• Katrina Julia

Loving the Life You Create with Stephanie Graves from Destination Graves: Creator Series

Welcome to our series Creator’s & Traveler's Creations!


We are sharing highlights from transformation stories and how we are creating FIT Life Creation and the community. In this Creator series feature, we are featuring Stephanie Graves from Destination Graves.



Highlights of Story and Creations:


Trying to decide ‘what you want to be when you grow up’ at eighteen is not an easy task. I dare

say, impossible! I knew I liked helping people and since science came easy to me, medicine

seemed like the obvious career choice. BUT...it wasn’t until years later when I became a mom

that I discovered my real passions.


Hi! My name is Stephanie, and alongside my career as a Physician's Assistant and three young

kids, I run the luxury family travel blog, Destination Graves. Through my travel and

lifestyle-inspired content, I help my readers Iove the life they create.



Photo Credit Stephanie Graves



The Beginning of my Entrepreneurship


I’ve always been someone who is extremely driven. Even from a young age, if there was

something I was passionate about, I gave it my all. From receiving academic awards and getting

into top schools, to qualifying for the Boston marathon, I was always laser-focused on achieving

my goals.


Aside from a brief hiatus for college, my husband and I had spent our entire lives in rural

northern Maine. We love our hometown dearly and on paper, it seemed like we had it all: great

careers, a home, three beautiful children, and ample family support. But we craved MORE.


We craved to see and do MORE, to have MORE experiences, MORE opportunities for our

children, and to live fully without regrets.


So with that, in the spring of 2018, we took a huge leap of faith and relocated our family of five

from Maine to North Carolina. No family, no friends, and no secure jobs lined up. We were

wiping the slate clean and embarking on a new adventure.


I was familiar with entrepreneurship and had been running a successful network marketing

business at the time of our move. And although I was successful, it just wasn’t something I was

passionate about. But traveling with the ones I love most, sharing our awesome adventures,

and empowering others to chase their dreams?


That’s something I could get down to. Blogging, creating content on social media, photography - it all allows me to have a creative outlet. But more than anything I love that it allows me to work on my terms and make unforgettable memories with those I love most.



Photo Credit: Stephanie Graves




Your Brand


My husband and I always loved to travel, long before kids were in the picture. There wasn’t

much to do in northern Maine, so we traveled often. And we did it well. We’d spend hours doing

diligent research on hotels, flights, the best restaurants, experiences, must-see/do sights, etc.

Then one day while driving home from a couples getaway, we thought, ‘why not share our

knowledge and experiences with the world?!’


Originally, the blog was heavily focused on travel itineraries, travel tips, and gear reviews. But

as time went on and I began to gain more traction, my passions started to change. The direction

I wanted to head into was shifting. Not only did I want to be a resource for families looking to

plan their next vacation, but I also wanted to inspire and empower other entrepreneurs to turn

their biggest dreams into a reality.


So, just one year after the blog first launched, I began re-branding! It was a HUGE project, but it

was worth all the hard work because now I feel like I have something that really represents me

and fully encompasses my vision.


Having a clear direction and mission is important as it defines your brand. Something else that

is important to me is cohesion! Brand cohesion is huge! When all your colors, fonts, photo

presets, etc align across several platforms, not only is it more aesthetically pleasing, it also

helps your audience recognize your brand.


If someone is scrolling IG and sees a bright, joyful photo with a few wild kids exploring nature, it’s a good chance it’s mine! But, if I were to post a dark image of food, without kids, my audience would likely be confused and keep scrolling. I recommend finding one or a couple of similar presets and using those across all your photos.


Likewise, if you have a branded font, colors, and/or a logo, use them! Examples include: on your

blog, Pinterest images, media kit, newsletter header, e-courses, etc.


Another thing that I value is authenticity. I always want my message to come from an honest

place. I’ve turned down guest posts or promotions in the past because I didn’t have a personal

experience with the brand.


