Yesterday I got so many Facebook notifications my phone nearly died.
Yesterday Southern Living magazine released its list of Innovators Changing the South, a list that included people like Reese Witherspoon, Dolly Parton, and Brene Brown. A list that also included — ME!
Thanks to the work I do through See Jane Write, I made the list. I jumped up and down and skipped through my house until I was out of breath. And I think I typed the words “Thank you” 200 times as congratulatory messages from friends came pouring through on Facebook and through texts.
Now I know you might be wondering, “How did Javacia make it onto a list that includes famous people?” And I should be mad at you for being such a hater, but instead I’m going to let you in on a secret.
At last month’s See Jane Write 5th anniversary party, an attendee said to me, “I see you everywhere! See Jane Write is always being mentioned in something!”
And she’s right. Since starting See Jane Write in 2011, I’ve won numerous awards and garnered much media attention.
I sometimes say writing and creating community are my superhero powers. But there’s another one I need to add to that list: building buzz.
A marketing guru in Birmingham once referred to me as “the epicenter of blogging in Birmingham.” Instead of boosting my ego, that statement humbled me a bit. You see, there are many bloggers in Birmingham with way more readers and way more followers on social media. And because of that, I initially felt I didn’t deserve such a label. But I’ve learned that numbers aren’t everything. What’s more important is influence. And I have plenty of that! But in order to have influence, you must build buzz. You’ve got to make a scene! And when it comes to making scenes, I’m Shonda Rhimes on a Thursday night.
We all know that saying — it’s not what you know it’s who you know. Well, I say it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. And no one is going to know you if you’re not out self-promoting. I wouldn’t be on that Southern Living list if the folks who compiled the list had never heard of See Jane Write.
Many women, especially women who write, struggle with the idea of self-promotion. And I get it. Most of us were raised to never brag about our accomplishments. But as the great Muhammad Ali once said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”
Despite how it sounds, “self promotion” isn’t simply about promoting yourself. It’s about letting someone know that you have something they need or want.
I believe there are three keys to successful self-promotion: VALUE, VOICE, and VISION.
KNOW YOUR VALUE.
Successful self-promotion isn’t all “LOOK AT ME!” No. Successful self-promotion focuses on letting others know you have something valuable to offer. Even though I used to be a relatively shy person, when I started See Jane Write in 2011 I had no problem telling absolutely anybody who would listen about this organization and its upcoming events. It was easy for me to promote See Jane Write because I didn’t see it as self-promotion at all. I had created a valuable resource meant to help other women who write and blog. But in order for See Jane Write to help anybody, I had to spread the word. And so I did. And I’ve never stopped. Why is your blog, book, or brand valuable to others? Focus on that and use that to motivate your promotion process.
KNOW YOUR VOICE.
You often hear blogging and writing gurus talk about finding your voice. I’m sure I’ve even said this. But I’ve come to realize that your voice isn’t a lost sock or a misplaced set of keys. You don’t need to find your voice. You need to simply use it. The best way to do this is through storytelling. First, figure out what value you have to offer and then offer it through storytelling. Your story will make what you’re offering seem unique even though plenty of folks are probably offering the same thing. There is no shortage of people out there offering advice on writing, blogging, and brand building, but the women of See Jane Write get this information from me because they connect with who I am and they can do that because of the stories I share.
KNOW YOUR VISION.
What do you believe? Why do you do what you do? What is your vision for your life? What is your vision for the world? What’s your manifesto? Your answers to these questions should be a part of the story you tell as you are offering your valuable information or art. Your vision will also motivate you to keep going when times get tough. (And believe me, they will get tough.)
With a foundation of value, voice, and vision, self-promotion will become second nature and will no longer feel dirty or wrong, and building buzz will soon become one of your superpowers, too!