Candice Walsh has been blogging longer than most, and she doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon. Read her posts over at Free Candie and her genuine voice and relatable stories will tell you this blog is close to her heart. But lately, Candice has turned her focus to a new job and writing for new outlets — both of which she doesn’t think would have happened it wasn’t for her experience in the travel blogging world.
Candice is our January Member of the Month and she’s here to chat about her evolving career as a blogger, a writer, and more.
When you first started blogging at Candice Does the World, what professional goals did you have in mind?
I started blogging at Candice Does the World around 2009 merely as an outlet for travel content — I had been blogging since high school up until that point, first with Livejournal and then with a more personal blog called That’s Tangly (I think it’s still around somewhere in cyberspace). I hadn’t REALLY planned on becoming a professional travel blogger, and if I had, I probably would have chosen a different name. It was mostly a creative outlet for me.
How have those goals changed since then?
I have tried to make my blog more of a go-to travel resource over the past 10 or so years, but I don’t have the business sense that drives so many successful travel bloggers. So I’ve become more focused on personal narrative and storytelling. I’m obsessed with storytelling — I always have a huge stack of books on my nightstand, and I’ve subscribed to a million storytelling podcasts.
Sharing stories is so important to the human experience. I think the world would be a more peaceful place if we all took the time to really listen to one another.
I’m still growing my audience, and I’m still learning with TBS, but my income for the past few years has been more focussed on side gigs and writing.
How did the rebranding from CDTW to Free Candie relate to your evolving career as a writer?
The rebrand was so much work! But I wanted a website I was proud of, where I could send editors and potential employers my URL and not fear their judgment. I’m still working on some e-books, and I’ve developed the site a bit more to reflect life as a writer. There’s also a more lifestyle focus, where I write stories about productivity, dating, etc.
Tell us about your new job with St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival…
I started working as the Communications and Submissions Officer for the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival about five months ago! I’ve never worked in the arts industry before, and I’m blown away by the experience. I love it. There’s an incredible amount of talent here, and I feel like this is where I belong at the moment.
We’re one of the oldest women’s film festivals in the world, and it’s been an interesting experience to learn about the issues women face in the industry. We really focus on women directors because they’re lacking in the industry, which means women in film are often misrepresented.
So I run the marketing operations, manage the blog and website, field incoming submissions (I get to watch movies!), liaison with local press, and help organize and coordinate events leading up to the Festival. It’s seriously a ton of fun, and I love my team. They’re brilliant.
What were you looking for in a job when you discovered this position?
I came home from living in Germany so broke, I wanted to work for awhile and save up again. I saw the Festival ad for an eight-week position and jumped on it. It was only seven weeks before Festival time, so I was thrown into the chaos and I loved it. It was only meant to be temporary, but when they offered me a year contract, I didn’t hesitate to take it.
How did your work in blogging and freelance writing make you qualified for this position?
I definitely wouldn’t be in this role without my blogging and freelance experience. Everything I’ve learned about blogging, PR, social media management, and copywriting have been used in my day-to-day duties. It’s awesome!
St. John’s is a really small city, and so I’ve worked a lot with local media in the past about travel stories and my own personal experiences. I’ve been interviewed for local radio programs, the news, etc. Since I already have these connections, I’ve been putting them to good use during Festival time too.
What has been most challenging about taking on a full-time position?
Staying still, for about a year. Since I’m on contract, I don’t get much travel time. Newfoundland is incredible and I’ll continue exploring closer to home, but the winters are really rough. I’ve had to put in a solid effort to keep life fresh and exciting without falling back on travel all the time, if that makes sense.
Looking back on the last few years, I developed quite a habit of fleeing whenever things got tough. So now it’s up to me to generate some excitement — snowshoeing after a fresh snowfall, weekend cabin trips, more live music shows. It’s been a really interesting transition.
How many hours will you continue to devote to your blog, Free Candie, and to your freelance writing?
I’m still working about 20 hours a week on my blog, and on freelance writing. I have a really rigid routine to keep me energized. I get a good night’s sleep, go to work, hit the gym, make a home-cooked meal every evening, and then devote about two hours to my online life. I try not to be TOO inflexible, but the routine really, really helps.
I’ve been currently trapped in my apartment for two days though, due to storm conditions. I could use a drink.
What piece of writing are you most proud of these days?
I have an upcoming series on CBC about young entrepreneurs bringing new life into rural Newfoundland that I’m insanely excited about! I’m really passionate about keeping rural life alive here, and I’m so amazed by the young talent setting up businesses.
I just did a big feature about an Australian woman who runs a hostel in Trinity East, and two ladies who set up a craft brewery in Port Rexton. Both towns have less than 100 people in them, and yet, business is thriving.
How do you continue to find time to pitch new publications?
Believe it or not, I find it easier these days. I think because I’m not managing so many low-paying side gigs just to scrape by, I can now focus on high quality publications and really fine-tuning my story ideas.
It’s only a few weeks into 2017 and I’ve got features coming up on BBC Travel, CBC, Refinery29, and Canadian Traveller magazine. It’s a bit bewildering at times.
What is your dream job?
I’d LOVE to keep working in communications. I really love this position, especially with the film festival. But I do hope to become location independent again at some point.
Otherwise, I want to be a novelist. I finished my first YA fiction last year, and now it’s out in the hands of potential publishers. So, we’ll see.
What does success in travel blogging mean to you?
Not so much traffic numbers, but curating an engaged audience that truly enjoys my work and writing.