Month: July 2013

Fro Fashion Week to Host Blogger Boot Camp

‘Fro Fashion Week is one of the most popular celebrations of natural hair and fashion in the country, drawing thousands of attendees from all over the nation. Now in its 6th cycle, ‘Fro Fashion Week is headed to New York, Sept. 5-8, 2013, just in time for New York Fashion Week.

Since its first Blogger Brunch featuring Patrice Yursik of Afrobella, ‘Fro Fashion Week has always worked to equip bloggers with the tools they need to build relationships with beauty and style brands as well as grow their own brands. This year ‘Fro Fashion Week is taking those efforts a step further with Blogger Boot Camp.

‘Fro Fashion Week is offering 10 natural hair or fashion bloggers the chance to take their media savvy to the next level. If selected for Blogger Boot Camp you will receive:

  • training from ‘Fro Fashion Week/Naturally Me Media founder Tarin Boone on brand partnerships, appearances, and event creation 
  • the opportunity to host your own segment of ‘Fro Fashion Week
  • blog promotion and recognition in ‘Fro Fashion Week marketing materials
  • VIP access to all ‘Fro Fashion Week events
  • premium seating at the ‘Fro Fashion Week Fashion Show
  • ‘Fro Fashion Week Goodie Box filled with sponsor products
  • complimentary beauty services 

The deadline to submit your blog for consideration is TODAY, JULY 31, 2013. 

To submit your blog for consideration for the ‘Fro Fashion Week Blogger Boot Camp, please contact Toni Martin at

What Writers and Bloggers Can Learn from Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift
Image by WEZL via Flickr/Creative Commons

I am not a fan of Taylor Swift’s music. At all.

But after yesterday’s Y’all Connect conference I am a fan of Swift’s marketing strategy and you should be too.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend Y’all Connect Presented by Alabama Power, a blogging and social media conference all about digital storytelling.

One of my favorite sessions of the day was Mack Collier’s talk called “Think Like a Rock Star.” In this session Collier examined why businesses and brands only have customers while rock stars have fans.

The answer was simple: while businesses focus primarily on winning new customers, rock stars focus on rewarding their brand advocates, a.k.a their fans.

This seems counterintuitive. If you want your blog, book, or business to reach more people it seems the best thing to do would be to concentrate on seeking out new customers or readers. But what many of us don’t realize is that if we continue to excite and empower the people who already love our work, they will win new customers or readers for us. And they will be much more effective than we could ever be.

Think about it: are you more likely to purchase something because a salesperson said you should or because your best friend enthusiastically recommended it?

In his talk, Collier explained how Swift and other musicians cultivate an army of fans (who are advocates for their brand) by constantly devising amazing experiences for them. Swift, for example, has what she called a T-Party after her shows. During her concerts her team will scan the audience for the most enthusiastic fans — those having the most fun, screaming the loudest, and waving homemade signs.  Her team selects about two dozen of these special fans to join Swift and her crew backstage.

In 2010 Swift did an autograph signing in Nashville as part of the CMA Music Festival. She was going to sign autographs for 13 hours (13 is her favorite number) but when that time was up and there were still fans waiting, she kept going. Swift signed about 2,000 autographs for 15 hours that day, taking a break only to give a quick performance for the fans gathered.

By creating experiences like these, Collier said, Swift is communicating two very important messages to her fans: I appreciate you and I love you.

Here’s how you can communicate the same to the people who follow your work:

Be accessible. Interact with your readers and look for ways to have closer connections with them. Don’t spend all your time on your own blog. Visit their blogs or other sites that your readers love and leave comments. This will also give you a better idea of the kind of content your readers want.

Be relevant. Find the bigger idea behind the content you create. What problem does your writing solve for your readers? What void does it fill? Swift’s songs are so popular, Collier said, because they’re autobiographical and deal with issues many teen girls experience. They’re relatable and let those girls know they’re not alone.  You need to create content that raises awareness of ideas and news relevant to your niche. You need to be a teacher; everyone loves a good how-to post. And you need to create content that is inspiring.

