As the face and voice behind the popular travel and lifestyle website Spirited Pursuit, Lee Litumbe’s mission is simple: she is in spirited pursuit of travel, adventure, and new cultural experiences. Founded in 2014, Spirited Pursuit showcases dynamic travel stories, captivating photography, and curated city guides from culturally rich destinations. Geared towards curious and adventurous individuals seeking authentic experiences, Spirited Pursuit is quickly becoming the premier inspiration site for travelers.
As a visual storyteller, Lee uses photography to shape poignant narratives centered around cultural immersion and travel experiences off-the-beaten track. Driven by Lee’s Cameroonian roots, Spirited Pursuit’s primary region of focus is Africa. Other current geographic focuses include The Middle East, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Oceania, with some additional coverage of Europe and North America. Accolades garnered include features in USA Today, The Guardian, and Ebony magazine to name a few. Additionally, Elle Canada named Lee among the most “Inspiring Instagram Accounts that Make You Want to Travel”.
With a blog that features photography, travel, adventure, and cultural experiences from you and many around the world, what led you to start blogging?
To be honest, Spirited Pursuit was founded as a result of my quarter life crisis. The idea for the website began to develop after I turned 25 and realized I had no idea where my life was going. During that time, I was working a job I despised, struggling to salvage a dysfunctional relationship, and battling a severe bout of depression which all left me with dangerously low self-esteem.
After spending several months curled up in bed feeling sorry for myself, my two older sisters encouraged me to get off my ass and get back to doing the things I love: traveling, taking photographs, writing, and just being creative.
Those passions combined with my desire to provide a platform for others to share their transformative experiences and stories with travel are what ultimately drove me to create Spirited Pursuit. The website now serves as my creative outlet, which has given my life a renewed sense of purpose and direction.
As seen on your blog, you are also a photographer, and a model. How have these hidden treasures furthered the success of your brand?
I think it just comes down to others seeing themselves in what you do. African (black) women are rarely used in major travel campaigns, so it’s a conscious choice to use myself as the face of my projects.
I want other young black girls and women to be able to see themselves traveling and being adventurous, while also giving readers the opportunity to connect with a real person. By using myself and my unique set of skills to capture destinations, I believe it makes my stories more relatable and attainable. It further demonstrates to my readers that if I – a young solo female traveler – can do it, so can they.
Although I use myself as a subject, the narratives I produce always focus more on the place and experience, not so much me.
Have you been able to monetize Spirited Pursuit? If so, through what avenues? If not, do you have plans to do so or are you not interested in monetizing?
Spirited Pursuit began as (and still is) my labor of love, so initially there was no financial motivation. Early on, I made the difficult decision to keep our digital space ad free to maintain a positive user experience, choosing to accept donations at the discretion of our readers instead.
However, as the platform continues to see tremendous growth, I’ve opened up collaboration and partnership opportunities to like-minded brands, tourism boards, and publishers that are interested in promoting powerful travel opportunities to our community through creative advertising. I also separately offer my creative services (content curation/creation, creative direction, consulting, photography, and writing) to other brands interested in elevating the quality of their digital content.
Pursuing earnings without compromising my reader experience is important to me. I am consistently working towards finding a balance between keeping the lights on and maintaining a quality, minimally compromised, user experience.What are your plans for Spirited Pursuit? Where do you want to take the blog/ brand in the future?
The goal is more travel, more stories and more inspiration – particularly within Africa and the African Diaspora. I’m passionate about building a community and platform that takes the anxiety out of traveling to Africa by creating informative and inspiring resources and guides. By curating content that shows others that Africa is not defined by the poverty, conflict, disease, and socio-political issues constantly being projected in traditional media, my ultimate goal is to attract more investment and tourism.
And by attracting investment, I mean compelling and propelling business opportunities within the continent, not just charity. Beyond that, I’d much rather show you than tell you, so please stay tuned for what’s next for Spirited Pursuit and me.
What advice, would you have for African women looking to further their brand through blogging or social media?
The best advice I would give to others would be to speak on a topic they truly love and are passionate about; mostly because you’ll need that passion to stay motivated when things get hard (which they will) or uninspiring. If your goal is to build a large audience, focus on producing quality and original content consistently.
The people you hope to connect with will naturally gravitate towards your work if it’s genuine and honest, so don’t lead with trying to make money or being “popular”. I would also encourage others to add value to the lives of their audience by solving a problem they might have, while being as creative and original as possible in the execution of their ideas.
Finally, be sure to support others – particularly women. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned on my journey is that another woman’s success is not my failure. Your win is my win, and my win is your win. Instead of viewing other women as competition, reach out and build relationships with them so they become allies; there is enough room for everyone to succeed. Be kind and uplift others, I believe it will take you much further.
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