Christian Hollingsworth is a current student at Sierra College, entrepreneur, web enthusiast,  musician, and the founder of Smart Boy Designs.  Christian graciously agreed to do an interview to tell us what he does for a living, and give some overall great advice on making money online, entrepreneurship, and handling stress.  You can follow Christian on Twitter, Facebook, instagram, etc.

In more detail than my intro, what exactly do you do?

CH: In simplest terms, I’m a digital marketing consultant and blogger. I manage my business from home, and handle the reputation, online presence, social media marketing, search engine optimization, database infrastructure, email marketing, and branding for various companies. Companies range anywhere in size from a sole owner, to 500+ employees. I handle the crucial aspects of every campaign, write where needed, and code, but also have virtual employees around the globe who work within the Smart Boy Designs business.

In my spare time I write music, and sing. I’m currently becoming more involved in the music industry.

 

How did you get started working online?

CH: I was 9 when I first started teaching myself how to code websites. A lot of what I started learning came from an online social website called Neopets. I thought it was amazing that you could gather a community and inspire folks to believe in a single message, all through the use of sharing and media online. I built clubs, wrote, started blogging, and building lots of websites.

At the age of 15, I became serious about one of my many passions, which was training and raising sled dogs. I needed a surplus of money and supplies. I decided to teach myself how to reach people through digital marketing, as well as study from my Dad, who is an event producer and marketer. I eventually built the second largest dog sledding community in the world online, where I also managed an online shopping cart. I then went to my parents and demanded that I get a few dogs of my own, as, “The owner of the fastest growing dog sledding website needs his own sled dogs!”

I sure manipulated my way into that one. ;)

What would your advice be to people who want to begin making money online?

CH: Making money online takes hard work and dedication.

Money online can be made in a variety of ways. Blogging, selling products, building communities, and freelancing. Those who make the most money know how to combine all their talents, use all methods, and watch as their work is multiplied and revenues increased. A good blogger realizes that money can be made by pairing blog posts with a product to sell, and vice versa.

Would you suggest the entrepreneurial route for current or graduated students?

CH: If a graduate student is involved with an existing corporate career, entrepreneurial pursuits should always be experimented with on the side. I also feel the same with those who are involved in their own business pursuits. Just because you own a business, doesn’t mean you should turn your eyes and ears off to opportunities that can and will evolve within the corporate world too.

It’s all about marketing yourself, making your name known, and backing that name with quality work and effort.

As an entrepreneur in a competitive field how did you come about your success?

CH: Networking. I used what I was good at and surrounded myself with individuals who could use my skills and tell more people about them. From the time I was little I worked alongside my Dad (the aforementioned event producer/marketer), and began to network with event managers who needed help organizing their online presence. I also began growing my name within the medical, music, and blogging industries simultaneously, which helped to grow a steady list of clients.

What’s important to remember is that even when a client list is built, perpetual work in networking with others is still very much important.

Otherwise, you’ll die on the vine.

Are you currently going to school? What are your plans academically?

CH: Despite business success, I don’t thinks schooling should ever be forgotten. It’s a great way to connect with others, keep learning and thinking skills sharp, and open doors.

I just recently finished my degree in Computer Information Systems from Sierra College, and had just begun switching my major to business, when I decided to switch yet again. I’m going to major in Psychology, which will present a strong pairing with my career in marketing and business leadership. I wouldn’t mind, in the future as well, to dive into helping individuals through disabling mental problems and addictions. I also have a profound love for writing, and feel psychology will give me a deeper understanding of character development and psyche.

My goal has always been to receive a doctorate in a field.

In February I’ll also be traveling to Italy for three months with Sierra College’s study abroad program to continue my studies of the Italian language, culture, and art.

You seem like a busy guy, what exactly is all on your plate right now?

CH: There’s quite a lot at the moment.

In previous years I was misdiagnosed for a substantial period of time, and at the beginning of the year learned I had contracted Lyme disease. I’ll live with the disease for the rest of my life due to being misdiagnosed for so long, but do my best to stay positive. There are periods of remission, and I’ve made great progress in gaining back a lot of the initial weight I lost when I first came down with the disease.

I’m also very heavily involved in the music industry, and spend a lot of my time writing/composing my own original music, and image branding. I’m working with a great group of people now, and should be releasing some music throughout the world by this next year. I can’t share it all here, but stay tuned, as some exciting things in this area are about to unfold.

I work very hard, and sometimes it all gets to me.

I’ll get very tired, and especially with a debilitating illness, I have to make time for myself to rest and recharge.

It’s times when I’m resting that I’m able to meditate on my next goals, find ways to improve and become more efficient in what I do, and understanding the why’s as to the choices I make in life.

Although life becomes difficult, the difficulties are what build and refine greatness.

 

Which of your interests are you most passionate about?

CH: I’m passionate about a lot, but most important is my life’s mission statement: To be a light in other people’s lives.

Whether I’m writing a blog post to help small businesses grow their presence online, tuning my voice to sing for a crowd, or consulting with a client, it all comes back to that initial mission statement. I really want to leave a positive impression on this world with my life, and use all the time I have here. Life is short, and we never know when it might be our time to leave.

There is no guarantee for the future.

All we have to hold onto is what we will choose in the present.

How do you handle all of what you do? Do you have any tips on being productive without giving up or becoming too stressed?

CH: The triggers of stress are difficult to quantify, but there are a few things that have helped me remove much of the stress that has originally plagued me in the past.

  • Be 100% you on the inside and outside. You better believe what you say, and say what you believe. If what you’re saying isn’t exactly what you believe on the inside, stress and anxiety will occur.
  • The body is the mind’s vehicle, and as we all know, vehicle’s need maintenance and refueling. Sleep as much as necessary, eat well, drink lots of water, meditate, and exercise. I know, because I’m 21, that’s it’s so easy to feel like you don’t really need to take care of your body. It can feel like being young means being unstoppable, but degradation is a surety if the body isn’t cared for.
  • Goals and passions must be identified. If you find yourself questioning what you’re spending your time doing, then it might not be your greatest passion. Reaching for dreams should be hard, and hard work, but it’s possible to be happy and balanced while in the pursuit.
  • I practice the Pareto Principle. The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This is the reason why I only work for 20% of my days’ time (during the time I’m most productive), I fire the 20% of clients who produce 80% of the problems, and then extend this principle to all other areas of my life.

I guess it’s only necessary to close with a quote from one of my favorite others. This quote has become one of the many mottos I practice in my life.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain.