Creator Sessions: Ashley Payne on becoming an Entrepreneur and Influencer

Creator Sessions: Ashley Payne on becoming an Entrepreneur and Influencer

What inspired you to become a creative and start your influencing career?

I spent most of my life working to get into medical school, and when I was following that path I rarely had the time or energy to explore my creative passions. I’d often be on my university’s campus studying or attending classes for upwards of 12hrs every single day, and in my free time, you could find me volunteering or working my administrative job in the basement of a local hospital. During that time I worked so many crazy hours at school and at my job, and definitely didn’t take enough time to relax or recharge my batteries, and that led to a huge burnout.
Once I realized that I was experiencing a serious burnout and that I needed to take some time off, I focused in on my passions and allowed myself to freely create without any goals or expectations. I’ve always loved travelling, so I quit my job and took a semester off of school. I started planning small road trips with my friends around BC, and we always brought along a camera to capture fun moments or beautiful locations that we came across during our trips. During these moments I was simply exploring my creativity.

Eventually, I began uploading a couple of my photos to Instagram because I wanted to share these beautiful experiences with family and friends. I was shocked to see how supportive everyone was and I couldn’t believe that I was inspiring a few people with my photos to get out and explore/travel as well! Eventually, more and more people started consuming my content and other creatives began to message me and plan small adventures and trips with me. It was a really surreal moment when I realized that what I was creating brought so much value to those who were following me, and I couldn’t believe that my passion and creativity was inspiring others to get out and explore this beautiful planet just like I was doing.

I found so much peace and relaxation while I was creating. When I would receive messages from my followers letting me know that I was inspiring them to explore their passions as well it made me so happy. Eventually, brands started noticing what I was creating and saw an opportunity to use my platform and influence to promote their messages. Once I started partnering with likeminded brands I began earning a small income from my creative work, and I realized that I had the potential to transition away from the regular 9-5 jobs that I didn’t enjoy, and begin creating full time. It took a while to reach the point where I was able to feel secure in with a freelance type income, but I’d say that is the moment that I decided to start my influencing career.

What do you love most about growing as a creative and the industry?
My favourite part about growing as a creative is a fact that I get to follow my passions and see parts of the planet that most people never get to see. I also love the fact that I am able to inspire others to do the same, and that I have a platform to encourage others to make a positive impact on our world. I’m very passionate about our environment and my platform allows me to show my audience how beautiful the world is and why we should be encouraged to protect and explore it!

How often do you do partnerships where you travel, are those your favourite?
I’d say that I do partnerships on about 60% of the trips I go on. Most of the time I work with resorts or tourism boards in the places I travel to, but I also partner with lifestyle brands to create unique content in beautiful locations. I enjoy travelling when I have partnerships because it fills me with a sense of purpose and motivates me to create my best work, but I also really love travelling just to travel and see the world and create beautiful memories.

What comes next for you, where do you want to go and who do you want to see?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what comes next for me, but I’m open to whatever comes my way! I plan to continue posting to Instagram as my main platform and creating content for my audience, but I also will be spending more time focusing on growing my influence on YouTube and with my blog. I’d also love to plan more trips that allow me to actually meet and interact with my audience in real life and I’m hoping to explore parts of South America and Europe over the next year.

You’ve met some amazing people since your inception into being a content creator, what is the most important thing you have you learned from them?

I’ve learned so much and it’s difficult to narrow down one specific thing that I could label as the most important, but one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from others in this industry is the importance of being responsible with my platform. In my opinion, there is nothing more important than understanding the gravity of what it truly means to have a public platform and a young audience that looks up to you. I’ve learned that I have a responsibility to use my social media to positively influence the world, and show my younger followers that it is possible to use social media for good and to help those around you. I never want someone to look at my social media and feel negativity or as if they don’t belong. I’d rather somebody look at my page and feel inspired to use their unique passions and creativity to bring more positivity to those around them. I want my audience to feel empowered to use their lives for good and to live healthy and creative lives.

Ever had an experience that didn’t go as planned but ended up better than expected?

All the time! Even though I go into every trip with a tentative plan, there’s almost always something that happens unexpectedly and interrupts my plans.

A great example of this was a road trip I took with some good friends up to Lillooet, BC. We had this one specific lookout that we wanted to find and we planned our whole trip around it. We had gotten directions and coordinates from our friends who had been to that lookout a week earlier, and we were pretty confident that we knew where we were going even though we would be driving for more than 3 hours to get there.
To make a long story short we lost cell reception early into our drive and didn’t realize that our GPS had rerouted us to the wrong location. We were so confused and ended up basically scaling a mountain as we drove up to an entirely wrong location. Once we realized what had happened we put in the correct directions and drove a total of 8 hours to eventually arrive at the right location right at sunset- the perfect time to take photos and much better that shooting mid-day in harsh sunlight as we originally planned for! We ended up creating content that was more genuine and our audience was able to better relate to us through the experience.
Truth is that even though we got so lost and totally failed in the beginning of that trip, we learned a very important lesson. Plans are bound to be interrupted and its pretty likely that something will go wrong, but as long as you are able to adapt and remain flexible in those situations then you may end up in a situation that is better than you could have ever planned for

Everyone calls you SmAshley, care to fill us in?
It’s a quirky little nickname that my best friend Pamela came up with for me! It’s a combination of the words “Smiley” and “Ashley” because I am one of the smiliest humans ever.

What’s your favourite experience so far?
This is honestly such a difficult question to answer because I have had so many memorable experiences so far! The first thing that jumps to mind though is when I had an opportunity to fly in a Cessna plane over the Squamish Valley in BC last spring. Even though I fly commercially all the time, I had never been in such a small plane and I was terrified to take off! But there was a moment right as we were lifting off the ground where I just felt so free and incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be doing what I do. Growing up, I never imagined that I would be lucky enough to be able to travel as much as I do, or see parts of the world I’ve been able to explore, but as I was flying in that tiny Cessna plane I just felt so at peace and it was truly a life-changing moment.

How did you start building your following so quickly?
Honestly, I didn’t really try to build a following in the beginning. I was just focused on exploring my creativity and started posting about my adventures for fun! I think my following started to grow mostly because I was connecting with likeminded people who were really inspired by my content. But I also really noticed some steady growth when I started connecting with other creatives in my niche and collaborating with them. I think that because I was working with creatives who were doing and posting about similar things to me, it was natural for their audience to enjoy and consume my content as well.

How important is personality and kindness in your industry?
I honestly can’t stress enough how important it is to approach everything in this industry with kindness and to share your unique personality in everything you create. As someone who has a young audience, I think there is genuinely nothing more important than using my platform to spread kindness and a positive message to my audience. I want my followers to see how I treat people and our planet and then feel inspired to go out and follow suit by spreading kindness and positivity just like I do.

I’ve also worked really hard to let go of the idea that I need to only put out content that hides my imperfections and doesn’t show my personality fully. I want my audience to see the quirks in my personality and know me whole-heartedly because I want to show people that they have a huge amount of power when they embrace their individuality and unique personalities. When I gave up the idea that I had to hide the imperfect parts of myself when I post online, I was actually better able to relate to others in my industry as well as my audience.

If you would like to keep up with ashley and learn more about who she is and what she does follow her below!