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Archive of ‘Birmingham’ category

How to Succeed at Freelancing

Freelancing tips FB graphic2

The Alabama Media Professionals will host a a round-table discussion on freelancing tomorrow, March 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Homewood Public Library.  If you plan to attend please note that lunch orders will be taken up to (today) Wednesday at 5 p.m. at 205-680-6890 or

Girls Night Out


Also on Thursday, join fashion blogger Alexis Barton for a special Girls Night Out event at Belk. Hosted at the Summit location, the garden party-themed soirée will feature light bites, wine, and music from Scratch DJ.There also will be discounts (20% off with limited exclusions) and giveaways! The event is from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at Belk (the Summit location). Alexis Barton of Same Day Different Chic, who was also a keynote speaker at last year’s See Jane Write Bloganista Mini-Con, will be on hand to give fashion tips.

Post, Gram, Pin: A Social Media Workshop

post gram pin

And speaking of fashion, don’t forget to sign up for the next See Jane Write event Post, Gram, Pin: A Social Media Workshop, set for Saturday, March 21 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Fashion blogger Bertha Hidalgo of Chic in Academia will share how she grew her Instagram following to over 13,500 fans and how she’s used her Instagram influence to grow her brand and land speaking gigs.

Heather Brown

Heather Brown of My Life Well Loved will share how she developed a Facebook following of over 13,000 fans and how she uses Pinterest to drive traffic to her blog.

I will share how I’ve used social media to grow See Jane Write and land freelance writing gigs.

Get your tickets here.

If you have upcoming events you’d like featured in Jane About Town, send info to


How to Move a Mountain

move a mountain

Anyone who knows me well knows I love TED Talks. I show TED Talks to my students at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. When I’m in a long line at the pharmacy I open up the TED app on my phone to see what new talks have been posted online. And last year when I had the opportunity to attend TEDxBirmingham 2014 I was as giddy as a kid on Christmas Day. I literally skipped from the car to the front door of the Alys Stephens Center where the event was held. It would be my first time attending a live TED event. The theme was “Rediscover the Magic “and that I did. I left inspired with a new love for my city, a renewed determination to make it better, and an even greater passion for TED.

Things were different this year. TEDxBirmingham 2015 was just as fantastic, perhaps even better. But this year I felt the giddy girl of last year’s event being asked to grow up. She was being asked to move a mountain.

“Move Mountains” — that was this year’s theme and it was quite apropos. The topics broached this year were as heavy as looming rust-stained rock of iron ore that we in Birmingham call Red Mountain. Human trafficking, our country’s broken health care system, and environmental degradation are just a few of the issues this year’s 12 speakers forced us to face.

When Sunny Slaughter’s 7-year-old daughter was raped years ago by her own husband, Slaughter was filled with a rage that no one would have blamed her for acting on. But she used that fire to fuel the work she does today working as an activist working to end human trafficking. Slaughter hit us with the statistics of the the number of girls sold not just in other countries, but also in America and even Alabama.

In closing, she said, “I’m not trying to shock you. I’m trying to scare the hell out of you.”

But how are we to move a mountain when the sight of it shakes us to our core?

The speakers covered that, too.

“Fear is great soil for growth,” Tracey Abbott said during her talk. “The purpose of life is not to be comfortable but to grow.”And despite her fear, Abbott recently quit her corporate job to found Culture Relay, a social enterprise dedicated to empowering high school girls through cross-cultural exchanges.

So feel the fear and face that mountain anyway. And here’s how you can move it:

Shift the way you see that mountain. Be willing to look at everything in a new way. You make think that our country’s obsession with sports will lead to its demise. But Andy Billings, professor of sports media at the University of Alabama, is using sports to delve into issues of race, gender, and more. Yes, it’s true that very few Olympic swimmers are black, but why is that? Are black people just not good at swimming or could it be that blacks once had little to no access to public swimming pools and thus black parents were hesitant to encourage their children to learn to swim knowing they couldn’t help them do so? And what kind of important conversations about gender can we have simply by looking at how women are portrayed on the covers of Sports Illustrated magazine?

Be willing to be radical. When Venkata Macha was only a sophomore in high school he asked a radical question: “Why isn’t there a urine test to help detect cancer?” Then he did something even more outrageous — he emailed renowned researchers all over the country asking them the same question. The result: he spent the summer before his junior year working in a lab of a Harvard University professor doing research to develop a bioelectronic chip for immediate, non-evasive cancer detection. “Radical approaches could have extraordinary results,” Vekata said.

