An Interview with Jane Boughton: Freelance Travel Writer & Blogger

Jane Boughton | Plain Jane Lifestyle

Jane Boughton | Plain Jane Lifestyle

Name: Jane Boughton
Location: 
Portland, OR, USA
Business Name: 
Plain Jane Lifestyle
Established: 
2017

Website + Instagram + Twitter + Pinterest


WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS?

I am a part-time freelance writer that focuses mainly on travel, food & lifestyle. I operate the website Plain Jane Lifestyle. I started it back in November of 2017 for a way to start building an online writing portfolio in hopes of landing future freelance writing gigs, as well as providing a creative outlet to write about things I love, such as travel and hopefully along the way, I am able to help readers either get inspired to travel, provide tips of what to see and do in a new city or help them start a blog of their own. Just a little over a year since starting my blog, I now contribute freelance travel pieces regularly to Arrivedo.com and have been able to write in exchange for hotel stays in cities such as San Francisco, Denver and Bend, Oregon.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

There are many reasons why I decided to start Plain Jane Lifestyle. One is that I have always enjoyed writing. I actually went to college to be a journalist, graduated with my Broadcast Journalism degree back in 2007, but I never landed that first job and one thing led to another and I now work full time at a hospital as an Executive Assistant. I knew that I wanted an outlet to get into writing, and it was really through reading some blogs online that I found through Pinterest that gave me the idea that I could start a blog. So, that's just what I did. I operate my blog on a part-time basis and love doing it. Through my blog, I have been able to use my content as a writing portfolio. I attribute my blog to helping me get my first freelance travel writing gigs through Arrivedo.com. Without my blog, and no other prior publications it would have been very difficult to get my first writing jobs.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR INDUSTRY OR NICHE?

Although my blog is a “lifestyle” blog, for anyone that checks it out and starts reading will soon realize that I veer towards travel writing 90% of the time. I particularly enjoy writing pieces geared on short weekend excursions or day trips. I want to let readers know that you don't need to take a week-long vacation to feel refreshed. Be a tourist in your own city, take a short weekend trip to the next big city near you or just discover new restaurants in your hometown. Inspiration is all around us!

DO YOU DO THIS FULL TIME? IF YES, WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE THIS? IF NO, WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?

I write part-time. My full-time job is an Executive Assistant at a hospital in Portland, Oregon.

DID YOU GO TO COLLEGE? IF SO, WHAT DID YOU STUDY?

Yes, I did. I studied Broadcast Journalism and received my bachelor's degree in 2007 from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. (Very upstate New York…like almost in Canada)!

Right after graduating with my bachelor's degree I thought I should just get my Master's degree over with right away, so I enrolled at Emerson College in Boston for a two-year Broadcast Journalism degree. But after just one year into my two-year program, I decided not to complete my Masters. That is one of the biggest mistakes of my life…going right into a Master's program without working more first.

Since that time, as I had mentioned above, I work on the administrative side of health care. In August 2016 I completed my Management of Human Resources certificate from Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR? WHY OR WHY NOT?

Yes, I have always wanted to be “my own boss.” My husband and I are actually obsessed with the show Shark Tank. At first, you watch it and it feels a bit cheesy…but the more you watch it you start to fall in love with the shark's banter with each other and you also get so inspired by the things people come up with and turn into businesses. In regards to blogging and freelance writing, it would be amazing to eventually do it full time if I could support myself that way. But for now, I am just having fun with doing it part-time and I am understanding of the fact that things take time and do not always happen overnight.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST LESSONS YOU’VE LEARNED SINCE STARTING YOUR BUSINESS?

When I first dove into the blogging world I would come across so many inspirational stories of people were making money with their blogs. I would find transparent income reports and would read about people quitting their day jobs and never looking back as they approached the world fearlessly to make it on their own with their blogs. It's inspiring.

What I learned is that this is possible, but it is not always an overnight success. I made the mistake of thinking that I could write an ebook and sell it online about how to be successful on Pinterest. I spent a lot of time, got my online shop set up, sent out email blasts and then…crickets. No one bought it. I even spent a little money trying to promote pins on Pinterest to create some buzz about the ebook.

The reason it didn't work was that I had basically no audience, and I had not even been blogging a year. Sure I thought I knew some good Pinterest tips, but there is so much to learn still. After trying to sell that ebook for months and spending money just to have my online shop open I finally came to reality and stopped trying to sell an ebook on Pinterest. For now, my main focus is to create solid content for my readers. The rest will come later on.

WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU THE MOST ABOUT ENTREPRENEURSHIP?

I suppose I always knew that operating a website would be a lot of work, but I have to say its even more involved than I thought. But, you learn quickly when you are the one doing everything. From starting website hosting to content creation there is a lot to do. But at the same time, you are your own boss, so whatever pace you want to work at is okay. Unless you are working on deadlines for say freelance writing pieces. For me, writing articles always takes me a lot longer than I initially think it will. When you work a separate full-time job, and you are trying to complete an article for a 10-day turnaround deadline it can mean late nights writing and taking over your weekends. But if it's what you enjoy than its all worth it!

WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’D GIVE TO ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS?

I would say that its okay not to be perfect, because no one is. Don't let that hold you back from starting a blog, or trying to reach out to an editor of a magazine. Because if you don't try, then nothing will ever happen. I guarantee if you start trying, you will surprise yourself.

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH SETBACKS AND IMPOSTER SYNDROME?

