I thought I was serving you a straightforward interview with a tech influencer this month.  My sit down with Jacob Cass was anything but that.

World traveler-turned entrepreneur, tech-focused designer Jacob Cass has built influence without boundaries.  It is no wonder; only dynamic, creative, instinctively entrepreneurial influencers are able to cultivate his kind of following, capable of sustaining an audience worthy of brand partnerships.  Jacob’s multifaceted talents are compelling, his droplets of wisdom worth keeping in mind.

ZJ: Jacob, you have an interesting background that has led to your journey as a creative.  Can you please share more about what inspired you to launch JUST Creative? 

JC: JUST Creative was launched under a similar name, Just Creative Design, back in 2007 and was originally started as a blog to document my studies as a design student. At the time I didn’t know a thing about blogging (now called ‘content marketing’) – however, after learning more, it opened many doors that I am forever grateful for. I have documented the evolution of my brand and business in detail here.

ZJ: You have also flourished on the social media scene – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.  When did you start becoming active in social, when did you start gaining a massive amount of followers, and how did you feel? 

JC: I’ve been active on social media ever since starting the blog, but it’s been a slow and steady progression in regards to gaining followers. Originally, it was people who subscribed to my blog via RSS and my email newsletter and this turned into Twitter and Facebook followers, which really is humbling to have. But what has really paid off in the past few years is having an email newsletter fan base.

ZJ: Why do you think people follow your JUST Creative brand?

JC: I would like to believe people follow JUST Creative because I provide value to them in one way or another… sharing resourceful articles, deals, freebies or just small insights. I also think trust is a big factor because I only share what I would personally endorse or use myself, which is rare these days, with people hawking anything for a quick few bucks.

ZJ: At what point did you begin collaborating with brands on sponsored content, and can you share a bit more about your process (did you seek out agencies, the brands, did they seek you out, what made you decide to do this)? 

JC: Most of the time it has been the brands contacting me to collaborate. There’s been quite a number over the years, from HP to Samsung, Benq and more, though I only ever accept if the partnership makes sense. Generally, it is a trade deal where I get a device or product in return for an honest review, which helps other creatives get insight into something that they may not have been aware of. First-hand reviews are much more valuable than the company’s sales page!

ZJ: Do you see yourself as an influencer and if so, what does that mean to you? 

JC: I’ve never really defined myself as an influencer but I am aware that with a following, this comes naturally. I just continue sharing what I find useful and with full transparency. 

ZJ: I ran across JUST Globetrotting which is related to but separate from JUST Creative.  What was your initial intention for this blog?  Did it change over the years and if so, in what way?  

JC: JUST Globetrotting is the travel blog of my wife and I, which allows us to share our tips, advice, and stories from our adventures traveling the world. It’s separate from my design blog JUST Creative, as they are for different audiences and it’s only been running since 2015.

Originally, it was started as a hobby to share stories & photos with friends but it has since evolved into a larger travel platform, for a global audience. My wife does most of the writing and I do the photography, web design, editing, SEO and more technical tasks, which makes for a great team.

ZJ: What else can you share about how you got started with the JUST Globetrotting brand?

JC: JUST Globetrotting has allowed us to be seen as influencers in the travel and lifestyle industry. We’ve written hundreds of articles on the 80+ odd countries we’ve traveled to and this experience has opened the doors to comp deals with hotels and tour operators. In return for some photos, a review and maybe a drone video, we get free stays at luxury hotels around the world. This was not our intention when we started, but it’s partly evolved into this. 

ZJ: As a globetrotter, where is your favorite place you’ve traveled and why?

JC: South Africa has been our favorite country and Africa our favorite continent. We love the diversity of South Africa: the landscapes, beaches, fresh food, affordability, wild life and the soul of the people. It also has a similar feel to Australia, so it feels more like home. 

ZJ: What motivates and drives you every day to do what you do?

JC: The never-ending quest for experiencing something new for the first time. Can you remember your first oyster? Your first visit to Disneyland? Your first anything? Chances are you remember it because it was an experience, and that’s whether you spat the oyster out or not. The drive of finding this new experience is why I love traveling so much, and this motivates me to keep going. 

ZJ: Do you have a life mantra or quote you live by?  If so, what is it? 

JC: “You only get out, what you put in”. And this is true for any aspect of life, from your career to your relationships. You have to work on something to get something out of it! 

ZJ: What would you say are your three keys to success?

JC: Discipline. Passion. Trust.

ZJ: If someone wanted to grow their online business and simultaneously become an influencer, what advice would you give them?

JC: Provide real value. Know who your audience is and why you’re doing what you’re doing. And remember that it will be slow at the beginning, but as your followers grow, the snowball effect starts so don’t get discouraged, keep at it and follow your goals. You do have a goal, right?

ZJ: What recommendations do you have for brands who want to partner with digital and tech influencers like yourself?

JC: Just put the offer out there and make it something the influencer can’t refuse. Be clear in what you’re going to provide the influencer and what you would like in return. Make it easy for them! 

ZJ: Do you have any upcoming announcements? 

JC: We’re pregnant! Just kidding, nothing to report just yet! We’re continuing to work and travel under the guise of JUST Creative and JUST Globetrotting… and loving it!

ZJ: Anything else you wish to share….

JC: If you’re after tips, advice or simply have a question, just email us. We’re here to help! Thank you.