Don’t follow trends, create them

Mia and her husband enjoy traveling the world

While we welcome diversity in a bunch of forms, we also love when like-minded people use our products bravely. They have been an excellent source of inspiration across the years. The simple fact that there are folks who genuinely resonate with our values and mission means a lot. Mia and Thies are one of them.

I came across Uberding while skimming through examples websites made with Felt, our premium WordPress theme. I was curious to see how people across the world are using it. Often, they push the boundaries and give me a different perspective. As a storyteller, these differences are essential because they help me create a safe place to host these various narratives.

Of course, I am biased, and I chose them because I relate with the way they see and understand the world, even the digital one.

The truth is that the eye-candy image from the hero area grabbed my attention and made me wonder who these guys are. The attention to detail, the gorgeous visuals, and the authentic content were enough to keep me reading. Something felt right from the start.

Hero Area from Uberding's website
Uberding’s eye-catching home page

I thank myself for being genuine, curious, and for investigating further because I discovered amazing people and an approach to life and work that got me thinking.

What follows is an authentic interview not about how these guys use our product but about their endeavors, both digital and non-digital. I was pleasantly surprised by how much does Mia & Thies, her husband, manifest excellence and care, two of our core values at Pixelgrade.

I am both honored and grateful that I have the chance to learn more about how this couple is packing content, how they stick to their beliefs, how they choose their paid collaborations, or what makes them invest in thoughtful stories.

I like to believe that our dialogue goes beyond an honest chat about these topics. It can act as a strong statement for all of you who appreciate depth and transparency in everything you do.

I hope you are going to enjoy reading our conversation. And, who knows, maybe you will start questioning your way of working.


Oana

Who are you, and what’s your story?

Mia

Hi! I’m Mia, a young mom that is the happiest when she’s working, spending time with the family, and traveling. If I could choose, I would be with my feet dug in the sand, my back on a palm tree, my eyes on the vast ocean, and my iPhone within reach.

As a social media consultant at my agency “creading GmbH“, which I run with my husband, and as a travel and lifestyle blogger, I always find myself somehow between wanderlust and homesick.

During the numerous trips, I learned that we actually need much less for everyday life than we assume in our consumer society. It’s the simple things that make us happy.

Oana

What’s your background?

Mia

In 2007, while studying for my bachelor’s degree in Arts, I founded the blog Uberding during a practical semester in an IT company. Facebook was still quite small, Instagram was not yet born, and the term influencer was still alien to society.

The job “Social Media Manager” did not really exist yet, but the economy needed competent service providers who could meet the needs and already had the relevant experience. Thanks to the blog, I was able to acquire this competence very early on.

Oana

What makes you and your husband a good team?

Mia

As a small family that has spent an average of 6 months traveling in the past few years, whether it is a trip as a family or on press trips as a single person, it is essential to have a personal life that enables this. With my husband at my side, I found the perfect partner not only in life but also in business. 

Mia alongside Thies, her husband, and their son in Australia
Mia alongside Thies, her husband, and their son in Australia

Running a company always means a lot of bureaucracy. Thies does all of this and thus leaves me free to focus on my core competencies. He’s also taking care of most of our video and photography productions, which is a major part of our business.

Oana

What did you learn and unlearn by traveling so intense?

Mia

During the numerous trips, I learned that we actually need much less for everyday life than we assume in our consumer society. It’s the simple things that make us happy. It is not the brands that we wear or likes and comments on social media posts that we receive who are responsible for our happiness. A bed near the beach, my family around me, and being able to be offline at times means luxury and joy to me. 

What I have unlearned through the many trips, however, is to rest in one place for more than four weeks. At home, the wanderlust rises pretty quickly. On the other side, when we are on a trip, we get homesick. But we are more than grateful to live such a life. It is not always easy to work and make money far from home and our office, but somehow we get it pretty well organized, even if it is sometimes not so easy.

Oana

How was it back then when you started blogging?

Mia

It all started during my studies. During an internship, I had the opportunity to create the blog and then started writing about the things I was enthusiastic about. At first, I wrote a lot about fashion and street art.

The focus on travel began around 2011 when Thies and I discovered our shared passion for traveling. The blog was always a mirror of my everyday life, and so the stories we tell there have changed accordingly. At that time, there were hardly any blogs in Germany that could we could use as a guide. I just did my thing, and I’m still very happy about it.

In the business in which we operate, that was initially far from generating any income and now seems to be a dream job for many, it is important not to follow trends but ideally to create them, or at least recognize them early-on.

Oana

What’s your manifesto as a content creator?

Mia

The blog reflects a lot of our personality, so we only cooperate with brands or on topics with which we can identify ourselves. If you read the blog, you can nearly read my mind, as most of the stories are really personal.

We have a defined style for our pictures and videos, so if some of the stories are from our team members and not us directly, the writing style can be their own, but the imagery must fit into the overall look.

Oana

What’s your take on having a website rather than using social media?

Mia

I have total control over my medium. Social media helps a lot to spread your stories and to get people’s attention to your blog, but at the end of the day, you don’t own your social media profile.

You rented your profile to Marc Zuckerberg, but owning a blog is like owning your own house.

Oana

When did you realize that Instagram was not a good fit?

