Ladies of See Jane Write, it’s almost time to #bloglikecrazy.
Every year I challenge the women of See Jane Write to publish new blog posts every day for 30 days in the month of November.
Yeah, I know that sounds crazy. But that’s why it’s called Blog Like Crazy!
Throughout the month, share your posts on Twitter using the hashtag #bloglikecrazy and in the See Jane Write Facebook group. Do this and I’ll read, comment on, and help promote as many of your posts as I can.
If you’ve been stuck in a blogging rut, #bloglikecrazy could be the cure to your writer’s block. If you’ve been wanting to start a blog but you’ve kept putting it off, #bloglikecrazy could be the motivation you’ve been looking for to end your posting procrastination.
I’ll even give you writing prompts to keep you from running out of post ideas.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what See Jane Write member and fitness blogger Tanya Sylvan had to say about #bloglikecrazy:
I had thought about blogging but had many hesitations: Would I have enough to write about? Would anyone listen? Would I want to keep blogging? #bloglikecrazy was the perfect opportunity for me to test the waters. Before and during the entire month of November, Javacia and the other ladies were nothing but encouraging and loving and helpful. The prompts took away the fear of not having anything to write. And after blogging for a month, it felt natural and I found my voice. I owe all my All In Stride craziness to Javacia!
If you need help getting started, join us at the #blogikecrazy kick-off workshop 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 1 at Church Street Coffee and Books, 81 Church Street in Mountain Brook.
November is just around the corner and soon it will be time for #BlogLikeCrazy!
For those of you who are new to SeeJaneWrite, for #BlogLikeCrazy I challenge the women of SeeJaneWrite to publish a new blog post every day in the month of November.
Typically, I post on my personal blog, WriteousBabe.com, for #BlogLikeCrazy, but this year I’m doing something a bit different.
This year I’m going to post her to the SeeJaneWrite blog and each post will be an answer to your questions. I’m calling this special series of posts “Ask Jane.”
So help me collect 30 questions to which I will respond in November during #BlogLikeCrazy. I’ll answer questions about blogging, freelance writing, social media, or the future of See Jane Write. I’ll even answer questions about myself and the writing life. Leave your questions in the comments of this post or email them to email@example.com.
I have a long list of answers to this question: do a one-year blogging challenge, write and publish a book, strive to run a profitable small business, launch a Kickstarter campaign. But my list could be summed up with one statement: Be Carrie Rollwagen.
Rollwagen is a small business owner, a prolific blogger, a social media guru and much more. She also has the cutest nails in town. And now she’s about to add something else to her resume — published author.
Rollwagen, co-owner of Church Street Coffee and Books and the writer behind the Shop Small blog, is now about to publish The Localist, a book that’s all about shopping locally. Rollwagen decided to self-publish the book and recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund her project. She reached her fundraising goal in less than a month!
I had a chat with Rollwagen recently — at a locally owned coffee shop, of course — about her book project and her secrets to success.
Becoming a Localist
Rollwagen’s interest in local shopping began when she managed a small book store in Mountain Brook. She believed that the camaraderie she experienced at that store was unique to locally-owned shops. But then she worked at Starbucks and found the same sense of community there as well. Rollwagen, a former full-time journalist, wanted to investigate.
“I’m a frustrated journalist,” she says.
And so in 2011 she challenged herself to only buy from locally-owned stores for one year. She launched the blog Shop Small to chronicle her adventure.
Rollwagen admits that she thought her “Shop Small” challenge would be extremely difficult and extremely expensive.
She was wrong.
“I spent far less money that year than I usually do,” Rollwagen says.
She explained that when you shop small there’s less of a chance for impulse buying. There are very few, if any, displays set up in locally owned shops to entice you to purchase things that aren’t on your shopping list. Furthermore, because local shops weren’t as easy to get to as big box stores, Rollwagen would often talk herself out of buying things. And she wasn’t eating any fast food.
Finding stores at which to shop was easier than she expected. She often found what she needed simply by asking friends or doing a quick Google search. Rollwagen was even able to go to the movies thanks to the Birmingham-based theater The Edge opening that year.
What was Rollwagen’s conclusion after this year of shopping small?
“Local is almost always better,” she says.
Rollwagen is a localist, but she’s also a realist and she makes no claims that small business owners are somehow better people than the owners of big box stores.
“It is in the financial interest of a small business owner to be a nice person,” she says. “Small shop owners have a better incentive to treat people well and build community.”
If you have a bad experience at Target most likely you’re going to go back to Target nonetheless and even if you don’t chances are the Target employee you had a bad interaction with doesn’t care. Small shop owners know that it’s good customer service and a sense of community and camaraderie that will bring you back.
While Rollwagen doesn’t recommend that other people take on her extreme shop small challenge, she does stress that we should all buy local as often as we can as this is a great way to improve your community.
