Tuesday, July 29, 2014

6 Game Changers For Your Blog, Brand or Business

At See Jane Write’s Bloganista Mini-Conference our closing keynote speaker Megan LaRussa Chenoweth of Southern Femme talked about things that were game changers for her blog and her business – things like better promoting her newsletter, getting a new logo, and moving into an office space.

For those of you who attended, my hope is that the Bloganista Mini-Conference was a game changer for you. I hope you left with the information and the inspiration you needed to take your blog, business, or writing career to the next level.

If you want to review some of the highlights from the conference, check out my recap post.

Here are six additional game changers for your blog, brand, or business.

1. Join See Jane Write.  Over the next several months, most See Jane Write events will be for members only. If you don’t want to be left out, became an official member of See Jane Write today. Basic membership is only $25 per year. Click here for details.

2. Learn the game of golf. You may be thinking, “What on earth does golf have to do with my life as an entrepreneur?” Plenty. We all know that men make business deals out on the green. It’s time you join the boys club by picking up some clubs and learning to golf. Shella Sylla of SisterGolf is offering a $50 discount off her upcoming Introduction to Business Golf for Ladies Class.  
Click here to register. The promo code is SJW14.

3. Write for your life. At the Bloganista Mini-Con our morning keynote speaker Alexis Barton of SameChicDifferentDay.com confessed that before starting her blog she had become a writer who didn’t write. Last week while at BlogHer’14 I realized I was becoming a blogger who didn’t blog. But then I learned of so many women who shared stories on their blogs that saved people’s lives! And sometimes by sharing their stories they saved themselves. So make a commitment right now to write as if your life -- or someone else’s -- depends on it, because it might. (You can read my BlogHer ’14 recap on my personal blog, WriteousBabe.com.)

4. Get a new logo. Chenoweth said getting a new logo was a game changer for her and it could be for you too. Aly Hathcock, a graphic designer who attended the Bloganista Mini-Con, would like to offer a discount on logo designs for anyone who attended the event. 

You can check out her portfolio at alyhathcock.com. If you're interested contact her at alyhathcock1@gmail.com

5. Write an e-book. An e-book can be used as incentive for folks to join your email list or can be used to help you establish yourself as an expert in a particular arena. An e-book can also be a way to generate extra revenue by selling your book with a company like Shebooks, which publishes short e-books for and by women. (Now through July 30, get a free book from Shebooks.net with the promo code FREEBOOK.) And check out my post at WriteousBabe.com on 3 reasons you should write an e-book.

6. Get in shape. I always say that you can’t write the new great American masterpiece if you’re dead. So take control of your health! Inspire Fitness wants to help you with that. Kelly Creel of Inspire Fitness, one of our awesome conference sponsors, will give Bloganista Mini-Con attendees 50% off any group class package. All you have to do is use the code SEEJANEWRITE2014 (it is case sensitive). This coupon code expires Sept. 30. 
Visit inspirefitnessbirmingham.com to order your class package today.

I’d love to hear about what changes the game for you! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Every Bloganista Needs a Game Changer

On July 19, See Jane Write hosted its first mini-conference.  Seventy five people showed up for our  Bloganista Mini-Con. I count it as a major success and not simply because of a packed house.

I believe the Bloganista Mini-Con was a success because so many people left the event feeling inspired. 

Tweets like the one above made my day. And days after the conference I ran into other attendees who told me they left the conference so motivated that they've been on Cloud 9 ever since. 

And I left the conference feeling just as inspired as they did.

Megan LaRussa Chenoweth (left) of SouthernFemme.com gave an amazing closing keynote!

The day ended on a perfect note with Megan LaRussa Chenoweth of Southern Femme sharing the story of her success and urging us to all be more than stylish fashionistas but smart businesswomen too.

Chenoweth sees fashion as a form of social communication, as visual currency, she said. The way you're dressed, for better or worse, can tell people something about who you are before you ever open your mouth. But Chenoweth believes that when she helps her clients revamp their wardrobes she's giving them more than clothes; she's giving them confidence.

Chenoweth discussed the things that she felt were game changers for her, her blog, and her business such as getting a new logo. A logo is like clothes, she said. It tells people something about your business or your blog. Other game changers for her included launching a newsletter, offering a free gift to encourage folks to sign up for this newsletter, and getting office space. 

My hope is that the Bloganista Mini-Conference was a game changer for the women who were there.

Stop being a writer who doesn't write.

