My Biggest Lesson of 2018

This is the time of the year where we step back and analyze where we are and where we want to be. The time where we consider if the goals, we set at the beginning of the year have been realized and if there are any changes or improvements that need to be made. This is also the time of the year when I share with you the lessons I’ve learned from the year. Usually, I do this closer to the end of the month but my family is moving so things are busy around these parts. Last year, I had an entire list of lessons learned. This year, I only have one.

December is when I do a lot of reflection. An entire year has passed. What changed? What remained? What needs to be added onto or removed? 2018 has been filled with amazing growth for me personally as well as professionally. At the end of 2017, I was celebrating my move to Georgia and one of my books in a brick and mortar bookstore. At the end of 2018, four of my twelve books are in three bookstores and I’ve just purchased my first home. I attribute this to learning one valuable lesson. A lesson that I do not think we ever stop learning but that gets easier the more we love ourselves, a lesson that I’ve learned and that I will keep learning, a lesson that has changed my mentality and thus also, the way I do things. To further illustrate this point, let me first tell you about an experiment.

The Asch Conformity Experiment

Named after Solomon Asch, the Asch Conformity Study was meant to study conformity in people (how we behave according to other people’s desires and standards) and was conducted in the 1950s. The participants were shown three lines on a piece of paper and a fourth line. The participants had to simply match one of the three lines with the fourth line. Most of the people were accomplices in on the study with only one or two real participants. According to the study, 76% of participants picked the wrong line after the majority of the room picked the wrong line. The study was groundbreaking in studying conformity in groups and has been repeated many times throughout the years. (You can find examples of the study on YouTube.)

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to fall into conformity by doing what everyone else is doing in an effort to achieve success. The problem is, entrepreneurship is about authenticity and there is nothing authentic about conformity. Everyone wants to be an influencer. The only question is, what are you influencing people to do? Who are you influencing people to be?

We talk about embracing being unique and different but at the same time, we secretly want a seat at the table. At the same time, we don’t really want to be different. We want to be like everyone else because not being like everyone else comes at a cost that we are not courageous enough to pay. It is the cost of standing out instead of standing in. It is the cost of rejection and being misunderstood. It is a beautiful sacrifice that many of us, despite what we say, are not willing to make.

But you can’t want to be like the world and be different from the world at the same time. Either stand for something or fall for anything.

In the midst of the Kevin Hart situation, I think it’s important for us to all remember how important it is to be ourselves and to stand on our own integrity. And if we must influence, I hope it is to influence others to be undeniably and unapologetically themselves.

I. The biggest lesson I learned 2018 is to be fully myself even when who I am is not accepted by others. There are people who will think I’m foolish about certain decisions but it is my decision to make and my lesson to learn. I’ve learned to trust Yah more and to trust his will for my life. To make decisions without explaining myself or feeling the need to defend my position.

…and I hope the same for you.

Tall Tales Book Shop. 11.30.18. Copyright©2018. Yecheilyah Ysrayl.

What I enjoy most about being an Independent artist is the freedom to produce work that speaks to who I am, to not have to pull back, slow down, or sugarcoat my beliefs because of someone else standard. The right and the freedom to live freely in every sense of the word. To be true to myself, to my authenticity and do not have to apologize for it. I don’t have to tap dance around the truth for a check, I don’t have to scratch my hair unless it itches, and I don’t have to laugh unless something is actually funny. I’ve never been part of the “cool kids table” and I am not about to start now. This is freedom.

I hope you walk into 2019 not afraid to shine or to fail, understanding that both experiences shape you. It can be liberating to choose yourself, armed with the power to move forward without guilt, without arrogance, and without pride but with a deep love for yourself that is so strong that you can quickly realize when anyone or anything devalues you, even if that someone is your own self. The biggest challenge is not the war we fight with others but the war we fight with ourselves. To quote the African proverb, “when there is no enemy within, the enemy outside cannot hurt you.” Kill the enemy within. Slay your demons, silence the doubt, and walk free.

