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She Made $170,000+ By Being Delusionally Confident

Four life lessons to grow your creative business


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Last Monday, I had beef pho and spring rolls with my new friend Gabby.

I met Gabby at an “Entrepreneur Networking Event” that June in Williamsburg. Normally, I’d rather unclog a toilet before attending anything with “networking” in the title, but I’m doing a “Summer of Yes” experiment and once I got the invite I couldn’t say no. 

But it all panned out because it turns out Gabby is cool. 

Aside from being an incredibly kind human, she’s a full-time travel influencer and Gen-Z travel marketing expert, with bylines in Lonely Planet, CNBC, and more. She has a TED Talk and made $170,000 in 2022 just four years (!) after launching her business. 

Over mint lemonade and sriracha, we had one of those conversations that leaves your brain ping-ponging with ideas. And after implementing some of her philosophy, my life has improved by like 15% (everything is relative, people). 

It’s only fair that I share them with you: 

1. Manifest Aloud. There are magazine bylines you want, clients you’d love to write for, brands you’d die to have sponsor you. Gabby has them too, but the difference is she’ll regularly share these goals in public. 

“Does this actually work?” I wondered. Gabby pulled out her iPhone to show a recent LinkedIn message she’d gotten. “Let’s turn your manifestation into reality!” read the title. It was from one of her dream brands.  

Swoon. 

The reason why you (and I) haven’t done this sooner is because you’re afraid of sounding presumptuous or distastefully audacious.

I’m going to grab you from the shoulders for a second here and tell you in a firm-but-loving tone: That fear is in your head. Quit it. Don’t be afraid to tell the world what you’re after. 

2. If It’s True That’s All That Matters 

As Gabby and I left Sao Mai and stepped into the 90 degree oven that is Manhattan, I told her about a video I was hesitant to post. “It’s about three tips that helped me earn $86,000 in my third year as a freelancer writer,” I explained.

“Well, is it true you made $86,000?” Gabby asked. “Yes!” I almost shouted.

“Then post the video,” she replied. “Just own it.” 

That’s when I had a lightbulb moment: I was afraid to share my income because I thought people might whisper about how “I should’ve made six figures” by now. 

But every day on social media, you see solopreneurs tout their multi-six figure business through mysterious methods such as “getting optimized leads” and “perfecting digital strategies.” None of it feels real (Who the hell is the lead? What’s getting optimized?!). 

If you’re telling the truth, you’re going to help at least one person

I shared the video (you can find it here) and it ended up resonating with hundreds of people. Turns out the fear was all in my head.

Are we surprised? 

3. Hate is Content

You want to build a personal brand. But you also regularly self-sabotage your efforts (e.g. you stop posting or only share platitudes [“Trust the process”]) because you’re afraid of getting judged from strangers online. 

I get it. The internet meat grinder can be terrifying (shout-out to the man who called me a “bitch” after I wrote an article about not using social media in the mornings). 

I asked Gabby how she dealt with trolls. Her response? 

“Give me an inch baby, and I’ll give you a mile.”

Gabby will screenshot naughty comments and use them for content. It not only gets people chatting and catapults her through the algorithm, but the spotlight silences 90% of the anonymous trolls. 

4. Never Pre-Reject Yourself 

When Gabby was a teenager, she won a grant that paid her to travel. But when she received the award the event organizer said: “It’s great that you got it. But I wish more people had applied.

Turns out barely anyone applied because they all pre-rejected themselves.

How often are you doing this? Not applying to a writing job because 56 other people already commented? Not pitching a magazine because you “don’t have what it takes?”

As Gabby said: “You are keeping yourself out of a room that is waiting to welcome you.”

Since our pho date, I put myself out there like nuts.

I pitched a bunch of news outlets my upcoming story on Bali…and one huge magazine replied saying they’re interested (pinch me). I also emailed a dream sponsor for Internetly and not only did they email me back almost immediately, but they also asked if I could host two seminars for their upcoming NYC Summit. 🫠 

None of this would have happened if I didn’t step into the room.

So this is your reminder from me and Gabby that life is one huge simulation. Don’t be afraid to be absolutely delusional and go after what you want confidently and loudly.

Or as Benjamin Mee puts it:

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

- Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo

✍️ Quick Writing Tip

Think of your writing as a camera. Zoom in to focus on small details and zoom out to capture the big picture. This will help immerse your reader in the scene. 

For example: 

✔️ “I stared at the escargots. They looked forbidingly exotic, their spiral shells turned upwards to reveal the tender, tan meat within. Outside, through the steamy windows, Paris bustled by, indifferent to my culinary trepidation.” 

 🥒 Content Diet

In a Sunburnt Country by Bill Bryson — I am just such a fan of Bill Bryson. “In a Sunburnt Country” is everything a travel book should be — full of history and stories with the perfect dash of dry, wry sarcasm. The only downside is now I want a one-way flight to Australia. 

Stop Stating the Obvious by The Cutting Room — A short & sweet YouTube video where you see Writer’s Senior Manager Alaura Weaver edit a dull AI-generated article into something sparkling. It’s only 20 minutes long but I promise you’ll learn something! 

Tool: Tweetpik — This tool helped me get 300 likes on LinkedIn (vanity metric alert!!) I used it to create a screenshot of one of my old Tweets. I then uploaded it to LinkedIn and it popped off (LinkedIn’s algorithm ❤️ images). 

Tool: Self Control App – A free downloadable extension that blocks distracting websites. Every writer needs this.

Lastly, this email template to a potential client where you nicely point out any spelling errors is genius:

Thank you for being here! Before we part ways, a heads up that I’ve started offering writing and freelancing coaching services.

This is still in the works (it’s early days, we’d say in Love Island) but if you’ve been curious about working 1:1 with me, reply below and let’s chat. 

I’m here to help you however I can. 🙂 

Stay Creative, 

Alice 💌

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