Alexis Barton of SameDayDifferentChic.com giving her inspiring opening keynote

The day began with an opening keynote from Alexis Barton of Same Chic Different Day. Barton confessed that there was a time when she was "a writer who didn't write." But then she started her blog and that all changed.

"Stop waiting for a fairy godmother to tap you on the shoulder and declare you a writer," she said.

And once Barton started her blog the opportunities she longed for began to land in her lap -- speaking engagements, freelance writing gigs, and offers for television appearances.

But Barton said there is no magic formula for gaining the opportunities she's enjoyed.  Consistency and authenticity are key, she said, but there's more.

In her talk, Barton told us that her theme song is "The Glamorous Life" by Shelia E. and she also told us about the not-so-glamourous side of fashion blogging. She told us about how hard she works to keep her blog updated and juggle those freelance writing gigs, speaking engagements, and television appearances  all while maintaining a full-time job.

"Keep going," she said, "That's the secret."

Conference attendees were filling their notebooks with new ideas throughout the day.

Words With Friends 

Our How to Be a Bloganista panel discussion featured (l to r) Erica Bunker of Erica B's DIY StyleBertha Hidalgo of Chic In AcademiaVanessa Culpepper of Budding Fashionista and Heather Brown of My Life Well Loved.

After Barton's opening keynote we heard from Heather Brown of My Life Well Loved, Erica Bunker of Erica B's DIY Style, Vanessa Culpepper of Budding Fashionista, and Bertha Hidalgo of Chic In Academia for the How to Be a Bloganista panel.

One of the greatest takeaways from this discussion was regarding social media. Brown mentioned that many bloggers and small business owners make the mistake of signing up for every social media platform there is only to not use any of them well. Instead, she suggested, choosing two or three platforms you actually enjoy and staying highly engaged with your followers or customers through those.

And speaking of engagement, our panelists said that building relationships and collaborating with other bloggers can be a great way to increase your reach.

Later in our Beyond the Blog panel, which focused on how to use your blog to gain freelance gigs and other opportunities, Williesha Morris of My Freelance Life also recommended guest blogging and leaving meaningful comments on other blogs to increase your readership. 

Stand Out and Show What You Know

The bloganistas also discussed ways to monetize your blog, which you can do through ads, sponsored posts, and affiliate links. If you're really ready to monetize, start approaching the brands with which you'd like to work. But first create a media kit. This could help you stand out from other bloggers. This could show you're really serious about turning your blog into a business. This could be your game changer. 

During the Beyond the Blog discussion Carla Jean Whitley, managing editor of Birmingham magazine, stressed the importance of positioning yourself as an expert. If you want to secure a job writing for your favorite magazine, use your blog to prove that you are the perfect person to tell the stories you want to write. 

And remember your blog is like your portfolio, so be sure it's filled with high quality posts.

Be True, Be You

Our Beyond the Blog panel discussion featured Carla Jean Whitley of Birmingham magazine, Tanya Sylvan of All in Stride, Williesha Morris of My Freelance Life, and Alexis Barton of Same Chic Different Day. 

The one thing that I hoped everyone would take away from the conference was to simply be true to their interests and passions. The charge to be authentic was repeated again and again by speakers and panelists. Being authentic is what Tanya Sylvan of All In Stride believes made her stand out to a blog reader who eventually offered her a job at a local publishing company. Being authentic, Bertha Hidalgo said, is what will help you choose the best brand partnerships and keep you from writing sponsored posts that go against what your blog stands for. And when you encounter what Erica Bunker called "internet thugs" being authentic can help with that too. Vanessa Culpepper agreed, adding that if you stay "true to yourself and what you're putting out there" you will have the confidence to press on despite the naysayers.

For more conference highlights, check out the hashtags #sjwbhm and #bloganista on Twitter.

Special thanks to our sponsors who helped make this event possible: Sol's Sandwich Shop & Deli, Church Street Coffee and Books, Collage Designer Consignment, Urban Cookhouse, Hamer Law Group, WBHM 90.3 FM, Inspire Fitness, and Sisley Paris available at Saks Fifth Avenue Birmingham.

What was your biggest takeaway from our Bloganista Mini-Con? 

View more pictures from the conference here on our Facebook page

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hear Jane Speak on Biz Talk Radio

In the WAGG studio with Roy Williams recording my segment for Biz Talk 

Be sure to tune in to WAGG Heaven 610 AM today from 3 to 3:30 p.m. I'll be on Roy Williams' radio show Biz Talk discussing blogging, See Jane Write and the upcoming Bloganista Mini-Conference.

