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Started from a Blogspot now we're here. | 12.14.20
It would be really nice if somehow we could start our careers with thousands of engaged followers that run to their laptops anytime we post a new article or receive a pre-order link for our books. But that ain’t reality! The reality is, just because we decide we want to write, doesn’t mean that we come with a built-in audience. That takes time to develop.
I started taking my blog seriously by about 2013. Before then I dabbled with a Blogspot and absolutely zero marketing or promotional capabilities. I was just writing. But by 2013, I’d developed a concept, WriteLaughDream, took some photographs, and got some help from my good friend Karim Rashad to build my first website. I carved out a corner of the internet because I wanted to write, but I didn’t necessarily know how to go about doing it. What I did know was that our generation had an advantage that many writers didn’t have before us, a direct way to connect to our audience sans the gatekeepers.
Once I was consistent with my blog it led to a lot more opportunities for my writing. I started ghostwriting a blog for a stylist in New York, I landed my first contract freelance gig with the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, and my first opportunity to work with Essence.com. Recently I’ve been asked, how do you build a writing brand from scratch and I am no expert, but here, I’ll share a few tips I’ve learned along the way in this journey.
Write. It seems obvious but when you actually hear people talk sometimes they are so focused on getting the attention that they’re not actually doing the work. The first thing I had to do was write consistently. I’m sure I would literally die, crumble into pieces even if I went back into those initial WriteLaughDream archives. I got better. Just by writing consistently while no one was watching. I know blogging is in a weird space these days, but find some way to write consistently whether that’s a newsletter or a blog.
Building space. I am a firm believer in having things that you own. Like your own website. But I do also understand that there is a cost associated with that. So, if you don’t build your own site, utilize some of these free platforms like Medium, Substack, or the like. Just note that if one day they decide they are no more, you won’t have access to any of the following that you built there. This is why I champion having your own space where you can collect data and emails on the people who are invested in you and your work.
Marking and promotion. It’s like a dirty word in writing circles but the only way that people are going to know that you exist is if you tell them. This is a big world and in order to not be a blip on the radar, you have to market yourself. That includes creating content that is authentic to you and your brand. That means promotional graphics for your posts. That means sharing links via Twitter. Whatever it is, you have to tell people about your work.
Find your tribe. I think we do ourselves a disservice when we focus on the people who aren’t paying attention to us vs. the people that are. If only five people read your blog or newsletter, make them feel like they are the most amazing supporters you’ve ever had. Engage with them. I promise you, 5 will turn into 50 and 50 into 500 as long as you are invested in continuing to grow as a writer and being strategic about how to bring more eyes to your work.
Speaking engagements. In this digital space is a great time. There are panels every hour of every day it feels like. If you have the expertise, pitch yourself to see if you may be able to take part in a digital program. When I released my first self-published book, Dear Love, I really enjoyed speaking on multiple platforms around Philadelphia. And guess what? I wasn’t afraid to create my own platform. I started doing Dear Love brunches that I had the opportunity to travel with as well. I got together with women of all ages to talk about different themes within the book. If doors aren’t opening, build your own damn door.
The bottom line here is that no one starts out on top. Even that writer with millions of followers that you admire started somewhere. I’m nowhere near where I hope to be, but I’m extremely proud that where I am is straight from the muscle. I never received any huge co-signs or anything, but I did the work. I kept showing up and I was consistent. I may not ever be the best writer, but there are very few that will outwork me. That’s just how I’m built.
So just know that you can do it too, step by step and in a way that’s organic and authentic to you and the writer that you want to be.
Hope this helps!
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