If you've ever thought of yourself as overeducated and underfulfilled, then you need to meet Mallie Rydzik, founder of The Offroad Millenial.
Mallie is a self-described “creative scientist who is hellbent on teaching other Millennials how to turn that underutilized skillset you spent years in school honing (or discovered in a nonacademic fashion) into a business.”
Mallie created her website herself with free WordPress template – and guess what? You can too!
Check out my interview with Mallie below, and be sure to visit her over at The Offroad Millenial!
When did you start your business, and why did you create it?
In 2012, I dropped out of my Ph.D. program following a mental health breakdown that led to diagnoses of OCD, depression, and an eating disorder. The resulting therapy and treatment led me to re-evaluate my life and career, and I began searching for alternative paths.
I took on jobs as a nanny and dog-walker before transitioning into a full-blown cubicle job, which I immediately knew was not my style.
In January 2013, at the same time that I began my corporate job, I started my first side business as a freelance writer and editor. I quit the corporate job in July of that year started a second business selling pet supplies on my own ecommerce site.
Around March of 2014, I realized that I had been chasing the money with the ecommerce business, and I wasn't particularly passionate about it. I also felt that the freelance work had moved me from a single boss at a corporate job to multiple bosses with various clients.
On May 1, 2014, I launched The Offroad Millenial blog and podcast to introduce fellow overeducated and underfulfilled 20-somethings to the idea of selling their expertise online, all while maintaining life-work balance.
I believe that entrepreneurship is the future of work and that 40-hour work weeks are overkill when you have the right systems in place, and I teach others how to take that first step.
What do you feel makes your audience/readers special?
My audience did everything “right” growing up: they did well in school and got the good job. Like me, however, they expected the payoff to be much higher.
They're not creatively stimulated at work, and they are questioning why they went to college or even graduate school in the first place just to become another cog in the machine.
They know they are capable of more, and they want to make a difference with their careers, not just money.
Has anything surprised you about starting a website?
I've had various blogs since 2009, so I wasn't intimidated by getting another website up for this business. My husband also does side gigs a web developer, so I knew that help was always nearby!
Did you do your site yourself website? Do you use WordPress?
I love WordPress and always encourage my clients to use it for their first website. I did everything myself, aside from getting the hosting set up (my husband took care of that).
I found a local photographer to take some professional photos for $50 (that was what she charged, but I gave her more because service professionals always undercharge!) and I hired my brother to create the first logo.
Even today, I'm still using a free theme!
Websites don't have to be expensive to convert to readers and sales.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?
Start now! I see too many people and clients who are putting off their business until everything is perfect. As someone with diagnosed OCD, I assure you I understand perfectionism. It's not doing you any good! Start now.
If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?
I would focus less on making money and more on doing something I was passionate about.
My freelance business and e-commerce site were largely money-making ventures; even though I do enjoy writing and editing, I'm not passionate about doing those things for other people in the same way that I'm passionate about writing for my own business and helping others create their own empires.
How fast did your audience grow? How many visitors/subscribers do you have?
Audience numbers are tricky! I'm fairly adept at social media, so I grew those followings fairly easily. Now, with over 6,000 Twitter followers at the time of this writing, most of my traffic comes from Twitter.
I get around 1,000 unique visitors per month at the moment, about 300 podcast downloads per month, and I keep my email list numbers a secret. 😉 I'd say I grew this following more quickly than I did for my past businesses, for sure. That's the difference that caring about your business makes!
Is this your only job? Did you launch your business while working another job?
I work a “bridge job” as a tutor two nights per week. I'm very open about this, because I see a lot of clients thinking they have to completely quit all other work to be a “real” entrepreneur. Most of us are working other jobs during these first couple of years, but fewer of us admit it for fear of looking like failures.
Your income starting out is going to be very sporadic, so it's important to have some reliable income to prevent taking on clients or jobs in your business out of desperation. I started my first business at the same time that I started my first (and last) corporate job.
Do you have an email list? If so, did you start it when you launched?
I definitely started my email list right away at the urging of other successful entrepreneurs. My first opt-in was a short ebook, The Millennials' Survival Guide, and I now have four unique opt-ins scattered around the site.
How do you promote your site?
Part of my work is digital marketing strategy, so I'm all about social media and content marketing. I also have purchased a few Facebook ads with good returns.
The best strategy for promotion that I've found is just talking with people. I don't run around Facebook and Twitter yelling “buy my stuff!” I join Twitter chats and offer advice in Facebook groups that my target audience is hanging out in.
Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how?
I definitely launched The Off-Road Millennial as a business rather than a side project. I monetize by selling my coaching and consulting services, primarily, as well as producing information products and courses on topics relevant to my niche.
I'll be authoring my first book this year as well, which should create an additional revenue stream and create a great introduction to my business for readers.
Who are your favorite bloggers right now?
Fun question! I love Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, Jenny Shih, Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life, Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project, and the Fizzle guys.
I totally agree with Mallie to just get started and not get sidetracked by perfectionism! I talk about creative avoidance on Day 1 of the 5 Day Website Challenge and have constructed it in such a way to help you just get started and avoid the plague of perfectionism.
Be sure to visit Mallie at The Off-Road Millennial and get her free report “The 5 Mistakes Every New Online Entrepreneur Makes.”