We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, what do you attribute your success to?
I would say the most important factor behind my success is my drive. I have worked on my site in some form every single days since its conception in 2010. Usually I spend all of my free time from the moment I wake up to when I go to sleep working on my site in some way. This may sound stressful to many, but I have chosen a field that I LOVE and crave working on. From editing photos, to going on adventures, researching spots I have visited or may in the future, interviewing people, roadtrips, etc. I feel your career path should lead you to a job which you would do regardless of monetary gain.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
When I first created Hidden San Diego, it was because I didn’t see enough information on the internet for us fellow adventurers. Some sites would cover certain aspects I was interested in, but I didn’t see anyone covering the wide range of interests I have as a whole. My site covers underground tunnels, caves, the paranormal, waterfalls, unique businesses, lodging, luxury, hiking and so much more. I think the variety of interests my site covers is largely what sets me apart. Also the fact that I am going out and doing the dirty work myself gathering the photos, speaking with the locals, scouring through old books, Google satellite, etc. to tell the stories of new and oftentimes long-forgotten treasures. I have learned many lessons along the way, especially as I age and become more mature. What began as an underground site with few followers has grown to a tremendous amount of followers by my standards. I have had to change the way I run my site for this reason so places do not get destroyed. My intentions come from a good place. I want to get as many people as possible outside and into new, unique areas of San Diego that they’ve never been before. But with showcasing these spots comes great responsibility to protect these places I am promoting. It has become tricky as I try to find that perfect balance of promoting safe adventures whilst protecting such places. I guess one of the things I am most proud about is that I can now call myself a published author. Last year I wrote the book Abandoned San Diego, which tells the history of many of San Diego’s crumbling structures and forgotten past. You purchase it through my site, Amazon, Barnes and Noble as well as many local bookstores.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
It would depend on the friend and what their interests are. I like to customize my trips based on what the individual person is interested in. It also depends on the time of the year, whether we hit up the desert, mountains or stay coastal. We would probably hit up a speakeasy/hidden bar for drinks at the very least.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Many people have helped with the success of my site. Every single person who has opened their property to me to explore and feature has helped tremendously. My parents have helped by taking me to unique, off-the grid spots in San Diego as a child and invoking my adventurous spirit. Every person or friend who has contributed in some form whether submitting photos or an article has aided in my site’s success. No specific names as the list would be extremely large, but thank you to everyone, including my followers. Their positive feedback feeds my drive to continue with this project.