More About Niki

Niki is a Registered Dietitian with nearly years of experience in nutrition counseling.

Most recently, she is the owner of New Frontier Nutrition LLC, a private practice in St. Louis, Missouri where she focuses on weight-neutral and Intuitive Eating based counseling.

Connect With Niki

Episode 014 Show Notes

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Welcome to The Unconventional RD podcast, where we inspire dietitians to think outside of the traditional employment box and create their own unconventional income streams. We'll talk all things online business to help you start, grow and scale your own digital empire.

What to Expect in This Episode

Have you ever found yourself in a position where your values have changed and the work that you once loved no longer feels in alignment? What do you do if that happens? Is it okay to change your mind on something? Is it okay to pivot and move into a new career path? And how do you overcome the fear to make your dreams come true?

These are all questions that we address in today's episode with dietitian Niki Morgan. Niki is a former VA dietitian who recently left her full-time job to launch an intuitive eating private practice. I have a feeling a lot of you guys are gonna identify with Niki's story, so I can't wait to dive into it with you. Let's kick it off.

Niki's Background in Dietetics

Erica: Hi, Niki. Welcome to the podcast.

Niki: Hi, Erica.

Erica: I'm so excited that you're here. I think you have such a good perspective to share about kind of pivoting in your career and what it really takes from an emotional standpoint to go for that. So I'm really excited to talk to you today about your experiences launching a private practice and a blog, you know, after so many years of working in clinical.

So I'd like to start… I really like to get background on people who are coming on the podcast. So can you tell us more about your background in dietetics? Maybe like when you became an RD and, uh, what led you to clinical?

Niki: Sure. So, I actually started out my journey as a St. Louis VA medical center intern, and I just fell in love with veterans. And that was back in, I'd say 2005. Um, so as soon as there was a position available, I joined on the team there. And it's just a great team of dietitians, and the clients are the best in the world. So I really enjoyed that.

I started in the psychiatric ward, which was quite an adventure working with those patients, but I enjoyed it. Uh, my real love, though, was one-on-one counseling. Back in college, before I was even a  dietetics major, I had, um, taught myself some nutrition and lost some weight, became a personal trainer. And so that was really my first love, just helping others on their weight loss and fitness journey. So I started one-on-one and I really, really loved that.

But eventually about 2 or 3 years into that, um, a position became available in the weight loss program at the VA. So I switched over, pivoted again to the VA Move program, which is their weight management program. And I was teaching classes. I got to see my client's week-to-week as they progressed, and so that was really exciting to me to get to, like, build these relationships with my clients. And, um, it was just it was a lot of fun.

Um, but eventually, this was before I knew that 80 to 95% of people who lose weight will gain it back, I just kind of started noticing, you know, this feels like a little bit of a losing game. I wasn't seeing the results. And when you start a career going in to help people it could be a little bit disconcerting. You know, when you, um, when you're not seeing that always happens.

So eventually, I left that position and did another. This is all at the VA. Um, I did a little bit of telehealth, which was before we had video conferencing. So really, I was just talking over the phone, doing nutrition counseling with veterans that way. And then eventually ended up back in my outpatient position again, which ended up being just the thing that I really, really loved.

Uh, so let's see, I, um, I decided that I wanted to work with women. So, at the VA, your typical client is gonna be male. And so this was the first time I had actually worked with women. Specifically, I was in the women's clinic, and what I started to notice was really some of the same things that I have experienced in my life. The pressures of the diet culture, of being the perfect weight or the perfect size. And all these women were coming in and just feeling like failures, you know, they had tried every diet they could, and, um, it just it was hard to watch. Truly.

Um, so from there, um, I picked up the intuitive eating book, and this is kind of where my journey changed a little bit. So, I read that, and it really kind of opened my mind to other things that were out there. And then I found the Health at Every Size book, and that really blew my mind and kind of made me angry about diet culture and passionate about wanting to make a change and doing something different. So that's really when I kind of started to see that I needed to do something else. And so that's kind of my background before I got into the blog and, um, private practice.

Erica: That's really inspiring. I think a lot of people resonate with that. Um and I think it's really admirable that, you know, even though you started out maybe in one niche or one focus, you're always open to growing and learning something new and pivoting if you need to, to feel in alignment with where you are now,

Niki: Sure.

Erica: Yeah. I think that a lot of people will resonate with that. What did you like, originally envision yourself doing when you became an RD? Did you, did you know?