Your radical idea may be to tunnel through your mountain. If so, just dig and keep digging. While chipping your way through you will be discouraged. But so many speakers urged attendees to see failure only as a detour, not a dead end.

Or maybe you’ll decide that moving the mountain isn’t the best way to get to the other side.

“Sometimes it’s more efficient to climb the mountain than to move it,” civil rights activist and advertising executive Shelley Stewart said during his talk.

Strap on your boots and let’s do this.

Kent Stewart is climbing mountains literally. He is on a quest to hike the Seven Summits — the highest peaks on each of the world’s continents. He only has one, Mount Everest, left to summit.

“What’s your Everest?” he asked the crowd.

To become the first woman to qualify for the finals of American Ninja Warrior Kacy Catanzaro didn’t have to climb an actual mountain, but she did have to scale a 14-foot warped wall and she had to ignore all the voices that said she couldn’t do it.

Remember that moving this mountain isn’t all about you. Kent Stewart can’t climb Mt. Everest without a team of people supporting him. You need a team to climb your mountain, too.

And ask yourself why you want to get to the other side of your mountain in the first place. Shelley Stewart urged us to be mindful of our reasons, relationships, and reputation.

“What’s the reason you really want to overcome this obstacle?” he asked. “If your motive is right your goal is more likely to be accomplished. Relationships are important, he said, because “you can’t effect change by yourself.”

And you shouldn’t do it simply for yourself.

You have the power to change someone’s life simply by clearing the mountain in your path — whether you climb it, tunnel through it, or blast it to bits, you will change the life of another person.

Cross-posted at

How to Write and Have a Life


Yesterday morning I once again had the honor of being featured on ABC33/40’s Talk of Alabama. I was on last month discussing how I managed to exercise every day for 365 days. This time I had the chance to promote my e-course How to Write and Have a Life. (For a limited time you can view my segment here.)

People constantly ask me “How do you do it all?” because I juggle managing See Jane Write with teaching full time, freelancing part time, blogging, exercising daily, being active in my community and church, and spending time with my husband, family, and friends. And so I developed this e-course to show people exactly how I get stuff done.

TOA tips

Yesterday I offered four time management tips to Talk of Alabama viewers:

Multitasking is ruining your life.  Many people believe that multi-tasking will help them get more done and that’s actually not true. You can get more done and in a shorter period of time if you simply focus on one task at a time. Whether I’m grading papers, writing a blog post or cleaning my apartment, I can do those things in half the time if I focus on doing just one thing. And in my e-course I share a technique that I use to help with focus.

The magic is not in your planner but in the planning.  People always ask me, “What kind of planner do you use?” And I always tell them “The magic is not in your planner but in the planning.” To get more done you must be intentional about how you spend your time. In my e-course I show you have to make to-do lists that will help you set priorities and even plan out each hour of your day when you are especially busy.

Remember that “No” is a complete sentence.  Even though I do a lot, I believe in taking a day off. Each week I set aside a day when I do no work and I just relax or spend time with family and friends. If you’re consistently unable to take that day off, then you’re doing too much. In my e-course I write about the importance of realizing that “No” is a complete sentence. And when trying to determine when to say “No” it’s about vision and values. If something doesn’t move you closer to your vision for your life and doesn’t align with your values, ditch it! In the e-course I walk you through exercises to help you determine your vision and values.

Stop sleeping through your life.  I am a believer in the old saying that the early bird gets the worm. Getting up early is a great way to get more done, especially if you are a parent. If you wake up before your family does, you can have time to yourself to work on that book you always wanted to write or update that blog you’ve abandoned.

But to be honest with you, my #1 secret to getting stuff done isn’t something I can teach — it’s simply gumption.

I’m not feeling well right now and didn’t get much rest the night before my segment. Snow was in the forecast for yesterday (which as you know for Alabama is a HUGE FREAKING deal) and thus there was a chance my segment would be canceled. A part of me wished that it had been because I was so exhausted that morning. But then I stopped being a big baby and stopped feeling sorry for myself. And sometimes this is exactly what we need to do to make the time to pursue our dreams. Sometimes you just have to put on your big girl panties and do the work!

Stop making excuses and just do what needs to be done.

Click here to enroll in How to Write and Have a Life today!


Cross-posted at

You Need a Professional Headshot


“Man!  You look like a boss!”

That was my husband’s reaction the first time he saw the portrait of me pictured above. It was the first professional headshot I’d ever had done and my husband’s reaction was exactly what I wanted.