I also want my posts to be real. I don’t want to sugarcoat the challenges of traveling with kids,

starting a business, parenting, or blogging. It’s all tough! And it’s in the realness of the struggle

where the magic happens.


I worked hard and now my dreams are coming true; I get paid to be creative and travel with my family. I hope my content will inspire others to overcome adversities and take actionable steps in their lives too.






Photo Credit: Stephanie Graves - Mission, Marriage, Mommy







Biggest Success Factors



Whenever I was just starting, I’d say that my biggest success factor would be how I dove in

head first, and was on a mission to learn as much as possible. And fast. I listened to podcasts

while driving, took an intro to photography class, enrolled in a handful of e-courses, attended a

travel blogging conference, and the list goes on.


There are a lot of components that go into running a successful blog, and I wanted to master all of them to get off the ground quicker. I even launched my e-course “How to Land and Rock a Press Trip”, after landing six press trips in the first 9-months of blogging.


You cannot sustain hustling hard like that forever, however, if you can commit to putting your

head down and working hard for 6-months, you can propel your business to the fast track.



Photo Credit: Stephanie Graves





Your Challenges & How You Turned Pain into Purpose


One of the biggest challenges I faced was finding my voice. What should I talk about? What

would people resonate with? Should I be funny? Or serious? Long captions? Or short captions?


It takes a good amount of experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t, but in the end,

just be YOU. If a large account with 100K followers writes one line captions and gets 4,000

likes, but you feel like short captions don’t tell a story, then don’t use one-lines captions!


It’s that easy. Like your brand's colors and images, your audience will get to know your voice and

story-telling as your own.


Being real is scary. It wasn’t until recently that I started being more real. I let my audience into

some of the inner struggles; mostly surrounding infertility and body image. And you know what?

The response was astounding. People want to know that they’re not alone. And it is ok. They’re

looking to social media as a means to connect and feel a sense of community.


Not only am I empowering others who are struggling with the same issues, BUT I also am

healing. By talking about my deepest fears on a social platform I know I’ll be supported and it

doesn’t seem so terrifying.


Photo Credit: Stephanie Graves



Actionable Tips Along the Way

Whether you’re new to travel blogging or looking to grow an existing blog, here are my top tips

for starting or growing your business:


1. Craft your Mission statement

A mission statement gives your reader an idea of the foundation of your content and focus.

A basic template: I help x (your audience) do y. For example, my mission statement reads: I

introduce families to world-class destinations.


The simpler the better! Your mission statement can evolve, but it should always be clear and

concise regarding who you’re helping and how.


2. Make a Smart goal and check in monthly.

A SMART goal allows you to make Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Reasonable, and Timely

goals. This way you will have a solid plan on how to achieve your goals, and by writing them

down, it ensures you don’t miss any steps.


3. Start creating real connections.

Reach out to new followers, or commenters on your posts to thank them and begin engaging in

genuine conversations. Be active on social media and leave thoughtful comments. Join

niche-specific Facebook groups and engage within. By giving more than you take, you’ll start to

build trust within your community. Whether it’s 100 people or 10,000 you want to build a loyal

following of people who proudly scream, ‘(your brand) is my tribe from the rooftops’.


4. Master ONE platform first

From Instagram and Facebook to Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, and more, it is A LOT to learn.

Instead of spreading yourself thin and doing a lot of things sub-par, I recommend starting with

one platform and mastering that before moving onto others.


5. Start brainstorming ways to monetize

There are a ton of ways you can generate income through blogging and social media. I would

begin by focusing on a handful of revenue streams and see what’s working. Be sure to check-in

and ask yourself, ‘Is the work worth the reward?’ Or could you be doing something more

lucrative? And rewarding, too.


A few ways to monetize your business:

1. Social media ads

2. Guest blog posts

3. Affiliate links

4. Affiliate ads

5. Creating an e-course or product

6. Press trips

7. Selling tours

8. Photography

9. Video creation




Favorite Adventure


We’ve gone on countless adventures, but I must say our unanimous family favorite was our

recent ski trip to Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabassett Valley, Maine. This was our first family ski

trip, and since Maine is our home state, it was extra special.


