Welcome to Series 6 of the Plutus Awards Podcast hosted by Michelle Jackson. Our community is filled with hundreds of stories from creators and entrepreneurs just like you. And through this show we share these stories of challenges and successes from bloggers to podcasters, from writers, speakers, and more.
In this season we talk about a somewhat taboo topic — the deadly sins that personal finance (and other content creators) can make. We share lessons learned, how to avoid these mistakes, and the fact that we’re all human, putting our creative work out there into the world. This season’s conversation is about the inherent risks we’re taking in developing online brands, our own hubris, and the impact that how other people perceive us can make us or break our online brand.
Today’s guest is Natasha Scott creator of Nomad Gone Wrong on TikTok. In this episode we talk about the sin of omission and how content creators influence their audiences to take action without sharing what happens behind the scenes. In this case we talk about digital nomad life. This was a hard conversation and I hope that it leaves people thinking about how they can better serve their audiences and be more transparent about how difficult it is to build brands, be nomads and take risks.
Natasha Scott – The Sin of Omission: How To Share About Your Reality and Why
Notes and summary from this episode
Natasha-Hi my name is Natasha Scott and I’ve been documenting my life as a Nomad Gone Wrong on TikTok and just sharing a real raw journey on being a nomad and doing van
Michelle-One of the things we’re talking about this season is the accountability of content creators in the content they’re creating (and the messaging you heard)
Natasha-My nomad journey began 8 or 9 months ago. I’d seen the glitz and glam and seeing the world from a different angle. I wanted to be a black woman in that space. I did everything I could such as having a remote job, etc. But, unfortunately, I went through a lot of events that I think a lot of people don’t really talk about such as having a job, being laid off. Going to airbnbs, hotels and then going into van life and it being so expensive. One day I decided to share my journey because I knew there were other people having similar experiences. I just didn’t want to be silent about it anymore.
Michelle-Could you share what your thoughts were around what your business would be as a digital nomad. Were you trying to be 100% content creation? And could you talk about the timing of building your plan.
Natasha-My whole journey as a nomad just kind of happened. Business sidewise-I was just doing it for enjoyment and wanted to see if I could film from my point of view. I did have a job and I did have a small business. Pre-covid, I did get booked for projects and worked. When this first happened I had 30 days to move from my apartment and was on 12 different apartment waiting lists. So, I decided to try the lifestyle and see if it was as easy as what I saw online. Then, I decided to pursue van life. But, I never even got an opportunity to leave my state.
Michelle-I didn’t know that you were on so many waitlists. One of the things that I look at is the impact of STR and the impact on housing. Do you think the VRBO and AirBnB impacted your ability to find affordable housing? It feels like you were forced to make a decision that maybe you wouldn’t have because of that.
Natasha-Yes. Apartments have jumped to double digits, there are a lot of things happening here. It’s really hard to find anything. Right now you need to have a permit to run a short-term rental because there are so many where people are finding it hard to find housing.
Michelle-You’re on these waitlists, it’s not happening you decided to do vanlife. I feel like van life needs a lot of time to plan for it. That wasn’t the case for you. What did you think it would be versus the reality?
Natasha-I thought van life was going to be cheaper. I honestly thought I was going to save money. I thought living in the van would help with my income and my spending. Gas prices went up and it was almost $250 a week. Food. I did not prepare a year, two years in advance and I did not. Maintenance for the car. I was actually in the process of renovating the van. The whole inside build was expensive. Some van conversions are easily $100 grand. Everything was just really, really expensive. That definitely cut into a lot of my funds with maintenance, tires, etc.
Michelle-Were you make money with your content. You had an Etsy store?
Natasha-I had an Etsy store, Amazon store (Amazon FBA) and I invested a couple of thousand dollars with those products. To be honest I didn’t really sell anything. I did have to sell a lot of my equipment. And I had a Shopify store as well. I built a whole brand from scratch that was going well.
Michelle-What was your 9-5?
Natasha-I was a pilot recruiter.
Michelle-Was the airline clear about the fact that they weren’t going to work with you anymore? What happened? You had diversified income and a significant portion of your income went away.
