Do you ever look at a successful content creator and think – how did they achieve that?
How did they get started and make that leap from creating their original content to where they are today? How can I replicate their success?
We can learn some fantastic lessons from content creators that have worked their way from the ground up…one of which is the incredible mum-of-three and bestselling author, Sarah Turner.
Sarah, aka, The Unmumsy Mum, is a perfect example of how following the golden rules of content creation can change your life.
In this installment of the It Started with Content case study series, I share six content marketing lessons to learn from Sarah’s fascinating content journey.
Hit play to listen to the podcast episode…
…watch the video version below…
…or keep reading to discover The Unmumsy Mum’s story.
How content can change your life
Before we dive into the 6 key lessons we can learn from The Unmumsy Mum, let me give you some context.
In a previous life, Sarah worked in the finance industry. But when she had her first child, the lifestyle just didn’t suit her anymore. So, she took a part-time job at a university instead.
With a new job and a new baby, Sarah was faced with many challenges and struggles that most parents know all too well – and turned to the internet to look for reassurance.
But all she found were glossy representations of parenthood. Idealistic images and content that made parenting look like a dream…
This wasn’t what Sarah wanted at all!
She wanted to see other people dealing with the unglamorous side of parenthood. Content that was real and relatable.
Frustrated that content like this didn’t exist, she took matters into her own hands.
The rest of Sarah’s story can be shared alongside the six lessons we, as content creators, can learn from her. Here goes...
1. Create content you want to see
Sarah’s frustration with the limited real, raw, ‘warts and all’ parenting content available drove her to do something she never expected – start her own blog.
I don’t know if she realized it at the time just how smart a move this was. She discovered a niche and immediately capitalized on it.
It’s what entrepreneurship is built on – someone wants a product or service, but when they find out that it doesn’t exist, they go and create it themselves. It’s a great move, because if you want something, the chances are you’re not alone.
But Sarah had never written a blog before. So, where did she start?
Good old Google.
Sarah searched “how to start a blog”. Within hours, she’d written and published her first blog post. The Unmumsy Mum blog was born!
She had no audience. No followers. No readers. Sarah’s blog post wasn’t meant as part of a grand content marketing strategy. It was simply a way to vent her thoughts and share the real side of parenthood that she wanted to see online.
This is the next lesson we can take away from Sarah’s journey….
2. Lead with passion and purpose
Sarah was truly passionate about her content from day one. She was sharing her honest thoughts, therapeutically journaling them into her blog.
Because Sarah was creating the content she wanted to see, it gave her a real drive to keep producing it. Especially as nobody else was!
In fact, Sarah was enjoying providing this ‘real talk’ so much, that she decided to expand into social media.
She set up a Twitter account so she could share more of her hilarious parenting moments on a different platform, and get readers over to her blog.
And that’s how she carried on for 18 months…posting consistently on her blog and her Twitter account. She didn’t get huge traction until she decided to also set up a Facebook page.
Now here’s where Sarah’s story gets really interesting.
Sarah had been posting hilarious pictures/videos/comments on parenting life, venting her frustrations, being real and relatable on Twitter for over a year, and she did fine but nothing life-changing. But when she took this same content to Facebook, her audience exploded – it was life changing!
Before she knew it, The Unmumsy Mum had over 200,000 Facebook followers!
This is lesson number three…
3. Find your audience
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good your content is. It matters where your audience is.
Think about it like this. You’ve spent all weekend baking an amazing chocolate cake to take to a friend’s dinner party. You’ve gone all out to make sure it tastes as amazing as possible because you want it to be a big talking point.
Perhaps you’ve used the best ingredients you could find or made it extra-large so that everyone can have a big slice. It’s your best work, and you’re so proud to finally share it.
But when you get to the dinner party, almost everyone is gluten-free!
In Sarah’s case, she was bringing her content cake to this gluten-free dinner party (Twitter) when she should have been bringing it to a tea and coffee morning (Facebook)!
When Sarah started sharing her content on Facebook, that’s when she found her audience. People went wild. Her engagement went through the roof. Now, her content frequently goes viral.
This is why it’s so important to be on a multitude of platforms if you want to get known. What works for one audience won’t work for another, so you need to experiment on different platforms and with different types of content.
Experiment, but then go all-in on what works.
I should say, Twitter wasn’t, and isn’t, a total let down for Sarah. In fact, today she has just under 50k followers on Twitter (many people, especially bloggers, dream of that). But in those early days for Sarah, Facebook is what really took off fast.
Today, The Unmumsy Mum has nearly 800,000 followers on Facebook, and it’s so much more than a content-sharing platform. It’s a truly social, social media channel.
