Inspirational entrepreneur overcomes adversity to run successful business

May 31, 2018

Katie Meehan’s struggle with cystic hygroma was the inspiration for a beauty blog that has blossomed into a thriving business venture – with the help of Gateshead College

When I first started blogging as a hobby in 2013, I had no idea that it would eventually turn into a career.

I’d always been interested in beauty and lifestyle so I started writing about the best make-up to wear, the most fashionable clothes to buy, the nicest places to eat in Newcastle.

A lot of my early copy focused on beauty and make-up – and this was influenced by a condition that had plagued me from early childhood.

I was diagnosed with cystic hygroma, a condition that left me with an enlarged tongue and face and made it difficult for me to eat and even breathe. The condition improved after surgery but the experience encouraged me to write about it, for myself mainly, but also for other people with a facial disfigurement.

The response was amazing. There were 20,000 visitors to my blog – katiemeehan.co.uk – in the first year and I received positive feedback from people who’d been through a similar experience. It gave me so much pride to know that I’d helped others in some small way.

At this stage the blog was just a hobby – but studying at Gateshead College changed all that. It gave me so much more than my business management qualification. The tutors really encouraged me to turn my blog into a business, which I did while studying there, and laid on great experiences that I wouldn’t have had at a traditional sixth form.

I learned from some top business people at Entrepreneurs’ Forum networking events and awards ceremonies. Inspirational guest speakers from industry came to the college to tell us how they made it in business. I also got a fantastic opportunity to attend the Made Festival in Sheffield – an annual event held to educate, inspire and motivate early-stage entrepreneurs like me.

I learned so much through my experiences at Gateshead College: how to promote the blog to potential advertisers who could provide a revenue stream for the business, how to use social media to draw people to the site, how to diversify the content of my blogs to make it more appealing to a wider audience.

As a result, I’ve set in motion plans to expand the business. I’m going to introduce a photo gallery on the site and I’ve developed an outreach service to help PR firms source bloggers who can promote their clients. Now, five years after it was launched, the blog has had more than 1.5 million visitors and attracted dozens of advertisers.

I’ve been on a remarkable journey that has taken me through college and into adult life with a host of great memories, a recognised qualification and valuable experiences that will stand me in good stead as I grow and develop my business. I’d advise anyone to study at a place like Gateshead College, where you’re encouraged to follow your dreams and be whatever you want to be.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in life, it’s that it’s good to be different.

Gateshead College
www.gateshead.ac.uk
@gatesheadcoll

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