Today we are doing a little “Ask Rachel“. One reader asks:
“Hey Rachel! I absolutely love your blog. Every post has such valuable content, your brand and design is really gorgeous, and you seem like a genuine person as well! Since I read your post about your 1st blogivesary I’ve been wondering: What’s your secret? Would you mind sharing the one thing that you did that you feel really contributed to your blogs growth? Or can you point me towards any helpful resources you used?”
Ahhh! First of all, I am so flattered by your kind words! Thank you! I really can’t give you a “one secret” response though! Instead, I’m breaking it into 3 secrets! I hope these are helpful!
Secret #1: Listen To Your Gut.
I really don’t use a ton of traditional resources. There’s no one post I’ve found that I was like “THIS! THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN MISSING!!” TBH, most posts/resource guides or webinars I’ve been in actually hurt my self esteem when it came to blogging. I did a round up post on some of the digital entrepreneurs I’ve learned from. However, even consuming too much of their content could get in my head and get me down. I started to listen to my gut and stopped consuming so much of other people’s content. I think that’s allowed me to maintain a positive mindset.
As a blog and business coach today, I’ve seen my clients tailspin down rabbit holes countless times. They begin searching for a certain topic and find countless contradictions on the web. If that’s happening to you, I would recommend hiring a coach until you can get to a place of listening to your gut. Otherwise, in my experience, you can be swimming in a sea of self doubt without a life preserver.
Secret #2: Put in the time & refine.
I want to take a beat and give you some background on my career and how I ended up here. While TCM is only a year old, the skills I put into my blog have been refined over many years.
I started blogging technically when I was 14 or 15 years old (over 12 years ago!) it was AWFUL. You can actually still read it here (seriously don’t judge, it was 2005 haha). One of my best friends who I always talk about on the blog passed away a few years ago. So over the last few years I’ve spent a lot of time revisiting those posts (and his) to feel close to him again. – On a professional level it was also helpful since I could see why no one (other then our friends back then) would ever read my blog. It was a great learning experience of what not to do and I tried to carry that insight into my future.
After abandoning that blog back in 2007 (there are a bunch of private posts people can’t see where I kept it up). Per the suggestions of a therapist in 2011 or 12, I launched an anonymous blog about family issues and mental health. I didn’t keep up with it for very long because a lot of that writing has gone towards a memoir I’ve been working on and off since I’ve been 17.
Basically, that’s my long winded way of saying, I’ve been writing on and off for many many years and have had the ability to look back on those pieces and learn from them.
ACTION TIP: Revisit your older content, see what’s changed (how you’ve grown), as well as what’s working and what isn’t. Ask yourself, if you read this on someone else’s site, would you share it? If the answer is no, why not?
In the present, we are often too connected to what we are writing about to really take a step back and determine, “is this good? would other people be interested in this too?” – which is why I like the trips down memory lane, it almost feels like I am critiquing someone else’s work and I can always learn from it.
The next major part of my past that I don’t talk about very often, is SISU Programs. In 2014 I started my own business, SISU Programs, SISU (pronounced see-SOO), is a Finnish word that basically means “having guts, determination, and resilience”. I had just left the counseling world where I had been working as a substance abuse and mental health counselor. During my work, I had seen a lot of my clients struggling with #adulting. It wasn’t because they were in recovery, it was simply because our twenties can be crazy confusing.
Over 3 months I did a ton of research and wrote a 200+ page curriculum with worksheets and lessons plans for #adulting. The curriculum covered everything from basic financial literacy, healthy eating and grocery shopping effectively on a budget, vocational programs for getting started and advancing in one’s career, relationship tips and tools, and so on. Basically the majority of the categories you see on TCM. I worked one on one with 19-30 years olds teaching them these skills. At local businesses, I ran groups/workshops for over a year. Over time, I took on consulting positions for local treatment centers looking to implement similar programs.
Basically, another really long winded way of telling you guys why I think the wide variety of categories works on TCM. They had been in the works for over a year before launching (even though I had no idea I would be launching a blog). The research was done and I had already received a ton of feedback from millennials in person. All it took was a not so nice exchange with another coach at the time to set the lightbulb off for The Confused Millennial.
The other thing happening simultaneously to the above events, is that my husband had his own start up. Through his business, I grew accustomed to the behind the scenes of building a business. I helped with the branding, web design, UX/UI, marketing plans, networking, etc. Over the years, I’ve been hired to do people’s websites and work as their business coach/consultant. – In other words, I didn’t develop these skills over night. I’ve put in my fair share of 18 hour days for the last five or six years in some way or another.
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Secret #3: What’s the Value Add?
If forced to give a one sentence answer to what my “secret” is though, it’s exactly what you said in your question: valuable content. My clients get this drilled into them. They also probably get super frustrated with me sometimes because you can always dig deeper on this. With blogging, it can be easy to want to share about your latest trip or purchase, but ask yourself, what’s the value add? How am I adding value on this topic to readers lives with this?
TCM was the logical next step to bring the SISU curriculum to life. I knew confused millennials were out there that needed it (because I had just spent a year working with them in person), and so I decided to make every post as relatable, valuable, and as actionable possible.
One thing I don’t talk about very often either, is the Inspiring Millennials vlog series I used to host. TBH, I started this when I started TCM to force myself to network! I am awful at networking and a total introvert, but I know your network = your net worth today. I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone! In doing so, I made some amazing friends (some who I’ve even met in person!). Over the last year, I collaborated with almost all of the guests on various projects. I also try to “grab coffee” with a friend I’ve met on the internet once a month! It’s all about community over competition and finding a supportive tribe. In fact, one of my blogging besties just wrote about this exact thing on Monday –> community over competition 4 the win!