Carly Heitlinger, also known as The College Prepster, has created one heck of a foundation. Her 157K following on Instagram shows that Carly knows what she’s doing–and does it well! This fashion & lifestyle blogger started her blog as a freshman in college and grew it into the success it currently is! Read the entire interview for Carly’s advice on how to turn your hobby into your career!
How did The College Prepster get started?
I started The College Prepster as a freshman at Georgetown University. I was struggling in my classes and was pretty desperate for a creative outlet. A friend suggested that I start a blog… and I went home over break and started it!
Why did you decide to make blogging a career?
I knew blogging would help my career, but I had no idea that it would become my career. After I graduated college, I worked at a tech startup for just over a year. Eventually, it got to the point where I realized I was spending a lot of time building someone else’s website when I really wanted to be building my own!
How long did it take before you could rely on blogging to be your full-time career?
It took a solid five years. I think I could have done it sooner, but I definitely wasn’t mentally ready to take that leap of faith. It’s scary to give up a steady paycheck! Ultimately, the blogging industry was maturing (that is, brands were realizing the true value of a blogger’s influence and were putting real dollars behind campaigns), my blog had reached a critical level of success (page views, income level), and the company that I worked for had changed a lot over the year I worked there. It was just good timing all around and ended up being the best decision I’ve ever made!
What tactics have you found to be helpful in driving traffic to your blog?
I think it’s more about creating “sticky” content than driving specific traffic in general. You can use beautiful images that you find on the Internet in a post that get pinned a lot back to your site…but they’re not yours and a potential reader won’t stick around. You want to focus on creating amazing content that can’t be found anywhere else. You want to create content that readers will share. Slow, organic growth is the best because it’s rooted in authenticity and will last the longest.
What are 3 tactics or mindsets you changed in order to turn blogging from a hobby into a career?
- Treating my blog like a business
- Meeting with people (bloggers, events, brand representatives)
- Using analytics to make better decisions
What are some challenges you have as a full-time blogger and how do you overcome them?
I think the major challenge is learning how to work alone. There’s no boss to give you a pat on the back for doing something well or for redirecting you if things aren’t going as planned. It’s all up to you!