Have you ever been blown away by someone’s accomplishments or experience in life? We all have.
But what if you had the opportunity to pick their brain and then use that inspiration to lead your own extraordinary life?
That’s exactly what Jennifer Nguyen does on a regular basis. Thankfully, though, she doesn’t just keep that knowledge to herself. Jennifer shares it with the world through her online business and blog: Boundless Human.
During this week’s episode of Do The Damn Thing, Laura Foy sits down with this up-and-coming entrepreneur who has transformed her passion for writing into a thriving business.
But how did Jennifer get her big break and get recognized as a writer? And what steps did she undergo to turn her creative passion into a company that motivates thousands of readers worldwide?
Be sure to watch our video now to find out how she did the damn thing!
Read the script:
Laura: Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of Do The Damn Thing, the show where we talk to solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and people out there who are launching personal brands at all stages of their journey. And today, I am very excited to have Jennifer Nguyen with me. Hi, how are you?
Jennifer: I’m good. How are you?
Laura: I’m good, thank you. Now, Jennifer is a writer who is launching her own blog called Boundless Human… opens in a new window to Boundless Human website…. And the reason why I found your story so compelling is that we kind of do similar things but in a different way. We both seek out people who are interesting, inspiring, and have a story to tell. And so, I saw some alignment there. Why don’t you tell everyone, in your own words, what Boundless Human is?
Jennifer: So boundlesshumanblog.com… opens in a new window to Boundless Human website… is an idea that I’d been sitting on for about two years. I had written stuff in my notebook. I wrote stuff on my phone. I’m always interested in people and their stories. Some people are good with their hands. Some people are technical. I think I’m interested in people’s stories.
A few years back, I had worked for a digital magazine. It was something I was thrust into, which I’d never done before. I found that I really enjoyed interviewing people from everywhere. I interviewed chefs, entertainers, authors, and actors. I really enjoyed that. So I did that for about a year.
So recently, knowing that I really enjoyed that and knowing that I had that curiosity about people, I thought to myself, “Well, I want to do something with all of this!” I wanted to light that fire under my ass and actually do something about it and not just sit on those ideas. So, I launched it in January, and I had been working on it for a few months before that.
The reason that I started was that I had the selfish desire to pick the brains of people that I mentioned. But just doing that for myself – there was no point in that. I wanted to share that with as many people as I could so that people could get inspired to become the best versions of themselves by hearing the stories of all these other great people, whether they’re athletes, authors, or whoever they are.
Laura: I love that you pick the brains of people that inspire you. There’s so much value in that. There’s so much you can learn from others by just going out there and probing these brilliant minds.
And, by the way, we are live on Facebook. So if you have any questions that you would like to ask, just go ahead and put them in the chat, and I will do my best to get to them. Or, if you have comments, we’ll throw them up on the screen.
How do you find the people? What are your like metrics or milestones? And, what makes you decide who is really worthwhile to talk to?
Jennifer: Those are great questions. The easiest and the smartest thing to do was to go to my own network and look at these incredible people that I’ve already worked with or spoken to and already have established that trust.
For example, right now, I have the CEO of a consulting agency for social entrepreneurs. Also, I have the executive director of an NGO that fights against genocide and mass atrocity. So, right there with those two people, there’s such a wide range of interests and specialties.
I have other people in my network that are on my list that I would like to reach out to. But I’ve already reached out to a few people that are outside of my network. I just reached out to them on Instagram, for example, and they were like, “Yeah, awesome! I would love to be a part of this.”
Of course, I had to have something to show them. I had to build that content up first. I had to be genuine in my message and show them my interest in what they do. I’m not going to reach out to someone that doesn’t align with the mission.
Laura: I have found that that’s kind of similar in whatever industry you’re in. For example, if I’m an interior designer, I’m going to start with my friends and family. Or if I’ve got t-shirts to sell, I’ll have a list of people to start with. That’s even what I did for this show. The first few episodes were just my friends that I happened to know who were entrepreneurs.
And that’s how I found you as well. I reached out on Instagram, and I found you on a Facebook group. So you just really have to make the best use of your communities.
And that’s a big thing that we talk a lot about at HipCat Society… opens in a new tab to HipCat Society website…. It’s so important to have a community and to build a support network for your emotional wellbeing. But this is also important in regards to business endeavors, right? You need to have the help of others. Nobody can go at it alone.
So, how do you plan to monetize this? I know that right now, it’s sort of a passion project. But you mentioned earlier that there is a plan to make some money off of this. So, how do you go about making money from a passion project or blog?
Jennifer: So, because it’s a website, I do want to perhaps do some like affiliate marketing. I may allow some ads, as long as it doesn’t interrupt the flow and the user experience too much. I do want to build a community out of it – a newsletter that people actually want to read. And I’d like to build a podcast as well. So, all those things will help with monetization.
I’m a copywriter. So I’ve written for a lot of websites. But it’s the first time I’m building a website from scratch and doing it on my own and making money from that on my own.
I know that the possibilities are endless. I definitely don’t want to close any doors. So once I explore those avenues and do my research, I’m sure I will discover even more ideas.
Laura: I want to talk a little bit about your experience before Boundless Human. You are a copywriter, and I’m assuming you do this on a freelance basis. So for those out there who are interested, how do you go about finding work for yourself and getting those gigs? How do you make it as a writer?
Jennifer: So, I didn’t always freelance. I went through University. I did some internships. I had some full-time jobs, and then I would freelance during those full-time jobs. And then eventually, I did freelancing full-time.
So within that, there was always an opportunity to network, as we talked about. And not looking at people as opportunities or objects. Just get yourself out there and communicate with people. People don’t realize, when they’re first getting into it, how important that is. I’ve had people just come to me and say, “Oh, we worked together on this thing. Do you want to work on this project together?”
So that’s one – just building that network. But that takes time, right? So, that’s one thing that you build over time. And then, in terms of what you can do right now – you can reach out directly. I reach out sometimes directly to companies that I’m interested in and sending them a tailored message.
An interesting place to find jobs for writers and other freelancers is Reddit… opens in a new window to Reddit website…. I had a lot of jobs on there too. There’s a section where people can hire an artist. They can hire writers. So, if anybody out there is a freelance writer, designer, developer, or anything like that, I would recommend going on Reddit.
Another social media outlet is Facebook groups because there’ll be specific Facebook groups for different types of specialties. So, let’s say you’re someone that’s looking for a designer. You can go on those groups and say, “I’m looking for a designer that can do this, this, and this for my company.” And then you’ll have a bunch of talented designers apply for that contractor job.
So, be sure to use social media. But, depending on your industry, it doesn’t always work like for other types of jobs.
Laura: It’s interesting because I live in the world of marketing. And, the most important thing, in my opinion, is the copy. That headline that grabs them, that story that reels them in, or the call to action that inspires them to do something. So, do you have areas where you write? Is long-form blogging your specialty, or do you also mix it up and write Facebook ads and things like that?
Jennifer: I like to mix it up cause I get bored easily. Part of the reason why I’m freelancing is that I can work with so many interesting companies and people. And then with the types of content – I like to keep that interesting. I would say that my portfolio leans towards websites, landing pages, and blogs. So those are my main focuses, but I definitely enjoy writing newsletters. I also recently did some Facebook ads, Google ads, and other social media posts. Whatever’s online – I like to write that.
Laura: Now, speaking of social media, how important is it for you to have a social strategy? Do you have the Jennifer – the freelance copywriter – Instagram profile, where people can go and learn more about you? Or is it more of just a website? What role does social media play in both of those aspects of your life?
Jennifer: For the freelance copywriting aspect, it would be LinkedIn. I’ve gotten a few jobs off of there because some people will sometimes post, “I’m looking for a freelance writer.” So, I like to share my LinkedIn and my website.
In terms of Instagram and Facebook, I know other writers do that, and that works for them. But for me, I enjoy keeping it to LinkedIn and the website. But again, it depends on who you are because different things work for different people.
Laura: We’re actually going to take a look at your website… opens in a new window to Boundless Human website… right now. It’s very well done. So did you hire someone to build this website for you, or do you just happen to know how to build beautiful websites?
Jennifer: I got a theme on Squarespace. It’s super clean. It’s easy to use for someone who is not technical and doesn’t know how to develop a website. That theme was actually for designers, but then I just turned it into copywriting.
Laura: So, while we’re talking about tools – what kind of tools do you use to run both of your businesses?
Jennifer: I love Canva… opens in a new window to Canva website…. It’s really awesome! Also, I don’t know if people have said this before, but I love Google Drive… opens in a new window to Google Drive website…. And, I used Fiverr… opens in a new window to Fiverr website… for my logo. That one can be a hit or miss, though.
Laura: Upwork … opens in a new window to Upwork website…has writers as well, doesn’t it?
Jennifer: Yes. Actually, I should have mentioned that when you were asking me about how I found work. I started on something called Elance, and then they combined with oDesk to make Upwork. And then I was using Upwork for a few years. So that was where I got my start. But I definitely didn’t want to stay on there because of the commission. And it’s also glitchy. There were so many problems with it. But, it can be a very positive thing for building your portfolio and just building that client base, especially when you’re starting out. There are so many freelancers now, though, that it’s actually very difficult to get on the platform. So, definitely just build multiple streams of where you can get work and not just reliant on one thing.
Laura: I tell people that same thing. No matter what your job is, you should have multiple revenue streams. You could get fired from your job. The stock market could crash. You gotta have it coming in from all sorts of places. So that’s just good advice in general.
You mentioned newsletters a little bit earlier. Do you have an email platform that you just love?
Jennifer: What I’m using for a Boundless Human right now is MailerLite… opens in a new window to MailerLite website…. I was reading a lot of different blog posts and comparing different platforms. I haven’t used it too much yet, but I’ve seen many good reviews on it.
I’ve also used MailChimp… opens in a new window to MailChimp website… in the past. That’s very easy to use. I’m not so sure if MailChimp is good for when you have lots of subscribers, though.
Laura: Well, then it’s not free anymore. It’s only free until like the first thousand subscribers or something like that.
Jennifer: There’s also ConvertKit… opens in a new window to ConvertKit website…. I heard some good things about that one. There are so many out there. I think even HubSpot… opens in a new window to HubSpot website… is a good one.
Laura: Yeah, there are so many. That’s why I always like to hear the favorites ones that our guests use.
Is this your first time branching out to do something on your own like this?
Jennifer: Well, I’ve had my nine-to-fives, which were great. But then I branched off into freelancing. So, I guess that would count because you’re essentially building your own micro-business. You’re only one person. You don’t have departments, but you’re doing everything.
So, I transferred from my nine-to-five job to freelancing and then to building Boundless Human.
Laura: Let’s expand on that a little bit. We always talk about the importance of having to define your edge and what’s your UVP or unique value proposition. You need to differentiate yourself in a saturated market.
So, before you decided to launch this website and this endeavor, did you do market research to make sure that there was a need for this? Or did you just say, “Hey, I’m going to do it with my own spin?” What was the thought process that got you over that fear? How did you get past that? And what gave you the confidence you needed?
Jennifer: I didn’t do intense market research on it. Some websites are doing similar things, like interviewing people from different disciplines and understanding their message and their story.
But what differentiates me is that I have a curiosity that’s been there forever. So I need to ask the right questions for those people. I also explore topics that many people may not think about on a daily basis and then just shed light on those.
And in terms of fear – that’s why I sat on the idea for about two years. But it’s something that I just kept coming back to. So, I said, “I’m going to do this!” I’m going to monetize it in the future, but that’s not necessarily driving me because I’m interested in it.
If that interest is always there, I think the money will come at some point, as long as you put the hard work into it.
Laura: If you’re doing something just for the money, it’s probably going to fizzle out. You gotta have the passion first to sustain it, especially in the world that you’re in of solopreneurs or even micro-businesses. It has to be born out of a genuine, true passion. And that’s going to make it fun.
Jennifer: Right. It’s not making money at the moment, but I enjoy it. So, I’m going to keep doing it to get to that point.
Laura: When I’ve talked to various solopreneurs, many times they say, “Well, I didn’t know it was going to be like this.” There’s so much more involved than they thought, or it’s so different than they thought. So, have you found that on your journey, things are not quite as you expected?
Jennifer: In regards to copywriting, I thought it was going to be easier than it actually was. You’re going to get rejections, or sometimes people won’t even reply back to you. And sometimes you’ll have a lot of work, and then you’ll have no work. So, it’s finding that balance.
