Tag Archives: Google for Creators

A creator who started posting at age 12 now has over 700,000 fans

Google for Creators recently launched The Conversation, a new YouTube series spotlighting the experiences of women of color creators. This month, we’re featuring 21-year-old creative director, model and social media influencer Hannah Mussette, who began creating and posting content at age 12. Learn more about Hannah below and check out the full interview.

Social media influencer Hannah Mussette grew up on the internet, creating and posting content starting at age 12. Now, at 21, Hannah has a successful brand and over half a million followers. But the road to get there wasn’t easy. Like many others, she found that middle school wasn’t always a welcoming, inclusive environment. “I had very bad social anxiety,” Hannah recalls. “I was getting made fun of in school. I didn’t have any friends. My only outlet was to turn to the internet.”

Hannah began creating and sharing videos as a way to express her bubbly personality — showing what she had in her backpack or just goofing around with her sister. “I felt the internet wouldn’t judge me,” she shares. “I felt more comfortable being myself online, which I couldn’t do in [my] environment.”

Hannah began posting makeup tutorials in high school, taking note of what other women of color were doing online. At 16, she decided to go public with a deeply personal issue — her hair. “I used a relaxer, which is the devil,” she says. “My father said, ‘Do something with your hair. It looks fried.’ I said, ‘OK, I got you.’” Hannah took matters, and scissors, into her own hands. 30 minutes later, she emerged from the bathroom with her hair cut short. She documented the process in a YouTube video calledMy BIG Chop!, which quickly went viral. “I was watching the views go up,” Hannah says. “It was 20,000. Then, it was 50,000. Then, it was a million before I knew it. I was like, ‘Wow!’ And I knew that was my niche.”

Hannah’s YouTube homepage featuring her “Nighttime skincare and shower routine,” among other haircare and skincare videos.

Hannah shares haircare, skincare and modeling tips, as well as her thoughts on sexuality and self-care, in her YouTube videos.

Since it was first posted in 2016, Hannah’s haircut video has attracted more than 1.5 million views. HerYouTube channel now has 433,000 subscribers, who watch Hannah’s take on natural haircare and skincare, beauty, style, relationships and more. And herInstagram profile has 240,000 followers.

Today, Hannah is a professional model, content creator and social media influencer, with sponsorship and affiliate deals from multiple beauty brands. She is also co-founder and creative director ofJumu, a company that sells natural hair products.

Hannah shares some of what she’s learned from growing up in the social media spotlight.

Hannah smiles as she shows off her brown curly hair, which she wears in an afro. She has on a tank top, gold necklaces, hoop earrings and rings on her fingers.

Creating and sharing content helped Hannah overcome anxiety and find herself. It also jump-started her career in modeling and business.

Evolving with her content

Hannah’s content evolved as she grew into a young woman. “My content has changed dramatically,” she says. “Between the [ages] of 14 to 17, it was usually hair videos or school vlogs. I would take my camera to school and film with my friends.” Today, Hannah still shares beauty and styling tips, but she also vlogs on self-care and sexuality. She even opened up about her adoption story. “Now we're talking about grown-up stuff,” she says. “We're having girl talks.”

Taking on social issues

Hannah also promotes Black-owned businesses and posts about women’s rights and social justice issues. She doesn’t intend to stir up controversy, but she doesn’t shy away from it either. “I’m trying to educate,” she says. “People will either agree with me or they won’t. That’s the joy of social media. For every negative comment, there are 30 more from people wanting to know more, and thanking me for posting and speaking up.” Still, living in the social media spotlight can be challenging. “Social media can be a little bit scary,” Hannah admits. “I’m showing my personality, but some people will throw that back in your face. I try not to listen to [the negative] comments.”

Being a role model

Hannah wishes she could tell her 12-year-old self that everything would turn out OK. Now, she wants to inspire other girls and women of color to feel good about themselves. “My biggest inspiration is little girls, Black girls,” Hannah says. “Because when I first started [posting] the hair videos, the initial comments were, ‘Oh, I'm 10, or I’m 12, and my mom won't let me cut my hair, but I want to. I want to be like you one day.’ I want to be that person for little girls… that person that they can look up to.”

Hannah stands on a sidewalk in Manhattan, New York, with trees and a metal fence behind her. She wears a red, oversized blazer with a lacy black top, red lipstick and her hair in braids.