Niki: So, I really wanted to do ironically, weight loss counseling! I wanted to continue with fitness since I had done personal training and then really focus in on weight management for people. So it's just funny that I've ended up in the place where I am, but still wanting to help that same group of people just in a different way.

The Transition into Blogging & Private Practice

Erica: Cool. So I'm putting myself, like in the timeline. So you're working your job and you’re simultaneously, maybe like shifting your views on certain things. And is there like, a moment when you're feeling maybe some sort of like, internal friction or, um, disconnection between, like what you're doing in your job and what you're thinking or learning about on the side?

Niki: Absolutely. Yes, yes. So that that's kind of what happened and why I started the blog, actually.

I started feeling like, you know, I was in a traditional hospital with the traditional, um, you know, the weight stigma that happens in a medical center that we know through research. Um, and I just wasn't feeling like I was able to quite act out my values yet, or what this intuitive eating body acceptance was quite yet.

And so really starting the blog, and this was back in July of 2019, so not that long ago. Um, but I really just started it as a rant, as a way to give myself an outlet for talking about weight stigma, talking about diet culture and wanting to do something else.

But I didn't know anything about SEO. I didn't know how to get people to, um, come to my blog. I just knew that I wanted to say something. And so, uh, so that's how that started.

And then a couple months later, I just got to the point where I just didn't feel like I could do the same thing that I was doing. I had been at the VA for 12 years, and it had been a great ride, but, um, it just felt like it was time for something new.

But there weren't really any jobs out there that I could find that did what I wanted to do and focus it on intuitive eating. So, by chance, a friend of mine offered to sublet her office space.

And so I kind of thought, “Well, I guess I have to do this. Like, why? Why can't I do it?” So, um, that's when in September of last year, I started my private practice.

Erica: Amazing. And everything lined up, and that opportunity came your way. Yeah, that's awesome. And how's it been going? What's been the experience?

Niki: Um, it's been great. It's been probably the most challenging thing I've ever done.

From the blog, I've been learning SEO. Your course is amazing, by the way, um, and I've been kind of learning how to optimize my blogs so that I actually get someone out there listening to my message. Um, been working on that.

Um, and within the private practice, it's just been kind of amazing to see what I didn't know I was able to do. Um, I didn't know anything. I really should have probably researched before I jumped in. But I just, I hopped in. I had to Google how to start an LLC. I had to call an accountant to ask how I pay myself. So these are all things that that I just kind of had to learn. And so it's been going well. But I'm just at that point where I feel like I'm set up and now I'm building my client base.

Erica: Yes, that's really great advice. I feel like that's all of us in the beginning. Google is your best friend when you’re starting.

Being Open to Receiving Help as an Entrepreneur

Niki: Yes. And you know, one of the other things that was really special that I found out was people come out of the woodwork to help you when you need help. And I decided in this journey I was going to actually say yes and take that help.

So a dietetic intern from my previous job contacted me out of the blue. I have no idea how she knew I had a practice and offered to help me because she had a successful practice out in Washington. And so she kind of helped me step-by-step through some of the initial processes, getting credentialed with insurance. And then the Facebook groups that I joined online, including yours, but also some of them, like the Dietitians in Private Practice and some of those. Um, all the dietitians there are just so eager to help you, and it feels like a little family, which has been pretty, pretty special.

Erica: I know. I can't even imagine what it was like even 10 years ago before people had this access to the online support that's out there now.

Niki: Right? I can't imagine either.

What Niki Wishes She Knew When Before Starting a Private Practice

Erica: Is there anything, maybe that you wish you knew before you got started that you've learned since?

Niki: Um, I was thinking about that specifically, and it probably would have helped, like I said, to do some research in general, um, on just how to start a business. But I kind of like that I learned it along the way. And it helps with that kind of a sense of pride, knowing that you were able to kind of figure it out.

The other thing, maybe that I wish I would have known is just how long it takes to build a panel of clients. It could take, you know, 2 to 3 years to build your practice. And so I'm in the first 6 or so months. And, um, sometimes it feels a little bit like crickets, but it is growing steadily.

Erica: Oh, my gosh. Thank you for mentioning that, because I think that is something that people don't think about. I know when I first started my attempts at business, people were like, “Oh, yeah, in like 3 to 5 years. You'll have, like, a full-time income.” And I was like, “No, it's not gonna take that long, but it totally did.”