You can also stream the show at www.610wagg.com.

If you haven't registered for the conference yet, don't delay. We have less than 20 tickets remaining.

You can get your tickets today at thebloganistaconference.eventbrite.com.

Check out Meet the Bloganistas to learn more about our speakers and read about our sponsors to learn what door prizes you could win at the event.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Jane About Town: To Kill a Mockingbird at the Alabama Theatre

Gregory Peck (center) as Atticus Finch

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books of all time. Set in Depression-era Alabama, Harper Lee's novel follows the story of Atticus Finch as he defends a black man against a false rape charge and strives to shield his children, Scout and Jem, from prejudice and hate. 
As an English teacher I have the privilege and pleasure of leading a group of 8th graders through a reading of this book each school year. And after we finish the novel we watch the 1962 film adaptation of the book, which in my opinion, is a classic in its own right. 

This Sunday, July 13, from 2 to 5 p.m.,  I'll have the chance to see To Kill a Mockingbird on the big screen at the Alabama Theatre as part of its 2014 Summer Film Series. 
Beginning at 1 p.m., author Beverly Crider will be in the Alabama Theatre lobby signing copies of her new book, Legends & Lore of Birmingham and Central Alabama.
Doors will open one hour before showtime. Tickets are $8 and will be available at the door or in advance through Ticketmaster.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

We Love Our Sponsors

Next week's Bloganista Mini-Conference wouldn't be possible without the support of several sponsors, who will be contributing food, drinks, and awesome door prizes to the event. 

With a focus on families and businesses, Hamer Law Group is a Birmingham-based law firm seeking to provide candid advice, creative solutions, aggressive representation and results to clients across Alabama. Hamer Law Group is committed to helping small businesses, including See Jane Write LLC. Hamer Law Group sponsored last month's Bloganista Mixer, which served as a preview party for the Bloganista Mini-Conference. If you had a blast at that event, you definitely don't want to miss this month's conference. 

Sol's Sandwich Shop & Deli, located in downtown Birmingham just off 20th Street North, is all about fresh and local. All of their burgers, hoagies, wraps and sandwiches are made to order with great ingredients and generous portions. At the Bloganista Mini-Con, Sol's will be providing breakfast snacks for the Morning Mingle.

Church Street Coffee & Books is located in Crestline Village in Birmingham, Alabama. Church Street sells books, coffee, pastries and tea and hosts book clubs and a number of other community events. The staff at Church Street also publishes a book blog called PostScript. Church Street will provide coffee for the Morning Mingle.

Urban Cookhouse  is a vibrant, bustling restaurant that consistently serves excellent tasting food with exceptional customer service. The folks at UC use the freshest ingredients available with an emphasis on supporting the local farmer. In fact, they not only buy local produce for use in their kitchen, they also sponsor and manage the Homewood and Summit Farmer's Markets. Conference attendees who register by July 10 will receive an Urban Cookhouse gift card. 

For more than 20 years, Collage Designer Consignment has outfitted some of the best dressed women in Alabama.  With locations ‘On the Curve’ in Downtown Homewood and at the Vestavia City Center, Collage has been voted ‘Best Women’s Boutique’ by readers of Birmingham Magazine and ‘Best Consignment Shop’ by many publications and ‘Best of Birmingham’ year after year. A representative from Collage will be present at the Bloganista Mini-Con selling clothing and accessories so the fashionistas who attend can do some shopping while they're learning more about blogging. Collage is also giving away a jewelry set to one lucky winner. 

Public Radio WBHM 90.3 FM, a listener-supported service of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is “Your NPR News Station” and home to the Alabama Radio Reading Service for the blind and print-impaired. WBHM programming and award-winning regional journalism also can be heard in North Central Alabama on WSGN 91.5 FM through a partnership with Gadsden State Community College. Listen and give online at wbhm.org and follow the station on Twitter @WBHM and on Facebook. WBHM is our media sponsor for the Bloganista Mini-Conference. Be sure to tune in to hear announcements about the conference. Also, at the conference you could win a WBHM lunch bag filled with goodies like a WBHM French press travel mug, a Radio Lab t-shirt and an Eric Essix CD. 