If you want to start taking yourself seriously as a writer, if you want to transition from blogger to businesswoman, you need a professional headshot. Whether you have been asked to speak at a conference or you are being featured on a popular website, people will constantly ask you for a headshot. You also need a nice photo for your social media channels, especially professional ones like LinkedIn.

As photographer Lynsey Weatherspoon wrote in a recent blog post,  “LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network on the Internet, deserves more than the selfie you shot in the car on the way to your job.”

Lynsey was the photographer behind my #likeaboss headshot and she’s currently booking headshot sessions in the Birmingham area for March 1st and 2nd. Book your session here. Once you book, make a note of your preferred day. Send inquiries and questions to

This is not a sponsored post. Lynsey didn’t ask me to share this information with you. I just really loved my first professional headshot and I want you to have a headshot that you love just as much.

I’d love for you to share your headshots in the See Jane Write Facebook group


A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

bbj ceremony

A rising tide lifts all boats.

On Thursday evening the Birmingham Business Journal celebrated its 2015 class of Top 40 Under 40 with an awards ceremony at Iron City. I was among those honored, chosen for the work I do through See Jane Write. The evening was nothing less than fantastic.  I walked in the door and was greeted by several people I’d never met before who wanted me to know how much they loved my picture — the one that ran with my article in the Birmingham Business Journal, the one I was once insecure about because I’d opted to wear a trendy Olivia Pope-inspired outfit instead of a traditional black or navy business suit. “Your picture was hands down the best,” one fellow honoree said to me. This was a great lesson in daring to be different and daring to be myself.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

A table with my name on it and people stopping and asking to take my picture all made the night feel surreal and unreal. I tried to soak it all in. I tried to figure out what I would write in my blog post about the night, but I just kept hearing the same thing in my head over and over:

A rising tide lifts all boats.

As each honoree received his or her reward, a video recorded the day of our photo shoot was played for the crowd. I’ll be honest — we were all dreading this moment. Seeing yourself on camera is bad enough. Seeing yourself on a larger-than-life screen while hundreds of other people look on is much, much worse. In the video we were each asked what helped our career take flight. Again, I dared to be different. My answer wasn’t about a partnership or promotion. Instead I spoke about getting over my impostor syndrome and self-doubt. I talked about the importance of believing you deserve success and I declared that if I want people to take me seriously as a businesswoman I must do so first.

As the ceremony continued several women made their way over to my table to thank me for what I said in my video, to thank me for saying something they believed all women needed to hear.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

Ironically, even though Thursday’s ceremony was in part a celebration of me, it was also a reminder that my successes aren’t about me. In fact, that’s why I call my organization See Jane Write, not See Javacia Write. It’s not about me. It’s about empowering all Janes; it’s about empowering all women writers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs.

In my video and article for the Birmingham Business Journal I talk about the importance of women taking themselves seriously and this week I plan to help the women of See Jane Write do just that. Each day this week I’ll be posting inspiration and information to help you take your career to the next level.

Perhaps you’re not sure where to start. If that’s the case, then let’s chat. I’m currently accepting appointments for one-on-one consultations for March. During these consultations you can ask me whatever you need to about freelance writing and publishing, blogging, personal branding and marketing, building a community organization and more. Get more details here. There’s also one additional spot available in next month’s Blogging Boot Camp, which has been set for March 15.

Remember, I’ll be posting here every day this week giving you something big or small to help your career take flight, too. Or maybe consider this information the moon pulling the waters of your work toward the sky. But don’t forget: A rising tide lifts all boats.

Jane About Town: What to Do This Weekend and Beyond

book deal

There’s only one ticket left for Saturday’s workshop How to Get a Book Deal. Local authors Marie Sutton and Anne Riley will help you write the perfect pitch to sell your book idea to literary agents and publishers. Marie and Anne also will share the stories of how they landed their book deals, give tips on how to bring your book idea to life, and discuss the good, bad, and the ugly about publishing.

marie sutton headshot

Marie Sutton is the author of The A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham: A Civil Rights Landmark, which was published November 2014 by The History Press.

anne riley

Anne Riley is the author of the young adult novel Shadows of the Hidden, published December 2012 by Compass Press.

Get your ticket now at

If you don’t snag that last ticket here’s another event for your consideration:

Author Denise George, wife of Dr. Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School, will be hosting two all-day Book Writing Boot Camp seminars at Canterbury United Methodist Church in Birmingham on February 20-21 for current and aspiring authors.

Memoir-Writing Magic!