Niki: So patience is a virtue is what I'm learning.

Erica: Definitely.

Were People Supportive of the Transition to Entrepreneurship?

Erica: Uh, and then I don't know what people maybe you were sharing this pivot with in your personal life. But, um, were people generally supportive of that or were they like, “Oh, my gosh, you're leaving your job? Like, what are you thinking?” You know what I mean? How did that go?

Niki: Sure. So I think my parents were probably the most worried. They were supportive, but I think just leaving a really great job with good benefits and a retirement, all of that was a little scary for them.

They were overall supportive, but truly, I couldn't have done this without my partner, Andy. He, um, he was supportive the whole way. When I wanted to switch when I wanted to, you know, let out all my ranting on the blog, and, um, and without him, I don't know that I could have made the switch in as big of a leap as I did. So that was really, really helpful.

Erica: Good. I'm glad to hear that. Um, I know people have all sorts of different experiences with, um, other people's perceptions of their career pivots.

What's Been Working (and not working) in Business

Erica: So, um, I know you're still kind of young in your practice, but looking back, is there anything in particular that you've been doing that you think is going really well or anything that has been particularly challenging?

Niki: So I feel like what's going well is, I think, I don't know if it's my work or luck, really. But, um, my office is in a holistic health practice, and so we have lots of different types of practitioners within the same building. And so what's been going really well is that they've really been able to give me lots of referrals. The owners there do some marketing for me. Um and so I'm really starting to see that family kind of help me to grow my practice. So I think that's been going well.

Um, the most challenging thing was probably getting credentialed for insurance. You have to give, like, a left kidney and your firstborn basically to get credentialed. But, uh, but again, I had a lot of support in those Facebook groups and with my former dietetic intern friend. But those have been the kind of the challenging thing is getting some of these, um specific things like credentialing.

Or well, when I worked at a hospital, I had all the nutrition handouts that I could ever want just at my disposal. And now I have to make all of those and or find them online. And so some of those things have been challenging, but they've also been kind of fun to just figure out and create designs and stuff like that.

Erica: Totally. And in the beginning, when your client load is a little lighter, you have the space to do that stuff.

Niki: Yes, for sure, I always laugh that I work probably more hours and harder than I ever have in my life. But it's so much more fun. I really, really, really enjoy doing that.

What Surprised Niki About Starting a Business

Erica: Good. Has anything surprised you about starting your own business?

Niki: Just how many little things you have to know. So I'm getting ready to get in contact with my accountant for my first year of taxes, for example, uh, so just knowing all the little business laws and things that you have to report and do, um, learning the paperwork that you have to do for HIPAA and everything else. So it's just been surprising to know just how many things to know and to remember. That's been the most surprising, I guess.

Advice for Others Who Feel the Urge to Pivot

Erica: Uh, do you have any advice for maybe other people who might be feeling this like, uh, tug on the inside to maybe pivot in their career? Maybe they're a little unhappy for whatever reason in the job that they have? Do you have any advice for people who feel that on the inside, they resonate with your message of, like, this isn’t quite right for me?

Niki: Sure, I think the first thing is that it's important to remember that what we wanted to do when, you know, we first got out of school or we first started is not necessarily the thing that we're gonna want to do forever. We're not the same person. I'm not the same person that I was when I was 20 or even 30. I'm getting older now, but, uh, so I think it's important to take some time to accept that, but then also explore well, what are my current values? Or what are the things that are important to me now?

Where are my passion areas? And, you know, life is too short to be unhappy. So if you're feeling like you're unhappy, I think it's really a good idea to explore those things. Um, I did a specific value exercise I could I can share if you’d like.

Erica: Sure.

How to do a Values Exercise

Niki: I am, not obsessed, but a little bit with the Body Kindness book by Rebecca Scritchfield. She's a great dietitian, and her book is fantastic. But she has a values exercise, and instead of just saying, you know my value is loyalty or my value is family, she really focuses in on action values, so she lists out whole different sets of areas of your life and um, you start to write out some sentences.

And her sentences are, “I want to be a person who…” and then you list out that value, or what you want to do.

And then you say “because,” and you actually have to right out in the exercise the reasons why you want to be that kind of person, what struggles you might have.

