Use What Ya Got: My Top 3 Self-Taught Skills for 2017

2017 has been good to me as an entrepreneur. I have had the opportunity to unlock new skills through quite a few amazing professional experiences. My favorite highlights would be meeting readers at the Spoken Black Girl Launch Party, doing PR and media coverage for the Miss Black USA Pageant, and representing SBG at my local health fair. I am grateful to the many venues and organizers who invited me to speak about mental health and self-care. It has been a year of service and transformation.

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When I first started my blogging journey, I was overwhelmed by the level of technical skill involved in creating and maintaining a website, running several social media accounts, sending out newsletters and other tedious tasks that come with the blogging territory. I often felt lost in the dark, constantly wondering if I was “doing it right”, but I knew I had to spread my message and follow my purpose, so I navigated through new software, tested the waters with graphic design and learned everything I could about likes, hashtags, and twitter chats. The journey has been messy, but I’ve now come to a place where I can call these experiments in digital media actual skills.

Social Media

In today’s world, social media is the single best way for any project or company to gain traction and interest. Before I started Spoken Black Girl, I was a social media hater. I had a Facebook that I rarely posted on. When I started to blog, I quickly realized how important it was to share my content on social media, gain a following, and understand one’s audience. While working in social media and marketing at a magazine, I learned the ropes of social media management and marketing. That combined with the new world Spoken Black Girl opened up for me gave me insight into the limitless potential of social media. Social media management is more than just posting pretty pictures for likes, it’s about knowing your audience and sharing content specifically meant to improve their lives, educate, or entertain. It also takes a lot of attention and genuine engagement, so plugging clinical sounding posts into a social media scheduler is usually not effective.

Web Design

Thinking back, I’ve always been interested in design. I remember begging my dad to buy Printmaster, an early graphic design software, for the family computer so I could wow my teachers and ace school projects. I’ve always had the ability to imagine the written word and recreate it through visual means, or do the reverse by examining images and writing lengthy essays about them (I was an English major & Art History minor). It’s no wonder that I enjoy creating websites, which are essentially beautiful vessels for the written word.

Over the years, I have created several websites. In middle school, I copied code into my Xanga page and figured out how to embed a Bloc Party playlist into my myspace page. I wouldn’t delve into web design again until I started my first blog in college. The website was ugly and wouldn’t last beyond 3 posts, but it was a start. Since then, I have found that every major project I start is incomplete without its own website. It wasn’t until I spent a month building the Spoken Black Girl Magazine website that I realized how much I enjoyed the process of designing and building new websites. Each website taught me something new. Web design, content writing, graphic design, coding… these are all legitimate skills that I have strengthened with some extra effort. I enjoy taking web courses and using apps to deepen my understanding.

Writing & Editing

I could fill several posts with my journey as a writer. I’ve been interested in all things writing for as long as I can remember. I’ve worn the editor hat several times as well and it is my pleasure to share these skills and abilities with others. This year, I have been flexing my writing skills in a variety of ways with business writing, blog posts, profiles, and web content writing.

I finished the first draft of my novel… oops I forgot to tell you all! No, I actually didn’t forget. I have been celebrating this milestone as a personal victory although it is also, undoubtedly, a professional victory. Novels are like babies and I can’t help but feel protective of my first draft. It needs time to breathe and so does its author.

Before 2017 is over, I’m determined to prove it’s never too late to complete a project! Late last year, I wrote the Spoken Black Girl Journal for Self-love and Healing. Earlier in the year I set about getting published and ready to launch but ran into difficulties. Other projects came up and soon the journal was another unfinished project on my hard drive. I’m happy to announce that the Spoken Black Girl Journal for Self-Love & Healing is finally back on track! Look for the journal to be released in February 2018.

This doesn’t come close to summing up all of the skills and experience that I’ve gained this year, so I’ll share more next time along with a roundup of the best resources for creative entrepreneurs.  For now, go after what you want full-force. Don’t worry about how your dreams will come true. Take a leap and learn the skills along the way.

Did you gain any self-taught skills in 2017 or reach new heights in developing any existing skills?

4 thoughts on “Use What Ya Got: My Top 3 Self-Taught Skills for 2017

  1. High five for growing yourself and working through barriers! I can relate to these challenges. Started my blog several years ago with basically no clue how to use it. Then the past two years dug my heels in, wrote my heart out and have over 300 followers 🙂 I’ve met some great people through the process. Well worth our time to invest in ourselves.

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  2. Rowana great share I pretty much did the same as you this year but I feel I am still failing at Social Media. It isn’t that I don’t want to engage or have no interest it’s that I can’t seem to grasp the rules. I’ve tried twitter chats but they seem repetitive and boring after a few weeks. People follow you that night then quickly unfollow. I haven’t found a genuine connection yet. Maybe you know some chats I can try. We have similar goals which is to spread the word on self-care and mental health. For me being in my mid 40’s it’s about never staying stuck, creating your best life and being comfortable in your own skin. And if your a parent or single mom, not allowing parenting/motherhood to slow you down on achieving your own dreams. Happy to see you gain so much even if it was at times a bumpy ride xo:)

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  3. I applaud your accomplishments and growth! I’ve only just started digging into the more serious side of growing an audience, and I do feel the overwhelm increasing. Your story is encouraging. The self-taught skill I’m most proud of this year is refining and taking my illustration seriously–but did you say Printmaster?! That brings back so many memories! We used to print out banners on those connected printer paper stacks, lol. It’s amazing to see how digital graphic design has changed so much, from only a limited library of pixelated stock art to whatever you can imagine.

    As a blogger & illustrator, I’m looking to create a collection of free stock illustrations for blogs, and I’d love to know your thoughts on the role of art on your blog. I’ve created a survey that takes 2 minutes to complete . Every response will help shape the collection, so if you’re at all interested here’s the link to learn more: https://pursuitofnatural.wordpress.com/2017/11/27/blogger-survey/

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