Please state your name, your position, and a bit of your Business.
I’m Jenny Kotlyar, hiking, and outdoor adventure blogger. I created Campsite Vibes as a place to share my story and my adventures to inspire and empower my audience to go on the adventures they’ve been dreaming of! I didn’t grow up living the outdoor lifestyle I do now. Prior to 2014, I had never slept in a tent or even hiked more than a mile or two. But we all start somewhere!
I share everything from where to go, how to plan trips, how to train for longer hikes, the ins and outs of gear, and how to get past what’s holding them back and just get outside in a sustainable way.
How did the business start?
After I graduated college in 2016, I started diving deeper into hiking and experiencing the outdoors. I had more time to train and travel so I was able to get outdoors more.
In those first years of hiking more than backpacking, I learned so much along the way.
My coworkers were inspired by my outdoor adventures and started asking me for tips so they could start getting outdoors. That inspired me to start the blog as a way to share what I’ve learned and make the road to enjoying the outdoors easier for others.
What are the challenges you met and how did you manage to cope up with these challenges and reach your current status?
I come from a digital marketing background, so from that experience, it made it easier to get started and develop a strategy.
As I’ve gone through the process, I’ve redone my website around four to five times in a year to update it as my needs grew and my audience grew.
I’ve learned a lot about website design and development, email marketing, SEO, Pinterest, how to keep an audience engaged, course creation, different tools, working smarter not harder, how to balance a full-time job, freelancing and growing my blog, how to pitch brands, photography, and how to adjust my mindset to give myself permission to grow.
Who influenced you in this industry and how did he/she influence you?
Kristen from Bearfoottheory.com was a possibility-model in that her blog and her lifestyle showed me that you can actually make a living as a blogger.
Julie Solomon’s Influencer Podcast has taught me and inspired me so much and shaped what I focus on in my business, how I interact and show up for my audience, and where my business is heading.
How did you manage to market your business and compete with other agencies in your niche?
There are a lot of travel bloggers, but I focus on hiking and outdoor adventure. That’s my niche and getting specific has helped me grow. There are still competitors but I think my message and story make me very unique to my competitors.
I’ve overcome the same hurdles that my audience is going through such has not having friends to go with and figuring out how to find the outdoor community and feeling comfortable going solo, understanding how to get permits, train, etc. I think my story, my experiences, and my message and staying true to that and focused help me stand out.
What Best Practice/s can you share to our startup readers?
1) Niche down. I know that it’s scary and you’ll think you’re going to lose potential customers, but really you are just going to attract the customer/audience that will buy from you and save yourself the money and time from chasing people who aren’t your audience. Your business will skyrocket when you niche down.
2) Don’t focus on your follower count. It doesn’t matter! Focus on your user experience, focus on your customer journey, collecting emails and email marketing, optimizing Pinterest and Facebook Ads to convert. Not the number of followers.
3) Work smarter, not harder.
4) Change your mindset. It’s a completely different mindset to think like an entrepreneur instead of an employee. You won’t grow your business thinking like an employee. Focus on overcoming your limiting beliefs and not listening to the haters (even family and friends count). We all feel like frauds and failures some times. But keep pushing past that. Dive deep and figure out why you feel like that and what can you do to change the way you feel. And know you’re only a failure if you stay down. If you get back up, you didn’t fail. We all have hiccups so don’t compare yourself to people who are years ahead of you.
5) Find your tribe. Starting a business is lonely. It’s incredibly rewarding and I’ve loved every minute of what I do. But your family and friends will most likely not understand. If you still work a 9 to 5, your coworkers will think you’re crazy and often try to put you down. Especially in times when you feel like a fraud or a failure. It helps to have a group of people who are going through something similar to lean on in those times.
6) Don’t stress on the competition. Stay in your own lane, let them do what they’re going to do. Focus on your brand and your mission and what value you can provide to your audience/customers. Not what the other guy is doing.
7) Stay focused! Don’t get distracted with shiny object syndrome. I’ve said this before, stay in your lane and focus. Be like a stamp and stick to it until you get there.
8) Yes, it will be hard. But it will be extremely rewarding. Enjoy the process.
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