November Intentions

Can you believe November is already here?!

2016 is just down the street, around the corner, or however the saying goes. 

I like to begin each month setting goals for the weeks ahead.

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Writeous Babe Returns

On July 1, 2015 I decided to abandon my blog WriteousBabe.com and begin posting regularly here at my portfolio site.

But I’ve changed my mind.

writeous babe is back

Go here to find out why.

P.S. — I will now be posting to this blog on the first of each month with updates in life and literature.

An Evening of Empowerment

Check out the Over the Mountain Journal’s story on the upcoming event An Evening of Empowerment featuring me!

Check out the Over the Mountain Journal’s story on the upcoming event An Evening of Empowerment featuring me!

What would you do if you were not afraid to fail?

That’s the question that Girls on the Run Birmingham will explore on Thursday, October 8, Girls on the Run during its Evening of Empowerment. The event will celebrate local “Women Who Inspire” including yours truly!

I am so honored to be among the women who will be recognized at this event. (You can read my interview with Girls on the Run here.)

An Evening of Empowerment will be held at 5:30 p.m. on October 8 at Clubhouse on the Highlands. The evening will include wine, appetizers, and a meet and greet and Q&A with the “Women Who Inspire,” including Molly Baker, the founder of Girls on the Run International. There will also be a screening of The Empowerment Project, a one-hour documentary that celebrates positive female role models.

If you’d like to attend An Evening of Empowerment, you can purchase tickets here. Use the code GOJAVACIA for $10 off your ticket.

On Friday, October 9, the other “Women Who Inspire” and I will have the opportunity to view the film again with a group of middle school girls from across the Birmingham metro area. We’ll also have a Q&A with them after the screening about how we overcame fear to make our dreams come true.

So, what would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail?

 

How to Turn Your Blog Into a Business

lady blogger e-course cover

When I started See Jane Write in 2011 it was just a small women’s writing group and a simple Blogger blog. Now it is an award-winning business. In my latest e-course Lady Blogger to Boss Lady I share all my secrets as to how I’ve grown See Jane Write and used blogging to land paid freelance writing gigs and speaking engagements.

Here are the seven steps I took to turn my blog into a business.

  1. I got serious. If you want people to take you seriously as a businesswoman, you have to take yourself seriously first. This means treating your blog as if it’s your job. This means creating high quality content and being clear on your goals and vision for your blog. This means getting educated on the business side of blogging. And for the love of all that is holy, get some business cards and stop scribbling your website URL on the back of a napkin at networking events!
  2. I got focused. If you’re only blogging for fun it’s perfectly fine to write about everything under the sun. But if you’re trying to turn your blog into a business you must nail down your niche. This doesn’t mean you have to ignore all your other interests and passions. I often find clever, creative ways to tie my love for fitness into the work I do for See Jane Write. But at the end of the day it’s all about empowering women to share their stories and be the author of their own lives.
  3. I got organized. Consistency is one of the best ways to stand out in the oh-so-crowded world of blogging because being consistent is something most people simply don’t do. Create an editorial calendar and content plan and stick with it.
  4. I got connected. Social media networks are great, but if you’re going to build a business you have to build an e-mail list. Get connected with your readers and potential customers by collecting their email addresses and sending them regular, valuable information so that you can always stay top of mind.
  5. I got out there. I made a name for myself and my blog locally by hosting live events about blogging and writing. I also got featured on local media outlets, national websites, and popular blogs. And I network, network, network online and in real life.
  6. I got creative. So many bloggers think that ads and sponsored posts are the only way to make money through your blog and that’s simply not true. I started creating e-courses and offering one-on-one coaching and consulting services to start generating revenue.
  7. I got support. In addition to enrolling in online programs to help me be a better businesswoman, I also started to focus on building my tribe. It’s imperative to have a group of people who understand and support the goals you’re going after.

In my new e-course I will walk you through all seven of these steps in great detail, focusing on one step per week. Lady Blogger to Boss Lady is a seven-week course that has a value of $497, but I’m offering a beta version for only $75. Enrollment closes Sept. 21. Learn more and sign up at https://coursecraft.net/c/ladybloggertobosslady.

Do STEM Like a Girl

highlands 21

“Little girls with dreams become women with vision.”

The quote above is on a print on the wall of my home office. The quote above speaks a truth that drives so much of what I do. I believe that if you train up a girl in the way she should go, when she is old she will not depart from it. That’s why I created a Women and Media elective at the high school where I teach — I want girls to know about feminism and the women’s rights movements and to be smart enough to examine representations of women in the media. That’s why I dream of one day starting a feminist blogging camp for teen girls through See Jane Write. And that’s why I was honored to team up with B-Metro last week to help promote the new STEM program at Highlands School in Birmingham.

Of course when I arrived I immediately found the cookies. Photo by Jennifer Hagler

Of course when I arrived I immediately found the cookies.
Photo by Jennifer Hagler

Dubbed Highlands 21, this new program is a strategic school-wide effort to implement 21st century learning techniques by building enhanced facilities, increasing classroom resources and improving faculty development. The school has launched a 4K-8th grade initiative to integrate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) throughout the Highlands School curriculum with the support of two state-of-the-art STEM labs designed by PITSCO.

Photo by Jennifer Hagler

Photo by Jennifer Hagler

Everything is awesome! Photo by Jennifer Hagler

Everything is awesome!
Photo by Jennifer Hagler

Here’s a fun fact about me: Even though I’m writer and English teacher today I attended the Alabama School of Fine Arts for its Math/Science program, not creative writing. Because of my amazing English classes (and a love for writing that I had since I was 7), I left ASFA eager to pursue a career in journalism, not science, technology, engineering, or math. But because of ASFA’s Math/Science program I also left with a great deal of confidence and never for one second considered STEM classes or careers off-limits for women and girls. (In fact, my freshman year of college I took a senior-level calculus class, made 100s on every test and tutored many of the upperclassmen also taking the course.)

A recent survey of educators revealed that only 30 percent of teachers feel equipped to properly encourage girls in math and science classes. The programs and professional development of Highlands School’s STEM initiative and others like it can help change that.

Also STEM programs teach students how to find answers in informational text and thus can help them in their language arts classes, too. Perhaps that’s why I liked English so much that I wound up teaching it!

In high school STEM classes gave me confidence and better communication skills. I’m excited that Highlands Schools is working to do that for other girls at an even earlier age.
Learn more about the Highlands School STEM initiative here.

How to Write Like a Girl

write like a girl

I forgot how to write like a girl.

I only recently realized this had happened.

I thought I was doing just fine. I was writing monthly columns on women’s issues for B-Metro. I was freelancing for Birmingham magazine and WBHM 90.3 FM. I was regularly updating the blog for See Jane Write, the organization for women writers and bloggers that I founded in 2011. And I’ve been growing that blog and organization into a business and encouraging the women of See Jane Write to build businesses of their own. I even came up with a catchy title for this mission: Lady Blogger to Boss Lady.

But I was not writing like a girl.

To me, writing like a girl isn’t about writing to meet a deadline or blogging to build a business. Those things are rewarding and important. Those are things I have no plans of quitting. But writing like a girl is waking up early or staying up late to scribble personal prose in your favorite notebook while sprawled across your bed, hair piled into a messy bun because you don’t want any distractions, not even the curls your twirl around your finger when you’re in deep thought.

Writing like a girl is poring your heart out on the page not for publication but because you just can’t help yourself.

Writing like a girl is the craft of writing in its purest form.

I forgot to write like a girl, but a fellow woman writer reminded me. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been reading a collection of essays by Tyece Wilkins of the blog Twenties Unscripted.The collection comprises previously published blog posts — posts she wrote with little regard for possible page views but posts she wrote because not writing them was simply not an option.

Coming home from work each night and plopping down on her sofa with her laptop and a glass of wine was her ritual, her sanctuary, her artist’s way. It’s time I find mine.

For months I’ve been asking myself how I can grow a business and still work on my own writing. The answer is simple: Just write.

For a few moments, forget about building a brand or pitching publications. Just write.

Get back to business later. Right now, just write.

The yoke is easy; the burden is light. Just write.

Dear Dakotah

Dakotah and I

Dear Dakotah,

This is it.

Tomorrow you leave for college, for art school.

Tomorrow the old adage “This is the first day of the rest of your life” will never ring more true.

Tomorrow you leave for college and I’ve promised myself I won’t cry. So I’ll do what I always do when I need to fight back tears — I will write.

In an attempt to live up to my title as your mentor I feel I should offer you some wise words of advice as you enter this new stage of life. But I often feel that over these past three years you’ve taught me more than I could ever teach you.

But here goes…

Go to class — most of the time.

Turn things in when they’re due — all of the time.

Do you best work — not for a grade, not for your professors, but for yourself.

Take yourself seriously as an artist, but never get caught up in your own hype. Be humble, but never dismiss the well-deserved rewards you will receive.

Grow up, but never stop being a girl.

Never stop being a girl who creates art not for accolades but because she just can’t help herself. Never stop being a girl who squeals loudly with excitement in a quiet coffee shop and doesn’t care who stares.

Never stop being a girl who believes in sisterhood and friendship that lasts forever. Never stop being a girl who believes women are worth worshipping.

Never stop being a girl who loves pink.

You once told me you dress like you just left a luau on the moon. Never stop being a girl who says things like that.

Don’t wear pajamas to class. You have too many cute clothes in your closet to engage in such nonsense.

Take naps.

Exercise 4 days a week — not to be skinny, but to be strong.

Eat pizza at midnight at least once and have no regrets.

Credit cards are evil. Cupcake ATMs are from God.

Don’t let New York change you, but be sure to change it. Make your mark and make it beautiful.

Remember the world owes you nothing, but you owe yourself the world. So go after your goals with reckless abandon.

I do not know the secret to understanding men. Don’t trust people who say that they do.

Break all the rules — even these — if that’s what it takes to be true to who you really are.

Don’t panic if you have no idea who you really are. That’s the purpose of the pursuit of higher education. Self-discovery, not a degree, makes college worth the price of admission.

Never forget things could always be worse.

Never forget you are always enough.

xo,

Javacia

Back to School Commandments

sylvia plath

In my classroom is a quote board and I don’t care how cliche it may be for an English teacher to have one. The first quote I post each year is by author and poet Sylvia Plath: “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am.”

Not far from the quote board is a portrait of Plath. When seated at my desk poring over lesson plans and pitiful thesis statements, I glance across the room and look into her eyes. They seem to say to me, “Keep going.”

While a student at Smith College, Plath once wrote herself a list of Back to School Commandments, beginning with three rules on how to behave around her new beau.

Image via OpenCulture

Image via OpenCulture

Inspired, I decided to pen commandments of my own for my love and my labor.

1. I will not overwhelm him with panic, stress, and worry.

2. I will not throw temper tantrums when he simply asks me to sort through my mail and receipts.

3. I will kiss him and adore him as if he were my high school crush.

Back to School Commandments

1. Keep a CALM FRONT always.

2. Research papers — don’t get upset. Every year you’re convinced they’ll be the death of you. Every year you survive.

3. Report cards — Resist the urge to panic no matter how many tests, essays, and journal assignments you have to grade at the end of the quarter.

4. DO NOT STOP WRITING. You must practice what you teach.

5. Say “Good morning” to every one, every day, even when the morning is anything but good.

6. Write down everything. Clean your desk. Vacuum your rug. Wash your mug. Throw away dry erase markers that no longer work.

7. Do not skip workouts to grade papers. Your job is not worth your health no matter how noble your profession may be.

8. Stop staying up late. Teaching teenagers is no excuse for adopting their sleeping habits.

9. Remember 10 months is not an eternity. 9 weeks is not an eternity. Even if it looks that way now.

10. Make sure you’re always having fun — even when you’re teaching Puritan lit or MLA. If you’re bored your students will be, too.

P.S. – Remember — your class will teach your students more about life than literature and that’s exactly the way it should be.

Love,

J.

My FOCUS for the Week

focus

You can do it all, but not all at once.

That’s a lesson I’ve been learning the hard way through the years.

Today I sent a message to the members of See Jane Write encouraging them to get focused. I encouraged them to get focused on just one goal for the week and not feel guilty for putting all others on hold.

I’m going to practice what I preach. My goal for this week is to sell out the upcoming See Jane Write Bloganista Mini-Con presented by Laura Vincent Printing & Design.

If you’d like to follow along to see what I’m doing to promote the conference, visit SeeJaneWriteBham.com/blog for daily posts. I’ll also be posting conference-related stuff on my personal Instagram account at @writeousbabe.

What is your focus this week?

Why Blogging Is a Love Affair

blogging is a love affair

Last Friday I had the opportunity to attend the Melanie Duncan Workshop. In case you aren’t familiar, Melanie Duncan is a highly successful entrepreneur and founder of the Entrepreneuress Academy, through which she strives to help other women achieve the success in business that she has enjoyed.

melanie and i

By meeting her I got to cross off an item on my Life List but thanks to the workshop I had quite the revelation: I realized that blogging is a love affair but not for the reasons I previously thought.

I have often compared blogging to a relationship and I even have blog dates — times when I go to my favorite coffee shop to work on my blog for hours on end.

But during her presentation Melanie Duncan shared this quote:

Don’t fall in love with your business; fall in love with your customers.

Immediately I thought of See Jane Write. Immediately, I thought of how important it is that I stay focused on the women I seek to serve and not simply get enamored with the idea of building a business.

But days later after the workshop I realized that I need to apply this to blogging as well. I need to fall in love with my readers, not my blog.

This is a hard pill for writers to swallow. We are told again and again to write for ourselves. And I definitely think we should. I definitely believe you should write about the things that stir your passions. But if you’re also blogging in hopes of serving others and especially if you’re hoping to turn your blog into a business, you must keep your reader’s needs in mind.

Another quote from the conference that stuck with me:

the most important thing

And in blogging the most important thing is your ideal reader’s loyalty.

Blogging is a love affair, a love affair with your ideal reader. And here are a few ways to rekindle the romance.

Don’t get lazy with her love. If you’ve been blogging for a long time chances are you have a loyal following and chances are you have an ideal reader — that reader who not only reads every post but also shares each one with her network and friends. Don’t ever take her for granted. Don’t get lazy and post content just for the sake of posting content. Stay creative, even when you’re writing sponsored posts. For example, Jessie of Style & Pepper, one of my table mates at the conference does a fantastic job of this. When she was asked by Glade to write about a new candle she didn’t just write a post saying over and over again “Oh, this candle smells so good!” Who wants to read that?! Instead she wrote a post about what to put on the nightstand of your guest bedroom to be a good host to your visitors. And she included the candle. Brilliant!

Talk to her, not at her. We all love Facebook, but don’t rely solely on your blog’s Facebook fan page to communicate with your ideal reader. Not only does she probably not see your posts thanks to Facebook’s current algorithm, but your Facebook fan page doesn’t really foster conversation. Instead, consider starting a Facebook group. This is something I’ve been encouraging my clients to do and when Devin Duncan, Melanie Duncan’s husband who also presented at the conference, suggested this too, I knew I was on to something!

the bowsers meet the duncans

Ask her what she needs and give her what she wants. If you’re having blogger’s block simply ask your readers what they need and want to read about. This is why it’s so important to build an email list — so you can ask your readers important questions like this directly through their inboxes. If you need help building your list, use this as yet another opportunity to give your reader what she wants and needs by embedding a newsletter opt-in with an opt-in freebie in your blog posts. For example, let’s say you wrote a blog post on why everyone needs a blog. Your opt-in freebie could then be a guide on how to set up a blog. If you’re thinking about offering a product or service to your readers to help monetize your blog you can use the conversion rates of different opt-in freebies to determine what interests your readers most.

KISS and move slowly. For everyone ready to launch a new product or service, Devin reminded us of the KISS principle — Keep it simple, stupid! Start with a product or program you can launch quickly (without sacrificing quality, of course) and promote it through webinars, email, your blog, your social media networks and Facebook groups.

Here’s what I plan to do within the next 60 days to better show my love for my ideal reader:

– Be more creative with sponsored posts for SeeJaneWriteBham.com.

– Take steps to make the See Jane Write Facebook group more vibrant and valuable.

– Create a new opt-in freebie.

– Complete and launch a blogging e-course.

 

What will you do to rekindle the romance with your ideal reader? 

 

 

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