Hannah looks ahead to a bright future, which includes inspiring other girls and women of color.

How this travel blogger pivoted during the pandemic

Gabby Beckford is an expert planner, even when things don’t work out as expected. Shortly after graduating from college and getting her first job in engineering, she realized that working in an office wasn’t for her. But this didn’t throw her off course, it presented an opportunity. Over the next two years, she used savings from her job to become a full-time travel blogger. On her website Packs Light, Gabby writes travel tips for Gen Z, offers influencer guides and services and runs occasional partnerships with travel brands and companies.

In February 2020, Gabby planned to go to Bali for a month. But just a week later, the lockdown took hold and airports started to shut down. True to form, she decided to turn things around. “When the pandemic hit, I was in a reactive state anyway,” she says. “It was actually a benefit because I could pivot kind of easily.”

Luckily, she could live at her mom’s house and had a consistent, if small, income from the blog. Even though she (and everyone else) was stuck at home, she doubled down on travel writing — but now, she was pitching publications.

Gabby is happily traveling the world again, and now incorporates guidance on doing so responsibly during the ongoing pandemic. She has some tips for how creators can pivot in the face of unexpected challenges, and even uncover new prospects for growth and success.

Don’t quit, adapt

Gabby noticed that many travel bloggers shifted their focus to topics like beauty or fitness, but she decided to stay true to her core mission. “I knew that no matter how long this pandemic lasts, there would be a travel reboot eventually,” she says. “So it was an investment in myself to stay in this industry and continue building when the competition was low.”

Sticking to her mission while pivoting to evergreen topics, like how to apply for a passport or travel as a full-time student, also aligned with what her followers were interested in. “Just because people stopped traveling doesn't mean all 10,000 of my Instagram followers stopped caring about what I did, or about travel in general,” she points out. This continued focus cemented her reputation as a dedicated travel blogger.

A woman in a bright pink tank top and jeans leans back against the stone railing of a bridge set in a forest.

Gabby posts about evergreen topics in addition to travel destinations.

Be ready to jump on opportunities

In the corporate world, Gabby was used to planning things a year in advance. But the uncertainty of the pandemic forced her to think just a few months ahead. “Every three months, we were reassessing,” she says.

Luckily, growing up in a military family that moved around a lot prepared her to react quickly. She started proactively reaching out to write content. “In the beginning, brands were screaming, ‘Someone give us an idea, our content schedule is out the window,’” she remembers. “It was a very unique opportunity to partner with brands I probably would never have partnered with before.”

Focus on community building

Sharing opportunities with other creators helped promote her brand and expand her network. “[On] Patreon, I'll share if a brand comes to me for an opportunity and I can't take it because the rate isn't right or it's not my brand,” she says. She also posts paid travel opportunities on her site.

Building a community grounded in generosity was essential not just for business, but for Gabby’s mental health during the early months of the pandemic. “You want to make sure you’re on the same page as everyone,” she says. “Is everyone feeling the same way I am? Is anyone else still indoors?”

A woman in a red dress reclines on a chaise in front of a pool and palm trees in a courtyard.

Gabby is writing about travel again, with a special focus on responsibility in the age of COVID-19.

Trust yourself

In difficult times, it’s natural to second-guess your choices. But indulging in doubt can be damaging. “You don't have to have everything figured out, but you have to have the confidence and trust in yourself that you can figure it out,” she says.

How these photographers built a strong web presence

Lily Chou and Chris Anderson, the married duo behind Wild About You Photography, have captured a lot of people in love. The California-based wedding photographers started their business in 2012, and have become known for their dramatic shoots of unconventional engagements and nuptials — like ones in forests, at amusement parks or with a sci-fi fantasy theme.

The Wild About You website hosts a vibrant portfolio of the couple’s work, along with a blog that shares behind-the-scenes stories from the celebrations they photograph. Although Lily and Chris admit it can be tough to regularly update the site with fresh content, they say their business couldn’t exist without an engaging hub online.

“You can’t have a business without a website,” Lily says. “For random people to find you, a web presence is crucial in this day and age.”

And because most of their clients find them through a web search, Lily and Chris know it’s worth the time and effort to make sure the content they post on their site looks good, represents what they do, stands out from their competition and is easily discoverable.

Here are some tips Lily shared for photographers, small businesses and other creators to maximize their web presence.

