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Entrepreneur Feature: Mariah of Mariah Magazine. On Web Design/Development, running a business against the "rules," and Mariah's story

Entrepreneur Feature: Mariah of Mariah Magazine

Mariah and I met when she was a beta tester for my Conquer Google Analytics! course. As a web design and development professional, she was a great addition to that beta testing group, and I’m so excited to get to reconnect with her in Unit 25! We’re going to chat about what drives Mariah in business, her take on entrepreneurship without a college degree, and more. Without further ado, take it away, Mariah!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business, Mariah…Entrepreneur Feature: Mariah of Mariah Magazine. On Web Design/Development, running a business against the "rules," and Mariah's story

I’m Mariah, a mid-twenties online business owner from Buffalo, NY. I’m intensely passionate about the internet and websites… so much so that I started my web design and strategy studio a few years ago. Over at Mariah Magazine, I specialize in changing the internet world, one website at a time. The world wide web is a big, complicated place, and I help business owners cut through the noise, target their ideal audience, and improve their digital presence.

I’m a firm believer that a powerful website is more than attractive design….it’s about connecting with your target audience, and standing out in the overcrowded world of websites. It’s about sharing your passion with the right people, and getting the results you want while doing it.

When I’m not lost in cyberspace, I’m getting lost in the world around me. I’m obsessed with traveling, exploring, and involving myself in new experiences. I paint, draw, cook, sew, and basically just create. (Seriously, Pinterest DIY is like, my jam.) Since I spend a lot of my time creating things digitally, it’s nice to be able to take a step back and create things with my hands once in a while.

What prompted you to start your business?

I’ve known since I was in middle school that I wanted to run my own business, I just wasn’t sure what that business would actually be. I’ve always been that girl that wanted to do things on her own terms, so entrepreneurship seemed to fit me the best. I was going to school for web development, only making it through the first semester and realized I could do a better job of teaching myself the skills….so that’s exactly what I did.

I’m naturally a curious person. I’m always asking questions and trying to understand the whys and hows about the world around me. My curiosity landed me a few internships in the web field, and when I worked with my mentors, I was a sponge. A sponge that couldn’t get enough information. I did extra projects, took courses, read blogs, designed, tested, and improved. I was hooked on creating in the digital world.

My goal was to start my own business by the time I was 30. But, a few weeks before my 23 birthday, I had this gut feeling to just go for it. I quit my stable job, put together an online portfolio, and decided I’d figure it out as I went along.

I didn’t want to spend another second building someone else’s dream when I had so many of my own itching to get out.

How do you ignore all the “rules” and run your business YOUR way?

Life is way too damn short to play the game by other people’s rules.

Every human is constantly evolving, and my business evolves with me.  My business is my best friend. I have its back, and it has mine. I want what’s best for both of us. So how do I run it my way? I test out new ideas, and if they work, great! If not, that’s okay too because regardless of the outcome, I learned something new.

Do I have a plan? I have goals. How I reach those goals, is up in the air. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have ideas on what steps to take next, but I keep my expectations loose. I have faith in myself and my abilities. I know I’ll reach all of my goals, but which path I take to get there? Well, that’s yet to be determined.

I don’t like the word hustle. Online business owners talk about it all the time, and it makes me cringe. Hustle to me means busy. I don’t want to be busy; I want to be productive. I don’t want to run myself into a hole because I put my mental, physical, and spiritual self on the back burner. I prefer balance. Is everything ever balanced perfectly? No, never, but I’m always evaluating and shifting how I do things so that I can stay in the middle as often as possible….because that’s when I’m the happiest.

What advice do you have for an entrepreneur who wants to do the same?

Not everyone is going to understand your ideas and your dreams, and that’s okay…. because they’re not FOR them. And that goes for your parents, your friends, and your favorite Aunt Sally.

I say go for it, take the leap. This life, the life you’re living right now, is yours and no one else’s. And at the end of the day, nothing matters if you’re not happy. Don’t live your life on autopilot. Figure out what makes your eyes wide and your heart full. Even if it’s hard as hell and you want to give up, keep pushing.

Don’t follow the crowd. What’s working for other people won’t always work for you, and that’s a blessing. You’re your own person with your own perspectives and ideas. Follow your heart and your gut and bring your ideas to the world because if you don’t, who else is going to? Don’t be afraid to be different. The world needs more different: it’s what makes this life of ours so damn interesting.

You’ve written a couple of eBooks to help people with SEO and website planning. If you could only share one tip from each of these books, what would it be?

Ah, websites. I could talk for hours about creating and improving them. If I had to give only one piece of advice, I’d say know your audience.

Not just “kinda” know your audience.

You have to know them to the CORE.

Your website, your SEO strategy, your content marketing, everything you do online should target your ideal audience….so you have to know WHO they are, exactly.

Who are you building your website for?
What information will people type into Google to find you?
What are their biggest pain points?
What words and language do they use to describe their situation?
Why will your target audience pick you over someone else?
What should they do when they get to your website?
What content would be the MOST helpful to them?
Where are they struggling the most?
Which social media platform do they hang out on?

When you’re creating a website for your business and trying to gain traffic, customers, and clients, you have to be strategic. Your website is more than an online business card; it should be the biggest and most powerful tool in your business, your most valuable employee. If you’re not getting the results you want from your website, it’s not because the internet doesn’t work: it’s because your website doesn’t.

You can check out my ebooks here: https://mariahmagazine.com/shop/

Neither of us has college degrees, yet are successful entrepreneurs. What would you say to someone who is in the same boat or is considering leaving college?

I was lucky. The industry that I’m passionate about doesn’t require a standard degree, so I could get away with teaching myself skills and moving up from there. Just do your research. Before I left college, I would go on hiring websites and read the job postings. I’d find an example of a company/job I wanted, and I would look at the qualifications. Would quitting school prevent me from getting this type of opportunity?

There’s a lot of industries that you can’t break into without a degree. If that’s the case, I say figure out a way to enjoy the ride. If college makes you want to slam your head into a brick wall (like it did for me), reevaluate your path.

Ask yourself, is this career what I truly want? Is this going to open up the opportunities that make me want to jump out of bed in the morning?

If you’re considering quitting school, weigh your options. For me, it was worth it. But don’t think things will get easier when you stop going to school – a formal education is just one piece of the puzzle. If you want to swap out that puzzle piece, get ready to work your ass off sooner than later.

What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?

Probably having the freedom to figure out what works best for me. I can evaluate my life, priorities, and opportunities as I go along. I love the flexibility I have with working. The fact that I can approach business as more of a fluid thing, then a set-in-stone situation allows me to switch up my balancing act as I go along. I don’t think there will ever be a time in my life where I’ll have work and life balanced out completely because to me, they’re one in the same. I love my work, so much so that I’ve made it my life. It’s part of my overall well-being and sense of purpose.

Thanks so much for sharing your story and your insights, Mariah! Where can we find you online?

You can find me over on my website MariahMagazine.com or connect with me on Twitter or Facebook! If you’re looking for insight on improving your own website, check out my YouTube Channel!

Website: https://mariahmagazine.com/
Twitter: @Mariah_Magz
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mariahmagazinewebdesign/
YouTube: mariahmagazine.video

The Creative Entrepreneurs L.A.B.