How I Landed My Dream Job

How I Landed My Dream Job

photo by Katie Donnelly Photography

How I Landed My Dream Job

My story begins in 2008 when I lost my job in corporate America. I remember driving home from my meeting and crying my eyes out. And I called my Dad and shared the news. I had no idea how I was going to pay my rent or my newly leased car payment.

I was the first of my friends to lose my job during the recession. So I was embarrassed, even though it wasn’t my fault.  During the first couple of months, I was completely lost. I couldn’t find a job, but I refused to spend my days sitting at home on the couch watching tv or sleeping late.

I was on unemployment. So I didn’t have much money at all. I walked to the bookstore every day. I would visit Borders or Barnes and Noble or sometimes both. And I would pick up a book that I wanted to read and I would literally read ALL day. I would take a break for lunch and cross the street to the other bookstore. I didn’t finish a book in a day but sometimes I was close. And I would make notes on what page I finished on and picked up the next day. I would read anything and everything. And I even considered going back to grad school.

I could have gone to the library, but there was something comforting about the bookstore. My Dad used to take us on Sundays when we were kids. I think I have made up for it with the Book Club! I have helped sell a lot of books over the last couple of years.

One of my friends asked me if I could do anything for a job what would it be.

The answer was simple, “I wanted to travel the world taking photographs and find a way to get paid for it.” This was way before e-commerce took off. But I had no idea how I was going to make this happen. I truly believe in putting what you want in the universe.

I learned about Etsy from a friend towards the end of 2008. And I made a goal to start a shop at the beginning of 2009. I had no idea what I was going to sell in my print shop. I call 2009 my year of discovery because I was still figuring out what my niche was and my pricing. It took a while to get my first sale. I had one photograph that was getting more hits than anything else in the shop. 

In 2009, I still couldn’t find a job so I started working as a Nanny.

I worked as a night Nanny and as a day Nanny. My hours were 10 pm – 7 am twice a week for a newborn. (they ended up keeping me for a whole year) The other was for a family during the day a few days a week. I would work on my Etsy shop while the kids slept. Then I read a ton of articles and tried to figure out tricks and tips on how to build my shop. On the weekends, I would take my photography to the farmer’s markets to sell. I would set up by 7 am and finish around 2 and drive back to the city.

In 2010, I booked a trip to Paris with babysitting money and airline miles from my previous job.

I photographed from morning until night learning the city by getting lost. I came home from that trip and put my photographs in the Etsy shop. It was pretty quickly afterward that my business started to grow. I finally found my niche! I had two bestsellers from that Paris trip that ended up selling with One Kings Lane.

By 2011, I was completely on my own as a Travel Photographer.

It was one of the scariest parts of leaving behind a stable income from being a Nanny to relying fully on my photography. For anyone who has taken the scary leap, it somehow finds a way of working out.

Since my first solo trip to Paris in 2010, I have been fortunate to have had a lot of Paris adventures I had no idea that this would turn into a full-time business and Paris would be the main focus. It was never the plan. I actually thought if anything, I was going to move back to Italy after my semester abroad.

Rebecca Travel Photographer | How I Landed My Dream Job

Earlier, I mentioned that you have to put what you want out in the universe. In the very beginning when I was walking to the bookstore every day, I stopped by the store Papyrus that was close by. I decided that I wanted to sell one of my photographs in the store. And I had no idea how I was going to do it but I simply asked. I made it a goal. A few years later, I received an email from Papyrus asking to license one of my images. This also happened with IKEA about 10 years later.

In the past few years, I have had the opportunity to sell my work at Barnes and Noble (3 projects) Indigo (a bookshop in Canada), Pottery Barn, West Elm, World Market, even Target! You should see my face when I see my work out in the wild, I can’t help the biggest smile. I am so proud.

When people ask me about what I do for a living, it always sparks a conversation.

I couldn’t find a job back in 2008, so I created one.

I found a way to travel the world, take pictures, and make a living.