And so I have a two full page list of all these different values that I learned. And so, for example, one that I put down is, “I want to be a person who creates new things, because I thrive when I bring something new into the world. Creativity is a form of expression and a way that I can express myself to the world around me.”

So, um, it's a little bit longer than that, but that's kind of the gist of it. Um, and so when I see that value, I want to be doing things in my life, and I can start setting goals around that value. So professionally, one of the ways I'm creative is I am now designing handouts, and it kind of brings me joy when I see this finished copy that actually looks pretty.

So what you can do is go through an exercise like that and then start comparing your values to what you're actually doing in your life and start taking small steps. It doesn't have to be a big leap, but small steps towards those values so you can start being more in alignment with those.

Erica: That is so good! It's funny, I've done exercises like that in other avenues. Like I've done a little bit of that around money mindset.

Um, I see some similarities there with taking the time to write out even like who your ideal client is and your niche and who you're helping. Just like, otherwise sometimes it remains a little nebulous in your head.

So, um, that's cool that there's an actual, like, physical exercise that someone could sit down and do. And I don't know about you, but when I've done exercises like that in other, um, subjects, I'm kind of like surprised at what comes out, you know, when you start writing. It's like, whoa!

Niki: Yeah, yeah, me too. I learned a lot about myself specifically during this time, kind of going through that exercise.

How to Take Action to Align Your Life with Your Values

Erica: Yeah. And like, did you ever feel like you, so you kind of brain dumped it all out, and then you're looking at it, and you're like, “Whoa, I've got a lot of work to do.”

Niki: Always.

Erica: So then what? Like what did you do?

Niki: So what I did was, I started to see, “What can I do in my life?” Since these values are actions or behaviors, not just “I want to be happy or I want to be whatever.” Um, so I started to see “Well, what can I do in my daily life or my professional life to start aligning myself a little bit more with those values?”

And so, for example, one of my values is just spend more time in the present moment, um, and kind of look at, um, mindfulness. Yoga's an important part of my life. And so one of the things I know I want to do is, I would like to in 2021 take my yoga teacher training. And since I have just said it out loud now, I really have to do it. But so I know that that's gonna help me to stay in the present moment. It will go well with the intuitive eating practice for my clients and so I can do that both professionally and personally.

And so this year in 2020 my goal is really to prepare myself for that. So my goal long term over the year is to begin a consistent yoga and meditation practice. And then monthly and weekly, then I can set more goals. So this week I'd like to try to complete a yoga class three times or, um, where I want to spend five minutes before my dinner meal, taking some breaths and being in the present moment.

So you can start to set little specific goals based on those bigger outlined values.

How to Take Action Toward Those Goals

Erica: Cool. So, do you actually, like pencil this into your schedule? Or how do you follow through, even if you just have the idea of where you want to be in a year?

Niki: Sure, sure so what I kind of do is, at the beginning of the month, I kind of list out, and I'm not always perfect at remembering to do it every month, but I kind of pencil in what I want to accomplish.

And then truly, I'm not great at planning too far ahead. So week by week, I look at my schedule and I kind of think about, with the yoga example, typically, there's three days a week in my office where I can kind of do yoga during lunchtime, so I'll do it then. Um, some weeks I want to make sure I get to one class. So week by week I set different goals.

Erica: Yeah, I kind of do that, too. Like I do have a bigger picture, at least in my business, like, not so good at this with my personal stuff yet. But yeah, I have a bigger picture of like when things are happening.

And I think sometimes people get lost in the transition between the big picture of “Oh, I want to do this over this year.” And then, you know, every week just kind of tics by and then six months have gone by and you’re like, “Oh, no, I haven't even started!” Uh, like if they want to launch a blog or something like that.

So, I like that you kind of take it week by week and you have that goal in your mind. And then every week you're kind of checking in, like, “Am I taking action and where can I fit this in in a good way in this week. And then I think that helps prevents the, you know, the weeks going by. And then you haven’t taken action.

Niki: Yeah, and I think it helps. One of the things I've kind of committed myself to do it is I put printed copies of my values and my goals in my, uh, my appointment book. And so each month, when I'm kind of planning out my, um, my month, I can actually look at those and say, “Well have I done any of that?” And if I haven't, then that's maybe a call to action to start the next month.

It's not about being perfect, but maybe just kind of becoming a little closer in line with your values.