Sugarloaf is like a Disney winter wonderland. Ski aficionado or not, there’s so much to do.

During our visit we enjoyed snowshoeing, sliding, shopping, relaxing in the outdoor hot tubs,

feasting on mountain fare, and sitting fireside roasting s’mores.



Sugarloaf Adventures - Stephanie Graves



Final Words for those Creating What they Love


Those Looking to Start or Grow a Blog

1. Be authentic. This can’t be stressed enough, be you!


2. Refine your vision as you go. You want your brand to wholly reflect your mission. Don’t be

afraid to change things up as you carve your path. It’s ok if you don’t get it right the first time.


3. Go at your own pace. That’s the beauty in all of this, it’s not a race! This is your journey and

you can go as fast or slow that feels comfortable for you. (And that pace can change, too!).


4. Never stop learning. As you continue to grow and master new skills, new doors will begin to

open.


5. Try new things. Be open to doing something scary. Experiment with vlogging. Create an

e-course. Be in front of the camera more. Whatever it is, I encourage you to push yourself

beyond your comfort zone.


6. Collaborate. As an online community, we have strength in numbers. It’s much easier to reach

a goal when working together than alone. You can expand your reach while taking a load off

your back by asking others to post for you, create a collaborative giveaway, or sharing other

people’s content.


7. See it through. Like anything worth pursuing, building a blog and social media platform is a

marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to see the fruits of your labor pay off (it can take up to

6-months or more for Google to crawl your page). As you continue creating relevant content,

partnering with brands, and building a community, your following will GROW.


8. Be kind to yourself. Celebrate even the smallest victories for those are getting you one step

closer to that dream life you have created. Stay true to the core mission of your blog and those

people who love and adore YOU will follow.


If you have any questions or comments about my story, please feel free to reach me! I love

connecting with new faces :)


XO, Stephanie


Hello, we are the Graves family! Our names are Stephanie, Ryan, Aviana (5), Adalyn (5), and

Rory (1). We are ordinary, hard-working parents who one day, decided that we were going to chase our dreams - to have a life FULL of happiness and memories of rich adventures with our children.


Through our engaging social media content and family-travel based blog aim to inspire other

ordinary families to fulfill their own life of adventure! Our mission is to inspire you to get

out and experience the world (near or far!) with your children, living the life of YOUR dreams.





FIT Life Creation

Creation Series: Stephanie Graves & Destination Graves


Media

https://www.destinationgraves.com/


Social

https://www.instagram.com/destinationgraves/

https://www.pinterest.com/destinationgraves/





Create a Life and Business You Love & Creator Series


Transformation is required to create a life and business you love in each and every area. As the Creator and CEO of FIT Life Creation, I am not immune. I am co-creating and co-writing my story with our Creator each and every moment.


Don't compare your Chapter 1 to Chapter 7, or anyone's Chapter 22 or novel. Choose to humble yourself and be an eternal student. Refine your character to believe in faith for the impossible and ground yourself to be content when results are delayed for your growth.


What did you get from thiss Series article?

What action will you take next?

What will you take action on in the next 90 days?


If you love this post, you'll love How Transformation is Required to Create a Life & Business You Love.



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Creator Series Contributions

If you would love to be considered for our Creation Series, submit our form.


If you are accepted, we will require in Word form:

1 Your Story

2 Your Brand

3 Biggest Success Factors

4 Your Challenges & How You Turned Pain into Purpose

5 Actionable Tips All Along the Way

6 What You Think is Most Important with ?s Above

7 Favorite Adventure

8 Final Tips for those creating what they love


We ask for a voice over so we may feature in our podcast.

(once story is approved - do not record in advance!)


Essentially follow the template and format you see

Please edit using Grammarly.


Include

1 Your Media Kit

2 Confirm You Will Back Link on Your Blog/Media Page

3 5+ High Quality Images

4 3+ Back Links to Your Platform

5 1+ External Press You Have





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