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Meet Joanna Kalafatis of Lose the Map in West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joanna Kalafatis.

Joanna, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
While in LA pursuing acting, I always wrote freelance articles for websites for extra money. I really enjoyed writing, but one day I had the realization that I wasn’t writing about subjects I cared about or inspired me. Since I always loved traveling and learning about other culture, and I had just bought a camera – I wanted to work on my photography – I thought I’d start a travel blog.

In the beginning, perhaps the first six months, it was just a hobby for myself. Only a few friends and family read it, but I realized this was the creative outlet I had needed. It got me through downtimes with acting like nothing else had.

One day, I got my first e-mail from the editor of an online travel magazine. He had come across my blog, loved my writing, and wanted me to write an article for their publication. I accepted. It led to a few more readers and followers, and that, in turn, led to more opportunities.

A few years later, my blog and travel content have given me the opportunity to travel to over 40 countries, work with some brands I absolutely love (including JUCY Campervan), and gives me a nice part-time income.

My travel photography has been shown in pop-up exhibits, and I have two photo books – “Abandoned Northern California” and “Abandoned Southern California” available on Amazon and in Barnes & Noble thanks to Arcadia Publishing.

I continue to work as an actress and have also set up a production company with two partners called York Films. We just finished our first co-production with Millennium Media, a film called “The Outpost” with Scott Eastwood, Orlando Bloom, and Caleb Landry Jones.

It has sometimes been a balancing act, figuring out when to put more effort into one aspect of my life and step back from another, but I believe every creative endeavor I undertake complements the rest of my work, instead of detracting from it. I am incredibly happy with the experiences I’ve had, in part thanks to my blog and travel content work.

Has it been a smooth road?
Is anything significant ever a smooth road? Definitely not! My first primary struggle was getting people to read my work. I felt I was creating great content, in terms of both writing and photography, but about ten people were reading it.

So I had to teach myself a lot of other skills in addition to creating travel content. I researched SEO, social media, algorithms, took a course in affiliate marketing, asked for a lot of help from friends with established websites, etc.

I feel that’s the case with a lot of creative work now. You can be great at what you do, but for better or worse, you also need to know how to get your work out to the world. With creative work, if you want to make money from it, you also have to learn the skills to monetize it. There’s so much out there that I’m still learning!

I would say the second struggle was finding a balance between the effort I was putting into my blog and other work I was doing, and making sure that effort was concentrated more on important tasks rather than time-consuming habits.

Procrastination isn’t only defined as not doing work and putting it off until later; it’s also doing things like spending hours to correct font issues and small design issues on your blog, hours of doing essentially “busywork,” and never getting around to writing an important article or producing an impressive travel video because it seems too daunting.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Lose the Map – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Lose the Map focuses on exploring the world beyond the guides. Though I obviously including some information on where to find the best beaches and what tourist sites to check out in a destination, I try to go beyond the superficial to really show the culture and atmosphere of every place I visit.

I like learning as much about countries as I can – about their history, a way of life, culture, language, but most of all, about what the reality of a country is on the ground, as opposed to our perception or the media portrayal of it.

This year, I am also choosing to focus on responsible and environmentally-friendly travel. I believe in addition to using travel to break down barriers between populations, we also have to be aware of the impact we have, both on the local population and on the environment, when we travel to another place.

People usually want to travel ethically and in a more eco-friendly manner, but it can be hard to know how or even where to begin. That’s why I have started focusing on sharing information about giving back when you travel, as well as ways to find and choose locally-owned hotels and businesses so you can help the community.

I will also be starting a weekly social media campaign where I share ways to reduce or counteract your carbon footprint when you travel or even when you just go about your day.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and the least?
I love so many things about Los Angeles; I believe it is such an underrated city. We have such incredible diversity here.

Diversity in terms of the vibe of each neighborhood, the different immigrant populations and cultures that call the city home, the fact that we have people from very different walks of life all coming together to start a new life and pursue a dream… yet little of this is included in the general outsiders’ perception of Los Angeles.

I have lived in Los Angeles for eight years, and I am still discovering cool spots, intriguing nooks, and crannies of the city every week. The downside of the city may be its massive size, which makes it very difficult to explore as much as you make like. Traffic and less efficient public transportation compound this problem.

Pricing:

  • Abandoned Southern California – $21.00
  • Abandoned Northern California – $21.00
  • 2 Hour Photo Shoot in LA – $300

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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