When I returned to my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama in 2009 to teach I immediately knew I wanted to surround myself with creative women who write. For two years I searched for a networking group for women writers that would welcome bloggers, poets, journalists, and creative nonfiction writers (all hats I’d worn at some point in my writing life), but to no avail. Finally, in 2011 I decided to start one of my own and See Jane Write was born. My little writing group is now an award-winning business and website. I am so proud of what I’ve built over the past 7 years, but if I had to do it all again there are some things I would do differently. Here are some confessions about my See Jane Write journey.
I’m not sure that See Jane Write was the best name for my group.
I initially wanted to call the group The Writeous Babes. My Twitter handle was @writeousbabe which I thought was so clever and cute. But my husband said, “No, you’re Writeous Babe. It’s your superhero name. Call the group something else.” Deciding to play on the old Dick and Jane books (i.e. See Jane run.) I settled on See Jane Write.
But I’m not sure this was the best choice. It’s a fun name, but not everyone gets the reference and people who don’t know me assume my name is Jane. Furthermore, I probably should have taken SEO into consideration and went with something more practical like Birmingham Women Writers.
Will I one day rebrand? Maybe. Maybe not. But I will say that I love that See Jane Write members refer to one another as “The Janes.” It truly warms my heart!
See Jane Write often keeps me from seeing Javacia write.
Many writing opportunities have landed in my lap because of See Jane Write. I was a contributor to WBHM, Birmingham’s NPR station, for several years, and I have steady gigs with B-Metro magazine and StyleBlueprint Birmingham all because of See Jane Write and I didn’t have to pursue any of these jobs. But I want more. I want to see my byline in my favorite national magazines and on my favorite websites. I want to return to my first love of poetry and I need to finally finish the book I’ve been working on for over a year. But finding time to work on these things feels impossible as I juggle maintaining and growing See Jane Write with my full-time teaching job.
Also, once See Jane Write started to grow I started neglecting my personal blog, WriteousBabe.com, and all the @writeousbabe social accounts. I now include personal posts on the See Jane Write blog, but if I’m honest, I always hold back a bit in a way I never did on WriteousBabe.com.
If I could do things over I would set up See Jane Write in a way that would allow me to occasionally step away so I could focus on my own writing. At this point, with See Jane Write being a blog, a membership program, and a coaching program, I’m not sure this will ever be possible. But I must figure out some way to balance it all so I can truly practice what I preach.
I wish I’d made See Jane Write a business sooner. Maybe.
See Jane Write didn’t start out as a business. It was just a cure for the loneliness I felt when I gave up the newsroom for the classroom. (I was a newspaper journalist before I moved to Birmingham to teach.) But when I look at all of today’s online infopreneurs I realize that I was doing what all the gurus say you should do years ago. I just was doing it all in person and doing it all FOR FREE.
Instead of webinars, I was hosting in-person workshops to build my email list. But I wasn’t selling anything at the end of these workshops. In the early days of See Jane Write people would often ask me at events how they could become a member. Since there was no membership program at the time I would just say, “You already are!” And I was paying for all these events with my own money and thus draining my bank account. Furthermore, I was letting dozens of people “pick my brain” about blogging not realizing that this was actually coaching and something I could charge for.
I often wonder what See Jane Write would be like today had it started as a business. Maybe it would be a million-dollar company. Or maybe it would be a distant memory. Those years that See Jane Write was just for fun marked an incredible time of my life. Those years really built my passion for this project. As I’ve said, juggling See Jane Write with my full-time job is very hard and I know that only passion, not profit, would push me to keep going.
Need one-on-one help building your platform and tribe? My new #SquadGoals Coaching Program is designed to guide you through the process over the course of 7 months. Learn more here.