Three years ago, Rebecca Pacheco resolved to start a blog which is now one of the most successful yoga sites on the Web.
Pacheco, a yoga instructor, runner and writer, started the OmGal website by posting anonymously about yoga, running, health, and wellness. Her multimedia site has now turned into an award-winning, highly frequented destination for health-minded people across America, currently averaging about 10,000 visitors per month.
“I didn’t know directly who was reading,” Pacheco tells me about the early days of OmGal. “Now I’ll hear of people who read it and I have no idea how they found it … I have people come up to me after class and say, ‘I’ve read the site and I had to come to your class!’”
Pacheco’s blog took serious flight when she received the 2010 Intent.com Web award for Best Yoga and Fitness site. Intent.com, which is an online “community where members can share their dreams and aspirations, and receive support from others”, provides a host of articles and blog entries from the world’s spiritual community.
“Rebecca regularly shares her content with us. She’s definitely one of our more active bloggers,” says Yumi Sakugawa, the online editorial producer of Intent.com. “Anytime there’s ever anything yoga related going on, we definitely turn to her for her expertise.”
Founded by Malika Chopra, the daughter of world-renowned spiritual leader and author Deepak Chopra, Intent.com features writers from high places in the wellness community. According to Sakugawa, Pacheco fits right in.
“I think her personality and her unique outlook on yoga and wellness shines through,” says Sakugawa. “I think she makes yoga, wellness, and spirituality really accessible and not intimidating, which I think is really important … even if you’re not a yoga person, her blogs are still really enjoyable to read.”
Pacheco uses her own voice to make OmGal appealing to those who live and breathe yoga, and those who’ve never gotten into a pose other than Indian Style. “[I have] a lot of people who say ‘I don’t even do yoga, I just enjoy hearing what you have to say,’” she says. “Yoga doesn’t fully encapsulate who I am and it doesn’t fuly encapsulate who a lot of people are … the yoga community is awesome and they’re my home, but the other communities as well also helped to branch out viewership and make me relevant in a few circles.”
Brooke Parker, who worked with Pacheco when she was the senior marketing manager at Boston Magazine, agrees that it’s not just Pacheco’s knowledge of her main subject that makes OmGal flourish: “I just think [the site] is so interesting because it’s not necessarily always just yoga, and that’s what I really like about Rebecca … she’s a runner, she draws from all different areas of what is optimal health.”
Pacheco also acknowledges that her blog is successful in part because of the personal element she brings to what she writes:
“Online readers love to connect and love to feel connected to other people,” she says. “I also think that people feel a little more engaged when they know a little of your personal story,” Pacheco explains, adding that a blog should be “personal enough that people feel engaged, but not pictures of me eating breakfast.”
Pacheco is also aware of her readers’ multifaceted interests, and when it comes to advertising on OmGal, she chooses sponsors with interests before her site’s viewers. ”I only allow people to have visibility on the site if they fit my readers,” she says.
Along with Intent.com, Pacheco has also garnered many of her readers through social networking services like Facebook, where the OmGal fanpage has over 1,300 fans, and Twitter, where she has over 2,500 followers to date.
“I actually follow her on Twitter,” said her former coworker Parker. “I always find her to be very inspirational … I’ll be like, ‘man oh man I’m going to go out and run today,’ and then I get that post from Becca and I’m like, ‘I’m gonna go out and run!’”
So, with three booming years and running, what does the future of OmGal look like?
“I guess I would say that it’s two-fold,” says Pacheco. “I see myself as creating high-quality well-written contemporary yoga and wellness content in different mediums … as much as online content is evolving, I need to also follow suit, so things like downloadable yoga videos, Podcasts, anything of that nature … I’m hoping that’s part of the way in which the site expands.”
Though her job as OmGal is to talk directly to her readers, Pacheco said her advice for an aspiring blogger is actually to “listen as much as you talk,” explaining that “a good blogger is a good friend or someone you want to sit down and have tea with … any good writer makes you feel connected makes you feel inspired makes you feel listened to.” She demonstrates that this is made even more possible through the web: “I think that’s really why blogs are different,” she says, “there’s more of a connection between the new journalist and the new reader.”
Sakugawa of Intent.com agrees, offering similar guidance: “Honestly, I think it just comes down to … just being your authentic self, being very transparent about what you passionately love and what you’re passionately interested in,” Sakugawa explained. “I think when you’re your honest authentic self … people are very attracted to that.”
Pacheco posts to OmGal regularly, which Sakugawa adds is one of the key ingredients to a successful blog. When she’s not busy writing or videotaping for her site, Pacheco teaches private in-home yoga lessons as well as group yoga classes at Inner Strength Yoga in Watertown and Equinox in Back Bay. Always learning more, Pacheco continues to expand her knowledge base as well as her practice through OmGal.
“I just feel like she just always has so much information about health and well-being,” says Pacheco’s friend Parker. “She’s the go to gal…she is OmGal.”
(Though she spends a lot of her time writing for OmGal, Pacheco is still actively teaching Yoga in Boston and Watertown, so check out one of her classes! Also, if you’re looking for a high energy class in the Boston Yoga scene, here’s my profile of Peter Crowley’s Freedom Joy Yoga Class, which takes place every Friday at 7pm at Back Bay Yoga Studio.)