CHANEL CARTELL & STEVO DIRNBERGER Influencer Spotlight
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Chanel and Stevo quit their jobs and sold almost everything they owned in 2015 to travel around the world and help others take the courageous and brave jump as well. Just a few of the places they have visited include the Serengeti, Zambia, Venice, Thailand, Australia, Paris, Iceland, Switzerland, and the list goes on.
Their website How Far From Home includes a travel blog that documents their journey as well as an online course that helps people travel more efficiently and a shop where you can purchase their artwork.
Chanel and Stevo are always on the lookout for brands in the travel and lifestyle spaces who would like to take advantage of their highly engaged, travel-hungry, mostly-millennial community. As popular travel influencers, Chanel and Stevo tend to collect more memories than things, and prefer to partner with experience brands, and occasionally with product brands that improve their travels.
Tell us a little bit about your background and the creation of How Far From Home.
Stevo: We were both working in advertising what is it four years ago now?
Stevo: And there was a lot of events that kind of led up to us quitting. But one of the bigger ones was that we both got sent down to a conference in Cape Town, from Johannesburg to Cape Town. And we watched this guy by the name of Stefan Sagmeister whose an Austrian graphic designer speak about how important it is for a creator to take time off, have a sabbatical, get away from it like recharge, reinvigorate…
Chanel: And work on passion projects, personal passion stuff. Yeah…Stevo: Yeah. So we were like “hey if someone’s telling us we need to take a break then this is something we should do. And up until then we thought “no it’s the worst thing we can do for our career path.
Chanel: Yeah I think that was the biggest- I mean I’ve always wanted to travel. So for me it was like “I’m 29 this is a good time no kids yet. You know let’s just do it why not. And Steve was like “it can’t be good for the career. I’m here we’ve done advertising, we’ve been in the industry for like seven or eight years. But then Stefan Sagmeister was like “no this is good for my business. I go away and I’m refreshed. I come back and I can recharge more and the work is better, create better work. So we were like okay this makes sense let’s take a year off. Let’s go do some creator stuff. So I think that was around February 2014 and then we left March 2015 so it took us a year to save and I guess plan everything out, sell everything, we had to wait for our lease to end, we sold our cars and all our things practically. We left I think one little box that we sent to Steve’s parents and then we packed our bags and off we went.
As travelers, influencers, artists, online educators, how do you structure your average day, or is there such thing as an average day for you?
Stevo: Ummm no there’s not. There’s no such thing as an average day.
Chanel: I would say that there’s almost – we categorize in two ways. The one is content creation. Which is just going out there, traveling, gathering the footage, gathering the images. We shoot like crazy when we do go on a trip. These days it’s normally with clients, we do tend to take maybe once a month we’ll do a personal trip where it’s somewhere we’ve always wanted to go or we need content and we want to head out somewhere but the rest is with clients. So there’s that phase and then there’s the second phase, which is post product. Where we sit and we graph and we work normal nine to five…Stevo: You don’t leave the computer…Chanel: Yup pretty much, and it’s seven days a week We never rest really. I don’t think we’ve had a break
Stevo: Yeah so I think it’s a lot of like the deep end on both sides where we are constantly shooting or we are constantly in front of the computer for a few days. So we try to balance it as much as we can but it’s sometimes impossible to do that.
Chanel: Yeah and also the entire time you’re also planning a lot. You’re doing a lot of emailing, you’re doing a lot of where are we next, getting train tickets and flights, and pitching to clients…Stevo: So it’s a lot of stuff going on all the time…Chanel: and accepting pitches. So it’s always constant. Luckily there’s two of us so it does help.
When did you decide to integrate influencer marketing into your travel niche?
Stevo: I would say about nine months since we started the journey, you know that about nine months…Chanel: That we got our first client, yeah…Stevo: We got a steady client. But it wasn’t – it definitely wasn’t the plan from the beginning which I think is the best thing about it. And I think a lot of people try to get out there and like I’m going to be come an influencer, I’m going to become a content creator puts some pressure on themselves and then that stress has an effect on the work. We were kind of doing our own thing and then our Instagram got noticed and we built a community from there.
Chanel: Yeah I mean originally we were meant to spend a year traveling working on a passion project. Being this photographer project of us counting kilometers how far from home we went and doing small illustrations and work along the way. That was the goal. And after about nine months we got a client who was interested in us producing video content for them and we were like “this is cool sure”. We’d been shooting video let’s just into it, and we’re still with the client. So it’s pretty amazing the relationship we built up their and slowly as we started producing work we started working on a portfolio. And because of that we could get more client and so forth. And as Steve mentioned our community grew but it definitely started with Instagram and we sort of spread out to the rest
I noticed on your instagram story that you had a vote going for what experience you should do next in Kenya. Do you allow your followers to pick all your experiences and do you have them vote on places you will travel next?