A bearded man in a blue baseball cap and a woman with long black hair in black cat-eye glasses take a photo of themselves in front of an artistic hall of mirrors surrounded by mirrored orbs.

Chris Anderson and Lily Chou are the married couple behind Wild About You Photography.

Use a website builder that speaks to your needs

Thanks to platforms like Squarespace, Wix and Weebly, most people can build a website without knowing how to code — but it’s important to find the right match. When Chris and Lily first launched their website, they used a general template from a standard website service. It did an OK job, but it wasn’t quite the right fit for uploading and displaying images. After a few years of “just making do” with two websites built from general templates, they built a new site using Good Gallery, a platform specifically geared towards photographers.

“The photo-focused website builder made everything easier, like uploading photos, organizing them into galleries and presenting them,” Lily explains.

A screenshot of the Wild About You Photography website displays a gallery of wedding photographs arranged in three columns.

Chris and Lily say using a website builder geared towards photographers was a game changer for maintaining their website.

Get to know SEO

Lily credits the marketing and business strategy classes she’s taken with helping her understand the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) in growing a business. “It’s all about SEO when you’re trying to be found on the internet,” she says.

The couple says a big selling point that convinced them to try Good Gallery is its baked-in SEO-optimized features. For example, when they upload photographs onto the site, each image is clickable and opens as its own URL, which Lily and Chris customize with a string of keywords that potential clients might search for — like “Bay Area wedding photographer” or “elopement photographer San Francisco City Hall.”

Boost your visibility with a blog

Adding a blog to a website is another way to beef up a site’s discoverability. “More words, more SEO opportunities,” Lily explains. But she stresses that writing a blog purely for SEO purposes isn’t going to work. You have to make good content that speaks to what readers want and need.

Lily says the main reason they write their blog is to give clients a “rounder, richer experience” about their services and provide helpful resources. Each post gives a backstory about the event they shot, including how and why a couple chose the location, historical details about a venue, what the decor looked like and even what the weather was like that day. “The photos can only tell you so much,” Lily says. “The backstory is helpful for whoever is planning a wedding.”

A masked couple in head-to-toe black suits stand side by side in a dark forest. Photo: Wild About You Photography

Potential clients who visit the Wild About You website can find plenty of examples of unconventional engagement and wedding shoots, which are Chris and Lily’s specialty.

Stand out in a crowd

Those personal backstories are especially important for Wild About You, which caters to a diverse clientele looking for creative engagement and wedding photo experiences. Lily says their website helps clients see how Wild About You stands out from other wedding photographers.

How a creator’s natural hair journey built community

Google for Creators recently launched The Conversation, a new YouTube series spotlighting the experiences of women of color creators. This month, we’re featuring beauty and lifestyle creator Tyla-Lauren Gilmore, who shared how her natural hair journey led her to build an online community and become a full-time content creator. Learn more about Tyla-Lauren below and check out the full interview.

In 2014, Tyla-Lauren Gilmore graduated college and began to earn a living on her own. She was also trying to find herself, and started thinking about what kind of image she presented to the world. As she looked in the mirror, she wondered why, as a woman of color, she was straightening her natural curls — a process that, over many years, left her hair dry and damaged.

“A college friend told me, ‘Ty, people pay for your curly hair. You should embrace it,’” the native New Yorker says. “Not many of my friends had curly hair, so it was up to me. I was in search of community.”

Tyla-Lauren took to social media to find other women who looked like her. After following a few beauty bloggers on YouTube and Instagram, she began documenting her own natural hair journey. “I was figuring out what to do with my big afro,” she says. “I started posting my natural hair care tips and tricks onInstagram.” Almost immediately, other women took notice, and her online following grew.

Tyla-Lauren knew she’d tapped into something special when a widowed dad reached out for advice. “A father [messaged] me saying, ‘Hey, I just lost my wife, and I have no idea how to do my daughter’s hair,’” she recalls. “I gave him step-by-step processes of how to do his daughter’s hair. And he was so grateful. From then on, I knew this was something I wanted to do.”

She continued to grow her web presence over the next few years, including starting aYouTube channel. In 2018, she quit her 9-to-5 job at a beauty products company to become a full-time digital content creator.

Tyla-Lauren’s YouTube homepage features a hero video on her new curly hair routine, along with five other hairstyling videos.

Tyla-Lauren Gilmore’s YouTube channel features dozens of videos and has almost 10,000 subscribers.