As Rollwagen explains in her Kickstarter campaign video, for every $10 spent at locally owned stores four to seven dollars goes back into your community. When you shop corporately only three dollars, at the most, goes back into your city.
Think of the local place first, she says. Amazon doesn’t pay taxes in your state.
Deciding to Self-Publish
Rollwagen admits that she hasn’t been a fan of self-publishing in the past — and for good reason. As many avid readers know, a book needs good editing, good design and a good marketing campaign to be successful. Most self-published authors don’t have all these skills or the resources to hire someone who does.
But Rollwagen’s book is centered on Birmingham and she thought a book a that was this, well, “localist” wouldn’t appeal to traditional publishers.
“Just because it doesn’t have a national market doesn’t mean it shouldn’t exist,” she says.
Rollwagen’s Shop Small blog was quite successful thanks to her fresh, informative content and effective social media marketing. But she knew she had more to say.
“I wanted to tell this story in a new way,” she says.
So she decided to write a book and self-publish it.
The book is part memoir, focusing on her life as a localist and even offering a few tips on how people can shift their own shopping habits to support small businesses more often.
The book is also a study of buying patterns — why you like big box stores, why they’re not all bad, and the effects of our shopping on us as individuals and on our communities.
The book also offers a behind-the-scenes look into Church Street Coffee and Books.
To ensure that her self-published book would be of high quality, Rollwagen launched her Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to hire an editor and designer.
How to Rock Your Kickstarter Campaign
Rollwagen reached her fundraising goal of $5,000 in less than a month. Now she’s working on her stretch goal. She’s hoping to raise an additional $3,000 so she can go on a book tour to spread the localist gospel to other towns.
Rollwagen offered these tips on how to run a successful Kickstarter campaign:
Apply the tips that Kickstarter gives you and look at projects similar to yours for promotion ideas.
Produce a great video and in it be sure to convince people that your project is something that you can actually do. Also, explain exactly how you plan to use the money.
Have enticing and creative rewards and be sure to include their cost in your project budget. One of Rollwagen’s rewards was nail art! For a donation of $10 or more, Rollwagen would decorate her nails with the name of your company. Nail art was a perfect way for Rollwagen to help promote her project because whenever someone would say “Oh, I like your nails!” she could strike up a conversation about her Kickstarter campaign.
But these conversations could only happen if she was out and about. So Rollwagen’s other piece of advice is to be sure to network during your campaign. And carry business cards that include a URL for your campaign.
The Birmingham Jane is a See Jane Write series of profiles on women in Birmingham who are making a difference in our city. If you know of a woman who is making a difference in Birmingham please send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t be ashamed to nominate yourself!
If you know me outside See Jane Write you know that I’m a church-going gal. If you’ve known me for approximately five minutes you know I am extremely ambitious and that I consider empowering women my life’s work. For years I’ve felt these two passions of mine were mutually exclusive. In my Christian women’s small groups — with the exception of the ones I led or co-led — there were few conversations about career goals and instead a focus on family. Meanwhile, the women in my life who seemed to really understand and support my lofty aspirations were atheist or agnostic.
Then I discovered Women Business Leaders, a networking group for professional Christian women. According to the group’s Facebook page, WBL “provides fellowship and support among women in the marketplace, while impacting the community for Christ.”
Women Business Leaders meets from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on the first Saturday of the month at the Vestavia Hills Library, 1221 Montgomery Highway. The meetings feature speakers who cover topics such as how to put God and family first and still be a successful businesswoman, being a beacon of light on your job, and the importance of praying for colleagues and clients.
WBL is a non-denominational organization and members include women of all ages and all stages of life and career — from women fresh out of college to CEOs to women who are retired. And it doesn’t matter if you’re single, married, divorced, a working mom or happily childfree.
Women Business Leaders is the sister organization to Young Business Leaders, a national organization based in Birmingham designed to reach Christian businessmen.
From the first meeting I attended, it was clear to me that this group really is dedicated to empowering career-minded women of faith.
During that meeting a young mom in the group shared that she was feeling guilty about returning to work after having her baby because most of her peers are stay-at-home moms and were judging her for her decision to work outside the home. But her career is important to her, she said, and she doesn’t understand why the young mothers in her community believe she should give that up.
Another woman in the room boldly declared that the guilt she was feeling was not of God, especially since this young woman believed that her career was part of her life’s calling.
The woman quoted 2 Timothy 1:7, which reads, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
She then said, “That was written by Apostle Paul, but if it had been written by a woman, by Apostle Paulina, I think she would have said God has not given us a spirit of guilt.”
And with that I knew I was at home.
The next WBL meeting is Saturday, Oct. 4. and you can be sure I’ll be there. If you’re interested in joining me, email me at email@example.com.