Chanel: So this particular campaign we’d been planning with the client for about a year now. It’s been back and forth.
Stevo: We’ve always been kind of collecting community suggestions. We have this thing called the global wonder list where we kind of – it’s a bucket list of everyone who wants to send us stuff. So that’s what we have kind of been collecting the last few years, it’s on our Website. And we try to kick as many of those off as we can so that’s about the most engagement we have.
Chanel: But this particular campaign was purely for a client. Great creative idea and we loved it, our commu8nity loved it, we saw a huge spike in engagement so a lot of positive interaction. So we’ll definitely be rolling that out again sometime. Maybe with another twist.
What has been your favorite partnership with a brand?
Stevo: Ah geez we’ve had so many. We are working with a hotel group this year, which is great because it is not based on hotels. The hotels are almost the cherry on top but what they kind of do is they are is the destination authority. So they literally want us to show off the best cultural experiences that each country has to offer and for us that’s the perfect partnership for us because we wouldn’t be like “okay let’s just focus on the hotels and amenities” we’re not really lifestyle…Chanel (chimes in): well we are lifestyle…Stevo: yeah but to a point…Chanel: yeah, yeah, yeah…Stevo: I mean that’s a great collaboration we’re having now.
Chanel: Yeah I mean for them as Steve mentioned they want to be know as destination authority so the content is based around cultural experience. We went to the Holi festival, we went to the Inti Raymi festival, potentially going to Day of the Dead in Mexico so although it’s a hotel group we’re partnering for all those experiences. Which has probably been our best relationship. That relationship started about two years ago when we did a trip for them. They sent us on another one because they like the work, Then they sent us on a third one where we actually got to meet the client, bonded with them, and then we pitched this year long campaign at the end of last year and they bought it. And here we are so it’s pretty awesome.
How do you determine which products or experiences to promote and which ones to kindly pass on?
Chanel: I guess it all depends on what we believe in right, cause content needs to be authentic. So a, I don’t know, if a gaming consul came up to us and said promote this like I haven’t played games since I was a teenager so for me there is no way that I could now tell my community on Insta stories or my blog that this is a great gaming console.
Stevo: That being said we still have a brain storm every time…Chanel (chimes in): sure…Stevo: we get an offer…Chanel (chimes in): yes…Stevo: which we kind of like. So like let’s see if we can come up…Chanel (chimes in): with a way…Stevo: with some way that’s different, that’s unique, that might fit our story, and stuff like that has happened. Where it’s almost an unlikely partnership but everyone benefits in the end because we had creative out put and the product gets advertised. We don’t say no straight away but there obviously are some definite no no’s which kind of don’t fit into our travel lifestyle.
Chanel: I think again a betting website contacted us awhile go wanting to advertise on our blog and we were like there’s no way. But yes we definitely try where we can come up with some sort of creative way.
You offer an interactive online course, can you tell us a little about it?
Chanel: Yeah sure. So about after a year and a half of us doing this the DM’s just kept rolling in. People just wanted to know how you doing it and what do I need to do to do this. And so we were like instead of copying and pasting the same response or trying to craft personal response we thought well let’s package this into something that can help people. That can take them on the same journey we went through. So it’s a four part course. We also turned it into an Ebook now so it’s a little not so expensive cause a lot of these guys want to travel. They’re saving every last penny so we’ve given them an Ebook option now too. But it’s pretty much everything from getting your head in the right place to deciding what to do and how to do it. Through to sorting out your money to the planning, which is a huge chapter because of course people want to know how you can travel for free or…
Stevo (chimes in): it’s planning, a lot of planning…
Chanel: how can you travel on a budget. And also knowing the right resources. Knowing you can look after a dog and the accommodation is free. Little things like that not everyone knows. It’s packaging all of that and obviously getting them on the road and what to do when they’re on the road cause a lot of these people will be traveling alone. Which I mean we’ve had some emotional people contact us crying saying “I’m so homesick how do you guys do this”. So we’ve tried to do an all around package and it’s going well. We’ve had some good feedback and we want to try and create more. It’s obviously a great source of income as well because it’s passive so yeah.
Tell us about your artwork
Stevo: Yeah I mean Chanel was a designer and then she moved on to become a credit director and now is an art director so we both know photo shop, illustrator, and Premiere Pro these days.
Chanel: Now we’ve moved a little more into the photography and video space.
Stevo: We both create as much as we can. Chanel is definitely more detail focused than I am so she deals with a lot of the admin thank goodness otherwise something happens…Chanel: missed a couple flights…
Chanel: But yeah Steve’s a lot more heavy on video these days. I do the Insta stories, we’ll share the blog posts, we’ll share the photography entirely, so yeah…
Andrew is the Head of Client Services for Intellifluence and has a background in communications. He is committed to helping brands get the most out of their campaigns and is the voice behind many of the Intellifluence tutorial videos (for better or worse).