Now, Tyla-Lauren has more than 150,000 followers across her social media channels, creating a supportive space for women to connect and share their experiences. She posts on beauty and fashion, lifestyle, cooking, parenting, travel and self-care. She aims to create authentic content that people can relate to. “I love helping people, especially younger girls looking for a role model,” she says. She has also developed business partnerships with major brands across different industries, with herTyLauren website serving as the home base for her growing portfolio.

Tyla-Lauren smiles as she sits at a wooden table with a hot drink and phone in front of her. She wears her hair long, in curls, with a beige coat and black shirt.

Tyla-Lauren Gilmore started posting about her natural hair journey on social media; today, she’s a full-time content creator.

For Tyla-Lauren, helping other women and girls on their own self-discovery journeys makes the hard work of being a full-time content creator well worth the effort. She offers two pieces of advice to other women considering becoming creators themselves.

Know your self-worth

Tyla-Lauren recalls the first $50 she received for creating original content. “At first, I viewed it as extra gas money for my commute into the city,” she remembers. But when she left her corporate job, Tyla-Lauren had to get savvy about how to survive and thrive as a solopreneur. She recommends researching the content creation space you’re in to learn more about what brands will pay for product reviews, content sponsorship and other types of business deals. “You may be super appreciative to [work with brands], but it’s not about working for free,” she notes. “Brands have money, and you are a contractor who is doing a job for them. I want all young creators to know this: Take pride in your work and know your self-worth. Be savage! Never sell yourself short!”

Be relatable… and vulnerable

So many social media influencers, including celebrities, curate seemingly flawless images online. Tyla-Lauren strives to create a welcoming community for all women and girls, inviting them to share their day-to-day life experiences. “I’m a creator, but I’m also a human being,” she says. “I want to erase that [ideal] that everything is perfect and all flowy dresses and vacations. That’s not what being a creator is about. I talk to people about normal stuff like laundry and grocery shopping and things that we all go through.” Her posts on mental health and self-care, including her own experiences in therapy, have been very popular with her followers. “These posts get a huge response,” she says. “People connect with you. Everyone’s story matters. We’re all human.”

Tyla-Lauren stands on a deck outside with a checkered flannel shirt. A mountain and trees with changing color leaves are in the background.

Tyla-Lauren wants her readers to be vulnerable and know their worth.

Want to hear more? Check out the full video interview with Tyla-Lauren on The Conversation.

Why content bundling is the secret sauce for creators

If you make online video content, you’ve probably heard of VidCon, an event where creators, brands, industry experts and fans from around the world converge to celebrate the latest and greatest in digital media. The next VidCon takes place December 3-6 in Abu Dhabi featuring panel discussions, meet and greets and performances with some of the world’s most influential video content creators.

Google for Creators will speak at two sessions at VidCon Abu Dhabi, both of which will focus on helping creators build their brands and monetize their content. On December 3, Head of Creator Relations at Google Paul Bakaus and cosplay designer Yaya Han will discuss how creators can have more control over their futures and businesses. Later that day, Google for Creators writer Crystal Lambert and creator Kaya Marriott will speak at Get the Most from Your Post — How to Create Powerful and Efficient Content Bundles.

On the Google for Creators team, Crystal writes the educational guides for Creators.google. A liaison between the creator community and Google’s expert sources, Crystal researches, compiles and organizes vast troves of information into digestible, easy-to-follow and fun-to-read guides.

We spoke with Crystal to hear more about her upcoming VidCon appearance, and why content bundling is such an important strategy for creators.

Why focus on content bundling at VidCon?

We’re giving two talks at VidCon, and we wanted to focus both of them on the biggest needs in the creator economy. What we’ve learned from creators is that many want to know how to continuously make content without burning out. Content bundling — creating multiple pieces of content on one topic for different formats and platforms — is about tackling content creation in a holistic way. It’s not about approaching all these platforms as individual entities, but grouping what you’re doing together and building on it. It’s one of the easiest and most effective things a creator can do. It’s about content strategy, cross promotion and dealing with brands. Content bundles give you more visibility as a business and credibility when you reach out to brands, or when brands reach out to you.

Who is your VidCon co-presenter?

