On a Sunday morning in 2011, I met Chelsea Jackson in a yoga class she teaches in the neighborhood. She was working on a PhD program in educational studies at nearby Emory, wanted a WordPress blog site and asked me for help setting it up.
This week in 2016, Chelsea could be found teaching yoga on the White House lawn as part of the Easter Egg Roll celebration. Her five-year journey to national prominence in her field was made possible by consistent content marketing. Chelsea used blogging, email newsletters and social media to connect her expertise with followers. This makes your brand more visible and attracts more business. This is one woman’s journey from her first website to the White House.
Chelsea’s story shows what an amazing ability we have in this day and time to share our products, messages, stories and movements with people all over the world. It never fails to amaze me how much people resist writing blog posts. Chelsea gets it. She uses her website effectively and relentlessly to engage with and expand her community. To them, she truly is a superstar.[Tweet “Where will your website take you? Beyond your wildest dreams @judiknight”]
Chelsea did some great things with her content marketing that helped her build her audience.
- Her WordPress theme fit her content perfectly. We actually found a free theme with a cool mandala-type header graphic, originally created for WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg’s blog. This bold, soothing design set just the right tone for her content.
- Chelsea consistently focused content tapped into related circles. Despite being busy with school, Chelsea found her niche interviewing yogis in the community. She has kept these interviews up all these years and you can imagine she has interviewed a lot of yogis. This was a great idea for her blog because people love to be interviewed, and in turn they would share her posts with their own communities, helping Chelsea to grow her following.
- Chelsea drew followers through a timely, well-formed opinion on a contentious issue. She got a boost in her reputation and following on her blog when she stood up to the Elephant Journal (‘a website for the mindful life’) for publishing a satirical video of an Asian woman teaching yoga to black people. Chelsea, as a black woman and yogi, eloquently told them why she found the video offensive, and Elephant Journal stirred the community further by turning it back on Chelsea for not having a sense of humor. As the online controversy drew hundreds of people to her defense, Chelsea essentially was branding herself as committed to celebrating and increasing diversity in yoga. Through this bold move, more people discovered her blog.
- No matter what, Chelsea kept suiting up and showing up. Within the past couple of years, she received her PhD, started a yoga, literature and arts camp at Spelman University and got married. Even when she was very busy with a PhD program, work and a big life, Chelsea maintained her web presence, continued to make connections and consistently engaged with her community throughout these five years.
- New creative partners expanded her reach. Once she had more time for herself, Chelsea’s her online presence became even brighter. She now has several photographers, including her husband, who love taking photographs of her in yoga poses. As these beautiful photos showed up on her Facebook and Instagram feeds, more of us started following Chelsea.
- Kept up with Technology and invested in her changing needs. Chelsea had her website redone redesigned for two major reasons. 1) her original theme did not meet current requirements for mobile responsivity and 2) she needed a theme that allowed for a better display of her amazing photographs.
- The unexpected became reality. Her tenacity paid off last year when Yoga Journal featured Chelsea on its cover. This was big because a single issue of Yoga Journal creates 9.5 million touchpoints through print, web, tablet, mobile, social media and events.
Did Chelsea know where she would eventually end up? Of course not. She cared about her community and knew she had something to share. She kept up her connections and participated online which promoted Chelsea as a brand. If Chelsea had not put in the dedication to create consistently focused content, or not taken the risks to put herself and her opinions out there, no one would know how terrific she is.
We Chelsea watchers were thrilled last week to get the word that Chelsea was going to teach yoga at the White House. We’ll have to wait to get the full story when she returns home. But go Chelsea go!
I am so proud of her that she took the risk and put herself out there. She would have found a way forward no matter what, but I can’t help but be happy that I could play a little part in launching her superstardom. She has done a stellar job with her relationships with other yogis, her ideas and beliefs, her yoga programs and her beautiful photographs. It takes guts and she did it. One step at a time.
I can’t promise you the front cover of the top publication in your field or an invitation to the White House, but you can create your own unique niche on the web, however small or grand.
As Chelsea’s story shows, it is essential that you care about your community and stay open to leading others. Content marketing is about stepping up. What do you have to offer that people can’t get other places? Can you introduce people to the world in which you are an expert? If you see how Chelsea started with others, telling the story of one yogi at a time, you see what is possible.
It is magic and a privilege to have the opportunity to lead. What are you waiting for?
P.S. I know it can be hard sometimes to know what to write. It’s so easy to get stuck. Stay tuned because next week I’ll have some ideas for you. Sign up here to have the list sent directly to your inbox.