spot so interesting. It's a great place if you just want to take a breather, catch up on some reading, or link up with a friend. 

Pie Hole Los Angeles - Another Arts District spot. This place DOES have wifi and you can never go wrong with pie! The staff was really cool and this was a very chill spot to hang out at.

Euro Flair with Franco Florenzi Bracelets

I love wristbands and bracelets. I'm not too big on jewelry but, in the past few months I've really opened up to accessorizing. I stumbled onto Franco Florenzi via Instagram and was quickly blown away by their overall style. I love the sophisticated yet imaginative style they have with their products. They've been featured in GQ, Esquire, and more. So, I knew I had to connect with them. I ended up choosing the MONZA OLIVO and LAZIO CARLO bracelets. I wanted to test out the various styles and looks they had. I ended up loving them both equally like a father who can't choose which child he loves the most (it's always the younger one btw). The bracelets add a little bit of flair to my overall wardrobe which I really dig. The detail to the craftsmanship and packaging really stood out to me. This is a brand that has a great sense of knowing what they're about. Makes sense, the concept was manifested on a beach in the South West of England. Sounds sexy doesn't it? 

What You Get: Use CJJOHNSON for a 10% discount. Buy now at Franco Florenzi

Baurdi, The Man's Wallet

I was on the hunt for a brand new wallet. I wanted something that had a classic vibe and represented my style. So, when I spoke with Brett, the founder of Baurdi, I was interested to learn more about the story behind his brand and how his goods were so special. One of the interesting things about Baurdi wallets is the emphasis Brett and his team talk about how a bad wallet represents "immaturity and a lack of worldly experience." I never thought of wallets that way and but it makes sense. The way you look and represent yourself from the smallest detail of what your wallet looks like does matter. So, say hello to Baurdi -- a New York City made company, representing the sleek ruggedness of the world of man.  

"Every man has a story, and our wallets will help you tell yours."  - Brett, Founder of Baurdi.

What You Get: 10% off products when you use my special discount code: CJ10. Get your badass wallet here.

Designing A Handmade Watch With Tree Hut

It's one thing to wear a watch, it's another to design it yourself, and have it handmade by a team of specialists. Enter Tree Hut -- the San Francisco company consists of a 20-person team, dedicated to hand-making one-of-a-kind designs out of real wood. With Tree Hut I was able to design my own watch, choosing from a variety of options: Strap & Case Options, Dial Options, Dial Design Options, Second Hand Options, and the best part... a Personal Engraving. By the end of the experience, I felt pretty damn satisfied with myself. After all, I just designed my first friggin' watch!

The shipping was pretty quick, so it didn't take too long for me to receive my watch. When I first checked out my watch it was easy to see it was made with premium quality. I do know the Tree Hut team puts a lot of emphasis into how they craft the watches with a lot of attention to detail and it really showed. You can read more about their story and how they go about crafting their watches here.

If you want to design your own watch after reading this, just visit this link.

What You Get: 15% off all Tree Hut products (only good for 7/28-8/30/17) using exclusive discount code: J&J-17.

Get it here.

How To Make Your Career Dreams Come True

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Ever since I can remember I dreamt of growing up and inspiring people. I dreamt of moving to Los Angeles to be in the film industry my entire life. In my dream, I lived near the beach. I had a beautiful and sophisticated partner by my side. Cute kids. A motorcycle. A huge mansion. Two mustangs. Two dogs and one cat. A white tiger named "Gizmo". In my dream I would be traveling around the world, exploring cultures, filming various Spielberg type-films. When I wasn't winning Oscars for every other film I made, I was donating money to various charities. I envisioned this my entire life and everything I did since I can remember I tried to turn that dream into a reality. My story is still being written but, as of right now I do not own two mustangs, Gizmo does not exist, and I’m not even in the film business anymore.

BUT, I do live in Los Angeles. I do live near the beach. I did have a loving partner by my side. I do have a cute kid. I had a cat named "Jinxy" and currently on the hunt for some little pups. I do travel around the world, exploring different cultures. I do have a successful career. Except the dream is different than what I envisioned. But, that's life isn't it? Things never turn out the way you plan but that doesn't mean you still can't reach your goals and find happiness. When people ask me how I was able to become successful I usually say "luck", "hard work", etc. Cliche stuff. Not necessarily because I was playing coy but because I spend so much time making things happen I rarely stop to think about how I even arrived at this point. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not yet but I'll write more about that in another post, lol.

At first, I followed the J.J. Abrams Mystery Box philosophy. Never give away how the trick works, just let everyone be amazed and wonder. But, the truth is we live in a different culture now and that can come across as arrogant or selfish. Even more importantly, my dream was always to inspire people. So, if someone asks me how I found success and gets inspired by that… mission accomplished. Again, still living my dream. So, how did I do it?