Mia

I understood that before Instagram was born. I’ve always seen myself as a storyteller. Media over which you have no total control will always limit your stories. It’s like the radio songs that are usually no longer than 3.30min. This is not because musicians only have creativity for 3:30 min, but because of the power of the radio. Nevertheless, Instagram is an important medium that can help attract new blog readers.

Oana

What motivates you to dig deeper into your stories?

Mia

I often see, in the social media behavior of Instagram users, that self-portraying posts by Instagramers, who call themselves bloggers, often generate high interactions. However, these posts don’t give the follower any real added value. The given likes are more like a fan cheer. We don’t look for such followers; we want to reach readers at eye level to share experiences, emotions, joy, and suffering with them. To achieve this, you need to tell authentic profound stories.

These have always been the guidelines on our blog and so we also extend this on the associated social media channels. I want to add value to the readers.

Oana

How did you reach the point of marking your paid content?

Mia

First of all, you have to clearly label paid content on German websites. Our way of storytelling seems to have left a good impression in the industry and the PR agencies over the past 13 years. 

Apparently we do a good job, and that led to collaborations one after the other. It also happens that we proactively approach clients and agencies with our ideas and, if they are interested and have a budget, we often start joint projects.

Oana

Do people think that writing is easy and full of glam?

Mia

Even people close to us such as friends and family often don’t understand what it means to be a blogger. The entire content we publish, be it on our blog, in our associated print magazine which appears twice a year, or the content that we produce for our clients, does not take care of itself. We are not six months a year on vacation. We work on the go, which is not always easy with a toddler. 

Of course, our profession takes us to beautiful places around the world, but writing stories, taking photos, and producing videos take a lot of time and skills, which we have acquired over the years. 

Our agency work for our clients, which we advise and support on the social web, is not always that easy to do on the go because we don’t have a stable internet connection everywhere. Time zone differences often play an essential role.

Oana

What made you develop multiple revenue streams?

Mia

Nowadays everything is fast-paced. Often it is no longer about the stories, but about the number of likes and comments for each social media postings, the number of followers and the reach behind them.

As storytellers, we saw that shift from day 1, and we felt the need to do justice again by creating an analog print magazine. We wanted to inspire people and share our stories with them. 

This is difficult with the very short amount of time people are willing to spend on social media posting these days. It was also important for us to stand out from the crowd and to invest money in a printed product instead of buying followers and likes, which has become a normal tool for most influencers nowadays.

Uberding's „Finding Paradise“ magazine
Uberding’s „Finding Paradise“ magazine

We just wanted to create something real and sustainable with the magazine. Such a magazine is something you like to take in your hand after six months and linger in it. In comparison, the time spent online is just a blink of an eye.

😎

You can support Mia and Thies by ordering their beautiful magazine. I encourage you to spend your money on independent creators and help them continue to craft meaningful work.

Oana

How does the mix of complementary skills help you guys?

Mia

If you want to tell a story, then you should try to address as many senses as possible for your followers. Dwell time has become an important issue.

The more attention you get or the longer people stay on a story, the higher the chances that they will take something meaningful for themselves and maybe also rediscover themselves. Ideally, we inspire them to let our experiences become their wishes.

Oana

How do you grow, how do you keep learning?

Mia

Trust in what you do, keep up with the times, be diligent, and train yourself every day. Happiness is something that does not usually occur on its own but is often the result of actions that have been carried out beforehand. 

In the business in which we operate, that was initially far from generating any income and now seems to be a dream job for many, it is important not to follow trends but ideally to create them, or at least recognize them early-on.

Oana

Do you admire someone, anyone you look up to?

Mia

Probably my father the most. Whenever things were not going well in my life, he courageously spoke to me and taught me that there is a solution to every problem. I am also often in doubt and lose myself in worries of everyday life. 

My husband is then my anchor that keeps me on the ground. And then, of course, the laugh of my 3-year-old son. No day could be so bad that Neon couldn’t cheer me up again.

Oana

What are some resources you are consuming these days?

Mia

I love audiobooks. I like to listen to them while doing the household chores with my new AirPods Pro in my ears. I often lack the time to read a book and, above all, inner peace. It is often difficult for me to switch off and leave everyday life behind me.

One of the most relaxed moments is the evening sofa break with my husband when we come to rest and watch a Netflix series together. Recently, this was “Ozark.” We devoured the three seasons together within a few days.

I am beyond grateful for having the chance to do this interview. I must confess that I would have loved to run it in person since nothing beats the energy of a real-life conversation. I learned a bunch of things from Mia & Thies not only related to how they approach life in general but also regarding how they treat storytelling in a crowded and crazy digital landscape.

We live in a world where we need stories more than ever. Honest, authentic, genuine, kind, trustworthy, inclusive ones because they help us feel less alone and become better versions of ourselves. I hope I put a drop into the ocean with this one. Humanity needs more of that.

Hey! Check out my eBook on writing.

You can have it for free. It’s our way of giving back. Yap, that’s simple. No strings attached. 👏

Give it to me
Oana

Oana is a storyteller at Pixelgrade and community builder for creative industries. A true believer in the power of making the world a better place one story at a time.

Conversations No Comments

Avatar

Let's start a personal and a meaningful conversation.

Example: Practical philosopher, therapist and writer.