Letting Go of Shame

Erica: And like, no shame if you didn't do it. Like, that's fine even noticing that you didn't do it. Sometimes I think people are just so caught up in whatever is happening in that moment or that day and then the time just goes by. But even just noticing, like, “Okay, I've got something I could work on because it's important to me.”

Niki: Right? Right. I think that goes along with, I always come back to intuitive eating, but just being more intuitive in your life. It’s just, not shaming yourself in any way, but just knowing that you're kind of gently working towards some of these values and some of these actions. Because in the end, you're doing these things because you wanna you want to feel good about what you're doing in your life and you want to kind of attain your goals. So just kind of those gentle taps toward that direction.

Embracing Intuitive Business

Erica: I know. I think about that a lot, like the overlap between, like, intuitive eating and almost, like, intuitive business. Yeah, like, in tuning out like the “rules” maybe that people say that you need to do or need to follow and always checking in with yourself and making sure that what you're doing fits you, you know, because otherwise what are you doing?

Niki: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Erica: I think someone should write like, an intuitive business book. That would be cool.

Niki: I was just gonna say that there would be an amazing book idea.

Erica: Right. Um, yeah. Someone listening!

Niki: You know, one of my goals this year was to start writing more. Maybe I should I should take that up.

Erica: Right? Especially since you're, like, in the trenches, and you can kind of document it from the start.

Niki: That's true. This might be just a new idea born right here on the podcast.

Erica: Um, alright, so I think we're kind of just circling around the same idea of like, “Okay, it is important to listen to your gut. And, um it's okay to pivot in your career, uh, if you ever feel like for whatever reason, you fall out of alignment with your core values, or your core values change.

How to Overcome Fear In Order to Make Changes

Erica: Um, do you have any tips on helping people find the courage or the gumption to make changes like this in your life? Like maybe if they're experiencing some sort of fear around making these changes or apprehension? Any tips for getting through that?

Niki: Sure. So thinking back to how I somehow got the courage to do this, and just as a little background I always kind of thrived in the traditional and the conventional of everything. I wanted to start in a job when I got out of college and retire there. Like that was always who I thought I was.

And once, um, this kind of new passion came about, and, um, some of these opportunities, the thing that I kept asking myself is, “Why not me? And so why couldn't I have my own practice? Why can't I do a job that makes me really happy?”

And that's the thing that I think really propelled me is just kind of saying, “You know why can't it be me?”

And so I think, for anyone else who kind of feels like they're in that traditional path, which can be really fulfilling, but if you're not feeling fulfilled, ask yourself, “Why can't I be in a job that I feel more passionate about or I feel happier in?”

Erica: Yes, I see that a lot. Um, do you think that… I mean, obviously people have life circumstances like if you need to support yourself and you can't necessarily just, like, quit your job if you don't have any, um, way to bring in income otherwise. But I don't know. There does seem to be, um, a significant portion of our community that that feels stuck, I think. Or, um, maybe undervalued in their current position. Do you have tips on shifting that, um, that mindset?

Niki: Sure. So a lot of what I see out there, besides my specific situation is a lot of people just start with a side hustle. So maybe you have kids and a certain amount of salary that you need to make and other obligations in your life. But maybe you can spend an hour or two a day, maybe starting a blog or working on something like that, or maybe taking a couple hours as a consultant somewhere and just kind of getting your feet wet.

And so there's a lot of ways you can kinda slowly move into those positions. You don't have to just up and quit your job. I was really lucky that I was able to do that. But, um, I think there's a lot of things you can kind of do on the side to get started.

Erica: Yeah, I agree. Um, and maybe it's just a lack of, uh, examples? Or seeing other people do that or even knowing what the options are out there? I know, I never had a traditional job as an RD. I've never been an employee as an RD. Just like a contractor, or, um, I did some private tutoring for a really long time to make ends meet, like through grad school and stuff like that.

And it was weird like when I finally became in RD, it was like, this weird dichotomy of, “Okay, I have this credential. And should I get a full-time job to use it, even though that's not really where I see my life or my career going? Or is it okay that I kind of don't go that route and maybe stick with some of the side hustles that I have, even though they're not really directly related. But they pay well and they're flexible and like, is that okay with me? Am I gonna be embarrassed when people are asking me, ‘Oh, what are you doing with your master’s?’ And it's like, Ohhhh… nothing.” You know what I mean?