Let me show you.

1. Inspire Yourself With Your Vision: Create a vision board of your ideal life. An easy way to do this is to create a Pinterest board. Some people practice being as detailed as possible. I tried that out and found it difficult when things didn't go according to how I envisioned it. A much healthier approach is actually being a bit more general. Next, to write out your vision. Grab a sheet a paper and get writing. Make it real with your words. Turn it into goals. Your goals, should be detailed with actionable steps with timetables. Don’t just say “Be a rockstar” instead write “I want to be a rockstar within the first year. I should talk to my buddy’s friend in the music industry and ask if he can listen to a demo next week."

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2. Adapt: Like I said before, Nothing ever goes according to plan. Your dream will not come to fruition the way you envisioned it. There is no way around this. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s the truth so understand that in the beginning. Which is why I think you should be general with your vision. Actionable steps, yes. Vision, no. You don’t want to be disappointed when things play out differently.  You have to adapt. The world changes and as technology keeps evolving it's changes faster. Don't get left behind. You have rebound to missteps and learn from your mistakes. You even have to adapt to things going when they go right. This sounds strange but my business partner and I experienced too much success too soon when we started our agency and were not prepared how to handle it. You’ll always have to adapt. Another example, I started out as a filmmaker, but photography is what most people know me for. I hated marketing and now I’m considered a marketing guru. I once thought self-help s*it was cheesy, now I'm writing a self-help blog post. I adapted because I saw opportunities forming and I didn’t dismiss them as they came.

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3. Stay In the Know: Most common question during my consultations and meetings, “how do you know all of this?” Easy, I "stay int he know". I pay attention to what's going on with everything. I don’t dismiss or belittle anything. No, I do not listen to Selena Gomez but I know who’s she’s dating. No, I don’t know the names of everyone in Donald Trump’s cabinet but I do know the policies they’re trying to accomplish. You should always read the popular trades within all industries. I use Twitter as a great tool for staying in the know. I typically discover breaking news slightly faster than most people. It ended up being a great timesaver too because information came to me from one source vs seeking it out from various sources. Regardless of how you do it, stay in the know and DO NOT fall into the trap of being dismissive. Being dismissive is always going to set you back. Example. As soon as I mentioned Twitter and in your head you thought... Did he just say Twitter? I don’t get Twitter. Waste of time. Don't do that. Instead keep an open mind and look for ways to stay in the know. 

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4. Do Not Fu*8ing Wait - I love this step. This step defines if you’re really going to be successful or not. Are you the person who is waiting for the perfect moment? Timing needs to be right? Not now but tomorrow. Well… fu8k. that. Don’t wait. Not even for a second. This scares everyone. They freeze when they hear me say this. Let me explain why you shouldn’t wait… the perfect moment does not exist and whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish to be successful is not some “no one has ever thought of this before” concept. What makes your dream so special is YOU. Which means YOU have to put yourself out there. If you have nothing to show? Put yourself out there and get feedback about your ideas. It’s done but not ready? Tease it to the public. Tease it to your friends and family. Drive them nuts with talking about it so much. You feel like you’re rushing things? You are. That’s the point. You’re putting yourself out there. Putting yourself out there is going to be scary anyway. Might as well get it over with. Januel+Johnson was a joke between me and the person I was madly in love with. It went like this, “If we did start a company, what should we call ourselves?” “How about Januel and Johnson? I like it!” then when we actually took the steps to thinking of something we just said “fu8k it”. It was just a placeholder that became our brand.

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5. Go Hard and Have Fun - Yes, stay up late. Yes, skip social functions. Yes, you will miss out on things. But, remember this is YOUR dream. So have fun. Enjoy it. If it’s too much work and your dreading it then what the hell are you doing it for? Remember you are making your dream REAL. Again, YOUR DREAM. REAL. Don’t hesitate.

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Taking these steps really helped me and I hope they help you too. If you have some steps of your own you'd like to share, leave a comment below. If you're interested in learning more ways about how you can reach your dreams and goals, contact me for a consultation here or shoot me a message on social media.

Ledbury, an American Classic

It was another sizzling summer day in the heart of the arts district in downtown Los Angeles. On this day, I visited a few local coffee shops and went all in on a morning filled with brainstorming sessions and meetings. I did it all with style, sporing a Ledbury shirt

One of the best things I like about Ledbury is where they're located... Virginia. Which happens to be a place I used to call home. I like the classic and slim fits to their shirts. Comfortable and classy are two words that come to mind. What's especially unique about Ledbury is that they revived one of America’s oldest bespoke shirt makers in Richmond, Virginia. Today, they carry on a century-old bespoke tailoring tradition in their workshop, where craftsmen make their shirts by hand. I love it when brands support carry on traditions and support their roots. 

