Becca Piastrelli’s Advice to Early Career Professionals: Create the Space to Listen

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 7.56.39 AMBecca Piastrelli, founder of The Dabblist, had been toying with the idea of jumping the proverbial corporate ship for a while before actually taking the leap this past year. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Becca and working closely with her for a few years now – she was originally recruited to launch our online community, Generation Demandforce. So during the day, Becca was our community management extraordinaire. At night and on the weekends however, she was in another world, connecting with thousands of her blog readers with every post about herbal remedies and other dabblings. Today, Becca has found a way to successfully intertwine personal passion and career, and I’m so glad to be sharing her story with you.

What do you love most about the entrepreneurial life?

I love that it’s a combination of my creative and business passions. Being my own boss and having 100% say in my success ain’t too shabby either.

What drew you to blogging in the first place?

I think what drew me to blogging initially (this was 5 years ago) was the ability to reach a specific audience with my message. Thanks to the beauty of SEO and social media, finding my people isn’t as hard as it used to be. I love getting notes of support from people in Hong Kong or Israel who found me on Pinterest or Facebook. Blogging is a way for me to express myself and find people who feel the same way.

Did you think you’d be doing what you do today when you were graduating from college?

No way! When I graduated from college, I was MBA-bound with dreams of conquering the corporate world with my passion for sustainability. I had a lot to learn along the way, mostly about what would really light me up when I was doing it rather than something I was just generically good at. I wouldn’t change a thing about my path, because it’s taught me so much about what I want in this world.

Was there a unique event, or series of events, which heavily influenced your career choices?

My interest in online marketing and business emerged in my MBA program, as those were the classes I took the most interest in. From there, it was all intuition. I would move into a position based on what my gut would tell me, and know to move on once it felt like it was time to expand my mind in other ways.

In my most recent position, I had an awesome mentor who empowered me to blaze my own path and, ultimately gave me the courage to step away in pursuit of my dream of running my own business. The relationship started with me reaching out for feedback – honestly and openly asking how I could improve. From there, the mentorship blossomed. Without that champion and support, I doubt I would have made the leap.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting a business?

Go for it, but be patient. True success doesn’t happen overnight. But, if you believe that you can do this, that will be enough to sustain you through the inevitable highs and lows of the journey. Also, don’t go it alone. Make sure you have a community there to support you during the challenges and celebrate your triumphs.

Do you think there are personality types that are better suited for the startup life?

That’s an interesting question. There absolutely needs to be a desire for movement, for growth, for change. Start-ups are constantly evolving to find the best customer, the best product, or the best business model. Change usually brings uncertainty, so you need to be along for the ride. I enjoy the start-up/entrepreneurial culture because it’s constantly keeping me on the my toes and challenging me to evolve myself. So for me, stagnation = death.

Do you think you can be risk averse and still start your own business?

Depends on the type of business you are starting, how much capital is required, and how you are funding it. I am somewhat risk averse, so have built in safeguards to my business plan to make myself be a bit more audacious. But, at the core of starting your own business is an appetite for risk. That’s the cost of dreaming big.

On to blogging. What kinds of content do you feel your readers connect the most with?

In this age of overwhelming content, authenticity always wins. When I write, I write honestly about what I’m going through. It took me a while to show that side of me online. I was writing what I thought people in my niche would want to read. But, as soon as I would let out a bit of my personal story, comments and engagement would blow up. My two most successful posts were one about walking away from my corporate job and one where I shared pictures from a fashion-boudoir photoshoot where I challenged myself to love the parts of my body I was least comfortable with.

Has there been a time when blogging became too personal?

No, but I’m very careful about what I present online. I cringe sometimes when I come across blog or social media posts that seem more like a diary entry than a post that is meant to be shared. I believe in authentic writing, but know there is a certain amount of protection I am responsible for creating for myself. That, and being married to an ethical hacker has taught me a thing or two about privacy and security.

How have you build your revenue stream since starting your blog?

The smartest thing you can do for yourself as a blogger is to not be a one-trick pony and build out multiple revenue streams. The typical revenue streams are ads and affiliate marketing. I am focusing on putting out my own products and believe that is the surest way to fully monetize your blog without having to worry about being popular and anxiously trying to get higher unique pageviews. When you sell your own products that your people really want, you are in way more control of your revenue.

What do you feel are the foundational pieces to being able to blog as a career?

You need a topic (or niche) that you’re passionate about, some willingness to troubleshoot tech stuff, and the courage to put yourself out there. Topic + Tech Willingness + Courage.  I like that – it’s like the basic recipe for blogging.

What was your “aha” moment in life, if you’ve had one?

I’ve had a lot of them, and I look forward to many more. But my most recent major “aha” moment came earlier this year when I came to the end of my “life checklist” and realized I wanted something different. My entire life, I followed one big checklist – get good grades, go to a good school, get MBA, get a great job at a start-up that got acquired, double my income in 3 years. I checked off everything on the list I had created for myself and realized I wanted something else. It was awesome, because I now have a chance to create an entirely different life for myself knowing what worked and what didn’t.

If you were talking to a younger you, what’s the one piece of advice you would give?

Take a moment away from social media, your smartphone, all the craziness of life and ask yourself what you really desire in life. It’s hard to hear with everything else going on but, when you clear the space to really listen to yourself, you’ll know.

Alright got it? OK, now go get it.

Your future is made up of the choices you make today. It’ll take hard work and discipline, but you can get there. I promise.

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