So, what happened next?
More followers on Facebook, led to more interest in her blog, and as blog readership grew the The Unmumsy Mum became very well known in parenting circles.
As Sarah’s popularity soared, it wasn’t only fellow parents who enjoyed her content…it also caught an editorial director’s eye…
Then, completely out of the blue, a publishing company got in touch with Sarah. They’d seen her social media posts and read her blogs…and offered her a book deal.
Sarah then embraced lesson number four…
4. Go all-in with your content
With a book deal on the table, Sarah decided to take a big, brave leap – to quit her job!
All this happened just two years after she’d started her blog. Now, her life was completely transformed. She fully invested in her content and (although she didn’t know it at the time) was on her way to becoming a two-time Sunday Times bestselling author.
In 2016, "The Unmumsy Mum" became a published book, shifting the online brand firmly into the print world. It topped the Sunday Times bestseller chart, one of the most prestigious and respected book charts in the UK.
The book’s success was followed by another two book deals. ‘The Unmumsy Mum Diary’ was published a year later, and, in 2019, Sarah returned with ‘The Unmumsy Mum A-Z – An Inexpert Guide to Parenting’, which saw her shoot to the top of the Sunday Times bestseller list once more.
At the time of writing, Sarah is working on her fourth book. Meanwhile, her first three have been translated into more than 15 languages and are sold all over the world.
Was it a big and scary move for Sarah to go all-in with her content? Undoubtedly! But did it lead her to a life that she never even dreamed of? Definitely!
I love how Sarah was able to turn her blog into a business and her career by sticking to what she loved and she was good at – writing. This is a little different to the It Started with Content stories that I shared of Brian Clark and Nathan Barry – both of whom started with blogging just like Sarah, but then realized their way to make money in a different way (building software).
The way Sarah explains that she never intended for any of the success to happen reminds me of our It Started with Content episode about the My Dad Wrote a Porno podcast. It’s interesting how so many key themes are coming up in these inspiring content stories.
In an interview with Grow, Sarah said:
“If I’m honest, I’d never planned for any of it; it was just a little sideline, a hobby. I certainly didn’t have plans for it to become my career.”
So how did all this happen? I think Sarah’s overlooked one thing that’s SO important in the content marketing world…her maintained effort to provide fantastic content, aka, lesson number five…
5. Stay consistent
This is the one thing all successful content creators have in common – consistency!
Even when The Unmumsy Mum had no blog readers and no Twitter followers, Sarah stayed consistent. She kept creating and sharing content regardless of how many replies, likes, or shares she got.
This is where Sarah’s purpose helped her so much. That’s what kept her going. She wasn’t driven by vanity metrics or hoping to achieve any big marketing goals…it was her passion that kept her providing content time and time again.
This very much reminds me of the story of Joe Wicks, which I shared in my first It Started with Content episode. Joe had no audience, but kept on creating and posting...creating and posting...fuelled by so much passion and purpose.
And there’s one more thing that set Sarah apart and is what I believe was the golden ticket to her striking a chord with so many people online…her relatability.
This is the sixth and final key lesson to learn from The Unmumsy Mum story…
6. Be authentic
Imagine if Sarah hadn’t shared her real, no-holds-barred content. Would she be as successful as she is today?
Probably not. At the root of all her content-creating efforts lies Sarah’s genuine thoughts.
This is what makes her content so enjoyable and absolutely hysterical. Every parent can read her real opinions and get a sense of comfort that they’re not alone!
Sarah’s content approach has created a strong, tight-knit community on her social media platforms. She gets thousands of messages from grateful parents who appreciate her content because it’s authentic and relatable. By putting her genuine self out there, people trust her, want to talk to her, and (clearly) want to engage with her content.
To sum up…
I love Sarah’s story so much because it’s both remarkable and unremarkable. Sarah started from the very bottom. She had no writing experience, no blogging background, and no audience. But she started anyway.
That’s what makes her story so impressive. She built her brand from the ground up. Driven by little other than self-determination.
And it’s completely changed her life!
So, to recap, here are the six key lessons to learn from Sarah’s content journey – that you can apply to your own…
- Create content you want to see
- Lead with passion and purpose
- Find your audience
- Go all-in with your content
- Stay consistent
- Be authentic
Finally, it should be noted that Sarah is super, super talented. She’s naturally extremely witty, and she’s a wonderful writer and has a gift of communicating in the written word. Through blogging she discovered this talent, and she was lucky enough that her audience loved to read.
Creating great content is all about finding the sweet spot between what you’re good at, what you enjoy, and what your audience like – and then sharing it where they are. Sarah nailed it!
To discover more It Started with Content case study stories, click here.
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