Nicole Thelin has over 20 years of published writing experience and
her work has been featured in various publications, including USA
She began her prolific writing career at the tender age of 10, when
she began publishing poetry and creative writing in local magazines
and anthologies. Before graduating high school, Nicole began writing
front-page stories for newspapers around the country. Eventually,
she moved into web content writing and learned how to become a
full-circle content creator.
Although her first love was the written word, Nicole also specializes
in web design, chatbot design, video editing, social media marketing,
and other skills necessary to run her online content creation
For nearly 10 years, Nicole’s primary focus has been on helping low
income Americans save money and get free stuff at
LowIncomeRelief.com. This information service connects people with
benefits, resources, and assistance programs in their local
communities. As the founder of Low Income Relief, Nicole has
worked tirelessly to make this information more accessible to those
who need it most.
When Nicole isn’t working on her business, she enjoys homeschooling her five children and spending time with her family. She loves traveling, reading Brandon Sanderson novels, and creating unique recipes.
Where did the idea for LowIncomeRelief.com come from?
Low Income Relief was born out of necessity. My husband was injured during his military training, so he was medically discharged from military service. The transition was really difficult for us and we went through a really difficult time financially. We both had jobs, but we couldn’t afford our own housing so we were staying with friends.
Eventually, we were told we only had two weeks to find our own housing or we would be on the streets. We just couldn’t stay with friends or family any longer. I panicked. I started spending all my spare time at the local library, digging desperately for any help I could find. It was the first time in my life that I encountered phrases like Section 8 housing, low income housing, that sort of thing. And honestly, it changed my life.
Within two weeks, we moved into a beautiful townhouse in a nearby town. Three or four agencies contributed to our move-in costs to help us afford it. Another agency donated furniture; a food bank stocked our shelves with food. With the assistance we received, we were able to get back on our feet and stabilize our family. It was life-changing.
Of course, a lot of our friends and family members were astonished by the
miracle we’d experienced. I gained something of a reputation as a resource guru, so people would call and ask me how to get help with all sorts of different things. A few years later, I realized it would be easier to put all the information I’d found on a website so people wouldn’t have to call me any more. I bought the LowIncomeRelief.com domain and started writing… and it’s been my full-time job since 2016. You can find great success when you find a need and fill it.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day looks a lot different than it used to. In the early days of Low
Income Relief, I worked 16-18 hour days obsessively. Now that the site is older, I’m able to spend more time away from my desk.
At this point, I usually wake up around 6am, enjoy about an hour of personal
time, and then work for 4-5 hours. I spend most of my time on research and
content creation. After work, I homeschool my kids and enjoy the rest of my day with my family.
I’ve realized that by minimizing the amount of time I work, I actually work more efficiently. I have to prioritize the things that matter most and let everything else go. I’m a big fan of the Pareto principle, which teaches that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. By focusing on the 20% of work that actually makes a difference, I’ve been able to let go of most of the tasks that felt productive but weren’t actually making an impact for my business.
At the end of every day, I make a to-do list for the next day. I only put 4-5 bullet points on that list, so I try to make sure that I pick the tasks that will be the most impactful. That’s how I keep my workday productive.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Chaotically, lol. Honestly, I just start. It’s too easy to get bogged down in the
details and the planning, so when I have a new idea I just act on it right away. It’s usually messy and sloppy at first. I’m a recovering perfectionist, but I’ve learned the hard way that getting something done is better than getting something perfect.
What’s one trend that excites you?
This is a difficult one. I don’t typically follow trends, so I’m not sure how to
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am always more productive in the morning, so prioritizing my 6am wake up time is critical for me. It allows me to get to my desk and get most of my work done before my children even wake up, which is a huge benefit.
Being able to work from home, on your own schedule, with no oversight is an incredible blessing… but with that blessing comes great responsibility. If I sleep in, I absolutely wreck my day. Every time.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Every skill you learn is precious and every experience you have is
character-building. Nothing is wasted. I spent a lot of time worried about doing things perfectly when I was younger, and I refused to try new things if I wasn’t confident that I could perform flawlessly. I really regret that.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
If you don’t have your integrity, you don’t have anything. I will not engage in black hat SEO and I will not accept sponsorships from companies whose products could harm my audience. I just won’t. I know I leave a lot of money on the table because I won’t compromise my standards, but I’m okay with that. People tell me I’m crazy all the time, but I would rather lose the business than lose my integrity.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Refine your process. Search for the 20%. The Pareto Principle says that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. Stop wasting time on the 80% and focus your effort on that 20%. You’ll work less, earn more and live a happier life because of it.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I listened to what my audience wanted. In the early days of Low Income Relief, I took requests directly from my readers and gave them what they asked for. If someone needed something, I researched it for them. It helped build a loyal audience that became the bedrock for Low Income Relief.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have wasted a lot of time on side-projects that went nowhere. I didn’t think them through very well and I didn’t take the time to analyze if they were worthwhile. For example, I spent months building an app that I later had to scrap. I learned a lot along the way, but it cost a lot of time that could’ve been spent on more impactful things.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would love to see someone develop a travel guide app that can sync with your smartphone’s map system and narrate your drive for you with fun facts, history of the area, etc. I think that would be fabulous.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Terkel. I’ve been looking for authentic ways to build links and raise awareness for my business, and Terkel is a great place to connect with journalists. It’s similar to HARO, but HARO is free.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Clickup is a great tool for creating to-do lists and organizing tasks with a remote team. I love using Clickup for our content lists so that everyone can keep track of what they’re working on.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Power of Starting Something Stupid was really impactful to me when I first started my business. Over the years, I’ve realized that a lot of people have really great ideas for businesses but relatively few are willing to take the leap to make it happen. If someone is struggling to get started, The Power of Starting Something Stupid is an excellent read.
What is your favorite quote?
“We are all stories in the end, just make it a good one.” -Doctor Who
- Find a need and fill it.
- Don’t compromise your standards.
- 80% of your results are created by 20% of your effort. Focus on the 20%.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.