Exciting New Ways to Turn Lifetime Memories into Book-Length Memoirs

Friday, February 20, 2015

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Canterbury United Methodist Church, Mountain Brook

Lunch provided


Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

The Major Advantages and Disadvantages of Each

Saturday, February 21, 2015

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Canterbury United Methodist Church, Mountain Brook

Lunch provided


If you register for BOTH all-day seminars, you’ll receive a special discounted price of $285.

To register, visit and click “Register.”

Looking Ahead

arc light

The next Arc Light Stories event is set for Saturday, February 28.  “LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD – Stories About Love” will be held at the Avon Theater.  The cost is only $5 at the door.  Doors open at 7pm, and stories start at 7:30pm.

Save the Date


The Y’all Connect social media conference has been set for June 12, 2015.


Like a Boss


Last week the Birmingham Business Journal announced its Top 40 Under 40 class for 2015 and I am proud to say that I am among the young professionals chosen for this honor. What makes me even prouder and even happier is that I recently learned a group of women who have in some way been inspired by the work I do through See Jane Write teamed up to nominate me for this recognition.

This time last year I didn’t even consider myself a real entrepreneur and now here I am being featured in the Birmingham Business Journal! This wouldn’t have happened without the support of that group of women (or the support of my sweet husband who helps me with every See Jane Write event). But I also believe this wouldn’t have happened had I not decided to change my attitude last summer.

Back in July Megan LaRussa Chenoweth’s keynote address at the See Jane Write Bloganista Mini-Conference inspired me to start taking myself seriously as a businesswoman. As a result, I revamped the See Jane Write website and weekly newsletter, started working with a business coach, and started signing up for every webinar on business building that I could find.

As I state in my article for the Birmingham Business Journal, “My career as an entrepreneur started to take flight when I overcame my self-doubt. Once I started to take myself seriously as a businesswoman, other people started to as well.”

For that article, each honoree was asked to answer a slew of questions and obviously not all of them could be used. If you live in Birmingham I hope you’ll pick up a copy of the latest issue of Birmingham Business Journal at a local bookstore like Little Professor Book Center. But I thought it would be fun to share with my blog readers a few of my responses that weren’t used in the article.


What keeps you up at night? 

Ideas keep me up at night! I always have so many ideas for lessons I can teach, programs I can offer, events I can host, and things I can write to inspire my students, my clients, See Jane Write members and other women in my sphere of influence.

What’s the first website you visit each morning?

What book has influenced you most in your career? 

The book that has influenced me most as an entrepreneur is Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. It pushed me to overcome my impostor syndrome and to start believing that I am good enough and smart enough to do what I want to do.

What inspires you? 

Women inspire me more than anything on this planet. My mission in life is to empower women and girls to find their voice and share their stories. That drives nearly everything that I do.

What important lesson have you learned that has helped your career? 

I’ve learned to embrace and be unapologetic about my femininity and to never see it as a liability.

What’s the best advice you’ve received? 

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Your turn! I’d love to read your answers to these questions, too! Leave them in the comments. 

*Cross-posted at

Entrepreneurship is a D.I.Y. Project

Julia McNair

Julia McNair of Do-It-Yourself Crafts

Sponsored Post for Do-It-Yourself Crafts

2015 is the year I’m really focusing on growing as a businesswoman and so I’m getting as much advice as I can from other female entrepreneurs. Recently, I had a chat with Julia McNair, owner of the Birmingham-based arts and crafts shop Do-It-Yourself Crafts. While talking with McNair I realized that entrepreneurship is very much like a do-it-yourself project because to be successful one must be both creative and patient.

What inspired you to start Do-It-Yourself Crafts?

I started the store in 1999. I had been working in corporate retail management and had loved my job…until I didn’t. I was considering going to law school, but that didn’t really call to me, either. I found myself doing more and more craft projects, but in my small Southside apartment, I didn’t have the space to store supplies. I decided I wanted a place like a paint-your-own pottery shop, where I could go to create things – not just paint your own pottery. When we opened, we had a varied selection. We sold supplies, as well as having a studio to work in. We did scrapbooking, rubber stamping, glass wine painting, and a whole lot more.

After a few years, we added paint your own pottery, and then mosaics, and then glass fusing. Other items went away. When Hobby Lobby opened, I knew I wasn’t going to out-do a big-box store, so we closed the craft sales section of the store and expanded the studio into the front. What has stayed over the years are the items that customers have told us they want to have – if it didn’t sell, it went away.

love your life

Starting a business is obviously risky. What is the scariest thing you’ve faced as an entrepreneur and how did you handle it?

Honestly, the first thing is the scariest: signing the loan, signing the lease. You have to make the money to cover those obligations. After you get started, the momentum will carry you.