Be humble.  While you need to think like a rock star, remember the spotlight should be on your fans, not you. Create content that focuses on and celebrates your readers. Get them involved by asking for feedback and suggestions. And remember to do something to make your fans feel special. Now that See Jane Write is becoming a membership organization, I plan to do this in part by planning events and extending offers and discounts that will be just for members and sponsors. If you’re an author you could do this by giving your fans early access to your new book or maybe you could have an intimate book signing and author chat with them.

The major takeaway is this: Your fans are the real rock stars.

For more on this topic, read Mack Collier’s book Think Like a Rock Star.

You can read more on my experience at the Y’all Connect conference Monday at

Become an Official See Jane Write Member

Become an official SJW member — if not for me, for Hello Kitty.

When I started See Jane Write Birmingham in March 2011, my hope was to create an independent, grassroots organization that offered free events.

People have asked me, “Where do you get your funding?” and my answer is always the same: “My Hello Kitty wallet.”

Until I started asking for donations earlier this year, the money for food, venues, etc., came out of my own bank account, my very, very sad bank account. With some events costing a couple hundred dollars to bring to fruition, See Jane Write was turning into quite an expensive hobby and causing my husband to grimace and groan whenever he balanced our checkbook.

So, folks, some changes have to be made.

Starting August 1, 2013 See Jane Write will become a membership organization. Membership is for women age 21 and up who reside in Alabama. See Jane Write membership will cost only $25 a year.

Most of our events will remain open to all — women and men, boys and girls, members and non-members. Many of our events will continue to be free, but we will start charging for panel discussions and workshops. Admission to these events will be free for members.
Other advantages to being a member include an opportunity for early registration for limited seating events (such as Bloggers Who Brunch) and access to special members-only events. Additionally, perks such as job opportunity announcements, discounts to conferences, and other special offers frequently extended to See Jane Write will only be available to members starting in August.
You’ll have an opportunity to apply for See Jane Write membership at Sketches & Scribes, set for August 3. You can RSVP and get more details here.Other opportunities to apply for membership will be announced in August.

Let’s make this official, ladies!

Finding a Niche for Your Blog

Sponsor Spotlight: Southern Belle Simple

southern belle simple
When Kate Spears started her blog in fall 2009 it was called Small Town, Big Dreams. But Spears struggled to find a way to weave what the name represented into each post.
“It finally dawned on me that so much of who I am, both positive and negative, has been established because of my experiences growing up in the South,” Spears says. “I knew that because my love for the South runs deep, I would never tire of writing about it. Plus I wouldn’t have to reach very far to find topics to write about because it’s just what I know best.”
And so Southern Belle Simple was born. Spears’s decision to blog about the South has served her well. Her blog has nearly 3,000 Facebook fans and more than 1,600 Twitter followers. Spears was a presenter at The Southern C Summit in Jekyll Island, Ga., in May and she has used her blog to develop relationships with Southern brands and businesses.
Spears has taken these relationships to the next level with her new company Screen Door Media. Through this company Spears offers companies traditional marketing and public relations services as well as help with social media marketing and content development. She has clients not only in Southern states such as Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee, but in California as well.
“Sometimes the business of doing business keeps folks so busy. They don’t always realize their stories are interesting to their customers and other audiences,” Spears says. “I can help them take an objective look at how to best tell their stories to engage and capture the attention of the right audience who will help them be successful. Your story is unique to you. It’s one of the most important things you have, as an individual or a business.”
And as you blogging, finding a niche for your site may help you tell your story more effectively.
“If you are just starting out, having a niche can help you find your unique voice. If you are in a content drought or a creativity dry spell, having a niche helps you push past it,” Spears says.
Having a niche can also build your audience.
“It’s always good to help readers know what they can expect from a blog because this helps to keep them coming back for more,” Spears says.
Just as Spears did, choose a niche that reflects your interests, something you’re so passionate about that you feel you could write about it endlessly. For Spears it was the South. For you it may be fashion, feminism, or food. Perhaps you want to blog about DIY projects or gardening. Maybe you want to blog about relationships or politics or career development.
“A good blog is an expression of the person writing it,” Spears says. Don’t choose a niche just because you think it’s popular. If it isn’t authentic, readers will pick up on that.”
If you choose a niche and soon realize it’s not a good fit, it’s OK to switch.
“Don’t ever be afraid to change directions if you feel like something isn’t quite right,” Spears says. “Trust your instincts!”