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Inspiring Conversations with Michael Acevedo of Pedacitos Travel & Culture Blog

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Acevedo. 

Hi Michael, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
I was born in Puerto Rico and was raised in Central Florida. I have worked in the Themed Entertainment industry for nearly 20 years on big projects at Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World, including Harry Potter, Transformers, Disney Springs, Star Wars: Rise of The Resistance, and Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, to name a few. This is where my passion for storytelling comes from. I love traveling and I have been fortunate to visit nearly 30 countries around the world. What I enjoy the most about traveling is the opportunity to experience local culture. I like to think culture has four primary areas: people, place, food, and art. I combined my passion for storytelling and love of culture into Pedacitos Travel & Culture Blog, which I founded in 2020. Our mission is to share stories that highlight the people and places that contribute to shaping the cultural identity of our communities. We are especially looking to amplify stories that highlight inclusivity, diversity, equity, accessibility, and sustainability; we call these IDEAS.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I started Pedacitos as more of a hobby where I can share stories, media, and lessons learned while traveling. I found it important to open my platform so others can also share their stories, knowing that no two people will have the exact same experience even if they do the exact same thing when the travel. That is because our worldview is shaped largely by our own personal experiences, so we interpret and value things differently. When I started opening this up to others, I found it difficult because no one wants to share for free (well, not very many). I started paying a small fee in order to get more stories from various perspectives. Pedacitos was slowly turning into a business, but I wasn’t making money. I used my own money to pay people for their stories. I then started looking into how I would monetize the blog, and that is when I learned so much about the various ways to make money but also about how hard it would be. It was very hard to balance cash flow with sharing responsibilities with others and trying to work a full-time job… It eventually became unsustainable to pay people for stories until I was making any revenue… I had to find a business model that would make us money even if it was slow. We are now making money, but the velocity is very slow, and I still face the challenge of time and money. I still work full-time and can’t afford to hire someone to run the blog. So, I’ve dabbled into hiring on a commission-only basis but also haven’t had much luck. My challenge now is scaling the business and having access to capital to front the expense that it will take. However, the more people I talk to about what I’m doing, the more invigorated I am because everyone thinks it is a worthy cause. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to contribute financially even if they believe it is worthy. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
We share sponsored stories. We charge a small fee for our storytelling service, and we become advocates for the individuals, organizations, or businesses we write about. Our stories are published on our website and then shared over our social media channels. I also take the time to share social media postings from those who have supported us. We are different from other blogs because we are not simply writing reviews of products/services. We focus on sharing the story of the individual and what led them into getting into business. We then talk about their products and services and make recommendations to readers. We want to be a platform that amplifies the voices of others, but unfortunately, not everyone is able to pay for this service. I’m most proud that I have been able to merge my passions (storytelling and culture) and turn it into a business that people are willing to pay for and are inspired by. Our goal is to inform and inspire readers. We are focusing on Central Florida now, but we plan on expanding. We believe our readers fall into two categories: locals and tourists. We want locals to be able to discover new places in their community and connect more deeply with their neighbors by highlighting the products and services that contribute to the culture of our communities. For tourists, we want to help them discover unique and worthy places that may not be located in touristy areas but provide a real local experience. I believe that this is mutually beneficial for many. 

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
It is important that you lean into what you are passionate about. Don’t let the stumbling blocks in the journey define your path, but take those as lessons to refine your idea. Ultimately, I believe that the journey is part of the process that leads you into refining what is best for society. Since completing my master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Colorado State University Global, I am more in tune with how important it is to amplify the voices of the underrepresented. Our stories are meant to inform and inspire, and we hope to be able to do this on a larger scale soon. 

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