Part of starting and running a blog or online business of any kind is looking for thought leaders in your niche — understanding who you want to emulate and frankly, who you don’t. In #NAMB’s infancy, we discovered GenTwenty pretty quickly (in fact, a few members of our staff had long since heard of it!) and knew that its thought leadership and content aligned with our mission.
We chatted with Nicole Booz, GenTwenty’s Editor-in-Chief, about her success as well as what it truly takes to run an online-based business of any kind, and how she would help millennials who are looking to do the same. Here’s what she had to say:
Why did you decide to start an online business?
I always knew that a location independent lifestyle was something I wanted. When my husband and I moved from the east coast to the west coast for his job, instead of searching for a new job, I decided to give an online business a shot. Relocating played a role in the timing, and I figured now was as good of a time as any!
Who or what have been your biggest inspirations?
When I first started GenTwenty, I really didn’t know what different streams of income you could generate from an online business. There weren’t very many websites that I knew of in my niche, so I felt like I could really create a resource that would be useful for my target audience — twentysomethings who were struggling with adjusting to the “real world” after graduating from college.
My biggest inspirations over time have become Chelsea Krost, Melyssa Griffin, Paul Angone and Ramit Sethi. They are all online entrepreneurs who have grown their businesses in really authentic ways that inspire me to do the same.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to millennials wanting to start an online business?
My advice to millennials who want to start an online business is to do your research and get started. You’ll never truly be ready to do anything, so accept that it is a learning process and you are going to make mistakes. It’s also hard to put yourself out there, but participating in communities online (like Facebook groups or Twitter chats) that are in your niche will help you to network in the digital space.
What have you learned along the way as your online business grew?
One of the biggest things I’ve learned is the necessity of staying organized. Between working with brands, managing my own online presence, services and courses, and the legal side of business, things get hectic. Keeping track of everything has really helped me be able to grow and move to the next level seamlessly.
I’ve also learned how important it is to continuously invest in yourself and your business. The digital world moves at a fast pace and it always seems like you need to be on top of the trends and data, but what really matters is your vision and making the technology work for you.
What’s one thing you wish you knew before starting an online business?
That an online business also exists offline. Networking in-person is still just as important as working on your online business.
The best part of having an online business? The hardest part?
The best part is connecting with and helping other people from all across the world. Through blogging and hosting my own Twitter chat, I’ve gotten to connect with and work with other people I would have otherwise not have met.
The hardest thing is pushing myself to make local connections. Like I mentioned before, networking offline is just as important, but it can be a difficult thing to do when you feel like you spend most of your time in the digital space.
What makes your blog/online business unique to others in the same genre?
I think GenTwenty is unique because it was one of the first multi-contributor blogs to write for twentysomethings by twentysomethings. We also publish new blog posts daily, have a free resource library and host a Twitter chat (that is currently on a brief hiatus, but will resume soon!).
How can millennials establish their own unique brands in the online space?
As a person, think about what industry you are going into and what traits that industry values the most. What’s lacking? How do you stand out from other people? What makes you valuable? Get active on social media — particularly Twitter and LinkedIn. It also helps to have a website to direct people to. It’s a good place to showcase your industry knowledge and experiences beyond just a simple resume. Overall, the most important thing is to be consistent with your brand. If you’re writing or tweeting online, do it professionally and the way you would if you were in person.
Remember that people want to speak and connect with people. If you’re not sure what you brand is, ask friends, family, and co-workers to describe you in a few words and go from there. That will help you establish what others already perceive your brand to be. Branding isn’t just about having a logo, it’s the values you stand for and that are illustrated through your work.
Nicole Booz is the Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, an online lifestyle magazine dedicated to helping ambitious women through their 20s. In her free time you’ll find her planning her next great adventure or reading any book she can get her hands on. Find her at gentwenty.com or on Twitter: @nicolebooz.