IT’S MY BRANDS BIRTHDAY YOU GUYS

365 days.
60,600 words
5,500+ views.
70 blog posts.
And over 5,000 people on Instagram– thank you. To all of those who are really listening and those who are just beginning to, thank you. In this past year, I have been so fortunate to connect with you all on social media and through my content.

One year ago today, I made a brave decision. On January 17, 2018: Is Anyone Really Listening? Launched for the very first time. I remember the day perfectly. The semester was about to start and it had snowed really bad in Greensboro. In the midst of all the snow and cold air, my fiery passion for storytelling and technology burned inside of me. I wanted to start this platform because I was in a place of my life where I felt like I wasn’t being heard. At our core, humans want to be heard, seen, and understood. Throughout my content I have aimed to be a place where people felt like someone understood, someone saw them, and someone heard them.

Launching a brand can be scary. I didn’t know what IARL would be. I could have never imagined the opportunities and friendships I have been blessed with. Since it’s launch I’ve learned so much about what it means to be an entrepreneur. It’s not easy. It’s a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, tears, and discipline. Though my journey has just started I think it’s important to reflect on what this past year has taught me in hopes of inspiring you all to keep persisting in your journey.

Be authentic

The social media, creative space is supersaturated already. Social media gives us access to people around the world. There are so many people out there who want to be influencers in whatever industry they strive to be in. What will set you apart is how authentic and relatable you can be. Don’t force it, just be you and the community you build will come. It takes time but you need to be persistent.

In my own experience, I made it a point to talk about the things most people may not. I wanted to show that people, specifically women, in technology can be multifaceted. We can be passionate about lifestyle/beauty and also love to look at data and understand it. I am so happy to see more women in the technology space brand themselves.

Some of the people who are KILLING it and are people I look up to are. There are so many people I can name here but here’s a few: Jessica Naziri (she’s also a Persian woman in tech, #goals for real), TiffinTech (a recent follow but love her passion and consistency), Lenora Porter (who codes and has her own platform for black designers/developers trying to grow) and of course, Naomi Thomas (who is a good friend/mentor of mine. She’s business, boss, and tech all in one). I’ve gotten the chance to work with some of these women on campaigns and just talking to them about their experience has inspired me to keep going. Every single one of these people have a special place on the platform and they continue to be unapologetically organic.

Inauthenticity is easily detectable. You want to build a community with your brand so that you have an audience that engages with you across different platforms. This brings me to my next point.

Know your audience

Find the person or group of people you’re speaking to. Think about them everytime you post something or write something. That will lead you to authentic content, especially if you’re trying to inspire and grow one another’s. Do your research on ways to engage them. You can use social media to ask people or poll them on what content they want to see. The more you engage, the more you are building your community.

This also means engaging with other brands or people that you connect with. Again: community. Social media can be a communal place. You’re able to connect with millions of people with just a few taps. That’s powerful. I think it’s important to build an audience around the values, topics, and ideas you support. You can tap into those networks but you need to be strategic. This took me a while to figure out as I was trying to find my own voice in all the noise around me.

Consistency

This one was a tough one for me to maintain, to be honest. But having your own side hustle also means you have to be your own boss to set your own deadlines. What helps me: pre-write and post. I spend a few days of the week creating content for Instagram, my blog, Boss Business Market, and schedule them for the months ahead. This helps me not stay overwhelmed with trying to come up with new things. Also, creating a content calendar for yourself is super helpful in being consistent and organized. I know what is going up next week and the following week.

Tip: Plan Ahead. Sit with yourself or your team and plan the next 1-2 months of content out. What is going on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn? What blog posts are coming out? What time is ideal for you to post?

Your tools that you use have that information available to you and if you’re curious on learning more about how to leverage your personal data, let me know. I’d love to help you out! But seriously, plan ahead. It will make you more consistent. You can always adjust your plan moving forward but try to get things scheduled and posted to make you more effective. There are so many scheduling tools out there that can help you manage the content you produce.

Being consistent is important at any stage because algorithms and people are drawn to things they can rely on. If my audience knows I post on Tuesdays and I am consistent, then they are more likely to be drawn to it. Consistency also helps with engagement, likes, features, and other growth metrics that will be important (we will talk about that a little later).

Consistency can also mean consistent in the type of content your audience sees. Let’s say you like inspirational quotes (I do), so if your brand is just to be an inspiration or to motivate people then your content needs to reflect that. Throwing in videos, carousels, blog posts, or featuring people who inspire you to spice things up and makes your page interesting. You want to stay “on brand” as much as possible so people know what to expect. You can still be on “on brand” and interesting.

I’m trying to figure out a schedule that works best for my audience. I think my goal is to have 1 post out a week and to remain consistent on my brands Instagram page as well as my personal brands one. My consistency goal of this next year is to create beautiful content. I mean aesthetically pleasing and creative. I love color palettes and putting together collages of different textures so that’s been a goal of mine to create more of that. Also, more consistent technology content, since a lot of you LOVE that.

Build A Community

I’ve probably said this several times but building a community is more important than the number of followers you have. I know people who have 10’s of thousands of followers on social media but do not get nearly as much engagement. You can have 1,000 followers who are engaged, excited, and active on your platform vs 10,000 who barely like or engage with you. To help with your engagement, include a variety of content that speaks to your audiences different senses. Post about things people can relate to. It can be a quote or an experience you had. People want to connect with the person behind the brand and the content. A \friend of mine does this very well, his name is Kevin check him out on Youtube. But he does a really good job at creating a community behind what he’s saying. He’s authentic and shows his life in a creative way on Youtube. To me, that’s what makes a successful content creator. Stay true to who you are, stay true to why you’re doing it, and be a dope person. Got it? Cool.

A moment of reflection

Over the past year, I poured so much of my energy into creating content. I felt overwhelmed by constantly feeling like I needed to produce something when in reality, I was putting the burden on myself. I took a few breaks that I needed because I never want to put out content I don’t 110% support. I am my own boss in this way and I get to connect with you all over these posts so it’s important to me to stay true to the content I put out.

Don’t feel like you need to have it figured out. Don’t feel like you need to produce or be on social media 24/7. It’s a toxic place sometimes and most people don’t show you whats happening behind the scenes. The moment you stop loving the content you’re putting out or your mental health is suffering because of the pressure of everything else going on, that’s a moment you need to step back and reconfigure. I did it and I am so glad I did.

I love that I had a chance to share this past year with you all publicly. It’s made me stronger and more empowered to exist. This platform has been an outlet for me and a chance for me to have something of my own that I am proud of.

Looking ahead

With all the ups and downs this past year of content has brought, I am optimistic of the future. I am claiming these things and going to work really hard to make them happen.

  • Well-crafted, consistent content across social media platforms.
  • 1 post or more a week on blog
  • More video content so you guys know what I sound like
  • Get more out of my comfort zone (!!!!)
  • Opportunities to meet and work with you guys
  • More collaborations with other creatives
  • More technology content

and there’s a few other ones I won’t share but overall, the theme is growth and abundance. I want to create more beautiful content for you all and to be consistent with the topics, ideas, and stories I get to share.

Happy 1 year to my brand! I am so excited for what’s in store.

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