Niki: Yeah. Yeah, but, you know, I think that's kind of the thing of it, is that a lot of us just have that kind of feeling that we need to take these specific traditional jobs. But there's so much you can do in the nutrition world, and there's so many ways that you can kind of create your own path.

And so a lot of times when we see these people who are doing really cool things, we see the finished product and not what it took to get there or how they kind of had to hustle to do it before while they did have a regular job. And so, um, I think it just kind of takes a little bit of looking into. Well, what is the process of that? How do you actually get to that great finished product that you like?

Erica: Uh huh. Yeah! And understanding, I think we've said this already, that it's probably not going to be something that just happens in a few months or even a year.

Niki: Right? Right. It takes times.

Erica: Yeah, I think once you can accept that, um, it makes it easier to celebrate the little wins because you know where they're heading.

Niki: Yes, yes.

Giving Yourself Permission to Change

Erica: Do you have any other tips or advice or just things that you'd like to share with our listeners today?

Niki: So I think we covered a lot of it, but I really think that just, going back to the values again, is really just kind of taking stock of who you are in the present moment. Who you are now versus who you were when you may be finished school or when you started your career, and knowing that it's okay to be something different now, and that you can really change. It’s always gonna be something that you have available to you.

Erica: Do you think that the fear that people experience when making big life or career changes is fear related to, I don't know, like internal fear related to changing their own beliefs or their own life? Or do you think it's fear of judgment from other people, like, or both?

Niki: You know, I wonder if it’s kind of both. Um, I know it was hard for me too. Um and I have to tell you I have to do a lot of work on my blog. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting there. But just telling someone I was writing a blog, um, I kind of got a few eye rolls here or there. But then I see, um, in the world of bloggers just how much you could do with it and how much of an impact you could make.

Um, but a little bit there was kind of this fear of what others might say, but then also, sometimes we have that fear of failure, and, um and it's gonna be there, and I still have it sometimes. But the worst that could happen is that I would have to go get another job. But I can at least say that I tried. So in the end, even though I kind of have that fear sometimes, um, it was totally worth the try.

Exercises to Overcome Your Fears

Erica: Yeah, that's another exercise I think that people can do, just like you were saying with writing out your values, writing out your fears and really evaluating them. Like, is this, like reality? You know what I mean? Like, and then kind of working through that.

Niki: That's a great idea.

Erica: Yeah, I've done it in other courses that I've taken that are focused on mindset. It's more focused on, like, “limiting beliefs.”

Um, but you write out like your beliefs. Like, what if I became like a multimillionaire? What does that entail? What might I be afraid of? Or what negative consequences might I think will happen? Do I think that my friends or family will no longer relate to me well? Do I fear judgment of people thinking that I'm like better than them because I make more money? Will I feel pressured and think in my head like, “Oh, if I have more money then I'll need to gift it to my friends and family and support them”? Or even, Do I think, in order to make that level of money, I need to be like a crazy workaholic, and my life is gonna be horrible, because there's no way anyone could make that amount of money without working 80 hours a week”?

Like those types of things. It's so fascinating what's in your head. When you write it out, you’re like, where did that come from? Yeah, and then you trace it back. And a lot of times, it's just rooted in experiences that you had growing up, maybe how your parents viewed money, your friends or your family. And then you can work on dismantling those once you've identified them. So yeah. So, so many parallels.

Niki: I think you just started the intro to the intuitive living book. Those are all strategies that we do in intuitive eating but works for real life as well.

Erica: I love it. So yeah, somebody? You? Work on that!

Niki: Absolutely! I’ll get started. Oh, yeah.

Erica: So thank you for all of this amazing advice around overcoming fear. And the value exercise was gold.

How to Connect with Niki

Erica: If people really resonate with what you've been putting down here, can you tell us more about, like, maybe blog URL and where people could go to connect with you?

Niki: Sure. So my company's name is New Frontier Nutrition and my website for my blog and everything else is newfrontiernutrition.com.

Um, I do have an Instagram, and it’s @NewFrontierNiki, instead of new frontier nutrition, and you can find me on Facebook as well.

Where Does Niki See Herself in Five Years?

Erica: Cool. But this just sort of brought up the side question that I just thought of. Where do you envision your career going? You know, where do you see yourself in, like, five years?

Niki: So in five years, I would love to see that I have kind of that booming business finally, that I have my full panel of clients, but also that I'm, um, adding in like I mentioned the yoga practice and really kind of creating a space for people to come be present in their lives, learn how to kind of be, like we were joking about earlier, but how to be more intuitive in their living overall. That's kind of what I would love to see in the next five years.

How the Blog Fits Into Her Plans

Erica: And how do you see the blog fitting into that? I'm always curious.

Niki: What I would love to do, and I think what's been going on is that I've been spending so much time building my practice that I've gotten a little off track with the blog, but I would love to continue writing and start actually really focusing in on getting more eyes on it and working on my SEO and growing my email list so I can start really creating a community of people who are interested in, um, kind of defeating diet culture. And I would really love to see that grow.

Erica: I like that idea. And yeah, I think you're spot on. I don't know some people are listening might not really know what SEO is. Maybe they haven't listened to the episode. So SEO stands for search engine optimization, and I have a course on it for anyone listing if you want to check it out.

But basically, it's learning how to A) figure out what your ideal clients are typing into Google so that you can then reverse engineer content that matches what they're looking for.

An Example of How SEO Can Build Her Business

Erica: So, like in your scenario, maybe, I don't know, do you have an example for people listening of maybe a keyword phrase (keywords are just like literally what people type in the Google search bar) that you've targeted or, um…

Niki: So one of the, um, keyword phrases that I targeted was “New Year goal ideas.” And so one of the things that I found is if you type in “New Year's resolution,” everybody in the world has articles about that.

And so, um, when I when I was searching for specific keywords, I found that this was something that a lot of people were searching for, the phrase “New Year goal ideas.” And, um, that I actually had a chance of getting found on Google, when I use that phrasing. So that was probably my blog that did the best.

And I've only I've only gotten to two so far, since I started the course. I'm still a baby with SEO. But, uh yeah, it's been great kind of learning that. And then once you have your key word, you really can figure out what, uh, what kind of information you're looking for and how to build your blog from there.

Erica: Yeah, and that's such a good point, because I think it's something that A) we just don't know. We don't learn how to create online content as part of our dietetics program, which I guess makes sense.

But if you want to tackle that as a part of your business growth, it can be so simple as like, oh, you have an idea to write about XYZ topic, but then just taking that little extra step to do the keyword research and make sure that you find a combination of words that a lot of people are searching for and that's not super difficult to rank for, so that you're not wasting your time.

Because I feel like that is sometimes a hiccup. I know it was for me. It's a little demoralizing when you feel like you’re writing stuff that your ideal client should be interested in, but then, no one’s seeing it, except for maybe through social media. Which is fine, social media is great, and we should all have diverse traffic sources. But just understanding that just with a little tweak, a little extra work like, for example, not New Year's resolutions but New Year goal ideas. Just that one small change in phrasing could be a dramatically different amount of traffic coming to your website and reach to your ideal client who you're trying to help.

So, um, yeah, that comes up a lot. And also people sometimes using a little too technical of language because we're so science-y and stuff. But then when you do the keyword research, you’re like, oh, no one is looking for hypertension. You know what I mean?

Niki: Right. Yeah, but that's definitely me. Uh, getting a little bit too, not really scientific, but just I was always so good in school at writing papers, like that was my thing, and having that kind of professional sounding voice when I wrote that kind of stuff. So I think the thing that I struggle with the most or that's the biggest challenge is finding my voice. Because in real life, I'm kind of casual. I like to make jokes. You know, I like to be fun. And I think sometimes I sound a little too much like I'm writing a paper. So I’m kind of working on that now, really finding my voice and figuring out what that sounds like on paper.

Erica: Yes, that is so common. So, so common. You know, people share their blog posts and stuff, um, in the private Facebook community when they're going through my course and like, that's probably one of the most common pieces of feedback. Like break up the long paragraphs into smaller, more digestible, casual pieces. You know, if you are using a technical term, make sure you define it and maybe put the regular term in there too, like the more casual term. Because, although, you know, we know this is the correct term. If your audience doesn't know that and you're only ever using the technical term, then they're never gonna even find you because they don't know that that's the way they should be searching. You know what I mean?

Niki: Right, right. Those are excellent tips.

