Cassey Ho is not your average digital publisher. She started out as a Pilates instructor, who used the web as a way to engage with her students by posting workout videos on YouTube. Eventually she started blogging as well, and she developed a following. FITNESS magazine named her the Best Healthy Living Blogger of 2012, and Sharecare called her the second most influential online personality. EContent talked to her about how the web enabled her to turn a passion into a career.
Q: I always find it interesting when someone takes a passion (like healthy living) and turns it into a media career. The two aren't always compatible, by which I mean, not everyone can write... and certainly not everyone can turn a blog into a successful revenue stream. So what made you want to get into the digital publishing game?
A: I actually didn't mean to! During college I started teaching Pilates and then posted a workout video on YouTube for my students when we didn't have class. It quickly caught fire, and people began requesting more videos! Before I knew it, I had thousands of fans wanting new workouts every day, and that is how Blogilates started.
Q: When you were starting out were there lessons you had to learn the hard way? Were there technical hurdles you had to overcome? Or anything you just had to break down and ask for help on?
A: Oh, I always ask for help!! You can't survive in this business by doing everything alone. I really learned this lesson as Blogilates started to gain popularity. I just wasn't sleeping at all so I had to ask my parents to help out with the logistics and management of the business while I focused on creating great content for my POPsters (Blogilates fans).
Q: How long did it take for you to build a following?
A: I posted my first video in October 2009, and here I am today with over 400,000+ subscribers on both my YouTube channels. I am fortunate and so grateful for each and every one of my POPsters.
Q: What do you think sets your site apart? Why were you able to find success where others were not?
A: I think that I have seen so much growth because I am transparent and am not afraid to be super-happy me on or off YouTube. Personally, I train better when I am being encouraged, so I am not as aggressive or stern as many trainers, and my fans really seem to like it that way! I also keep my videos fun and playful so that my POPsters look forward to exercising because it's like we're just hanging out together.
Q: Maintaining a site is a full-time job. Creating content, marketing, distribution... it can all be a bit of a headache. How do you balance the demands of the site with the demands of being a fitness instructor?
A: Quite honestly, it is always very hectic! But, I think because I was lucky enough to find my true calling in the fitness industry, that when I am working really hard, I don't feel stressed because I love what I am doing so much. It sounds cheesy, but if you really love your work, it does not seem nearly as daunting. And...sometimes you can't sleep because you're addicted to what you do!
Q: What advice would you give to someone who has an idea for a website but isn't sure how to turn the dream into a reality?
A: I would say go for it! It can take a while to build a strong and consistent fan base, so don't expect to launch and have 100,000 likes in a day. Also, DO NOT FOCUS ON THE NUMBERS. Focus on doing what you do best. It's about building a community of people who want to visit the site every day because you create value and offer expertise. If you don't try you will never know what might have been!