Kaya Marriott is the founder and content creator behind lifestyle and beauty blog Comfy Girl with Curls. I was super excited to connect with her because she’s on her way to becoming a successful, full-time content creator, and her journey has been so inspiring. She started Comfy Girl with Curls as a natural hair blog, but because so many other creators have come to her for advice, she also shares tips about creating content.

Kaya’s built her own business and she’s been very proficient and proactive about it. She brings a lot of credibility and first-hand knowledge about how and why content bundles work. We’re both excited to speak together.

What else are you excited to see at VidCon?

VidSummit was the first creator-geared conference I went to, and it was inspiring to see how helpful the video creator community is and how enthusiastic they are about what they do. They’re willing to help other creators by teaching them what they’ve learned. I’m excited to see that community at VidCon.

I’m also excited to experience VidCon in another country. I’ve never been to Abu Dhabi, and I’m looking forward to seeing who will be there and what the Abu Dhabi creator community is like.

If you won’t be in Abu Dhabi for VidCon, learn more about content bundles and cross promotion on Creators.google and the Google for Creators YouTube channel.

How making lists became this entrepreneur’s brand

The day Saya Hillman got fired from her last full-time job in 2004, she made two lists. One was of all the things she wished she could get paid to do, no matter how ridiculous. The other was a list of names, ones that gave her a “warm and fuzzy” feeling, for the company she decided she would start. And so Mac & Cheese Productions℠ was born — and lists would become a big part of its success.

Saya had always made lists as a way to connect with people. She’d been sending emails to friends for a while, “really random lists of ‘here are things that I have found interesting,’” such as articles, tech gadgets and books. The feedback was great, and Saya realized it could be a great sales tactic for her new business. “I don’t have that used-car salesman, ‘buy me buy me’ feeling,” she says. “I’m just doing what I already love to do.’”

Today Mac & Cheese Productions℠ offers a wide range of resources, events and content designed to connect people and help them live aLife of Yes℠, a concept Saya created and defines as “making life easy and more fulfilling.” Her lists — which she sends out in newsletters and posts on her website — continue to serve as a gateway to attract more “Cheese-Its,” as she calls her followers.

While some lists are humorous and lighthearted, like Saya’s boyfriend criteria, she also offers practical ones — including her popularservice provider list. Even that one abides by Saya’s community-minded credo: She only includes providers who she has worked with directly or have been recommended by someone she knows and trusts.

Saya shared some tips on how lists can help attract attention to a website, and why they’re so integral to her brand.

A handwritten list divided into two columns, one labeled “More” with items like “I tried” and “Connection”; the other labeled “Less” with items like “Stasis” and “I failed.”

One of Saya’s lists captures her “Life of Yes℠” philosophy.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel

“I don't think any of us are coming up with anything new — it's all how you put your own personal spin on the thing,” says Saya. So while her list concepts might not be a novel idea, her whimsical approach — where lists for home office equipment recommendations and her own pet peeves are on the same page — is.

Lists also help busy people make sense of an overwhelming amount of information. “People are hungry for curators,” she points out. “That’s why lists are so popular. They’re easy to share, they’re easy to consume.”

Lists also align with her overall ethos for Mac & Cheese Productions℠. “One of my favorite things is helping people to be more efficient and create systems,” she says. “The list format lends itself to be productive and efficient and good at time management.”

Be authentic — but it’s OK to make money too

Trustworthy referrals and recommendations have been a huge part of Saya’s success. “People know you’re doing it because you actually love the product or the person,” she says, explaining she has never received money from anyone that she’s put on her service provider list or other recommendation lists. Instead, it’s a “win-win” that spreads goodwill and website traffic all around, and can eventually result in opportunities and income, if not always directly or immediately.

That said, she’s unapologetic about taking a piece of the pie through affiliate marketing and her paid marketing services, as long as the products and services meet her requirements. “You just have to share that upfront,” she says.

Use lists to expand your network and draw visitors

Saya uses lists strategically to grow her network and draw more visitors to her site. “I’m spending all this time curating and creating for free, but to get that information, you need to go to my website, instead of me just giving you the information,” she points out.

Tying lists to holidays, seasons or other events can also forge connections and drive engagement. For example, while most of her lists are evergreen, Saya also offers an annual gift guide where she tags the businesses’ or individuals’ Instagram accounts — which helps expand her reach. “I’m always thinking, how can you make what you create easy to share?” she says.

