What 3 Kick Ass Climbers Can Teach You About Building a Community

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Building a kick ass blog and community resource can be hard, especially when you have to balance it with the demands of pursuing a PhD, working full time or raising a family.

Mary, Missy, and Cate, are friends and Co-Founders of Crux Crush, a website dedicated to all things climbing from a female perspective, are building their passion on the side, while maintaining a full-time life schedule. It's the "I Can I Will" mentality in full force!


We first met the trio back in March at the Iron Maiden, a women’s only bouldering and climbing competition that they organized. We were blown away by the buzzing energy and enthusiasm in the gym. So, we wanted to learn more about what they were up to and are thrilled to have them as our first interview feature.

In the conversation below, you’ll learn more about how to build a project that you love on the side, the value of partners and project management tips:


CogniTea: Let’s start out with you telling us a little about yourself: What’s your story? What is Crux Crush?


Crux Crush: The site was co-founded and is run by three friends who happen to be female and love climbing. Our goal is to support and inspire the climbing community by featuring interviews with pro climbers, gear reviews, training advice, and climbing news. To strike a balance we like to keep it light with snarky posts that poke fun at ourselves and the climbing community.



How did you get started with all of this?

The three of us followed [a lot of] blogs before starting Crux Crush, mostly health, food, fashion, and a few climbing blogs. In the online climbing media we all noticed a lack of articles, videos, and advice, made for or by women. We simply thought the growing community of climbers might be interested in hearing from the voices of a few female climbers.


Seems like you are really focused on building community, is this part of the larger mission of the site? How do you attract people to the site? 



Each Thursday night Cate holds a ladies-only climbing night at her home wall. It’s usually a group of 6 to 10 women who get together to support each other’s climbing, get in a good laugh, and make dinner together. Some nights, really experienced climbers will show up, and on other nights someone will bring a friend who’s never climbed before. Our ladies nights have made us stronger, gotten newbies psyched on climbing, and created lasting friendships. In a lot of ways, Crux Crush is the online version of our ladies nights. We want it to be a place with a sense of humor, where everyone, from the beginner to the V10 climber, can come and be inspired by each other.

[On the whole] the climbing community is relatively small and incredibly tight knit, so word spread about our site pretty organically. We like to feature a range of climbers and climbing companies in order to connect to the community through different avenues, which has allowed us to connect with our local climbing community and with pro climbers around the world.


What are the top three tips you’d give to someone starting out when building a project or company on the side?


If you are starting a side project, make sure you truly love it. That sounds obvious, but it can't be overstated. It has to be something that you feel excited and passionate about, because the truth is, it gets hard at times to balance everything. So when our enthusiasm is wavering, we can remind ourselves "we love this" and then focus on how great and accomplished we feel when we get good feedback from our readers.
You have be choosy about your business partners. That's huge. When you go into a partnership with one another it can be stressful at times, and you won't always agree. It's important that you choose partners who you can be frank with, who listen well, and also who will speak their minds.
Educate yourself on technology that can help you be more time-efficient. For example, we use Google Hangout to do our meetings when we don't all have time to meet in person (and it's fun because we can all put on funny hats and use sound effects while we meet ;) Another example is that we keep drafts of posts and posts ideas in Google Drive so that we can each access them whenever we want. It's great to have a place to put ideas and inspirations as they occur to us, otherwise you might forget but more importantly so we can build off of one another's thoughts. That's when we come up with our best work!


As you are all balancing full-time endeavors, how do you do it?!

Our top secret and very sophisticated method is.... staying organized and scheduled. About once a month we meet and set the posting schedule for the upcoming month. One of us is responsible for each post and the other two always edit and proofread before it goes live. Once we have the schedule set, we stick to it. Sure, there are times when one of us just can't make the post happen, but we usually have a backup post idea or get lucky and find some climbing news to post about. It definitely helps that there are three of us. When one is feeling burnt out or overwhelmed, we can count on each other to take turns with the workload. We do a lot of delegating, and use the strong suits of each person. 


What has been your biggest lesson learned?


We’ve learned a lot about both ourselves and our audience. In working as a team, we’ve learned what each of our unique strengths are and how to use those strengths to the benefit of the site. We’ve also learned a lot about our readers, both fans and haters. There have been posts that we put a lot of time and energy into and barely anyone reads them, and then there are posts that we wrote a year ago that continue to draw new visitors. There have been posts we thought were funny but that were perceived negatively by some readers. We’ve learned to roll with the punches, laugh at ourselves, and learn from our readers’ comments and feedback whether positive or negative.


How would you inspire other people to take action? 

The most important thing is to stop talking about doing things and really take action. It sounds cliche, but you really never know how you’ll feel about something or if your idea will be successful until you try it. Whether this means leaving a job, moving to a new city, or trying climbing for the first time, we say go for it! Yes, there will be obstacles and hardships, but in the end it’s really all about the adventure and the things you learn along the way.

What’s next for you? What do you need / what can people help you with?

We want to continue to create interesting and unique content for our site and be open to new possibilities. We love getting requests from readers for post ideas and hearing about their experiences with climbing. In a larger sense, we want to help climbers come together and build a supportive community that we can all be proud of.


Connect with Crux Crush:

Check out Mary, Missy and Cate on CruxCrush.com, Twitter and on Facebook!


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