Accepting the vastness of the universe is a humbling experience. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed with my work load or when something didn’t go as planned, realizing how small we are in this world truly helps to put things into perspective and prioritize what’s really important to us.

 

With a natural inclination for anything a quirky and off the beaten track, Alex Peters is a seasoned writer, content creator and brand developer born and raised in the most tourist town of them all: Orlando, Florida. For 24 years she watched planes fly over her house taking people to places she could only dream of until one day, she finally got her turn and left North America for the first time using her freelance business at The Writing Peters to fund her travels. Since then, she’s also launched The Wayward Walrus – a little slice of cyberspace meant fulfill the emerging generation of explorers, dreamers and (mostly) doers who seem to have their lives together on the outside, but have a zest for life that extends beyond the comforts of home – and occasionally indoor plumbing.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

My first job outside of college (Go Noles!) was at a Public Relations firm working on international consumer and hospitality accounts. It wasn’t until I started pitching travel blogs on behalf of our hospitality brands did I know writing about traveling was even a thing, a money-making thing nonetheless! Unfortunately unlike some jetsetters out there today, there was no trust fund or exploding piggy bank to my name. Because I needed a way to fund my travels, The Writing Peters unfolded like a fitted sheet. Little bit by little bit I learned new skills that I could monetize to take on any additional work I could muster and created my freelance business. Then shortly before my first big trip – 3 months solo in Europe – I launched my travel blog, The Wayward Walrus, in order to hone in my writing style and document the adventures I would encounter along the way. Two years later we’re still grooving in cyberspace.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Depending on where I am, whether I’m traveling or in the office, my day takes on as many shapes as there are Kardashian selfies on the internet. Typically though, each day starts off with coffee, pretending like I know what I’m doing and then more coffee. Usually by 9am (I’m more of a night owl) I figure out exactly what I’m doing. I start small by filtering out my inbox, adding items to my daily to-do list with the emails that remain. Then I get down to the dirty work, checking things off my weekly to-do list. Keyword: lists. I love lists. Grocery lists, packing lists, goal lists, bucket lists – you name and I’ll have made a list for it.

The key to unlocking heightened productivity and actually checking tasks off these lists though is knowing yourself. Know what time of day you feel most creative for those tasks that require it, or when your brain is most active for more detail oriented tasks. Scheduling your day according to your own work patterns will continue to keep you focused and checking off your to-do’s.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Being in a creative field, bringing an idea to life usually starts with my eyes. I’ve been told since I was a wee tot that I see things differently than most. What exactly this means though, I’m still figuring out. But I do know that when I see something that inspires me I write it down in my notes section of my phone or on the back note pages of my agenda.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Locally owned and environmentally friendly businesses. Since my day job is doing marketing for a commercial real estate firm on the retail side, I have the opportunity to analyze trends that are occuring in not just our market but the industry as a whole. In the past few years, the shift from large, chain corporations to smaller, locally owned stores has skyrocketed. As a bonus, many of these stores are implementing environmentally friendly practices to attract more consciousness consumers. Always shop locally when you can!

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

An overzealous coffee consumption.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Keep writing! While I’ve always loved to write and would write short stories all the time as a kid, somewhere between middle and high school my love for the subject faltered. It wasn’t until college did I find my love for writing again and ended up taking it on as a second major. A Pulitzer prize winning professor would state at least 3 times every class, “write what you know, write what you know, write what you know.” But I realized by class three or four that coming out of a very sheltered suburban childhood, that I didn’t really know what I knew. It’s been a mission ever since to find out and write about it along the way.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Accepting the vastness of the universe is a humbling experience. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed with my work load or when something didn’t go as planned, realizing how small we are in this world truly helps to put things into perspective and prioritize what’s really important to us.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Try and see everything and anything differently than you did before. Whether this is when I’m taking photos, understanding the actions of another, or trying to write a new post for my website, I’m constantly challenging myself to see things in a different light than I did before. It helps to understand the world around you when you look at it from different angles and perspectives. Many times our culture looks too inwardly, focusing only on the issue at hand. If we stopped to really try and understand a situation from all angles I think we would feel more compassion for one another and the world would be more connected.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

SEO. SEO. SEO. While I’m revving up for a year of backpacking next year and working essentially 3 jobs at the moment, I don’t always have time to promote my new blog posts. By ensuring my SEO is on point, I’m able to organically obtain a flow of viewers and new readers while my focus is on other tasks.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Zero inkling on calculating self-employment and income taxes.

Like most who graduate college (especially those outside of business majors), we’re taught very little about real-life things. Things like I don’t know, say taxes or mortgages or how to save for retirement. These are things that our twenty-something-what-is-adulthood brains are left to figure out on our own. Since my liberal arts degree failed to prepare me for much of life outside of college, I made heaps of financial mistakes, with one of the pricest not realizing how much I needed to save for taxes at the end of the year from freelancing gigs. That first $500 tax bill the year after college hit hard. Now thankfully I’ve navigated my way through the wonderful world of the IRS and as a rule of thumb, I always save about 20% of my freelance income to pay off yearly self-employment taxes.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Some sort of IT agency for freelancers and other self-employed individuals to subscribe to. While there are multitudes of freelance IT professionals out there, a singular agency where a client could contact for any IT and web development related issues or questions would get my business in a heartbeat. I imagine it’d work like a gym, where the client pays a monthly fee. Then for those extra time consuming tasks, like a personal trainer would be at a gym, an additional flat fee to fix the problem would be available.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Since I’m currently in hardcore savings mode for my next backpacking adventure, it took me a little bit to remember the last time I spent $100. I’d have to say the best purchase was a polaroid camera I bought as a birthday present to myself. I’ve had a love for photography for as long as I can remember. Those high school days spent in the dark room were some of the best I can remember. However now that a large majority of my work revolves around taking and editing photos, my relationship to photography has changed a bit. The polaroid camera has brought me back to the basics of point and shoot, living in the moment photography and allows me to collect moments that don’t revolve around work.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Honestly I don’t think I could function without my Google Drive. Being able to house documents and images that I use everyday, budget spreadsheets I reference weekly, social media banners and photos, and so much more allows me to stay productive no matter what computer I’m on – whether I’m working from home, on the road or in the office.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Honestly, any Chuck Palahniuk book. It might be overdone, but one of my favorite books of all time is Fight Club. For those in the community who are also writers, his style of writing and character development is like none I’ve ever encountered. We can really learn a thing or two from Mr. Palahniuk.

What is your favorite quote?

Is it cheating if I say two? We’ll just go with no because they’re the two I often recite on those extra challenging days.

A) “Someone once told me not to bite off more than I could chew. I said I’d rather choke on greatness than nibble on mediocrity.”

AND

B) By the great Thomas Jefferson, “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”

Key learnings:

  • Drink enough coffee and pretend like you know what you’re doing until you actually know what you’re doing.
  • Constantly challenge yourself to see things differently as you did before to have a better understanding and compassion for the world around us.
  • Always save about 20% of your profits from freelance gigs to pay off yearly self-employment taxes.
  • The key to unlocking heightened productivity and focus is to know yourself. Know what time of day you feel most creative for those tasks that require it, or when your brain is most active for the more detail oriented tasks. Scheduling your day according to your own work patterns will continue to keep you focused and checking off your to-do’s.

Connect:

www.thewaywardwalrus.com
www.thewritingpeters.com
Instagram: @thewaywardwalrus
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheWaywardWalrus/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/petersalexandra/

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