Women of color creators share their journeys to success

Women of color are doing incredible things online. They are creating educational and inspiring content, and making their marks as influencers in fashion and beauty, health and wellness, business, and more. They’re making a living building their brands and presenting their authentic selves . And they’re creating strong communities around their shared experiences.

Today, on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, we’re launching The Conversation — a new YouTube series to share and celebrate the experiences of women of color creators. Each interview will feature a new woman of color creator talking about her background and journey, including her struggles and successes. Guests will share how they’ve built brands that resonate with others, and how they’ve turned their passions into full-time careers. They’ll also discuss how gender, race and culture have influenced their paths, the ups and downs of getting to where they are today, and what they hope to share with the world. No topic is off the table, including how to handle haters and overcome creator burnout.

Our first episode features creator Tyla-Lauren Gilmore. In 2015, after many years of straightening her hair, Tyla-Lauren decided to embrace her natural curls. She began documenting her personal transformation on Instagram and YouTube, and almost immediately, other women took notice. Today, more than 150,000 subscribers follow her beauty and lifestyle posts across her social media channels. Tyla-Lauren continues to share her personal stories in the hopes of inspiring other women to embrace their natural beauty and feel comfortable in their own skin.

Tyla-Lauren poses for the camera wearing a white button-down shirt and stylish glasses frames.

Tyla-Lauren Gilmore is the first creator featured in The Conversation.

Next month, we’ll hear from beauty and style influencer, fashion model and creative director Hannah Mussette. Hannah started creating content at the age of 12. Now, at 21, she’s a popular social media personality sharing modeling, fashion, makeup and hair care tips on YouTube and Instagram, and inviting candid discussions on topics such as self-care and social justice. She also co-founded a line of hair care products for natural Black hair called JuMu. The youngest creator interviewed in our series, Hannah shares what it’s been like to grow up online in front of an audience that supports and occasionally scrutinizes her content, which has evolved over the nine years she's been posting.

Hannah Musette walks on a sidewalk in front of a grey tiled wall. She has waist-length braids and is wearing a white shirt, baggy black pants, and a purse.

Hannah Musette is a fashion model and influencer who started creating YouTube videos in high school

The goal of The Conversation is to pull back the curtain on creators like Tyla-Lauren and Hannah so you can get to know the women behind the brands. Visit the Google for Creators YouTube channel to watch the first episode of The Conversation, and share what you thought in the comments.

This creator built an LGBTQ+-friendly site for car talk

Queer automotive educator, journalist and influencer Chaya Milchtein has carved out an unexpected niche at the intersection of the LGBTQ+ community, car repair and empowerment. Starting with blog posts that answered common questions about auto maintenance, she gradually built upher brand, Mechanic Shop Femme, into a mini-empire that spans workshops, one-on-one consultations, articles and podcasts, and more.

It wasn’t a path she ever expected. On her own at the age of 18, Chaya was “desperate” for a job. A connection landed her a position in the auto department at Sears, even though she didn’t even have a driver’s license when she interviewed for the job. But she really enjoyed working with customers and explaining what was wrong with their vehicles. “I’m what I like to call a translator — I translate complex car topics and information into language that the average consumer can understand,” she explains.

While she enjoyed the work, she felt she had reached a ceiling by 2017. Climbing the corporate ladder was a possibility, but she didn’t want to stop working directly with customers, the part of the job that gave her the most joy. Meanwhile, friends in the queer community were regularly reaching out for car advice. A career coach suggested starting a blog — and even though Chaya didn’t have a lot of confidence in her writing skills, she jumped in.

The blog section of the Mechanic Shop Femme website features thumbnails and preview text about two car-focused posts.

Chaya’s posts demystify all things automotive for an inclusive audience.

Almost immediately, Chaya started planning her next steps and trying to figure out how to turn her concept into something bigger. In addition to the blog, she started offering online classes on car topics, which led to more classes and speaking engagements. She also launched a career as a freelance writer, landing bylines in publications like Real Simple and Shondaland.

All of that came in handy when she got laid off from her job in April 2020 and decided to scale up her efforts. Mechanic Shop Femme is now her full-time gig. Chaya explains how she managed to build a following and unite a diverse range of interests under the umbrella of her website.

Show your whole self

From day one, Chaya was open about who she was, from the name of her site to posts about her wife. “It was important to me that I could show up as my full self,” she says. She also recognized that her unique point of view is an attraction. “There’s lots of places where you can learn about cars, but none quite from my perspective,” she points out. “Cars are what draws people to me. And they learned that I was queer and obviously saw that I was fat and where I come from, and they would stick around for the full meal. Because that's what was interesting.”

