Carly Heitlinger created a blog called The College Prepster in 2008 during her rough freshman year at Georgetown University simply because she needed a creative outlet. Heitlinger fell into blogging before it rose to popularity and she has had the privilege of experiencing the blogging industry grow and develop over the years.
Now, six years later, she is a famous blogger with many loyal subscribers. She has over 27,300 Twitter followers, 104,000 Instagram followers and she has even recently signed with managers to help her grow her business. Her knowledge gained from majoring in marketing at Georgetown in conjunction with her real-world experience makes her an expert in her field and the perfect speaker for ambitious college students.
The marketing club president, Patricia Speers, invited Heitlinger to campus by simply emailing her through her blog. And, to Speers’ surprise, Heitlinger was very open to the idea and they soon set a date for her to visit campus.
Speers, a senior marketing and global business studies major, thought that this talk would be very beneficial to her peers.
“As an avid College Prepster follower I was so excited that I was able to get in touch with Carly and manage to schedule her to talk to the marketing and entrepreneurship clubs since her schedule is extremely busy,” Speers said. “Blogging is so relevant and is a huge sector of entrepreneurship today and we haven’t had a speaker like this.”
The room was humming with excitement even before Heitlinger began to speak. And, although this was an event held by the marketing and entrepreneurship clubs, there were students from all different majors who attended.
“We even had a high school student that saw about the event on Twitter attend,” Speers said.
Students were engaged by Heitlinger’s charisma and clarity and they actively participated throughout the talk. She allowed students to lead the discussion with their questions and that kept the conversation flowing. The questions covered an array of topics all of which relate back to how to be a successful entrepreneur and marketing professional in a world that has a constantly changing technological landscape.
Particularly interesting topics covered were the convergence of print and social media, how blogging is evolving and the important work-life balance that too many college students and young professionals ignore. Heitlinger also gave attendees a glimpse into what running her business entails and what her daily life is like as a full-time blogger.
Even students who do not follow her blog learned a lot from the discussion.
“While I am not an avid fan of fashion, I thoroughly enjoyed the technical discussion of setting up, maintaining and being an internet presence which was incredibly interesting,” senior Peter Kreatsoulas said.
As a college freshman, Heitlinger never imagined that this is where her blog and passions would take her.
“I definitely had no idea what I wanted to do my freshman year in general, and then it was one of those things where blogging was a short-term fix on needing a creative outlet, so I never thought that it would be a long-term solution to an actual career. And also, the industry was so small and really kind of non-existent, if not immature. So I didn’t even know that that would be kind of a possibility,” Heitlinger said.
While the blog helped her develop as a marketing professional, it also helped her develop as a person.
“I definitely developed a thicker skin and really figured out who I was through figuring out what I wanted to share about who I was,” Heitlinger said.
The College Prepster’s posts cover a lot of topics and Heitlinger has to come up with new content every day. One must ask, where does her inspiration come from?
“I try to find inspiration everywhere I go and with everyone that I’m meeting with. I think that you stop finding inspiration when you stop looking for it,” Heitlinger said. “Part of that is making yourself go out there and experience life. Because if you’re not experiencing life, how could you ever be inspired by anything?”
Because Heitlinger is young and relatable many college girls look up to her. Her top three pieces of advice for them are: “I always say be open-mined. The second thing I would say is to know your worth and know your strengths. So you know, asking for the right type of salary, knowing what your skills are and knowing what you have to bring to the table can help you position yourself when you’re going into conversations. And then, I think that figuring out what it is you love to do is important,” Heitlinger said.
Heitlinger’s blog has a very broad audience and she has become a role model and a source of advice for many readers. Heitlinger realizes the weight of this responsibility and it guides her actions.
“There’s a lot of pressure. I’m really cautious about what I put out on the Internet because I know a thirteen-year-old might be reading it. But, I try to write things that I wish I had read when I was in college or things I wish someone had told me as an older mentor but like my peer. And, it’s really flattering if a thirteen-year-old emails me and tells me ‘Oh, I love your blog’ or a twenty-year-old says ‘I just failed a class and I know it’s not the end of the world.’ So, it’s flattering but there’s definitely a lot of pressure because I don’t want to mess up or lead someone the wrong way,” Heitlinger said.
As for the future, what can we expect from Heitlinger and The College Prepster five years down the road?
“I look back at where I was five years ago and I, never in a million years, would have thought that I would be where I am now. So I don’t like to lock myself into anything. I more work on what’s coming up for the next three months or what’s coming up for the next year. It’s a little bit more tangible,” Heitlinger said.
“But, I hope that The College Prepster continues to grow and lives on in not just a dot com form but who knows what that is? Like a book? Or, a TV show or a movie? Or something like a collection at a big store? And, I hope that I’m still doing something that I am a hundred percent passionate about.”
Heitlinger’s story reminds us how important it is to make your work something that you’re passionate about and that sometimes doing what you love can lead you down paths that you never could have imagined for yourself.
For more useful advice, style inspiration and more you can check out Heitlinger’s blog The College Prepster at www.thecollegeprepster.com. You can also follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest.