One of the most popular pieces of advice on the Internet is “you have to put yourself out there.” Experienced bloggers, influencers, and coaches have all dished out this gem when advising newbies on how to grow their audiences, pitch brands, and build a network. I heard the words but I had no idea what they actually meant. Should I attend more events? Network more? Read and comment on more blogs? Shamelessly promote my endeavors and myself?
Those all seemed like viable options. Still, I remained hesitant. “Putting Yourself Out There” sounded sleazy. Where I’m from self-praise and self-promotion are not welcomed characteristics. No one told me that it wasn’t enough to just create amazing content. In a moment of clarity I realized, you can create great work, but what’s the point if no one knows about it?
If my goal was to have no impact or to just write in a journal then I had nothing to worry about. Lucky for me, I want more. I want to build a community. I want to impact the lives of other #creativesmartgirls. It only made sense that I would have to step outside of my comfort zone and start connecting with the people I wanted to build community with.
I told myself it would be pretty easy to attend more events, network, read blogs, and even promote myself but I had no idea where to start. The only thing I knew for sure was to keep my eyes open for any opportunities. As the year went on, I found myself at a blogger conference, participating in Twitter chats, hosting Twitter chats and genuinely connected with other creatives. Still, I had no idea if any of this was actually putting myself out there.
It wasn’t until I sat down, enjoying dinner with Melissa Kimble, founder of My Creative Connection, Sakita Holley of House of Success and Joy-Marie and Cotney of Jobloguesthat I realized the steps I had taken throughout the year actually did help get my blog noticed.
Here are 6 things I did in 2015 to “Put Myself Out There”:
1. Produced Quality Content
It doesn’t matter how many events you attend or blogs you comment on, if your work doesn’t provide quality content to readers you will be overlooked. I’ve been blogging for almost six years and this year was the first year I learned how to provide useful and valuable content. As I connected with other bloggers and creatives, they went to my blog and found something they enjoyed reading or learned. You have to do the work. Don’t waste people’s time by providing mediocre work and asking them to take notice.
2. Focused on Content Marketing
As creatives, we release our work into the world hoping that it will go viral. That’s just not how any of this works. We never really think of a marketing plan for our content or digital products. Instead of sharing my post once at the time it’s published I now use the Co-schedule app to share blog posts at least once an hour on twitter and twice a day on FaceBook. My most-read post of 2015 ‘What does hard work looks like, anyway?’ didn’t get shared until the sixth time it was posted on Twitter. You have to put your content out there, think of your favorite brand, how many times a day are they sharing their blog content or a new product? Once is never enough to share something you want people to read or share.
3. Joined Brown Girl Bloggers
A large part of putting yourself out there is bringing something to the table.
Earlier this year, I noticed a twitter chat hosted by Candyce for Brown Girl Bloggers. I decided to join in on the hashtag #BGBCHAT. The chat was about “the Creative Process.” At the time, I wasn’t even identifying as a creative. I shared that in the chat and I received so much love and encouragement for me on journey. That was the very first time I felt connected with a group of bloggers. Through Brown Girl Bloggers I was introduced to Neosha of CreateHerStock, Mary of Verilymerrilymary.com, Tamara of baydiangirl.com, and many more. These ladies continue to be a source of support, collaborations and partnerships. Find a group of bloggers and creatives you can support and they in turn will support you.
4. Co-Founded Caribbean Girls Who Blog
In May, I saw a tweet from Tamara inquiring about organizing some kind of Caribbean blogger network. It was great timing because I had that exact thought a few days earlier. I jumped at the opportunity to work with Tamara to make it a reality. Through Caribbean Girls Who Blog, I’ve been able to meet and connect with so many bloggers and creatives of Caribbean descent. It has also forced me out of my comfort zone. I decided to start meeting up with someone from the community living in NYC at least once a month. I never in a million years thought I could be the co-founder of a thriving online community. By going outside the box,I’ve been able to reach a group of people on both a cultural and creative level.
5. Hosted Twitter Chats
After participating in a few more Brown Girl Bloggers chats, Blk creatives chat, and hosting a few Caribbean Girls who blog chat, I decided to start hosting chats for the GlamSavvy Life. The first chat I hosted was the #CreateHers chat with Neosha Latrice for the launch of CreateHERstock. It was a wonderful conversation around the importance of black women owning their image. I followed up with the #BuyBOBmonth chat with Neosha, Mary, Tamara, and Vanessa. I was introduced to all of the ladies through prior twitter chats. This chat focused on using our collective power to buy black. It then made sense for me to create my own monthly chat and the #creativesmartgirlchat was born. The #creativesmartgirl chat is truly a love vest for creative girls. It’s an opportunity to discuss the real of what it means to be a creative. I was also recently asked to be a panelists on the December #blkcreatives chat hosted by Melissa of MYCC. It was truly a full circle moment for me. I started the year with no experience at all with Twitter chat and I ended it with being asked to be a panelist on one of the best chats on twitter.
How do you put yourself out there?