What You Get: The Linen Bohler, available for $109. Get it here.

How To Conquer Your Fears

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One of the most common questions I get asked by people that aspire to achieve the level of success I have is how I powered through personal fears to do it. How I didn't let fear paralyze me. Hold me back. Truth is, it DID hold me back. It holds everyone back doesn't it? When I first drafted this post, I was in a different headspace. My mind riddled with fear and intense emotions from a personal matter that still challenges the very essence of my character. But, I've had a lot of time to reflect since then. I didn't want to write this blog post until I was 100% sure I knew what I wanted to say. I don't want to ever bullshit any of you.

So, let's talk about fear for a moment. Fear can be all consuming. Crippling. When people make excuses about not following their dreams it's because of fear. When people flake, lie, go the easy route... it's... fear. So, how do you overcome it to get what you REALLY want in life? I can list books or video tutorials to provide you with food for thought and perhaps on a future post I will. But today, I'd rather just tell you my story and let you come up with your own way to challenge and ultimately overcome your fears.

On the surface, I'm simply afraid of heights. However, yes... I enjoy roller coasters, I am a thrill seeker but the thought of being too close to the edge of anything. I recoil. I hated escalators in malls. I hated getting too close to anything that made me essentially feel... out of control. Not knowing what could happen next. 

Then about a month ago I got smacked with some real life changing shit. One of those crossroad moments that either break you or define you. FEAR. Real fear devoured my every thought from the subconscious to my present mind. It was so powerful that one day I woke up, paralyzed with fear. I was fearful of failing again, fearful of not being able to control my destiny, fear of not winning someone back, fear of loss, fear of disappointment.

I remember facing myself in the mirror as a I do every morning. It was clear to me that I NEEDED to face a fear that day. Head on. My mind zipped through the various fears that held me back. A fear of snakes (goddamn Indiana Jones and Conan). My fear of heights -- ah yes. That one. I'll tackle my fear of heights.

So, what did I do? I did what any respectful aging millennial would do. I google searched the nearest skydiving place, called them asking if they take walk ons (they did). I hoped in a car. Drove 35 minutes to the D.C. Skydiving Center and then I signed up to skydive. As fate would happen I was the last one who could sign up for the day and I signed my life away within 10 minutes. Not even a full 5 minutes later, the skydiver who was my guy for our tandem drop greeted me and asked if I watched the instructional video. I replied "no". He said "Fuck it." He'd tell me what to expect on the plane ride! Within seconds we boarded a tiny, rickety plane that was well past its glory days. As we ascended, I looked out the plane window, then looked at my fellow divers, understanding that I would be one of the first people to jump. As we kept climbing, the door flew open and then... I realized... holy shit. This is fucking real.

There were only three people ahead of me so I assumed I had a few minutes to gather myself. But hey, you know what they say about people who assume (something about asses)? All three people jumped out of the plane together, acrobatic flips and all. Then I was told to scoot forward to the edge of the plane, tuck my legs under the plan, lean back and BAM! I was flying. Taking in the entire world. It was beautiful. A flood of memories (bad and good) flew through my brain. But the most overwhelming emotion was... peace. I just fucking conquered one of my biggest fears. In STYLE. I did it and no one can ever take that away from me. When we landed I so thrilled I called the one person in the world that mattered the most to me. After my jump, I felt free. Free to face my fears head on. Free to enjoy every moment life had to offer. That's what it feels like to conqueror a fear. So I'm telling you, whoever you are... that's reading this... free yourself.

How did I do it? How do you conquer your fear? TAKE ACTION. That's it. No matter what. Do something. Anything. That's the simple truth I learned that I will always carry with me. If you're afraid then simply take action. Then another. Then another. Become the unstoppable force you always dreamt of.

Carpe Diem!

BTW. Here is my life changing "Jesus Take The Wheel Moment."

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How You Choose Between Work and Living Your Life

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“Daddy, come sit with me!” my daughter shouts, fidgeting on our cushy couch. 

“In a minute…” I reply.

I look at her for a moment as a I said it just so she knows I’m acknowledging her but I get right back into the grind of things, typing away furiously. I was in the middle of drafting a marketing plan for a client. It needed to be completed. Right then. Right there. If not, the whole world would explode and descend into chaos. Okay not really. But that’s what it felt like. Does that sound familiar? Has that ever happened to you? Maybe it wasn’t a child that needed you but a girlfriend, or a husband, a roommate, a parent, a sibling, your superhero dog.

