This month we had the opportunity to sit down with “America’s Tweetheart” Stef Michaels, known by her fans as Adventure Girl.  Famous journalist and spokesperson featured in magazines from TIME to Glamour she is adored by her fans.  Stef’s ability to engage as both a celebrity and the girl-next-door is endearing, but her adventurous nature is what’s most captivating.  Named #1 in Forbes’ 20 Most Branded Women on Twitter, Stef has successfully parlayed her social influence into a career as a brand ambassador.

The moniker Adventure Girl suggests Superhero status, and Stef seems to fit the role.  She has been living and working in social media since before it was “the scene to be seen,” and has excellent advice for all.  Happy reading!

ZJ: Wow, you really are an adventure girl!  You do so much; is there one aspect of what you do [spokeperson, traveler, adventurer, journalist, Tweetheart, actress, — did I miss anything? ] that you love the most?

SM: I’m an animal lover (I have 7 rescues), and I have to say it’s getting harder and harder each year to leave them since I average about 150 days a year on the road. Last year was more like 200!

ZJ: How did you get your start as Adventure Girl?  

SM: It was kind of a fluke. I was on location and in front of a group of people watching us film. A couple of people shouted out, “What are you doing?” and I replied that I was filming adventures! So, they shouted back, “Oh! So you’re an ‘adventure girl!’” And, it stuck.

ZJ: I love it!  Serendipity, some might say.  So how did the beginning of your life on social media feel and look?  

SM: I was that computer nerd who liked gaming with my friends. I never felt like I was part of the cool crowd. Computers I could understand. It wasn’t long before I was accessing chat rooms and finding more like minded people. Social for me was long before the social we know today.

ZJ: That’s incredible, and inspiring for anyone out there who feels they are “not part of the cool crowd.”  Ok, next question: At what point in your career did you begin amassing a large number of followers?

SM: As soon as I reached out online to my friends, I pretty much had a large following there, but then building it offline was another story. I was a journalist, so I began using my moniker, “Adventure Girl” in my bylines.

ZJ: Why do you think people followed you?

SM: Initially, it was to ask me where my online friends should go for holidays, destination weddings and honeymoons. Remember, this was before the launch of the “World Wide Web” and there were not many options for research without turning to a magazine. So, I started a kind of newsletter of sorts sharing my suggestions around the world. By the time the web launched with AOL, I had already amassed 500k online friends who sought me out for travel advice.

ZJ: Was a “career” in social media your goal or did that result from another career?

SM: It was definitely a result of my journalism career, which was flailing along and completely up and down. Social changed the direction of what my end goals looked like, gave me so many opportunities, and shaped my life in more ways that I can count.

ZJ: How has the rise of the influencer marketing shaped your career, and where do you see things heading in the next few years (for yourself)?

SM: It’s forever changing, and really the wild west out there. The evolution of what makes an influencer a tastemaker also changes. We’re all moving at warp speed, so it’s all I can do to keep up with what’s new and the latest. It doesn’t mean that these new platforms will survive, it’s really about being educated in the business you thrive in.

ZJ: If you had any advice to give to someone who wants to become a social media influencer, what would it be?

SM: Keep doing what you are doing. Love it, live it, work it and get out there and meet other influencers when and where you can.

ZJ: Have you helped anyone through your social influence, and if so, can you please share?

SM: When “social” first hit the scene with Twitter many years back, I would be on press trips with other journalists. I’d share my experiences and how to’s with them, and whenever someone emails me, I get back to them to answer their questions. For businesses, I consult on what’s next and how they can seek out the right people to promote for their own clients.

ZJ: What three things would you attribute to your success and fame?

SM: I would say time. None of this happens overnight. If anyone says it has, I’d like to hear their story, because more than likely, they were doing things to lead up to their fame without even realizing it. In the nascent years of early social, I worked non-stop. It’s just something, like with any business startup, it’s what you have to do to get past any learning curves that you may encounter. What’s great now for everyone, you have the world’s best learning tool right at your fingertips– the internet.

ZJ: There’s a section on your blog called “8 Great; Because All Good Things Come in 8’s.”  Do you have a special relationship with the number 8?  

SM: I love that if you turn the 8 on its side, it’s like “infinity.” Travel has endless possibilities!

ZJ: What is your biggest dream in life that you have yet to achieve?

SM: Oh, so many things. I have a superstition that if I say them out loud, they won’t come true. So, I hold them close to my chest, and as each one comes to fruition, I share it with my online friends on social media, because after all, they should be the ones to know first, since they have been so amazing and loyal online friends.

ZJ: Favorite quote or mantra?

SM: If someone asks you on an adventure, don’t refuse!

ZJ: One thing you try to do every day that is out of the ordinary?

SM: My life is kind of out of the ordinary as it stands. Haha! I actually try and do something ordinary like watching a movie cuddled up with my animals. Not something I get to do too often, so I relish in my downtime at home, which I like to call #basecamp.

ZJ: Any announcements you would like to share?

SM: I’m working on a book right now, and I’m always open to the next possibility and adventure!

Thanks, Stef!

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[pic cred: Adventure Girl]