There is a lot of the story that fills in from my first solo trip to Paris up until now. It hasn’t always been easy and it hasn’t been a smooth ride. There have been a lot of roadblocks along the way and my business is constantly changing and evolving. If I had the chance to do it all over again with all the struggles, I would say yes! Owning a business isn’t for everyone. It takes a lot of self-motivation, dedication, late nights, and early mornings. I’m a self-taught photographer and blogger.

I lost my job in my twenties when my friends were still single and going out on the weekends. I had to make a lot of sacrifices with money and time to get to where I am. It has been 2 years of discovery and 12 years as a solo entrepreneur.

Every Day Parisian

The blog came about in 2016 when I was homesick for Paris. I had the idea in the middle of the night to write about how I live a French-inspired life in Chicago. So I quickly typed in the domain into GoDaddy at around 3am and for $12 was born! It took more than 9 months of planning before the site ever launched.

You can see the inspiration for the blog here. 

In the past few years, I have had some dream collaborations including Cuyana, Avène, and Diptyque.

Everyday Parisian continues to evolve and grow each year.

In 2021, I worked on a rebrand and merged both the photography site and blog together to make a more cohesive brand between the two.

Everyday Parisian | How I Landed My Dream Job

My favorite part of the blog has been connecting with readers around the world each Sunday for links I love. They are a tribute to my grandma and the letters she used to send me with post-it notes and cut-out newspaper articles. I am happy to see the tradition be carried on each with.

The blog is 6 years old and still going strong. I love the EDP community of Francophiles from all over the world. It has been so rewarding to be able to help so many people plan amazing trips to Paris for their first time, honeymoon, and families. During the pandemic, I was able to bring Paris home with the Frenchify series.

This post does include affiliate links which helps contribute to my coffee and croissant money. Merci!

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  1. I think you must have been the inspiration for Emily in Paris. What a fantastic story and how inspiring to so many of us trying to figure out, “what’s next” as early, mid or late career changers. I have been laid off more than once from very senior roles at corporations (C Suite) and it gets easier in some ways (severance) and no easier in others (keeping your chin up and trying not to feel badly that you are clearly expendable). I love that you turned your passion into your career and that your crafts feed each other (and you and Henri!). Magnifique! Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. I’m in a rough place right now and struggling to convert my “side-hustle” into my main hustle. Your story really inspired me and lifted me up when I was feeling so down. I’ve got this, and I can do it. Thanks for the inspiration, Rebecca xx ❤️

    Sandra in London

    • Thank you, Julia! It was a difficult time for sure but I am so happy something good came about and I was forced out of my comfort zone to chase my dream!

    • Thank you! I am happy to hear it gave you a little faith. It is a scary thing to change careers but also very rewarding when you feel you made the right decision. Good luck!

  3. I recently discovered your blog, I’m not sure how, maybe on Instagram, but having French roots and a granddaughter that also did a semester in Paris a few years ago, I knew I wanted to subscribe! I love your honesty and creativity!

    • Hi Bobbie!

      Welcome and thank you so much for your kind words. I hope you and your granddaughter enjoy following along.

      Keep in touch xo

  4. Such a great story!! It inspires to take photographs. I’m in awe of your life venture and how you got there. Determination and goals got you there! Great job Rebecca! 👍🏼☺️ C’est Magnifique!

    • Thank you so much, Angel! I feel very lucky to have traveled as much as I have. Determination and hard work 🙏 and goals are huge for me.

  5. Such an inspiring story! The most touching part is your honesty. Reinventing your purpose and being a business owner is not for everyone. Taking charge of your life requires dedication. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you so much! I hope I can inspire others with my story. It is a lot of hard work but also very rewarding. I am so grateful for this life and business I have created.

  6. Two months ago, my husband came to me and said "I have a work trip to Paris." From that moment, I have been reading, studying and soaking up everything I could get my hands on about Paris. I spent a week roaming this amazing city, and I felt truly at peace for the first time in my adult life. The beauty, the history, are architecture and the gardens all "spoke to me".
    Today, two weeks after this amazing trip, I found your blog, through a singular picture on pintrest. I’ve been reading your posts and admiring your pictures all day. Your words and pictures have perfectly captured the Paris I saw; the Paris I felt.
    I must have taken 500 pictures that week. I have always taken pictures. Not selfies. Photos of the beauty I see when I travel. You have inspired me to share them. I can only hope that people will enjoy my travels as much as I am enjoying being inspired by yours. Merci beaucoup!

