The lifestyle of a digital nomad isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Rachel Pregunta and her partner, Ruben Arribas, started traveling together in 2013 with whatever they could carry on their backs. They couch-hopped and stayed in hostels, always looking for the next opportunity to jump on a plane to a new destination.
Pregunta, who still worked her 9-to-5 job in digital marketing, encouraged Arribas to start a blog to share his previous adventures—like a five-month biking trip from Spain to Finland—and their current nomadic travels.
In tandem with the blog, Pregunta started an Instagram account (@Gamintraveler) and grew it from zero to 130,000 followers. The images and stories from their travels have brought them to Indonesia, France, Argentina, Greece, Iceland, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, and more. They’ve also developed partnerships with hospitality businesses and started a social media agency for solopreneurs and content creators.
“People will see maybe five percent through Instagram photos and everything, but there’s a lot of work behind it,” Pregunta says.
The work that made their lifestyle and business possible comes from Pregunta’s unrelenting desire to learn—a trait she didn’t develop on an exotic trip but at a desk in front of a keyboard.
Pregunta wasn’t much of a traveler before she met Arribas. Actually, she enjoyed exploring the internet more than a city thousands of miles away.
“I’m more the online marketer person, and he’s the traveler,” Pregunta says. “So at one point, I just thought, ‘Let’s mix our two passions together, and maybe we can do something bigger.'”
She wanted to continue working remotely in digital marketing, so between sketchy wifi signals and reworking her schedule around flight times, Pregunta made her nomadic vision a reality.
Listening to Arribas’s 10 years of travel stories inspired Pregunta to start a blog. When they joined the online travel space, there was already a robust community of bloggers, but Instagram was starting out and far from the polished platform it is today.
“We definitely just posted selfies or random pictures [with] no styling,” Pregunta says.
“Then I discovered foundr, and this whole new world opened up.”
In 2016, Pregunta became one of the earliest students of the Instagram Domination course taught by foundr CEO Nathan Chan. She discovered the course after being kicked out of a different entrepreneurial course because travel bloggers weren’t their ideal students.
“The big shifts in my life are always when I invest in something I’m really afraid to do,” Pregunta says. “Instagram, instead of just being a way of driving new traffic to the site, actually became a different channel and medium all on its own.”
Jumping In With Both Feet
Equipped with the strategies from Instagram Domination, Pregunta obsessively grew their account.
“The internet is just a big thing. It’s just a huge place, and you will easily get bombarded by a lot of information,” Pregunta says. “Now, here’s someone who has a course and who has laid out the process for you.”
One of the first pieces of advice offered in the course is to create a tone, specifically with the first nine pieces of content on your profile.
“I’m the kind of person [who] when I try something, I know I have to jump in with both feet […] The fun part is once you’ve established that, you will just continue sharing your story.”
After reaching 5,000 followers, Pregunta and Arribas started receiving inbound messages from hotels, resorts, and travel businesses looking to partner. Their first unsolicited gift was an international mobile lens startup that gave them a lens to use on their travels. Back then, Pregunta says terms like “influencer,” “microinfluencer,” and “noninfluencer” didn’t even exist.
“They were so happy to work with a lot of people, which is a good thing in the influencer space and hotels,” Pregunta says. “So as long as it’s an exchange of energy, and of course, if you are really ready to give what you can to them, then they will be very happy to host you.”
Pregunta says that nowadays, people entering the social media travel industry think they need a large following or portfolio to reach out to businesses, but how you contact them is more important than your resume.
“Think of your first email almost as an elevator speech,” Pregunta says.
“You have to be concise, but at the same time, let the company know in two to three sentences what you’re ready to deliver to them so concisely that they know exactly who you are.”
Just like developing a unique selling proposition for a product, Pregunta advises leveraging what makes you unique and connecting with a business that fits that niche. She says that being a multicultural couple—Pregunta is from the Philippines; Arribas from Spain—is the main reason partners have chosen them because they connect with their target audience.
