That’s the question that Girls on the Run Birmingham will explore on Thursday, October 8, Girls on the Run during its Evening of Empowerment. The event will celebrate local “Women Who Inspire” including yours truly!
I am so honored to be among the women who will be recognized at this event. (You can read my interview with Girls on the Run here.)
An Evening of Empowerment will be held at 5:30 p.m. on October 8 at Clubhouse on the Highlands. The evening will include wine, appetizers, and a meet and greet and Q&A with the “Women Who Inspire,” including Molly Baker, the founder of Girls on the Run International. There will also be a screening of The Empowerment Project, a one-hour documentary that celebrates positive female role models.
If you’d like to attend An Evening of Empowerment, you can purchase tickets here. Use the code GOJAVACIA for $10 off your ticket.
On Friday, October 9, the other “Women Who Inspire” and I will have the opportunity to view the film again with a group of middle school girls from across the Birmingham metro area. We’ll also have a Q&A with them after the screening about how we overcame fear to make our dreams come true.
So, what would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail?
Last night the ladies of See Jane Write gathered for our first ever watch party to celebrate the return of ABC’s Scandal. We called this event See Jane Handle It and, of course, I picked out a special outfit for the occasion.
Because Olivia Pope loves her wine and her popcorn, I knew the Wine Loft in downtown Birmingham would be the perfect place for this event and I knew the party wouldn’t be complete without delicious gourmet popcorn from Naughty But Nice, a kettle corn company based in Birmingham and owned by two awesome local women — Tanesha Sims-Summers and Tiffany Turner.
Before the show began the Janes had time to mix and mingle and learn more about Naughty But Nice. Tanesha and Tiffany were bitten by the entrepreneurship bug 20 years ago when they were just girls. Growing up in College Hills gave them direct access to Legion Field and the gridlock traffic that football games often brought. So they decided to start selling popsicles curbside, one window at a time. For their next business venture they wanted to sell a food that was as all-American as football and as nostalgic as hearing the ice cream truck. Kettle corn it was! “We hand stir and hand pop every kernel,” Tanesha said.
Last night I also led a 10-minute master class titled “How to Be the Olivia Pope of Blogging.” Here’s how to do just that:
Always wear the white hat. On ABC’s Scandal wearing the white hat means being the good guy or doing the right thing. Be ethical in your blogging. Don’t steal content or post images you don’t have permission to use. Be kind to your readers and to fellow bloggers. And strive to inspire or encourage others with every post.
But let’s also recognize that Kerry Washington looks fabulous in that white hat and in everything else she wears. So I want to encourage you to dress like a fashion blogger even if you’re not one. In the world of blogging you are your brand and you want to make sure you represent that brand well by always looking your best. This applies to your blog too. Make sure your website is updated, easy to read and navigate, and is aesthetically pleasing. (Pro tip: When possible, be sure that your images are as wide as your posts column.)
Let your readers know it’s handled. Like Olivia Pope, be a fixer. With every post seek to solve a problem for your readers. Even if you’re a fashion blogger posting an outfit of the day, your posts are still inspiring your readers to better their wardrobes so they can have more confidence to go out and handle their days.
Gather your gladiators. We all love Olivia Pope but she couldn’t do much of what she does without crazy Quinn and Huck. Likewise, every blogger needs a tribe. You need a blogging buddy to hold you accountable to posting consistently. You need someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to help you celebrate your successes, and someone to grab some red wine with you when things go wrong.
Last night these women were my gladiators showing up early to help me set up gift bags for guests.
When I started See Jane Write in 2011 it was just a small women’s writing group and a simple Blogger blog. Now it is an award-winning business. In my latest e-course Lady Blogger to Boss Lady I share all my secrets as to how I’ve grown See Jane Write and used blogging to land paid freelance writing gigs and speaking engagements.
Here are the seven steps I took to turn my blog into a business.