  7. For those of us a little obsessed with the Parisian lifestyle, a book about what a day (or week, month, year) in the life of an actual Parisian would be a must-read! What is her morning routine, and what does she use to look so effortlessly beautiful? From what cafe does she sip her morning coffee? How does she plan her meals and who is her favorite butcher/baker? How does she spend a night in and where would she go for a night out? How does she feel about her job, love, life? The possibilities are endless!…Beautiful blog. My first time here and I will be back.

  8. I LOVE hearing how you got your dream job! I really like the originality of your photos and the honesty of your writing. I hope to one day be able to sustain myself with my new creative outlet side-gig, which is a health and beauty blog ( I hope to incorporate travel in there as well, and I also have always wanted to write a book. Keep putting it out there! I would love to read a book about how a different culture (such as France) changed you as a person––something that inspires me to follow my heart, and put the good stuff out there. I also much prefer to buy books. It’s so sad to return a much-loved book back to the library

  9. Great post! I think an interesting concept for a book would be to have a way to inspire people to make a trip to Paris "their own". Everyone has such a different experience when they go, especially the first time. I feel the most value and most fun lies in seeing things off the beaten path. Not sticking to the main tourist sites, museums etc.

    Everyone always wants to hit the main sites which is understandable, but the real magic of the city is beyond the basics. Use your photographs and stories to show how even on a first time or short trip, you can the magic beyond the Louvre, Cafe de Fleur, etc. Make people want to explore the city a bit more.

  10. I would love a combo of a book with some of your beautiful photos interspersed with your story and great places to see in Paris, favorite recipes too.

  11. I love stories like this, what you’ve done is so inspiring! It’s my dream to do something more creative career wise, but it’s so hard to begin. Can’t wait for your book, whatever you decide to do!

  12. I read travel books just for fun! One book that you might find inspirational is "100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go". It was a very personal guide to great spots and why the author Marica DeSanctis loved them. I could see something similar with your gorgeous photos…. Just throwing that out into the universe 🙂

  13. Fantastic, truly inspiring. I know you said it is hard to achieve what you have, but to see your smiling face is the best message you can share! The book idea is wonderful. I don’t see you doing the Peter Mayle style of a book, maybe something on the lines of describing Paris from your images as if you had to tell a blind person from Omaha what Paris was like?

  14. I loved reading your article! Beautifully written and gorgeous pictures! As an interior designer the "crash" in 2008 turned my world upside down. People were losing their homes, not hiring designers to make them beautiful! I was 49 and had been self employed for 16 years, tough enough in itself. So when my first grandson was born in 2010, I not only became "Gigi" but full time nanny to Aidan for 4 years. There were times that it wasn’t easy, I had already raised my 2 children! But it was one of the greatest times of my life and Aidan and I have such a special bond that most grandparents don’t, because of it. Well, I have hung in there with my career because design is my great passion, and I moved to a more affluent community 2 years ago. More $ to live here but more work for me, yay!! Never let go of your dreams, everyone! Jeannette Gevedon Interiors

  15. Great story! Thanks for sharing! You are such an inspiration. I am at a different phase in my life as recently retired from corporate life and I aspire to live more creatively. I also love photography and travel and hope to inspire others with my photos and travel stories going forward.

  16. Great post! I appreciate your candor regarding job loss. I too was in my 20s and was laid off from my first job during the Great Recession. It was scary, but did force creativity and reinvention. Your story is inspiring. For book ideas, day trips from Paris (besides Versailles and Saint-Michel) would be fun. Also, maybe some shopping ideas. I find the articles out there lacking. I look forward to your book!

  17. Congratulations! What a compelling story! As someone who loves to research trips before I go, how about either a travel memoir, or secret finds type of book? With online updated content that is available only to book purchasers. Best of luck to you!