Flipping through a magazine in a doctor’s office waiting room, Cassie Boorn landed on an article that made the heavens open up and angels sing.
OK, maybe not. But it was a very big moment in her life.
The story was about a woman who became famous by blogging, or writing about her life online. It inspired the Galva, Ill., native and single mom to wonder, “Could I do that, too?”
The answer was yes — and then some.
Not only did the now-23-year-old recent graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport create a popular blog at cassieboorn.com, but she also inserted herself in the social media community at Facebook and Twitter.
What did that lead to? Well, she made contacts that led to a soon-to-turn-full-time job — which she mostly does online from the Quad-City region with her 4-year-old son, Aiden, by her side — as a social media coordinator for DeVries Public Relations.
She worked for the New York-based firm during her last three semesters of college after getting her foot in the door as an intern.
But that’s not all. She also grabbed national media attention for her
“20-Something Letters Project,” which
she launched on her blog, asking women of all backgrounds to write letters to their 20-something-selves.
When Boorn e-mailed the website’s link to Lisa Belkin, the author of the “Motherlode” blog at www.nytimes.com, Belkin posted it for her readers to check out and things just snowballed. The project was covered by Psychology Today, chicagotribune.com and National Public Radio, which interviewed Boorn on the “All Things Considered” program this summer.
Then a book publisher contacted her, pitching the idea of pulling all the “20-Something” letters into a book. She declined the company’s offer but has since secured an agent. So now she’s getting started on writing her book.
“When I started blogging, I never imagined that anything monetary would come from it,” Boorn said with a giggle as she sat in a Davenport coffee shop. “I never imagined it could turn into a career. It’s opened up a lot of doors I didn’t even know were there.”
Boorn recently moved into her own house in Galva, where she found affordable real estate and has a lot of family and friends. She likes to tell people, “We bought a house.”
When they ask, “Who’s ‘we?’” she always answers, “Well, me and Aiden.”
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She found out she was pregnant right after graduating from high school in 2005. She still enrolled in full-time classes that fall at Black Hawk College-East Campus, Kewanee, Ill. She took online courses during the spring semester, giving birth to her son in February 2006 — when she was 18.
“I literally was calling my professors from the hospital to let them know my projects would be a few days late,” she said.
Four years later this month, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and her little man at her side. Along the way, she’s been busy launching her career.
As part of her social media networking, Boorn began attending blogging conferences, such as BlogHer and others. That’s where she made friends with her current boss and several of the women who submitted letters for her “20-Something” project.
Boorn came up with the idea after going to those conferences, where she was often one of the youngest women in attendance. The older women tended to want to give her advice, and she appreciated their guidance.
“I guess what I really wanted was a recipe for success,” she said.
She described their stories as rich with thoughtful reflections, hilarious tales and a lot of good advice. Their letters tended to say things such as, “Relax. Go out more. Spend more time with your friends. Wear the tight dress and date the stupid boys,” Boorn said with a laugh.
“I guess you’re forgiven in your 20s,” she said. “You’re not forgiven for that in your 30s.
“They were all so personal,” she continued, talking about the letters. “They bared their souls. People were very open.”
Not only were the letters interesting to read, but the project also drew a lot more readers to Boorn’s blog. Many of the women she invited to participate were successful bloggers with strong readership. On the day their letters were posted online, they provided links to Boorn’s website on their own blogs — sending even more readers to Boorn’s, she said.
One of those heavy-hitters was 40-year-old Jessica Gottlieb of Los Angeles, who blogs at www.jessicagottlieb.com. Gottlieb’s five-year-old site gets 150,000 views per month. She also participates on “Momversation,” an online video show that gets 12 million views per month.
She has mentored Boorn along the way since meeting the younger woman at a blogging conference, Gottlieb said.
“She is like a sponge,” Gottlieb said. “She is very thoughtful and appears to have no ego involved with anything. So, when people give her advice, she’s open to taking it. I think she’s just one of these people so open to learning she’s just going to get better every single day at anything she does.”
And what was Gottlieb’s advice to her younger self?
“I’d spend more time naked,” she said. “I absolutely would. You just don’t get more perfect than you were at 22.”