Month: March 2015

Four Lessons I’ve Learned About Social Media

social media tips for writers

Social media can offer wonderful ways to build buzz for your blog, book, or brand. And that’s why See Jane Write hosted a social media workshop for writers and bloggers on Saturday, March 21.

The workshop kicked off with Bertha Hidalgo of the fashion blog Chic In Academia sharing her tips on how to grow your Instagram following. Bertha has over 14,000 followers on Instagram and has been very successful at using this platform to build her brand. In fact, she was recently invited to speak at a conference in Los Angeles because of her Instagram popularity. Visit Bertha’s blog for a recap of the tips she shared Saturday.

Next, Heather Brown of the popular lifestyle blog My Life Well Loved shared tips on how to use Pinterest and Facebook to build your blog’s readership. Heather has over 13,000 Facebook fans and nearly 27,000 followers on Pinterest. Yesterday, Heather started at series on social media tips on her blog. Visit My Life Well Loved today to check out her tips on how bloggers can get the most out of Facebook.

I ended the workshop by offering attendees four lessons I’ve learned about social media as a writer, blogger, and entrepreneur.

  1. You don’t have to be everywhere all the time.

Pinterest is not my jam. Twitter might not be yours and that’s OK. Instead of trying to be everywhere all the time, choose two or three social media platforms and crush ‘em! How do you choose? Pick the platforms your ideal reader frequents and the platforms you actually enjoy. It’s OK to have an account on all platforms, but you only need to focus on a few and you can use the other platforms to direct people to where you spend most of your time. For example, Hilary Rushford, the style and business coach behind is an Instagram guru. And so her Twitter bio includes this statement: “My party is on Instagram @HilaryRushford.” And her Twitter feed has a pinned tweet that reads: “Twitter, you’re nice. But I go steady with Instagram. Come join the daily party:”

That said, I do urge writers to not be afraid of image-focused platforms. You can easily turn your favorite quotes or even words of wisdom from your own writing into an image for Instagram or Pinterest. Use tools like Canva, Pinterest, or Word Swag to create beautiful backdrops for your words.

Take for example BossBabe Inc., an online network for millennial businesswomen. BossBabe’s Instagram account only shares snarky, witty and inspiring sayings for girlbosses and has a over 81,000 followers.


  1. Get into the group thing.

Participating in Facebook groups is a great way to network with potential readers and even find friends who understand the creative work that you do. The Southern Girl Blog Building Group is a good one to join as is, of course, the See Jane Write Birmingham Facebook group. Starting a group of your own could be a great way to build your brand. Interest in See Jane Write grew exponentially after I started the Facebook group. One way to cultivate community is by offering the group a challenge. When I launched the annual #bloglikecrazy challenge group members were eager to share their daily posts in the group and read the posts of others. And they used the Facebook forum as a space to cheer on their fellow Janes and even form friendships.

  1. You can tweet your way to your next writing gig.

I landed a paid freelance gig with one of my favorite online publications through Twitter. Twitter is a great place to build relationships with editors or agents you want to work with. But be genuine. The first communication you have with them shouldn’t be asking for information or a favor. Chat about common interests and build a rapport. When the time is right for you to bring up business, you’ll know.

  1. Writers need to get “LinkedIn.”

I’ve been fortunate enough to have many editors approach me about freelance writing opportunities and, believe it or not, most of those editors have found me through LinkedIn. The first time this happened I was shocked. Back then I posted updates on LinkedIn so infrequently I’d forgotten I had an account! But once an editor said she had learned of my work through that platform I began to wonder how many editors had stumbled upon my LinkedIn account and decided – due to my lame profile – that I wasn’t the right woman for the job. I then decided to make sure that my profile was current, complete, and fresh. I also try to post updates more. All users can now post articles to the LinkedIn network as well. For more on LinkedIn check out the post You Need to Get “LinkedIn.”

Do you need one-on-one help with social media, blogging, freelance writing or building a brand? Then you need Java with Javacia — a one hour session with me, See Jane Write founder Javacia Harris Bowser. Email me at for more details. 

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