Inspire Fitness is a locally-owned fitness studio that offers Spinning, yoga, and strength conditioning classes as well at personal training. The coaches at Inspire Fitness are passionate about helping their clients meet their personal fitness goals and give them personalized attention to help them do so.  At the Bloganista Mini-Conference, one lucky attendee will win a free functional strength screening ($60 value), plus a 3-class package ($30 value) from Inspire Fitness. 

In the area of skincare for the face and body, Sisley's expertise is well known.  Sisley Paris, available in Birmingham at Saks Fifth Avenue, offers a complete line of products to meet the needs of different skin types and various issues including makeup removal, hydration, anti-aging, sun protection and hair care. One lucky conference attendee will win a Sisley Paris spa experience. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Meet the Bloganistas

See Jane Write believes you, your life and your blog should be fabulous. And so we present to you our first mini-conference -- The Bloganista Mini-Con, a partial day conference for fashion, fitness, and lifestyle bloggers. But don't worry if you're not a style blogger; this conference has something for everyone. Not only will our speakers and panelists discuss style tips and best blogging practices, but they'll also cover ways to use your blog to land freelance writing gigs, speaking engagements and other opportunities. 

The mini-conference will be held 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 19 at the Homewood Public Library, 1721 Oxmoor Road. You can find a complete conference schedule and order tickets at thebloganistaconference.eventbrite.com

Now get to know our speakers and panelists. 

Alexis E. Barton is a style blogger and digital influencer whose commentary and fashion advice appears weekly on the popular blog SameChicDifferentDay.com, which she launched in September 2011. Her personal style tips have been featured in The Birmingham News, Skirt.com, Life and Style PR and on WBHJ 95.7 JAMZ. Alexis has appeared on ABC 33/30's Talk of Alabama and on CBS 42's Wake Up Alabama. She has worked with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, H&M, Girls Inc., Macy's, Belk, and a number of other non-profits, businesses and brands to help make the world a more stylish place. Alexis has been named a 2013 Role Model by the Girls Scouts of North-Central Alabama and this year was named a Birmingham Trailblazer by The Birmingham Times. 

Heather Brown is the lifestyle blogger and social media and blogging consultant behind MyLifeWellLoved.com. She is a Birmingham native, has been married for 5 years and has been blogging for 4 years. She would love for you to connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram @MyLifeWellLoved.

Erica Bunker is from Hoover, Alabama and is the creator and editor of Erica B's - DIY Style, a popular sartorial sewing and fashion blog that can be found at ericabunker.com. Erica is a wife, mother of three, grandmother of one and a soon-to-be empty nester. She is also a self-taught seamstress whose personal mantra and way of life is: "Why buy it, when you can make it!"

Megan LaRussa Chenoweth is the fashion stylist, image consultant and personal shopper behind Southern Femme, which is both a blog and a style consulting service. A Birmingham native, Megan moved to New York City to work for a famed trend forecaster and pursue a Master's degree from Parsons School of Design. But the South wooed her back with its slower pace and picturesque landscape. Megan created Southern Femme because of her desire to educate her favorite women in the world, Southern ladies, on both high fashion and their everyday wardrobe. Megan has styled and produced fashion shoots for several magazines including Birmingham magazine, Alabama magazine, and Seventeen. 

Vanessa Culpepper of the blog BuddingFashionista.com is ready to step out in style no matter the time of day or occasion. As a producer of a morning news program, she doesn't let her overnight shift keep her from putting a stylish spin on work-appropriate looks. She carries the same attitude toward her weekend wardrobe when she is off the clock and running around with two kids in tow! Vanessa does all this while stretching her budget to the max! She doesn't claim to be the hottest fashionista around...she is just budding.

Dr. Bertha Hidalgo is a PhD-level genetic epidemiologist with a true calling and passion for fashion.  She began blogging in August of 2013 and has grown her brand to include daily “outfit of the day (#ootd) posts on Instagram. She is a mother of two boys, a wife, and loves attempting to find balance between family, work, and life as a fashion blogger.  Her blog is an extension of her day-to-day life, featuring posts on ways to dress fashionably on a budget; ideas for office-appropriate outfits; and how to score deals on designer duds.  She firmly believes that it should be socially acceptable for a woman to be both intelligent and fashionable, and that those two qualities should not be mutually exclusive.  She strives to show the world that a woman can indeed be both, one outfit at a time, on ChicInAcademia.com.  