Natasha-I was basically a pilot recruiter for a third party company that was on contract. Once the budget was hit, we were laid off. I did save, but then my personal finances, things I had to pay my bills, my debt, my loans. My brother who is mentally ill went missing for a month and there were times I wasn’t able to work as I wanted to. I was spending more than was coming in. I applied for unemployment and it didn’t come in and I still on the waitlist. I was going through a lot mentally and it was hard to kee my drive. My storage unit I had to downgrade to a smaller unit. I lost a lot of money, I didn’t honestly really sit down and budget my expenses, etc. The cost of AirBnB/Hotels weekly, still paying with my credit card. While laid off looking for freelance projects and gig work.
Michelle-Why did you decide to take this online and were you surprised by both the positive and negative feedback. It really pissed me off. I think for Black women in particular we have not had a positive experience in corporate life. When you look at 97% of black professionals not wanting to go back to the office.
Natasha-Honestly, I have no idea why I decided to post on TikTok. One night it was 3:00 am and I was in the van and I could hear people around my van and I was scared. I was scared of being silent. No one talks about the safety issues. It was 3:30 in the morning. And I woke up the next day and I had a lot of views. I was just really tired, frustrated and felt like a failure. I had all this stuff and within a couple of months everything was gone and I was trying to figure out what I could have done to be in a better position. I received a lot of positive feedback and a lot of backlash. A lot of the Black community attacked me.
Michelle-What were the criticisms that people shared and were the positives?
Natasha-A lot of people had similar stories to me. The DMs the emails. A lot of people who’d tried van life and ended up becoming homeless. In the beginning I would delete mean comments. The community on TikTok has been wonderful (of all races) I had no idea so many people would be interested in my story. The negative comments. Man. I went viral on Twitter. I was trying to figure out why people were commenting from Twitter and Instagram. The dms I received, being called stupid and dumb. It was shocking.
Michelle-What do you wish the content creators that you followed sharing nomad life, what do you wish they would have shared to change the perception of the risk you’re about to take.
Natasha-I wish they would have shared the reality. Van Life in itself, knowing your surroundings, knowing if you’re safe. Parking. The real cost of the lifestyle and the fact that you’re living day to day (financially) . Am I going to find a place on a daily basis? Food. No one talks about spending the amount of money you need on food daily. Waking up in sweat because the van is hot. A lot of people show the unrealistic journey. It’s pretty rough, it’s hustle mode everyday. My paranoia is through the roof. Then trying to work these gigs, full-time jobs but you don’t have a home to go to.
Michelle-You’re having to address the now in addition to the future. Could you walk through the daily gigs while looking for a 9-5.
Natasha-I have my trusty tablet, my laptop and my phone. But, I don’t have an address. But, I’m working on getting a virtual address so that I can get equipment to work again. For gigs, I’m on 17 different apps right now. Another thing that I learned there is a busy season and a slow season for gigs. Right now is the slow season. Right now it’s vacation season. There were weeks when I was booked and busy and weeks when I had no income coming in. Bussing tables, serving, bartending, event coordinating, copywriting, etc. You have to constantly find work. That is exhausting sometimes.
Michelle-For people who’re listening, what are the spaces that you create content in?
Natasha-Spreading awareness, educational, lifeskills. I’m going to make content on survival skills as a woman living in the streets. Realistic nomad.
Michelle-Have you considered leaving Atlanta?
Natasha-Yes. Right now I’m in the process of moving and am looking for a beach town. I would like to wake up and feel at peace. A lot of my personal information has been shared online. My goal is to relocate and I did have an incident where I no longer feel safe. I’m no longer doing van life.
Michelle-I was nervous to reach out to you because I didn’t want to create pressure to a serious situation that you’re working your way through. What are you looking for that listeners can forward to you?
Natasha-Right now I’m looking for resources or a different outlook for my next steps.
Michelle-If you had one piece of advice what would you share with content creators.
Natasha-Be honest. People will always judge you, they’re not going to stop watching you. Whatever content you want to make, just do it.
Michelle-How has this situation impacted your creativity? For those of you listening, it was scary for me to reach out to Natasha because I didn’t want to make the situation worse. If you have opportunities please forward them to me and to Plutus. We’re allowed to have whimsy. What would you say to people who say “you should have done it this other way.”
Natasha-All I can ever be is my true self. I was never able to express myself. I do get emotional when it comes to my life. Nomad Gone Wrong on TikTok. email@example.com
Michelle-I found you on Twitter because I’m Twitter quite a bit. I just ignore the haters. I thank you for your candor and wish more people would be honest that it’s hard. People, it’s not all sexy.