Nowadays blogging is such a must do for every business, it sounds insane when you tell someone you don’t blog, especially when you’re trying to run a start-up, sell a product or create a service, let’s not even mention when you’re trying to brand yourself. It’s like saying you haven’t seen the social network.
Anyways, I recently had the opportunity of interviewing the founder of Mscareergirl, Nicole Crimaldi. Mscareergirl is a website whose mission is to empower women through their careers, technology and business.
In our interview she discusses about how she turned her blog into a business, the opportunities, the adventures and possibilities that blogging gives to an individual at no cost, of course you have to buy a domain, build the website or get someone to build it for you or just use of the growing number of blogging platforms available online and of course your time is needed, your dedicated attention like catering to a new born.
Anyways, enough of my rambling, this is what we talked about.
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I graduated from Miami University (Ohio) with a finance degree (and an entrepreneurship minor!) and spent the first 5 years of my career in commercial banking. Thanks to my blog, I was then recruited to build out the marketing department of a start-up where I helped them create marketing partnerships, managed social media efforts and planned new market launches. I was there only a short time before I was laid off along with a third of the company and now I’m a self-employed marketing consultant and host women’s networking events.
What inspired you to start mscareergirl.com?
I started my blog 3 years ago at age 24 to address the issues young professional women face after college. I had always loved writing and always wanted to be an entrepreneur but didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. Therefore, I started a blog simply as a “passion project” and as a way to use the creative side of my brain after using my logical side all day at work.
Once I started blogging, it opened up a whole new world for me. I had found something I realy loved doing! I learned as much as I could about social media and internet marketing. I read so many books, took courses at the University of San Francisco, attended workshops and took so many people to coffee who were smarter than me to learn as much as I could. I also did lots of free consulting work to build up my resume.
How important do you think blogging is to one's business and what opportunity has it added to your professional career?
Blogging has been SO huge for me in so many ways. It led me to a whole new career path, it has given me so many opportunities to network with new people, be featured in the press, and was my saviour when I got laid off.
A lot of people might say it's too time consuming (Blogging) and they might lose focus on their proper business, how were you been able to combine both your job and the mscareergirl project?
These people are right- it is VERY time consuming! If you aren’t cut out for focusing on blogging and being consistent, then blogging might not be for you. You must make time for your blog if you really want to do it. When I was working a “day job,” I blogged before work (yep this might mean waking up at 5am). Sometimes I would bring my laptop and go to a coffee shop at my lunch break too or do it for hours after work. It’s a time commitment like anything else in life.
How do you keep motivated and focus?
Passion keeps me focused- I love my blog, my readers and the topics I discuss.
How important do you consider networking? A lot of people might understand how networking works but don't understand how to implement it? Can you give the readers some tips on networking or how you network?
Here’s a few things people are missing the boat on when it comes to networking:
1. It’s about finding commonalities and making a conversation about those things. Note: this doesn’t mean talking about what you do, what you are looking for professionally, or what product you are selling. If people like you and have made a connection with you, those details will come out later. Networking is more about making great conversations and friendships. The business comes once people like you.
2. Social media isn’t a magic bullet for networking… UNLESS, you take it offline. A lot of people say to me, “Ok if I just set up a Twitter account and start a blog, that’s how I”ll get new customers- right?!” WRONG! Use social media to help you meet new people and start up conversations. Then once you’ve built some rapport, send them an email and try to meet for coffee if possible.
How do you decide when it's time to get quit your job and be your own boss, I guess a lot of people get excited with the prospect of being their own boss rather than the reality of things, what's your take on this?
I had fantasized about being my own boss for years before it actually happened. It was a very long process and required me to slowly make changes and take risks that would get me closer and closer to my goal. Ultimately, I had to switch industries first, which required taking a big pay and benefits cut. Then once I got laid off, I felt it was the universe’s way of telling me it was time. I was so thankful that I had a blog with an audience who I had never sold anything to. It allowed me to have the credibility and respect I needed to start getting advertising and paid classes/events.
Now that I’m here, I can tell you that it’s fantastic working in my yoga pants all day with my dog at my feet. BUT this lifestyle is also slightly terrifying and can be lonely. You don’t always know where your next dollar is coming from, you don’t have co-workers to collaborate with and you can get in your own head about if what you’re doing is good enough. Being self-employed isn’t for everyone, it’s tough!
What would you consider some of the most important lessons that you've learned so far?
Get uncomfortable. Every time I was willing to get uncomfortable, positive changes occurred. There are a few key situations that really gave me the most momentum.
Honestly, it started with just becoming a blogger. I was worried about what people would think about my writing, I wondered if people from high school would be reading my articles, I had NO clue how to use Wordpress and then when I had to upgrade to a self-hosted site I was REALLY uncomfortable (and frustrated because I had never seen any of this technology before and had no clue how to use it).
The next time I really got REALLY uncomfortable was leading a 4-hour Social Media 101 workshop. It was my first public speaking gig, and I was soooooo nervous! I left that day realizing that speaking gives me a “high” and I love it. I accepted volunteer speaking gigs for a few years after that and now I’m getting paid to speak! I come alive when I’m speaking and had I not accepted that first workshop, I never would have guessed that about myself.
The next moment of serious discomfort was when I decided to host my first “Ms. Career Girl Connect” event. So many people had been asking me to host an event but I was worried no one would come or that it would be a flop. Finally I decided to do it and 2 weeks before the event I got laid off. I was SO thankful that that event was on the calendar. I got up in front of the 80 women who attended my first event and told them how scary this was for me. I was met with an outpouring of support and a huge sense of accomplishment. I’m now planning our 3rd event and am working with women across the country to bring these events to their cities!
Switching industries from the safe and cushy world of commercial banking was very uncomfortable, as was being laid off and now I am uncomfortable every single day being self-employed.
I think the difference between successful people and average people is their willingness to get uncomfortable. If it’s not uncomfortable then you aren’t growing.
What plans do you have now to expand your mscareergirl.com further?
As for Ms. Career Girl’s expansion, my Ms. Career Girl Connect events and Ladies Launch Pad incubator programs will be slowly brought to new cities across the country in 2012. Both the event and the incubator program are beneficial for women everywhere. After so many women reached out begging me to bring these to their cities, I figured why not give it a try.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I hope to be a six-figure earning Mom. I own the domain name MsCareerMom.com and could see starting that blog & community. I also see myself writing a book and doing a lot more paid speaking.
What are your hobbies?
I love reading, Italian food and my city (Chicago). My yellow lab Giada is the center of my life and since I’m engaged, wedding planning has become somewhat of a forced hobby lately!
What has been your most memorable moment since starting on your journey?
Being a guest on Oprah’s XM radio channel was a huge honor for me as I’ve always admired Oprah and loved her XM station. It was also cool to see myself quoted in a front-page Chicago RedEye story, get flown across the country to speak at a conference and also to be offered to write 2 books.
What advice can you give to anyone reading this interview, looking for some kind of inspiration or someone thinking of starting a part-time project while working?
Do it! No job or industry is 100% secure. Everyone should have a passion project or a “side hustle” in case something doesn’t go as planned. If you don’t know what you want to do yet, then devote time to figuring it out by testing new things every few weeks. Life without a passion or something that is yours to grow just isn’t the same. The rewards are not always financial, but they do so much for you as a person. Make time for this side project and I’m sure you’ll see that the rewards are huge.
Thanks for your time Nicole.