I learned that I just have to keep going for it. Keep being resilient. It doesn’t matter if you’re failing this day or this week or whatever. If you love it and you keep working hard at it, you’ll get to the point where you want to be.
And with the blog, I think that the technical things were kind of catching me off guard. I’m sure there will be more things in the future as it grows. But at this point, it was just the technical things and then getting it up and running.
Laura: So you came at this from a non-technical background, which I find very inspiring because I think that the technical aspect is what a lot of people are afraid of. They think about an online business, and it’s like, “Well, I can barely open a web browser.” And so it’s nice to hear that you are self-taught. Your website is beautiful. You just overcame whatever areas of knowledge that you were lacking in.
So, are there classes or mentors that inspired you? How did you learn how to do the things that you didn’t know how to do?
Jennifer: Honestly, I learned a lot from watching YouTube videos and reading blogs. I can’t develop a website to save my life, so I was just going to pay for a theme. And I don’t mind doing that because it just saves me so much time.
And there are some things where it just doesn’t make sense for me to hire someone to do at this point. So, I’ll just go on YouTube or even Facebook groups. I’ll say, “Hey, I’m running into this technical issue. Does anyone know how to help me? And people are very willing to help online strangers online. So, there are so many resources out there.
I will say, though, that I’ve worked with a lot of technical people in the past, so that does help. I have had that proximity to it, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I can execute it myself. But even if you don’t, you can still learn. You just have to put in the time.
Laura: There’s a great story about the founder of Geek Squad. For those who don’t know, they come and fix your computer, and do technical stuff, and teach you how to do technical stuff. And yet the Geek Squad YouTube channel… opens in a new window to Geek Squad YouTube channel… is filled with thousands of free videos teaching you to do exactly what they get paid to do. And so one day at a conference, somebody was like, “What are you doing? What kind of business plan is that? You’re giving away for free the same thing that you charge people for.”
And the guy was like, “There are a million ways that they’re going to learn how to do this. But when there is something that they need to pay for, they’re going to come to me. They’re going to come to that person who provided them so much value and established so much trust. I’ll probably get the job versus someone else.”
You can learn anything on the internet these days. And, there have even been times when I’ve paid for courses and then been like, “Oh, that’s the same as the free thing that I download from so-and-so.” So, the internet is a great resource.
We are running out of time, but I just wanted to talk about you going forward and your wishlist. So, who are some people or types of people that you’d really love to get? You’ve got this story called, “The Woman Who Penned Down Mexico’s Drug Cartel… opens in a new window to Jennifer Nguyen website blog….” I’m all about that. I want to read all about the Mexican drug cartels.
Jennifer: You should watch “Narcos” on Netflix.
Laura: Yes, I already do. Now, is that a popular blog on your site?
Jennifer: That was actually for the digital magazine. I got to interview that author who went into government corruption and the drug cartels. So, that was some crazy stuff.
Those are definitely the stories that I’m interested in – people that are trying to better the world in some way. I’ll give you an example of someone on my list that I want to reach out to. He’s a scientist and researcher in the field of psychedelics and how that helps people with certain mental health issues.
Laura: Well, that’s cool. So, how can people reach out to you? How can they find you if they want to be interviewed? If they have an exciting story to tell, how can they find you?
Jennifer: So, you can go to boundlesshumanblog.com… opens in a new window to Boundless Human website… and go to the contact page, or you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find me on LinkedIn… opens in a new window to Jennifer Nguyen LinkedIn profile… too. My name is pretty common, but my LinkedIn picture is the picture that you use for this podcast. So if you see that – that’s me. I’m at @boundlesshumanblog… opens in a new window to Boundless Human Instagram page… on Instagram as well, and @boundlesshuman… opens in a new window to Boundless Human Twitter account… on Twitter.
Laura: Great. Well, hopefully, you get some more interesting stories. There are so many out there, and I love that you really don’t have limitations. It’s not like, “Oh, I only want to talk to marketing people.” And I’m sure we will be following you.
Thank you so much! We are absolutely going to be following you.
Jennifer: Yeah, likewise. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. See ya!
Please like us on Facebook… opens in a new window to Hipcat Society Facebook page…, follow us on Instagram… opens in a new window to Hipcat Society Instagram page…, and connect with Jennifer at boundlesshumanblog.com… opens in a new window to Boundless Human website….