Pregunta says that the first message will set the tone for the relationship but to be ready for immediate follow-up.
“You have to think how many people could be reaching out to that property,” Pregunta says. “Make sure you have your links ready in the email, and then just let them decide if they want to work with you or not.”
Pregunta’s systematic formula continued to snowball. They stopped getting free invites to exotic locations and started getting paid to travel. Their corporate partnerships expanded, including an airline and international payment transfer facility.
But Pregunta wanted more than new destinations. She was looking to tap into her first love—digital marketing.
A Fighting Chance
Pregunta says that most of her friends have traditional corporate jobs, but she’s stayed in social media and digital marketing because of its fast-paced nature.
“What I love about social media and digital marketing is that something new is happening every day. And even if you were doing well last week, something is released this week, and then everyone can be at the same level again,” Pregunta says. “So you always have a fighting chance.”
As @Gamintraveler’s followership climbed to six digits, Pregunta started leveraging the social media skills she constantly learned for influencers like her. So she started an agency focusing on Instagram growth for solopreneurs.
“Growing an Instagram is an almost full-time job, especially if you’re one person,” Pregunta says.
“The bigger the Instagram account, you’ll have to take your skills to the next level.”
She quickly added 20 to 30 clients, working tirelessly between travel stops. But the load of managing clients’ accounts while keeping @Gamintravler relevant was exhausting.
“I would always have this idea that an entrepreneur has an amazing life, especially when you watch social media,” Pregunta says. “You will always see amazing entrepreneurs having an amazing home life and then an amazing business life. And then you look at your life. My home life is crazy.”
So she got a mentor, Daniel DiPiazza, a startup consultant and foundr instructor (see video below).
“He was the first person to really tell me you’re working with too many people because your price is low,” Pregunta says.
By charging rates at the correct value and matching clients to her skill set, Pregunta could balance her agency and free up time to experience the places she was traveling to instead of staying on her laptop all day.
“I would always tell them that if the energy is matching, if they feel like they want to work with me and vice versa, then if it’s a good fit, we can work together,” Pregunta says. The matching energy has ensured that Pregunta’s core clients not only commit financially but have stayed with her year-over-year. “If your mindset and attitude are not ready, you will not be able to handle [growth].”
Loving the Platform
The past three years have been difficult for the travel industry. In 2020, Pregunta stayed home and focused on the agency. Since then, she’s slowly built their travel muscles back, but it’s clear that the habits she’s developed are why she’s still in business after the trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I think it’s following the process, and this is not only for Instagram but in a lot of things that you do in life,” Pregunta says. “But the thing about following a process and being patient with it is you’re developing that habit and mindset at the same time.”
Pregunta encourages fellow social media entrepreneurs not to worry about having thousands of followers in the first few weeks of a new account or campaign.
“Just develop the habit of loving the platform—loving who you are, how you appear, and how you give value.”
She says it’s not too late for the travel blog industry or any industry that uses visual tools like social media for growth.
“If you think about businesses, there are always new clothing brands,” Pregunta says. “And now the good thing is you can just start being you and start building from there, and you will definitely find your people.”
So is the digital nomad lifestyle all it’s cracked up to be?
Well, in some ways, it is.
Like Pregunta, you must be willing to learn habitually, all while booking flights, traversing mountains, and having unforgettable adventures.
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How to Pitch a Business Partner, per Rachel Pregunta
- Keep it short and sweet—no more than two or three sentences.
- Ask what they are trying to solve (reach a new audience, launch a new product, capitalize on a trend).
- Share your unique value proposition (UVP). What makes you different as an influencer, content creator, or entrepreneur?
- Connect the dots between your UVP and their audience.
- Lay out what you’re able to deliver for them. Be specific.
- Be ready with a follow-up email with links to your work, rates, and anything else they might ask for.
- Be you. Your email messages should reflect your brand as much as an Instagram caption.
Get the same course that helped Pregunta launch her business.