As with most good things, it all started with tacos.
On March 24, 2011 I invited a group of women to meet me for dinner at a Mexican cantina in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Most of these women I’d never met before; they didn’t know me or one another. But we all had one thing in common: We all loved to write.
I have been blogging in some capacity for nearly a decade.
I’d like to say that when I started blogging I did so just for fun or for the love of writing. But that would be a lie.
I first started blogging for the newspaper at which I was working at the time because I thought it would help me make a name for myself at the paper and in the city. I wanted to be Louisville’s top features reporter!
Then I soon started a blog of my own because I had always dreamt of starting a magazine and this was my way of doing so — kinda, sorta — without the overhead.
My point is from the day I published my very first blog post I did so with a business mindset. But it wasn’t until last year that I started making real money with my blog. LAST YEAR!
So what was my mistake? Failure to launch.
And I bet this is the same mistake you’re making, too.
On Monday I published a blog post stating my case for “Why Writers Must Be Entrepreneurs.” The next day a See Jane Write member very honestly shared this: “I saw the post about writers being entrepreneurs, but I just don’t know how to get started.”
And for this particular woman it is crucial that she get started because she recently quit a soul-draining job to pursue her dreams.
I realized that I needed to design a clear path to help give some guidance for this crazy, but beautiful journey called entrepreneurship, a path that you could follow whether you’d left your day job or not.
As a writer and blogger you need three things to become an entrepreneur: your platform, your people, and your product.
A friend of mine recently gave me one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. She said that when she met me she knew that our friendship would force her to take her writing career to the next level.
When she said this I was shocked. This friend is no amateur. She’s a highly accomplished poet and creative writing educator and is one of the smartest people I know. In fact, when she became an official member of See Jane Write this year I was a bit worried I wouldn’t have anything of value to offer someone of her caliber.
But my friend said I have taught her things about marketing and personal brand building that she could have never learned in an MFA program.
I’ve come to realize that this is a major part of the See Jane Write mission. You are Jane and I want the world to see your writing. But that won’t happen if you don’t put yourself out there. That won’t happen if you don’t learn to think like a boss.
I have notebooks on notebooks filled with tips, tricks and strategies that I need to implement to grow my blog, business, and writing career.
Some of the advice on these pages I’ve actually put into practice. Much of it I have not. I tell myself I haven’t done these things because I just don’t have the time. And to be sure, my schedule is quite chaotic. But last month I managed to blog five days a week and keep my business afloat despite family drama, sickness and a heavy workload at the day job. To quote entrepreneur Melanie Duncan, “Successful people don’t have the time to learn and grow; successful people make the time to learn and grow.”
But I recently realized it’s not the lack of time that’s truly holding me back. It’s me!
Last week I looked at that stack of notebooks and asked myself, “What are you waiting for?!” And I realized I’ve been waiting for perfection.
I’ve been putting off a much-needed brand photo shoot because I’d convinced myself I needed to lose 20 pounds first. I’ve been putting off trying to collaborate with my favorite bloggers because I’d convinced myself I needed to revamp my website and Instagram feed first. I’ve been putting off submitting story pitches to my favorite publication because I’d convinced myself I needed to improve my writing skills first. And I’ve been putting off taking See Jane Write beyond Birmingham because I’ve secretly wondered if anyone outside of my hometown would care.
But this is all bull shit.
I recently heard someone say, “You don’t have to get it right; you just have to get it going.” It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. I say this to the women of See Jane Write all the time. Now I need to take my own advice.
So as I sat down to set my goals for September, I decided to pick five things I’ve been putting off and just go for it. Ashes to ashes, dust to self-doubt. (You’ll catch that on your way home.)
I’m sharing my bold goals in hopes that they’ll inspire you to set a few of your own.
How do I juggle building both my business and my personal brand?
For over a year I’ve struggled with this question and would discuss it with anyone who’d listen.
Everyone I asked agreed that I did indeed need to build my personal brand. But when I’d ask how I was to create consistent content for and properly promote both I was met with shoulder shrugs.
You see, I do A LOT. In addition to being the founder of See Jane Write, I’m a full-time teacher and a part-time freelance writer. And save for the occasional intern and event volunteers (and my incredibly supportive husband), the See Jane Write team is made of me, myself, and I. So how can I find time to build two brands on top of all of that?!
Then some conversations with a few friends got me thinking. “You are Jane,” they said.
I never thought about it that way. See Jane Write started as a writing group for women that eventually became an award-winning membership organization and business. I don’t see myself as Jane. The women who rock with me are all Jane.
“But you built this. See Jane Write, as it is now, wouldn’t and couldn’t exist without you,” they insisted.
And that’s when I began to realize that See Jane Write is my personal brand, or at least it could be if I got personal.
And so after more than 12 months of mulling this over I made a decision to treat the See Jane Write brand as my personal brand, to share more personal stories of trials and triumphs on the See Jane Write blog, and to give my followers a behind-the-scenes look into my professional and personal life on the @seejavaciawrite channels on all social platforms including Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. I made a decision to get real while also remaining relevant.