Williesha Morris has been hustling gigs of the freelance variety since she graduated from the University of South Carolina with a journalism degree in 2001. Since 2012 she has been pursuing the dual title of administrative consultant/virtual assistant and writer. Having this title allows her to never get bored, along with helping small business owners and entrepreneurs get more done and show freelancers how to truly live a “free” freelance life. You can find her on Twitter - @willieshamorris. She created her blog MyFreelanceLife.com in 2013 and also blogs at nerdythirtysomething.wordpress.com

Tanya Sylvan of the blog All In Stride is a Jersey girl living in Birmingham who loves to run far and eat lots. Her real life and blog life collided recently when a long-time blog reader offered her a job doing marketing and public relations for an outdoor publications company. Now she can say that she really does eat, sleep, and breathe all things outdoors! You can find her blogging about running, recipes, and random life events at tanyasylvan.com.

Carla Jean Whitley is a writer, editor and teacher based in Birmingham, Alabama, where she is managing editor of Birmingham magazine. Her first book, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, is set for publication by The History Press on July 22. Carla Jean founded the music blog Birmingham Box Set, and has also written for BookPage, Paste, The Birmingham News, Sky and a variety of other magazines and newspapers. Carla Jean volunteers with literacy organizations and teaches journalism at the University of Alabama and Samford University. Her favorite yoga pose is bakasana and her favorite cats are orange. Connect with her at carlajeanwhitley.com.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Call to Be Bold

I should have known Friday would be a great day. 

During my personal Bible study time Proverbs 28:1 was brought to my attention: "The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion." And this was after a week of feeling God urging me to be bold in my prayers and to be more confident about my future. 

Marla and Marcia Pruitte
a.k.a. The Pruitte Twins
Then I went to Cupcakes and Conversations, a ladies empowerment night hosted by inspirational speakers Marla and Marcia Pruitte, better known as The Pruitte Twins.  

The night was full of motivational talks by local women who true are movers and shakers in our city. Women who spoke at the event included  radio and TV personality Eunice Elliott, Robin Ato, owner of Gracie Grove Venue where the event was held, Kimberly Davis and TaShara King of Davis and King Consulting, public relations pro Chanda Temple and Kanisha Shamburger of Created to Win Enterprises LLC. 

All throughout the night the message I heard over and over was to simply be bold. 

Be bold enough to dream. I knew I'd love the Pruitte Twins as soon as they started talking because they mentioned that they are fans of vision boards. A vision board is a visual representation of your dreams and goals. I make a new vision board every year or so because I believe that, as Proverbs 29:18 states, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." 

I, like the Pruitte Twins, also believe that we should write down our dreams. As Habakkuk 2:2 reads, "Write the vision and make it plain." I've written down my goals and dreams since I was a child, but Eunice Elliot, who was the MC for the night, made me realize that I need to approach this practice in a new way. Instead of writing down what I want to have or to do, I need to state what I will have and what I will do. Or better yet, I need to state that what I want is already mine: I am a successful blogger, writer, and entrepreneur! 

My Current Vision Board
Find out how to make one of your own at The Writeous Babe Project.

Be bold enough to walk in your purpose. Purpose, the Pruitte Twins said, is tied to the people you believe you were called to serve. I believe I am here to serve God, women and girls, and my husband. Thus, I seek ways to glorify God in every part of my life. I work to empower women and girls through my writing, my teaching, my church small groups, and See Jane Write. And I strive to be the best wife I can be. This is how I try to walk in my purpose. What is your purpose and how to you strive to walk in that calling every day? 

Striking a pose with the lovely Chanda Temple

Be bold enough to always be your best self. Chanda Temple reminded us ladies that, whether we like or not, we are our own brand. Look your best always -- even on casual Friday or when out running errands -- and be ready to give the pitch for your business, book, or blog. While listening to Chanda, who, of course, was dressed to impress in a gorgeous floral frock, I began to think about how this applies not only to a wardrobe, but to a website as well. Your blog should showcase your best writing. No throwaway posts allowed! And keep your blog updated to show that you are on top of your game. 

Be bold enough to empower other women, not compete with them. What is for you is for you; it's yours and yours alone, the Pruitte Twins reminded us during in their talk. There's no need to believe that if another woman in your field is successful you won't be. Instead of tearing other women down, lift them up. I've learned that you'll often lift up yourself in the process. I started See Jane Write to help other women and as a result I've received a number of paid freelance writing gigs, speaking engagements, and much more. 

I left Cupcakes and Conservations ready and determined to take See Jane Write to the next level. And I left feeling as bold as a lion indeed.