Erica: Yeah, some people feel like, “oh, but that's gonna make me look like I don't know what I'm talking about when I use laypeople terms because you're a professional. But, it's all back to like, what's your goal? Who are you trying to reach? If your audience that you're trying to reach is other professionals, then yeah, you know, maybe you do want to use the technical language because those are the people searching with those terms. Volume might be lower, but if that's your audience, that's fine. But if you're trying to reach laypeople, you need to reach them where they’re at, and then you can educate them throughout the content, you know, as you go. So I think that's a common topic that comes up as well. I know we just went on a huge tangent.

Niki: That's okay. I love talking about blogging and the ways that you can really craft it, because I guess we're all trying to say something to somebody. And so it's really neat how there are truly ways that you can kind of craft it so that you get it into the hands of the people who it'll affect the most, which is pretty cool.

Erica: Yeah, and by starting strategically with maybe even lower volume search terms, that are easier, then that builds momentum. And then the more people, even if it's just like five people a day, of your ideal person that are coming to your site, who knows who they're gonna share it with or how your brand is gonna spread from there.

Um, so, and then as your brand spreads and you get more people linking back to your content (this is just side note for people listening) that boosts your domain authority. Um, and then you have a better shot at ranking for the more competitive terms. Um, and then it all spirals from there. So, yeah, it's such a cool, but I feel like little known, strategy in our field. But I'm trying to change that.

Niki: Sure, sure. And well I can tell you, and I promise everybody that you didn't make me say this, but I've read books on SEO. I've taken other courses, and I've tried everything. And it just was above my head. I really didn't understand any of it. And then I did finally, um, find your course, and it was truly actionable steps. So each course actually taught me something and then had me go practice it. So now I really feel like I have a good understanding, and so it's just kind of putting those things into practice. So I think sometimes we read the books and get the things that are really, really written for a level that a new blogger can't really understand. So I appreciate that, Erica.

Erica: Well, thank you. That's always good to hear. I just finished the second live round of the course. And every time I run it, I learn something new and improve it. Like this round, I added a bunch of extra stuff that since last year I've learned a lot more about.

Like video SEO, audio SEO, local SEO, even, that was a big request because, while I don't have a local in person practice, I'm more focus on just content marketing and online business, there's a lot of people in my course who have brick and mortar practices, and there are additional things that they should be doing specifically if they have a brick and mortar practice.

Like, for example, there's something called Google My Business, Um, which only brick and mortar or local, in-person businesses. If you don't have a brick and mortar office, but you go to people's locations locally than that still counts. But it's something that's exclusive to local service providers. And so I added some more details on that. And yeah, it's been really fun. I love it.

Niki: It really can be fun, which I was shocked that I will say that. But it truly is, um, it's just kind of trying to figure out ways to, um, strategically build your, whether it's your practice or your blogs or anything else.

Erica: Alright, well, thank you again for being here. Do you want to say your website and your social handle again one more time, since now more like at the end?

Niki: Sure. So, it's newfrontiernutrition.com, um, website. And New Frontier Nutrition on Facebook. Instagram, it’s @NewFrontierNiki.

Erica: Cool. Which one do you hang out on more? Facebook or Instagram?

Niki: Probably Facebook the most. I'm trying to get better about Instagram, but we're getting there. It's a process.

Erica: Same. Like I see how it works. And it does. I do connect with people when I do it, I just need to, like, build the habit. I'm a little hot and cold with a posting on there.

Niki: That's where I am right now, but I think it's something that now that I have my practice kind of set up a little bit better, I'll have time for that.

Erica: Totally. Cool. Well, I think this was a fabulous and enlightening conversation and I have a feeling people are really going to resonate with a lot of the mindset and value topics that we talked about. So thank you for being so open with your experiences. Um, and really helping to pay it forward for other people who might feel like they're in a similar position as you were in your job.

Niki: Sure. Well, thank you for having me. This was fun.

Erica: Wasn't it so cool to hear Niki's story and feel like, “Hey, no matter what happens in life, I am capable of pivoting and building a career that I love and appreciate”?

I'm so glad Niki agreed to come on and share her experiences with us. And I know we mentioned my SEO Made Simple online course during this episode. So, if you're interested in learning more about how to blog strategically and create content that brings your ideal client right to you via free Google searches, check that out at The Unconventional RD BB, which stands for “business bootcamp, dot com. The course is open year-round for enrollment, so you're welcome to join at any time. Thank you so much for being such an awesome member of the TURD family.

And in case you missed, TURD is the acronym for The Unconventional RD. So sometimes I’ll throw out the TURD word.

So thank you fellow TURDs and catch you next week

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