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Welcome to our IZEA interview series with influencers and marketers of all niches to highlight their journeys, share their insights, and inspire! Today we are talking all about influencing with Karlie.

Meet Karlie, a luxury, adventure travel photographer and content creator who visits gorgeous places around the world with her boyfriend, Colin, 27, a FPV drone photographer. Together they showcase the most picturesque spots on your travel wish list. Karlie, 26, left her full-time job at an NFL team in 2021 to pursue content creation and now spends her time planning and going on trips, partnering with brands, creating photo presets, coaching aspiring content creators on her Discord, and using her graphic design skills to create magazine-worthy content. Fun fact: She started her TikTok profile — which has almost 1 million followers —  as an extreme sports account sharing her experiences in Big Ten pole vaulting. Now Karlie is based in Salt Lake City and partners with travel and lifestyle brands to share sponsored Instagram and TikTok content.

Hi, I’m Marette, Content Manager at IZEA. So glad we could connect. To start, could you tell me about you and what you do? 

“My name is Karlie Place. I am based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. I’m currently an adventure travel creator, creating in the luxury, couples travel niche. My background is in graphic design and visual communication and I actually worked for the Minnesota Vikings before quitting my job and going full-time freelance creator this past October (2021). I went to school for art and design, got pretty good with my photography, design and my creative skills, and then have been doing it for myself and for brands that I truly want to work with for the past couple months. I’m really enjoying it.”

What’s your next trip?

“Right now my next trips are I’m going to Lake Tahoe to shoot some fun couples adventure travel stuff with another influencer couple that we’re good friends with, and then after that we’re headed out to Hawaii to work with Norwegian cruise line, which I’m really stoked about.”

What made you decide to quit your full-time job with the Vikings to pursue content creation?

“It was kind of a long time coming in the way that I really, really loved that job. That was my first job out of college, but I went on a creator trip to Greece while I was working at the Vikings, and they were so supportive of it.”

“I went on this trip and I just thrived. I really did a good job with all the content I created. I saw other people kind of doing that full time when I was there, and I was like, ‘Why am I not doing this full time? They’re asking for my help. I could do this for myself.’ It was a huge awakening that I could be doing these side jobs that I have been doing in the photography/influencer world full time. … I saw it in action, it really inspired me and I essentially started putting different business things in place and reaching out to more and more companies to see if they’d want to work with me until I felt comfortable enough to be like, ‘I guess I can do this on my own full time’ and I decided to leave the Vikings when I had to start saying no to the opportunities that I really, really wanted to do. … The Vikings have such a huge spot in my heart.”

How did you get almost 1 million TikTok followers?

“Right about in 2018 I downloaded TikTok because I heard people were on there being goofy and I wanted to see what my friends were posting. At that time I was in college at the University of Minnesota. I started posting pole-vaulting content. I was a Big Ten pole vaulter. It was my life, it was my passion, and I just kind of showcased things from pole vaulting in a really interesting way.”

“At that time TikTok was new, I was posting a lot. Every single video I posted back then got like over 10 million views; it was crazy. It was guaranteed to have a huge, really good response. So, of course, I’m going to lean into that. That’s where I’d say one-fourth of my audience came from. When I graduated, started moving into a more creative role, I really had to shift gears from being literally in the extreme sports category … into more of a travel, content creator, behind-the-scenes kind of creator. It was a really hard shift for probably about a year. I didn’t really grow that much as I shifted.”

@karlieplace

@colinringas and I have tested these for science so you know what works. 😉🌴 More inspo on IG! #couples #posingtips #couplesphotography #couplegoals #vday

♬ this is what falling in love feels like - JVKE

When did you start your influencing/photography career?

“There’s no hard start date because as a lot of photographers do especially, we all start with our cameras in middle school and then when we get older we all take senior pictures for our friends and I got my first job with the Vikings because I had been doing content creation for the (University of Minnesota) Gophers. I was at all these sporting events. I was taking photos of my teammates for fun, and they started using my photos in the meet recaps online. So I had this big portfolio of doing content creation in the sports world, but at the time as well I was really passionate about creative portraits.”

“It’s the portraits that have continued to be the star of my content, because now what I do is I will show how I get these really incredible portraits of myself and my boyfriend, I’ll show the behind-the-scenes — no gatekeeping. I share everything I can to help other people kind of be able to do it. I didn’t even consider myself an influencer maybe until this past year when I decided to make it a full-time job.”

“The way I like to run my personal business is I like to pitch my creative services to brands that I actually want to work with, especially in the travel niche, whether that’s a suitcase or airline or something like that.”

Tell me about your last trip.