I got serious. If you want people to take you seriously as a businesswoman, you have to take yourself seriously first. This means treating your blog as if it’s your job. This means creating high quality content and being clear on your goals and vision for your blog. This means getting educated on the business side of blogging. And for the love of all that is holy, get some business cards and stop scribbling your website URL on the back of a napkin at networking events!
I got focused. If you’re only blogging for fun it’s perfectly fine to write about everything under the sun. But if you’re trying to turn your blog into a business you must nail down your niche. This doesn’t mean you have to ignore all your other interests and passions. I often find clever, creative ways to tie my love for fitness into the work I do for See Jane Write. But at the end of the day it’s all about empowering women to share their stories and be the author of their own lives.
I got organized. Consistency is one of the best ways to stand out in the oh-so-crowded world of blogging because being consistent is something most people simply don’t do. Create an editorial calendar and content plan and stick with it.
I got connected. Social media networks are great, but if you’re going to build a business you have to build an e-mail list. Get connected with your readers and potential customers by collecting their email addresses and sending them regular, valuable information so that you can always stay top of mind.
I got out there. I made a name for myself and my blog locally by hosting live events about blogging and writing. I also got featured on local media outlets, national websites, and popular blogs. And I network, network, network online and in real life.
I got creative. So many bloggers think that ads and sponsored posts are the only way to make money through your blog and that’s simply not true. I started creating e-courses and offering one-on-one coaching and consulting services to start generating revenue.
I got support. In addition to enrolling in online programs to help me be a better businesswoman, I also started to focus on building my tribe. It’s imperative to have a group of people who understand and support the goals you’re going after.
In my new e-course I will walk you through all seven of these steps in great detail, focusing on one step per week. Lady Blogger to Boss Lady is a seven-week course that has a value of $497, but I’m offering a beta version for only $75. Enrollment closes Sept. 21. Learn more and sign up at https://coursecraft.net/c/ladybloggertobosslady.
*This post originally appeared on Javacia.com on Sept. 14, 2015.
As a writer and blogger I do a lot of online networking in Facebook groups, in Twitter chats, via email, and even in the comments section of my favorite blogs. But I do my best networking when I step away from the computer and attend live, in-person events.
Many of the women writers and bloggers I know hate networking so much that it makes them sick to their stomachs — literally. But when armed with a purpose and a plan, networking can be highly effective and productive and even fun.
Here are 7 tips to help you network like a boss:
Attend events that will attract your ideal reader/customer. You’re a busy woman with no time to waste. So do your research and be sure that the networking event you’re attending is one where you’ll actually find people who would be interested in your blog, book, or business.
Make a fashion statement. Whether you like it or not, what you wear to a networking event matters. You’ve got to look the part to get the role. Choose an outfit that properly represents your personal brand and that helps you feel confident and comfortable. Also, add something to your outfit that will make you memorable such as fun shoes, a statement necklace, or really interesting handmade earrings. I once had a pair of earrings inspired by the Boondocks comic strip that always sparked conversation at networking events. Wear the right thing and your wardrobe can serve as your ice breaker!
Have a plan. Approach each networking event with a specific goal, such as, I will collect the business cards of at least 5 people who might be interested in joining my email list. Having a clear objective will keep you from wandering aimlessly around the room and will help you focus your conversation. You know that you need to eventually talk to people about your blog, book, or business to gauge their interest in what you do. Once it’s clear they’re interested in learning more, ask for their card and ask if it would be OK for you to add them to your list, while explaining briefly what they’ll get out of your newsletter. (But be sure to ask questions about what they do and genuinely listen. You don’t want to make the conversation all about you because that’s annoying and just plain rude.)
Bring business cards. Have your business cards in an easy-to-reach space (not the bottom of your bag) but don’t walk into an event making it rain with your cards. Only give your card when someone asks for it.
Make smart talk, not small talk. So many of my blog coaching clients tell me they hate networking because they’re bad at making small talk. Well, stop making “small talk.” Try having meaningful conversations instead. Give yourself an assignment, if necessary. Decide that you’re going to write a blog post highlighting 5 interesting people you meet at the event. This will motivate you to ask questions to really get to know the people you meet and to get their business cards so you can contact them later for follow-up questions, a photo, and permission to include them in your post.