Setbacks, although hard at the time, ultimately make you a stronger person. Setbacks also keep us humble and shine a light on where we need to grow. I think back to my story I shared earlier about my first ebook launch being a complete failure. I really learned from that. I learned that I need to learn more before I can truly teach others. Regarding imposter syndrome, I like to think that there is room enough for everyone online to provide something unique to readers. It is unfortunate when you hear that someone has taken someone's photo or I have even read of someone completely copying someone's blog post. That is really tough. But I do think that the majority of people are good and positive and that helps me keep going.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT BEING A CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR AND DOING WHAT YOU DO?

I enjoy the freedom of operating my own blog to write whatever I want to write and if readers like it. I love the process of pitching articles to editors and having that “hope” out there that someone may write back and want to learn more. Because when you do get the green light that someone wants to work with you it gives you that validation that you are on the right path.

IF YOU WEREN’T A CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?

If I didn't have my part-time blog and freelance writing career, I think I would still be working full time in the administration world of healthcare. I do love seeing my coworkers every day and feeling like I am helping others in some way.

WHAT DOES SUCCESS MEAN TO YOU?

Success means that I have met a portion or all of a goal I had. Success is also the process of pitching articles to editors and making an active effort in reaching for what I hope to attain, even if I don't attain it.

WHAT IS YOUR WHY?

I love doing what I'm doing because I really love writing. I enjoy sharing travel tips, itineraries, and insights into travel destinations for future travelers thinking of planning a trip.

IMAGINE IT’S A YEAR FROM NOW AND YOU’RE CELEBRATING WHAT A GREAT YEAR IT WAS FOR YOUR BUSINESS. WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE ACHIEVED?

I would hope that I have secured at least four freelance writing gigs. That I have posted at least 12 more blog posts, and that I was able to grow an audience on Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.

WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL/WHO DO YOU LOOK TO FOR INSPIRATION AND WHY?

One of my travel blogger role models is Helene Sula of the website www.heleneinbetween.com She was one of the first travel bloggers I came across when I started my blog and actually some of her posts encouraged me to start a blog. She lives overseas in Germany and travels extensively through Europe while documenting her travels, sharing tips and living her best life! Through all of that, she is able to make a full-time income with her blog and can work from anywhere in the world. I just think that is really powerful. I would love to be able to do the same.

WHO HAVE BEEN THREE OF THE BIGGEST SUPPORTERS ON YOUR BUSINESS JOURNEY?

My husband is always so encouraging and I jokingly call him my “Instagram Husband” as he helps be my photographer! He is such a good sport. He loves going on trips with me when I have gotten free hotel stays in exchange for writing. It has been wonderful!

When I first started using Instagram…I honestly had no idea what I was doing…I'm still figuring things out. I was following Helene Sula of the blog HeleneinBetween and she had a 7-day Instagram story challenge. I thought I would just try to partake for the sake of my blog and try to work on my social media. To my surprise, Wendy Ramirez from the blog Lovingly Bold sent a comment “you got this”. I know that sounds so minor, but she really has been a support online, and that little comment kept me going!

WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING, WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO?

I love to travel…of course. I also love running, training for marathons, (I have run 3) and this year I want to do my first triathlon. I love spending time with my husband and dog, Merle.

WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS AN INTROVERT OR AN EXTROVERT? HOW DO YOU THINK THAT IMPACTS YOUR BUSINESS?

I am a mix of both. I can be really outgoing but at other times very shy. But I would have to say I am more of an extrovert, and I think that helps my business by being able to put myself “out there”

WHEN DO YOU FEEL THE MOST PRODUCTIVE? ARE YOU AN EARLY BIRD OR A NIGHT OWL?

Early bird! Although my husband would probably disagree with that. He wakes up at 5:30am and goes for a run, while I like to “ease in” to my morning with a big cup of coffee. I say I'm a morning person because I enjoy the mornings when everything is quiet, the day is new…so much awaits. I particularly love waking up in a new city and getting a head start on the day before the rest of the city wakes up. Have you ever walked the streets of NYC early in the morning? It's calm. Go find a nice coffee shop, read the news and ease into the morning!

DO YOU HAVE TIPS FOR STAYING PRODUCTIVE WHILE WORKING FROM HOME?

I am a big list girl. I know in this digital age we all have our smartphones and calendars on our phones and computers,…but call me crazy, I still like making a list and crossing off tasks. Shoot for your most dreadful or difficult task first…you will feel so productive and happy that everything else will be a breeze.

FAVORITES

WHAT IS A BUSINESS TOOL YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Phone reminders on my calendar.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE OR AFFIRMATION?

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”- Anthony Bourdain

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PODCAST?

Almost every single morning I listen to The Daily from the New York Times and Up First by NPR. I listen while I make breakfast and get ready so I can get caught up on news and be in the know of what's going on in the world.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BUSINESS OR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT BOOK?

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE BLOG?

One of my favorites is The Freelancer's Year.

 


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By Katie Jenison

Katie Jenison is a freelance writer offering copywriting, blogging, and ghostwriting services. She works closely with home builders, remodelers, interior designers, real estate and property management professionals to help them create content marketing strategies, improve their digital presence, generate leads, and engage with their target audience. Katie also helps freelance writers and creative entrepreneurs pursue their dreams of working from home by providing tips and advice, business strategies, and writing tips on her blog, The Quiet Type. Download her free workbook, A Freelancer’s Guide to Setting Rates, here.

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