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Lola Akinmade Åkerström is a multi-award winning Nigerian photographer, travel writer, and storyteller based in Stockholm, Sweden. She is the editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm.

 

WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?

Even before moving into digital media and publishing, I worked professionally as a web programmer so I had always had a certain comfort with the digital world. When I started freelancing as a writer and photographer, I realized very quickly that in order to build some longevity to my work, I need to get online and go digital as early as possible.

Visibility for a freelancer is key so I started building my website, blog, and imagebank to showcase my work digitally and so it was easy for people to find and assign me work through my digital footprint. That is how Hachette UK found me and commissioned me to write LAGOM – The Swedish Secret of Living Well – which is now available in 17 foreign languages. Because I had left a breadcrumb trail of digital media over 10 years on the topic.

 

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

To qualify -> When I am not traveling on assignment, I actually have no clear routines which I’m working hard on. After breakfast with the family and getting everyone squared away, it’s on to emails and then meetings. A couple assignments submitted, social media updates, and maybe a networking event or in-person meeting. I try to keep evenings and weekends dedicated to the family.

 

WHAT DOES YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE? (YOUR APPS, PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS, ETC.)

I usually start the day with opening up OneNote which I use for organizing my day and to stay productive. I wrote about how I do so by killing my to-do list. I love using OneNote to visually outline my tasks so I see them right away and can reshuffle dates. I use Google tools such as Docs and Sheets a lot so I can access my documents for any location.

OneDrive for managing my documents. Apps I regularly use are Oanda Currency and Google Translate because I’ll always bill clients across four main currencies (EUR, USD, GBP, SEK and other Nordic currency) and reading news and articles in various languages.

Beyond the social media apps (FB, Twitter, Instagram), I use WhatsApp a lot as well as specific apps like British Airways, Taxi & Transport apps, Google Maps, and Adobe Lightroom and Snapseed for editing photos,

Most of the apps I use for work are because I am a professional travel writer and photographer (among other hats I wear).

 

Related:  Richard Eisenberg - Next Avenue

WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET INSPIRED?

I listen to music. I step away from work and away from looking at other people’s art and listen to my favorite bands (**cough** U2 **cough**) and more. Because I love writing, I love listening to passionate lyrics and how much one can convey in a single line. So that’s why music truly inspires my writing.

In terms of photography, I love working with natural light and so when I need some inspiration, I look at masters of light. Photographers who work with natural light in such profound ways.

 

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?

My all-time favorite quote is this -> “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; NEVER stop fighting.” …E.E. Cummings

Another quote I love is this one -> “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”… Viola Davis

 

WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING/INNOVATIVE THING YOU HAVE SEEN ON ANOTHER OUTLET OTHER THAN YOUR OWN?

There are so many cool and innovative things people are creatively doing out there. From sketch artist Candace Rose Rardon who has a wonderfully innovative Instagram account to National Geographic Explorer Martin Edström who is doing some pretty cool things with VR & 360. It’s about pushing your creative boundaries and following your passions regardless of your follower count.

 

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM THAT YOU’RE PASSIONATELY TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?

Related:  Brian Morrissey - Digiday

Trying to explain to travel bloggers, influencers, and other independent digital publishers that when brands reach out to them, those brands see something of value that they often want to get for free or for pennies.

Through NordicTB which I co-founded, we are a collective of over 35 professional travel influencers, travel bloggers and digital storytellers from Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden, and we work on various social media and content campaigns for various destinations, properties, and travel brands around the world – http://www.nordictb.com/latest-news

You can check out some of our successful campaigns in the link above.

So, we are actively educating both travel brands, destinations, and travel bloggers in more mutually beneficial ways of collaborating and working together.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT?

Consistency. No one will care more about your brand than you. No matter how many accolades or adoring followers you have. Make sure you’re doing what you’re doing because you truly love it and not just catering to an audience. Otherwise, you will burn out quicker than you expected.

For practical advice, get your portfolio up and running as soon as possible as well as your media kit. People need to find you and find you quickly for the skills only you can provide.

Start cross-promoting your work and spreading yourself on other people’s platforms as well as a guest contributor. That quickly helps you build authority within your field.

Oh, and beware the danger of believing your own press very early in your career, lest you fall into the trap of faux celebrity in the digital space.

All images are copyrighted by Lola Akinmade Åkerström and have been used with her permission.