If you’re like me, making that decision to pause things for a moment is the damned hardest thing to do. There’s a part of us that’s like “obviously, this can wait.” But, there’s another part of that us says “this cannot wait.” It’s this existential tug of war of “I have to work hard now so I can relax later” vs “I should relax now and work later.” What’s the right answer here?

I’ll tell you what I did next in my own situation. I looked back at my daughter, who had already moved onto whatever movie was on at the time (probably Minions, she’s obsessed with Minions). Then I glanced back at what I was doing. I shrugged. Saved my work. Immediately powered down. Hell, I even turned my phone off. I sat down next to my daughter. 

She looks at me and said, “I thought you had to work?” I told her it could wait. She smiled, snuggled up against me. My heart melted. It wasn’t a hard choice after all. But, let’s get real for a second. That’s a great moment. Honorable decision but that’s not going to happen all the time. Sometimes, she won’t get 100% of dad. Not if dad is trying to get elevate his position in the world and make sure she is provided for. 

So, if you're ever stuck in trying to choice, I have three tips (yes just three) that can help you firm up your decision. 

1) Analyze the Full Situation: Can work wait? Or is it deadline sensitive? If you don’t work on it now, will someone be royally pissed with you or will they not notice? Do you have to hang out at this very moment or maybe later? Do you need a break? Or not really? People have the most trouble with this because there are so many obstacles and variables we throw in the mix that we THINK are an issue that really isn’t.

Example: I once had a client who urgently needed a list of social media influencers to be put together for a specific campaign. He of course needed this 5 minutes from his request. And like most people, I responded quickly that we would take care of it and corresponded with my partner about next steps. Keep in mind he made this request at 9 pm. Which meant no matter what, he wouldn’t really do anything with this list until the next business day and he violated our trusty ‘ol “only during business hours” rule. So, what did we do? My partner and I both agreed… we’ll do it in the morning. And when we did, it was not the first thing we did either. We took our time with it. Not because we were purposefully being rude but because we understood that this list would take time to curate regardless and we would still need to clarify a few things before jumping the gun. Sure enough, when I spoke with this client, he forgot to mention a few critical details about the campaign, it really wasn’t urgent, and he 100% realized after he reached out, it wasn't wise to do it after business hours. It all ended up working out in the end because we analyzed everything and prioritized accordingly.

2) Ask yourself one critical question. This is a question that applies to everything you do in life… what will bring you the most satisfaction? There is no right or wrong answer here. It’s your life. So live it honestly. If you’d rather work, work. If you’d rather not, don’t. If you already analyzed the situation then you shouldn’t be worrying about this any longer. Which is why you have to be...

3) Be decisive. This is not a long, drawn out process. Make your decision. Get behind it quickly and move forward. Don’t waste too much time with “what if’s” or the “maybe I should…” No. Be present. Stay in the moment and stand behind your decision. 

Btw, I’m writing this as I’m eating an ice cream cone with my little sidekick next to me watching… yep, you guessed it… Minions for the millionth f’in time. 

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Want to know which people choose? Life or Career? Check out a Twitter Poll I did. Write your own thoughts below in the comments section.

The Majesty of the Malibu Hindu Temple

 

One of the many reasons why I love traveling and exploring is that I want to see every beautiful thing the world has to offer. My trek to the hidden gem of the Malibu Hindu Temple is no different. I was joined by photographer, Sydney Jackson and actor, Andre Boyer. The temple is off a beaten track, down a long dusty road. When we first drove up to it we were all blown away about how gorgeous this site was. We were at first a bit timid just to get out and stretch our legs.

As I approached the temple, I immediately took off my socks and shoes, taking in the space. I walked around, a flood of thoughts racing through my brain but only one word stuck out... peace. Wait. No. There were two words... peace... AND... hot. Everyone. It was seriously hot as hell outside this day. My skin was glowing from all the damn sweat. 

But, I digress... peace. When we actually entered the temple, I took in the smell of incense candles and the sounds of prayer chants. I respectfully took in the space and continued on my journey. I created this blog in part because I wanted to share ways you can clear your mind in a world that demands your constant attention. 

I visited this temple because there are still so many destinations in Los Angeles that I haven't seen. It doesn't matter how many hot spots, dives, secret spots I go to. There's always more. I used to make excuses of not having enough time until I eventually said f*8k it and made time. I challenge you to do the same in your community. Wherever you are right now, make it a point to visit some place new. A place that demands your respect and attention. Do it and go forth freely. 

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If you're interested in visiting the Malibu Hindu Temple be sure to be respectful upon your visit. Take your shoes off before you walk around. You're free to snap photos around the temple, just not in it.

Enjoy the journey and always remember to keep smiling. 

Disclaimer: If you have you have an interesting destination you would like for me to visit, please feel free to send me a message directly so we can talk about future collaboration opportunities.

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