Showing that she’s part of the LGBTQ+ community also helps build trust among an audience that may feel intimidated by or excluded from car-centric settings. “I want to make sure that the people who come to my platform know that they’re not just there to learn about cars, that the space I created is not just something where they’re an afterthought, but that they’re welcome.”

Venture outside your niche

One piece of advice Chaya often heard was to focus on one topic. “While that might be great advice for some people, that's not necessarily good advice for everybody,” she says. On the blog, Chaya weaves in a queer or body-positivity angle on everything from fashion to travel in addition to her car content. Exploring different topics helps attract different and new readers, and it keeps her from burning out on car talk.

A tattooed woman in a swimsuit splashes in a pool. A headline below says, “I tried on 10 plus size swimsuits to help you find the perfect swimsuit for your body.”

Besides cars, Chaya regularly posts about fashion, body positivity and sex. Her plus-size swimsuit lookbook is one of the most popular posts on Mechanic Shop Femme.

Treat your site like a business

Chaya refers to her work as an octopus with different tentacles — her blog, her classes, her journalism and her consulting, with her website at the center. “If you want to book a call with me, if you want to pick a class, if you want to read my writing, my website is going to have all of those things,” she says. From the start, it was important for her to own her platform rather than focus solely on social media, where influencers have less control. “I’ve spent a lot of time on TikTok, it’s part of my overall business strategy,” she explains. “But I’m aware this platform can go away, unlike my site, where I own the content.”

How mind mapping can help creators make better content

Creativity can be a messy process. Great ideas and inspiration don’t come easily on command, or in any organized way. And even when we’re in the creative zone, our brains can sometimes get too overloaded and overwhelmed to actually get anything done. That’s why some people use mind mapping, or visual brainstorming, to stay on top of their game.

Markus Müller-Simhofer, founder of the digital mind mapping app MindNode, saw major changes when he started visualizing his creative process. He recalls the first time he realized what a powerful tool mind mapping could be. While developing an app, Markus found that although he had tons of ideas, he wasn’t making any progress. “Out of this frustration, I started to look into techniques to sort my ideas and find focus. Mind mapping best fit how my brain works,” he says.

Mind mapping worked so well for Markus that he eventually scrapped his original app idea and started developing MindNode. “This was 14 years ago and today, I am still working on it — together with a team of 10 people.”

We recently chatted with Markus about how creators can use mind mapping to make better content.

A man wearing glasses, a teal sweater and black pants stands in front of a teal background.

MindNode founder Markus Müller-Simhofer says mind mapping helped him focus his creativity when other techniques failed.

How would you describe mind mapping to someone who's never used the technique before?

Mind mapping is a simple visual brainstorming technique. Every mind map has a main idea or topic at its center. From this, other thoughts branch out, forming a tree representation of your idea. Let me give you an example: when you start thinking about starting a new photography blog, your head is spinning with ideas like “what should I write about?” or “how should I start?” A mind map is perfect in this situation. Start with “My Photography Blog" as the central topic, and start collecting all of your thoughts and ideas around it. Reorganize them as you go to create a clear picture out of that fuzzy thought in your head.

Are there any creative fields that are especially drawn to visual planning?

We have heard from many people — scriptwriters, novelists, bloggers, photographers, artists, developers, beekeepers, wedding planners, students, teachers — who have used MindNode to help them visualize their thoughts, plan their projects and brainstorm ideas. There are no limitations to what mind maps can be used for, and who can create them.

How can mind mapping help disorganized people find order?

If you’re disorganized, you might miss an important puzzle piece or connection to the bigger picture. That is simply not possible with a mind map. The process of putting your thoughts down, and forming them into a structure creates an overview and allows you to look at things from different perspectives. It helps you create a road map, prioritize what's important and let the organization happen organically.

A phone with a gray background shows a mind map of the topic “My Photography Blog,” with an outline of related and sub-topics listed in orange bullets underneath.

MindNode allows users to create mind maps on their phones, tablets and computers.

What are the advantages of mind mapping on your computer or phone rather than using pen and paper?

