Making Waves with Kelly Shogren

Stumbling into the digital nomad world by accident, Kelly Shogren had created a career around how and where she chooses to live.

Stumbling into the digital nomad world by accident, Kelly Shogren had created a career around how and where she chooses to live.

Born out of a desire to do more in all aspects of life, Kelly Shogren founded Make Waves, a social media agency that helps brands refine and optimize their online presence. Since founding the company in May 2018, Kelly and her team have successfully empowered small businesses to take control of their social media strategy. Remote work has opened many doors for Kelly and today she is sharing her favorite cities to work from, her best social media tips, and more!

Hey Kelly! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your work?

I’m a people person and that’s what really drew me into social media work in the beginning. Being a millennial, I grew up with social media in my personal life and when I learned it could be a career path, I was sold! I love how social media provides a platform for connection that would have never otherwise happened - whether that’s person to person or brand to customer or even brand to brand.

In regards to how I approach my work, I’m a firm believer that social media activity should always be enriching. As a brand you want to be providing your followers content that brings value to their lives, that could be a funny meme that gives them a chuckle as they scroll or a fun fact about your product that links back to your bigger brand purpose.

What I love most about working in social media is that it’s different every day. The platforms are always updating and the algorithms are forever being fine-tuned. This makes the job challenging but also exciting. I try to take cues from culture about what to expect on social media since the new features are largely a response to user behavior and requests.

What is the vision behind Make Waves?

My vision for Make Waves is always evolving. We work with some pretty incredible emerging brands who are making waves in their respective industries and we love being a part of telling their story on social and creating a bigger swell. Ultimately, the goal is to create connections in every way shape and form. We’re currently working on creating a community for women who make waves in their business lives and one day (dare I say this publicly? Guess it will hold me accountable!) we hope to open a coworking space with the same ideology.

What is something you’ve seen many companies get wrong on Instagram/social media?

Creating an inauthentic community through buying followers and/or likes. There are countless websites and apps that offer quick followers and endless likes - and on the cheap! However, with just a little bit of digging, inauthentic engagement can be spotted pretty quickly.

This is especially important for influencers to keep in mind - a brand doing their research will turn down a partnership if they can tell a community is largely fake. The goal behind a brand-influencer partnership is for said brand to increase their awareness and hopefully earn new customers via the influencer’s post. If the influencer’s community is largely dead/spam accounts then there is no real value in it for the brand.

Consistency, authenticity and finding your niche are key when trying to grow an organic audience. Create your brand’s social media to be a platform where people within your community can come to connect, relate and converse. Before you know it, you’ll have a loyal and engaged community that’s consistently growing.


Can you share your journey to becoming a digital nomad & entrepreneur? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

I never made a set decision or declaration to become a digital nomad and entrepreneur, it was more just like my life choices and circumstances put me down this path and as I got more involved I realized how well this lifestyle aligned with my ultimate passions of seeing the world, having flexibility in my days, and ultimately being solely in charge of deciding how I spend my time.

I guess my first step toward becoming a digital nomad was when I quit my LA agency job and took a 3 month gig as a manager at a boutique hotel in Panama. I had no intention of staying in Panama after the gig ended, but here I am 3 years later and Panama is still my home for half the year.

A couple of things happened when my hotel gig ended, 1) I decided I wasn’t ready to leave Panama yet, and 2) I needed a new way to make money. Thus began my hunt for a remote only job. I began working for a digital marketing agency headquartered in New York as a Social Media Account Manager and during my time with them I had the opportunity to work with some incredible industry leading brands, primarily in CPG and beauty industries.

While my experience with the agency was invaluable, it didn’t provide for a healthy work life balance and didn’t align with the income goals I had set for myself. After two years I decided to quit and I began freelancing while on the hunt for another remote job. Before I knew it I found myself in a position of needing to turn down work and rather than doing that I decided to go for it and start my own agency! We’re officially 6 months in and Make Waves is now a team of 3 representing 8 retainer clients and working with a handful of other brands in a coaching/consulting capacity.

What are some of your favorite cities to remote work from, and why?

Weird as it sounds, I love remote working from airports. I currently split my time between Bocas del Toro, Panama and Puerto Escondido, Mexico. They’re both pretty remote locations to get to in terms of travel routes available and thus every time I travel I find myself with a lengthy layover in one of the major airports - PTY or MEX. Something about the hustle and bustle of the airport gets my energy up and creative juices flowing.

To more accurately answer your question… I love remote working in Panama City, there’s a really interesting mixed America culture there due to the US occupying the canal zone for so long. It’s also dubbed the “Hub of the Americas” (again, due to the canal) so almost every major international corporation has a headquarters there which lends itself well to meeting some smart and interesting people.

Coworking spaces are still relatively new in Central America as a whole, Panama City has a handful popping up, but I haven’t had the chance to check them out yet. My favorite space to work from is Mentiritas Blancas, they have amazing coffee, a variety of snack and small bites options, and most importantly strong wifi!

I can’t wait for the opportunity to remote work from Lisbon. It’s in my top 3 favorite cities in Europe and seeing all the amazing cowork spaces Croissanters tag us in make me very excited for the time I’m back there and can take advantage of some of the spots!


Tell us about your favorite books and/or podcasts!

Podcasts I won’t miss weekly are Skimm’d From The Couch and Goop. They both interview some incredible industry leading, culture changing people. I’ll also jump on the bandwagon of whatever crime related or mystery podcast is trending at the time - Serial & Ear Hustle to name a couple I’ve enjoyed recently.

As for books, I really use those as my mental respite and escape time. I enjoy mystery thrillers, basically anything by Gillian Flynn and of the likes.