NINA HÜPEN-BESTENDONK (32)
Travel Blogger & Graphic Designer
The parcel-delivery guy that comes by Nina’s apartment building is likely to think this young woman is unemployed as she’s the one that’s always home to receive the neighbours online purchases. She opens the door with messy hair and dressed in her sweats (because who knows, she might be in for a little yoga during the day). Little does the courier know… she’s an award-winning travel blogger who’s already been up for hours; working from her living room on her latest posts for tourism boards or for own popular German-language blog Smaracuja.
Our meeting in Rotterdam…
I met Nina, last September in Rotterdam at an Instagram meet-up and was really drawn to her story. I mean, how cool is to be a fulltime travel blogger! I wanted to find out about her lifestyle, so I got back touch with this Facebook friend.
We chatted away via video Skype, as she lit up a cigarette. We covered things like adrenaline-fueled press trips abroad, her #embraceuglypretty style of photography, the benefits of a bloggers’ collective and how her hobby turned into a proper business. Nina has travelled to stunning places in Scotland, Australia, the USA and Finland.
Nina graduated as a graphic designer in 2010 and had always loved photography. During an exchange to Barcelona in 2007, she dappled in blogging to keep family and friends updated on her adventures. That site was mostly images and provided a glimpse into her daily life abroad. She had always been a bit of a ‘tumblr girl’.
Around that time, a Twitter friend of hers was starting a travel blog and with Nina’s design experience she was asked to design the logo and work on the look and feel of the website. This grew into a partnership that lasted three years. During that period she was creating a lot of content for blog posts that didn’t quite fit with the existing format of that site and decided to launch her own blog.
She worked part-time for a couple of start-ups alongside her blogging to make ends meet for 16 months. In 2013 she decided to stop the side-hustle because travel blogging had become a fulltime gig.
Nina likes to explore the parts of cites or destinations that don’t necessarily fit the standard ‘instaperfect’ look. Under her hashtag, #Embraceuglypretty, she collects images of places that other’s would pass by but that can be very charming and characteristic nonetheless.
She even got approached by the British tourist board because they specifically wanted to see her capture the industrial and in some parts run-down city of Liverpool in her poetic way. Yet some organisations turn her down because of this specific style of embracing the ugly and making it look pretty. Yet she has decided to stick with this style and not conform to the wide-spread blogger aesthetic.
Her big break happened when she was approached by Canon to be the face of their #comeandsee campaign for the EOS 760D camera, that was filmed in the vibrant Turkish capital Istanbul. At first, she thought this offer wasn’t real because they asked her at such short notice to fly abroad. But it was very legit, well-paid and she had a great time shooting in Turkey with the camera crew. The company said to have been following her blog for quite some time and were thrilled to have her on board because of her unique style.
Nina joined forces with seven other German travel bloggers in 2012, each with their own niche, to form the Reiseblogger Kollektiv. Together they created a (well-needed) blogger partnership code, creating a new industry standard for how companies can collaborate with bloggers. As each of the seven collective members has a different target groups (varing from families, solo travellers, thrillseekers and urban explorers) their scope is very attractive for corporate clients. A smart move!
The Way of Life
The title “Travel Blogger” makes people think that Nina’s constantly living the dream. But in all honesty Nina admits, that she has been supported by her family in the months that paid assignments were hard to come by in the beginning of going freelance. Like any job, this one also has its less fun parts. She’s not always jetting around the world or sipping wine at a South Island vineyard in New Zealand. This job involves a lot of e-mailing, always being active on social media and going to six press organised activities in a day can be a little overwhelming and draining. And don’t forget the jetlag! But Nina wouldn’t want do be doing anything else because at the end of the day, she gets to travel for work and document her journey.
She turns the webcam and takes me along to her bookcase, and as I’ve already seen on Instagram her books are lined up according to colour, with the idea in mind that Nina would be able to find her books more easily. But she quickly admits that this doesn’t work in reality. She wanted to show me one of her favourites: The Art of Travelling by the philosopher and founder of The School of Life, Alain de Botton.
When Nina’s at travel blogging conferences most of the conversations are had are about PR and moneymaking, yet she finds it important to reflect back on the essence why people entered into the industry. De Botton’s book is a great example of a well-though out philosophical account on travel. A must read!
Nina’s Favourite Quote?
She has two, the first one: ‘Mach Doch Watte Wills’. It’s a form of dialect from the region she grew up in and it’s used as “Do your worst!“ but it also means “Take it or leave it/have it your way“ at the same time.
And this one:
All image credits for Nina except:
Nina with street art: Maja Schubert | Nina with the map – Smith Rock: Angelika Schwaff