Digital mind maps have the added advantage of no page size restrictions. Your document — and your idea — can grow in any direction. On a digital mind map, you can also easily move your thoughts around, or use features to highlight parts of a mind map. Usually, a mind map is only the start of your idea’s journey. With an app, you can easily export it to other tools to organize your projects or write an article.

Beyond brainstorming new content, how else can mind mapping help content creators?

Mind maps can go far beyond brainstorming. You can use them to take structured notes, study a new topic, keep track of a project, or create your own personal library of information to reference in the future. They're great tools to capture a spark of inspiration, and develop it down the line.

What are some specific MindNode features that are especially helpful for bloggers or other digital content creators?

We have put a lot of thought and effort into MindNode so it’s simple to use and offers users all of the features they might need to bring their ideas to life. Outlining lets you write out your thoughts in a linear, more organized fashion. Focus Mode helps you concentrate on a single area of your mind map by fading out the rest. And with Visual Tags, you can add more context to your map and keep track of your projects by transforming them into tasks.

5 lessons from a blogger with 500,000 readers

Editor’s note: Today’s guest post is from Ryan Robinson, blogger and podcaster from ryrob.com.

Interested in growing your blog’s audience? Over the past few years, I’ve built an audience of over 500,000 readers — and today, I wanted to share some of the best strategies I’ve learned.

With some repetition and a healthy dose of creativity, putting just one of these tips into practice could help you double (or even triple!) your readership.

Lesson 1: Use video to show your human side

Video is a great way to build an instant connection with new visitors — whether it’s an introduction video on your homepage, or tutorial videos within your blog posts. This humanizes you and helps you connect more deeply with your audience. Readers can actually hear your voice, see your body language, and get to know you better.

You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to get started. You can use your smartphone to record a quick introduction of yourself and your blog. Host it on YouTube, then embed it on your blog’s homepage or “About” page to welcome new readers.

Lesson 2: Get featured in top publications

Getting featured in a top publication is a great way to bring in readers. It also shows that you’re a credible source of information. Take a look at the “Featured on” section on my blog’s homepage.

You might not be able to go straight to the top, so start by guest posting for larger blogs in your niche. Aim for websites that are just a few steps ahead of where you are today.

For example, rather than reaching straight for your dream publications when your blog is still relatively new, focus your guest posting efforts on sites that have somewhere in the tens of thousands of monthly readers. For more guidance and steps for getting published on larger sites in time, check out my guide to guest blogging.

Lesson 3: Create valuable content

To attract an audience, you need content that is valuable to your readers. And it's important for your content to not only be educational, but engaging too.

I focus on building content that is…

  • Comprehensive: Going more in-depth than your competitors can help you win loyal readers and encourage people to share your content.
  • Easy to read: Aim for short paragraphs, subheadings and lists so your readers are more likely to stay engaged on the page.
  • Well-structured: A clear post structure carries readers along without them ever feeling lost or confused. Plus, structuring your posts first helps you create content consistently.

Lesson 4: Craft a great intro (hook)

You don’t have long to make an impression online — just seconds, at most. Sure, headlines are important, but the introduction is also crucial.

A great way to begin your post is with a question or a promise. This immediately shows the reader that you understand their problem, and you’re going to help them solve it.

Take, for example, my guide about how to name a blog. It begins with the headline, “How to Name a Blog (the Smart Way): 40 Genius Blog Name Ideas (and Examples) to Get Inspired.” Here’s where the introduction takes over:

“There’s both an art and science to learning how to name a blog that tells readers about who you are, the topics you’re blogging about and more. So, what are you going to name your blog? Let’s dive into this ultimate guide, then look at some blog name ideas and examples to inspire your decision.”

In this introduction, I start with the promise that readers will learn how to choose a blog name that explains who they are and gives their audience useful context. Then, I restate the question, before sharing how we’ll work through that challenge together.

Lesson 5: Write in-depth answers in online forums

I’ve also built a presence in online forums to grow my readership. I’ll write answers on Quora, engage in discussions on GrowthHackers, and participate in Q&As on Producthunt.

I spend time finding questions that are relevant to my niche and writing in-depth responses. If the opportunity presents itself, I’ll include a link to one of my articles in my answer. This doesn’t draw tons of traffic overnight, but it adds up over time.

Ultimately, it takes time to build your audience. You may only have 100 monthly readers right now, but you can dramatically grow your audience with these tips. In fact, by this time next year, you might be well on your way to having hundreds of thousands of readers.