Also, tailor your conversations to the personality of the person with whom you are talking. For example, if you’re talking to someone who is an outgoing community leader or CEO, simply get to the point. She probably has a dozen other people she needs to talk to and another networking event to attend before the night is over. If you’re talking to someone who is a cheerleader, the kind of person who loves to support other people, keep the conversation focused on why you do what you do and be sure to ask her the motivation behind her work as well.
Be inviting. If you’re talking to a group of people, don’t stand in a closed-off circle. Position yourself so that your group is inviting to others. And if you’re the one who welcomes the wallflowers this will certainly make you more memorable, too.
Follow up! As soon as you get home go through the business cards you collected and jot down a few notes on each person — who they are, what they do, and how you’d like to work with them in the future. Within three days of the event follow up with an email. In the email ask the person if you may add her to your mailing list. Also, offer something to show you were really listening during your conversation at the networking event such as a link to an article related to something you discussed. This also shows that you are dedicated to helping people and that you offer valuable content to those in your tribe.
What tricks and tips do you have for effective networking?
On July 19, 2014 I hosted my first day-long blogging conference, the Bloganista Mini-Con. Nearly 100 people were in attendance. We had networking, food, vendors, informative panel discussions and compelling keynote speakers and a professional photographer capturing it all. During the conference I kept whispering to my husband, “This actually feels like a real conference.” Eventually he said to me, “Javacia, this is a real conference.”
Megan LaRussa Chenoweth, the afternoon keynote speaker at that event, said something that day that truly stuck with me. “It’s not enough to be stylish bloggers,” she said. “We must also be smart businesswomen.”
I had a revelation in that moment. The reason my blog wasn’t growing as a business in the way that I wanted it to was in part because I wasn’t taking myself seriously as a businesswoman. After that day I shifted my mindset. I developed what I now call the “Boss Lady Blogger Mindset” and six months later I received an email from the Birmingham Business Journal informing me I had been chosen as one of their Top 40 Under 40 for 2015. I am convinced that learning to take myself seriously as a businesswoman made all the difference.
If you want other people to take you seriously as a businesswoman, you have to take yourself seriously first.
But what does this look like? How do we go about living out this idea of taking ourselves seriously as bloggers and businesswomen before we’ve “made it”?
Here are five things I believe will get you there:
Be professional. Treat your blog like your job. Most people don’t want to hear this because most people hate their jobs and obviously don’t want to start hating their blogs, too. But if you’re serious about blogging you have to show up and do the work. You have to develop a blogging schedule and stick with it, even when you don’t feel like it. Just as you’d never call your boss and say, “You know, I just don’t feel like coming to work today,” you can’t do that with your blog.
Be confident. You must be confident about who you are and what you do. One way to get that confidence is by producing good work. I live by the motto of “Be intentional or be quiet.” Never post for the sake of posting. Be sure everything you write serves a purpose and adds some type of value to your reader, even if that value is just inspiration or entertainment.
Be clear on your goals. People who aren’t bloggers most likely won’t understand what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. So you better make sure that you do! You need a vision for your blog and clearly defined goals for your career as a writer and blogger. Knowing what you’re doing, why you’re doing and where you’re headed will also work wonders for your confidence. Having vision is so important that I recently hired a business coach to specifically help me in this area.
Be eager to learn. Once I got serious about turning my blog into a business I signed up for every program I could afford to learn more about marketing and managing online businesses and membership sites. I started working with a business coach and a brand strategist. And I watched a countless number of free webinars. If you’re going to get serious, you have to get educated.
Be a servant. Even if you’re a fashion blogger posting pictures of what you wear each day or a fitness blogger sharing your daily workouts and meal plans, YOUR BLOG IS NOT ALL ABOUT YOU. I truly believe that to be successful and to be taken seriously you need to think about others. You need to consider how the content you’re producing is helping others.