When we take a retrospective look at the 21st century, one of the most important innovations of the period is always said to be social media.
Social media has changed the way we communicate arguably more so than any innovation that has come before it.
Apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter have become cornerstones of our modern narratives, changing the way we interact with the world, allowing information to travel faster than ever before.
Today, almost 3 Billion people, (nearly half of the world’s population) use social media to share their lives.
However, social media has given rise to a whole new class of entrepreneurs — influencers.
Relying on their network of followers and their creative talents, influencers help to endorse products and brands, giving companies more broad and intimate access to people all over the world.
The rise of the influencer economy has been an exciting development. People all over the world are now able to share their stories and skills in ways that they never had been able to before.
One of the people taking advantage of this exciting trend is Chris Young.
Currently, Chris travels the world, creating content for companies including The Ritz Carlton, The Hilton, and American Express.
He’s even explored some domestic locations. In Los Angeles, he got unbelievable shots aerial shots of Griffith Park Observatory.
In some cities, he’ll stay explore what can be done over a half day layover. In Singapore, he visited the Flower Dome; a gigantic air-conditioned greenhouse, with exotic plants on display. In other places, he might explore local delicacies. In Vietnam, he compared $40 food and $300 food for his Budget or Baller series.
What’s more exciting, however, is that he’s had the chance to do all of this while making money and pursuing his passion for photography. All of these adventures can be found on his blog theyoungtravelier.com, his Instagram, or his YouTube channel. Young’s Instagram and YouTube both have audiences of 100k+.
I had a chance speak with Chris and talk to him about his most recent adventures, as well as how he managed to find opportunities to travel the world while making money.
Before Chris started using his creative skills to make a living, he worked as an entertainment lawyer. In this capacity, he represented a small film fund that made around twelve movies a year. “I was working as a transactional attorney,” he recalled. “My job was to find producers writers, financier and funding for films.”
After working as an entertainment lawyer, Chris was presented with an opportunity to take on an up and coming jewelry designer as a client. The jewelry brand, Beso Beso jewelers became a hit, and within a year, the company had grossed half a million and picked up celebrity clientele including Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift, Paris Hilton and Yolanda Hadid.
However, it was from his time working with Beso Beso that Young acquired what would become his most valuable skill — digital marketing.
Relying on web marketing, Young curated a network of bloggers who would help spread word about the product, bringing in new clients.
The success of the venture caught the eye of FD9 Group Inc, an investment firm in the Netherlands. Along with the company, however, the firm wanted Chris.
Young was asked to become president of the new entity, Coordintes Collection, overseeing management, distribution, and supply. Under Young’s guidance, Coordinates Collection raised $2MM in capital, and became the first trademarked geographic coordinates based jewelry brand.
Within a few short years, Chris had achieved a massive level of success as an entrepreneur, in multiple different fields. The fields of law, entertainment, fashion, and venture capitalism had been kind to Young, but he still had exploring to do.
While most people would take time off of work, Chris wanted to return to one of his early passion — Academia. “School was a little vacation”, Chris said, laughing.
Chris went on to USC’s Marshall School of Business, where he won the New Venture Competition with his company Whipp; an app that offered on-demand parking at nearly 100 locations. Within its first year, Republic Parking acquired Whipp.
Once again, however, Chris began considering what it was that he truly wanted to do.
“I always wanted to open a restaurant,” he recalled. So, he began to work as a line chef on nights and weekends at a luxury restaurant, which catered events. This tasteful detour offered decadence and good pay. The menu had everything from waffles, to truffles and caviar.
It was during this time that Chris had a chance to really take time and consider where he wanted to go next.
Over the past six years, Chris had developed a quite impressive resume as a tourist. His business trips took him all over the world.
While traveling for work, Young had seen 30 countries and 20 + US states.
But, the most exciting part for him was the hotels he would get to stay in. “My indulgence was luxury hotels”, he recalled.
In each location, he would keep a log of what the hotels were like; which one had the best pools, and restaurants and the best amenities.
Using these clips from past adventures, Chris wrote up a review of each hotel he’d stayed and posted them to his blog, itsnottheritz.
In 2016, with his site ready, he sent a cold email to Andaz Papagayo hotel inCosta Rica, offering to write a review if he were offered a free stay. Chris was officially an influencer. Merely by offering his extraordinary talents, Chris was able to find his way into some of the most luxurious resorts and hotels in exclusive and tropical locations — for free.
“I was amazed to find that I could travel for free since I had a skill set to offer”.
Take a scroll through Chris’ blog.
You’ll see photos of him on the pristine beaches of Kohala, in search of a beer; you’ll see him perched in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park, but most importantly, you’ll see the possibilities of life when you combine a sense of adventure with a carefully curated and honed skill.
Though the life of a creative entrepreneur is filled with its perks, it’s not always glamorous.
“Being in front of a computer editing isn’t always fun..” Said Chris. “I’ve had travel where I haven’t had a free hour, where I’ve had to shoot content all day for a client
Though Chris has found success as an entrepreneur, he warns that it is not as comfortable as it looks.
“The part that’s challenging is not knowing where the next paycheck comes from.” Said Chris.
According to Chris, the greatest insurance as an entrepreneur is to always have another skill to fall back on. For some, that might be accounting, for others, finance. “My bread and butter is strategy work… I’ll always be able to find work in law.”
For now, however, Chris is determined to continue traveling the world, sharing his adventures one shot at a time.