What’s the one piece of advice you would offer aspiring entrepreneurs that you wish someone would have shared with you before you started your business?

Starting a business is wonderful and terrible and everyone should think about doing it, but you should know that once you start a business, it’s not a hobby anymore, it’s your business. I joke that I may own a pottery shop, but I’m in the marketing business. It’s nonstop and relentless and never-ending. I read something once that said that if you own a business, you spend about 15% of your time doing the thing you opened your business to do. I think that estimate might be high.

You can think you know exactly what you are going to be doing, and you might. But you might not. Your customers will let you know what they want – and you can change with what they are telling you, or you can stick to your guns and see if you make it. The customer isn’t always right, but they are your only source of income and so you should make every effort to let them be a source of income.

you are beautiful

What do you do to make your business stand out from other shops like yours?

Customer service. When I had competition, that was the most important thing to us – that we focus on our customers and make sure that we went above and beyond.

I no longer have any local competitors for pottery shops – the studio that had been my competitor closed and I have opened a second shop where she was located – but that doesn’t mean I don’t have competition for customers. We are competing against the roller skating rink and the bowling alley and the movie theater. We are also competing against all the canvas painting places and other “ladies’ night out” options people have. We are competing with not spending money at all. There is competition everywhere.

Speaking of ladies night out, give us some tips on how to throw a great party at your shop.

If you are having a kid’s birthday party at one of my stores, the best thing is that you can let us handle it and just enjoy yourself. I am a mom and have done parties for my son at other places, and I know that we are easier. (In fact, I am the WORST critic to go to a party – I really pay attention to the details when I’m seeing what other places do and don’t do.) My goal is for the kids to have a great time, but for the moms to say it’s the easiest party they have ever done.

For a girls’ night out – it’s up to you! We can be where you get together with girlfriends and just enjoy a night together, or it could be a class where everyone does something specific. Often we do the Introductory Glass Fusing class for this – I tell a bunch of bad jokes, and then everyone makes a project. We try not to tell you exactly what you have to do – but instead give you some lee-way in how the night shapes up.

To learn more about Do-It-Yourself Crafts and book a party of your own visit

The Results Are In!


Image by League of Women Voters via Flickr/Creative Commons

Earlier this month I created a two-question survey and offered a pretty sweet incentive to complete it: Those who completed the survey would have a chance at winning free admission to See Jane Write events held February – December 2015 (excluding events for members only).

And the winner is….

Emily G. 

Congratulations, Emily!

And thanks to all of you who completed the survey.

The results revealed three things — 1) you all love live events 2) you all are ready to blog like a boss and 3) you’re having trouble finding time to make your writing dreams come true.

Live educational vents will continue to be the bread and butter of See Jane Write. Future events will offer information on how to monetize blogging properly use business tools like MailChimp, PayPal, etc. In fact, I’ve decided that the theme for this year’s Bloganista Mini-Conference will be Blog Like a Boss!

how to write and have a life

As for time management — I’ve got you covered there, too. My e-course How to Write and Have a Life is all about how to make time for your dreams. Over the course of a dozen lessons you will learn how to set goals that will help you better manage your time, how to get rid of bad habits that are wasting your time, how to adopt healthy habits that will make you more peaceful and productive, how to rekindle your romance for your blog, how to write more, read more, and stress less, how exercise can make you a better writer, and how to give yourself a break. Enroll today!

Win free admission to 2015 See Jane Write events!

nametags I’m always brainstorming different ways to help the women of See Jane Write.

Last week, for example, I hosted a goal-setting workshop to help See Jane Write members kick off the year motivated and inspired. (Check out this recap from Heather of My Life Well Loved and this one from Katherine of Rodney’s Saga.)

And next week’s event with Carrie Rollwagen is designed to help women looking to transform their blog idea into a book idea, women looking to self-publish, and women who just want to get better at self-promotion. (Get your tickets here! Only a few tickets are left!)

But I know the best way to figure out what the women of See Jane Write need and want is to simply ask. So this month I’m doing just that. I’ve composed a two-question survey to help me determine what changes I should make to See Jane Write this year.

And I’m offering an incentive for completing the survey: You could win free admission to all ticketed See Jane Write events held between Feb. 1 to Dec. 31. This includes our annual Bloganista conference!

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Click here to complete the two-question survey.

2. After you have completed the survey, comment on this blog post. In your comment, let me know that you’ve completed the survey and tell me one event or program you’d like See Jane Write to offer this year.

3. Enter the contest using the widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
  The winner will be announced January 30, 2015.

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