“We were in the Bahamas shooting lifestyle and social media content for Sandals (resort), which was really exciting. That was one of the first times a big, reputable travel company has reached out to me without me having to pitch myself to them. We were in Exuma for a week and it was really beautiful down there.”

Does anyone help you create the content and shoot photos of you?

“I am very prideful of the fact that I typically style and shoot and edit almost everything of myself, but with that being said, my boyfriend is amazing and he is very good at snapping photos of me too. So I’ll give him the art direction, he’ll snap the photos and we’ll work together as a team.”

Do you have any tips for people who aspire to be content creators?

“I tell all creators that they shouldn’t be shy in working with their dream brands. Ultimately, these deals every single company wants to work with creators and influencers in some capacity.”

“So if you can show that you’re genuinely interested and if you can make it make sense on why they should work with you, in the way you present yourself, your platform, and your creative skills, you have a really good shot at working with them no matter what size your following is, because you never know what kind of campaigns a company is running.” 

Micro-influencers are very desirable. There’s all different kinds of campaigns out there, whether their goal is to be projecting that content to tons of people or just getting user-generated content that is relatively refined, meaning if you are a photographer and you don’t have huge following, you still are of value to brands you want to work with because you can create those marketing materials. There’s a huge market for it."

“My advice is to not be shy, and just shoot your shot all day long. That’s where I’d say 70% of my job opportunities come from me reaching out to people I want to work with and I think that’s why I’m so happy with what I’m doing now.”

What tips do you have for people who want to grow their following?

“That sort of comes down to taking risks in some ways, because you just ultimately need to put yourself out there. And if it’s not working, you’re not seeing the views, you’re not seeing the interest from an audience that you want to see, you just need to continue to kind of take a risk in sharing your story, sharing your work, sharing the things you’re passionate about in different ways. If it’s not working for you, you have to be able to adapt and change and share it in a different way, because if you’re putting yourself out there, people aren’t responding the way you want them to, you’re not seeing the return you need to not let that kill your momentum and you just need to kind of keep the ball rolling.”

@karlieplace

📸 Has it been a decade already? Truthfully 2012 me didn’t even know what was possible. #photography #selftaught #howto #transformation #proud #photographer

♬ Ticking - TIN

Do you work with more brands on sponsored social media posts or on user-generated content for their own marketing purposes?

“It’s definitely split half-and-half, which I like, because that’s kind of how I market myself when I want to work with brands. It’s like, ‘Hey not only have I grown this really great following that responds well to travel-related things if I post about them, but I also have the skills to create marketing-level content that you can use across your channels. As a creator that’s a really nice upsell, because maybe they want one and not the other, or maybe they want to buy the rights to the content and continue using it, or use it in ads, or whitelist my content, so there’s a lot of smaller facets within influencer marketing and content creation that you can leverage as a creative person to really benefit you.”

Could you tell me about how you use Discord?

“(Colin and I have) talked a lot about how do we cultivate a really, really, engaged community with all these things that we’re doing, because I think sometimes when you grow a large following on social media, especially on TikTok, where you can’t reach the same people every single time, you feel really disconnected to them, so the idea behind the Discord is let’s funnel all these people that genuinely want to learn from us — whether it’s about content creation, being an influencer, traveling, or drones, or just having like a creative community — let’s funnel them all into one place. The goal for our Discord channel, which is called the Do More Network, is a global community of creators with the goal of sharing knowledge and helping us all do more.”

“I don’t like to learn stuff and keep it for myself, I genuinely want to share that with people. It’s also a home base for my Shadow Me series, which are one-hour-long Zoom demos where I can take people through my creative process on a more-detailed level.”

Do you find it difficult to enjoy your travel if you are there to create content?

“Truthfully, genuinely, if I was not able to create beautiful things in the beautiful places that I go I would be miserable. Even though it’s work and we really do not travel for leisure these days, I find it very, very enjoyable.”

What are your goals?

“I want to continue the Shadow Me series by bringing on creatives that have a lot to offer my community. I want to plan a trip for my community that brings on maybe 10 people to travel with me and kind of see behind the scenes, in person, how we’re getting this beautiful content and the way I think about it and connect with my community on that level. And I don’t usually measure success in numbers … I don’t usually focus on that and it keeps me pretty happy, but I do really want to hit a million followers on TikTok. I think that would be cool.”

marette flora avatar

Marette Flora is IZEA’s Content Manager. She writes and edits content about influencer marketing and all the latest #TeamIZEA happenings. When she is not at work, she can be found writing her personal blog, crafting personalized gifts or exploring Chicago where she lives with her husband, two daughters, dog and plants.

Follow Marette on Twitter

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