 

 

 

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Author Caution: Be careful putting all your eggs in one Basket

 
After experiencing multiple problems with Facebook the other day, amazon admitting to accidentally sharing people’s personal information, and reading Derek Murphy’s email about hacks, author websites and updating passwords, I think it’s time to publish a post that has been sitting in my drafts (and in my heart) for some time. It has also been a while since I’ve dedicated significant time to this blog and as we come upon the end of the year; I think it’s a good way to get us thinking about potential changes in 2019.
 
Be careful putting all your eggs in one basket.
 
 
When the stock market crashed in 1929, it shocked people. They couldn’t believe they couldn’t get their money out of the banks. It was like in the movies when there’s a natural disaster or alien invasion. Right before it all comes crashing down, life is perfect. A family is sitting at the table eating breakfast. Soccer moms are dropping their children off to school and dads are hoping for that corporate promotion. And then it happens, right there. You are at the breakfast table eating a bowl of cereal and your kitchen floor splits in half with your toddler on the other side of that half.
 

This is how quickly things change.

Life before the crash was great. People were doing well. People bought stocks with easy credit. During the 1920s there was a rapid growth in bank credit and easily acquired loans. People encouraged by the market’s stability were unafraid of debt. People were comfortable. So comfortable that they weren’t prepared when it all came crashing down. Not everyone was as affected though. The great depression didn’t affect poor people as much as those who had wealth because poor people were used to having nothing. Many of them were also already growing their own food, and already self-sufficient. They had to be innovative and entrepreneurial to survive.

There is a bitter and yet wry statement which was made by blacks about the depression. They said in the south that the depression had been going on for ten years before black people even know about (laughs)… knew it existed.”  – Maya Angelou
 
 

Social Media has made it possible to make millions with online-only businesses. No longer do you need a college degree or fancy training to start a business online. Social media and e-courses changed that. Writers can now publish their own books without a traditional publisher. Independent Publishing has been around for a long time, but Print on Demand took it to another level. Print on Demand services are platforms where authors can upload manuscripts easily and quickly online and order print copies of their books. Platforms such as Lulu, Kindle Direct Publishing and Bookbaby are examples. Not only is it easier than ever to publish books, but it‘s easier to make millions from social media alone. Professional Instagrammer or YouTuber are legit business titles now. College kids are dropping out to become YouTube stars and Insta-celebrities. Because of advanced technology you don’t need to understand code to build a website yourself or need a fancy camera to shoot a movie anymore. With a basic understanding of video editing you can do this with your iPhone.

Life is good.

But remember how quickly things change.

Social Media is changing. People are more outspoken about privacy and data use. Facebook is being more strict about limitations so it’s difficult to do any promotion without buying ads (and although we do it anyway, we’re not supposed to use our personal pages as business pages). Algorithms don’t show everyone‘s post and Facebook is losing readers because of problems like the one I faced the other day (where I couldn’t log in). Facebook is constantly down and Google+ and Createspace have already closed down. Although Social Media looks good now, I wouldn’t be surprised if it, like the stock market, drastically changed so that users have to either pay for accounts or it unexpectedly closed down completely. Poof. Gone. Tragedies often happen suddenly.

gold

“By the mid-1800s, most countries wanted to standardize transactions in the booming world trade market. They adopted the gold standard. It guaranteed that the government would redeem any amount of paper money for its value in gold. That meant transactions no longer had to be done with heavy gold bullion or coins. It also increased the trust needed for successful global trade. Paper currency now had guaranteed value tied to something real.” (Amadeo, K. 2018, 17 April. History of the Gold Standard.)

The history of paper money is worth the research and is too extensive to go in depth here but in short, the dollar began its decline on being backed by gold when the Gold Standard was suspended and even more after the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Paper money was only receipts that represented a certain amount of gold. When the Gold Standard was suspended more receipts were printed, printing receipts caused hyperinflation and money hasn’t been the same sense.

What does this mean / have to do with authors?

Putting your eggs in one basket is a phrase which means that one should not concentrate all efforts and resources in one area as one could lose everything. For Authors, putting your eggs in one basket could mean many things.
 

❌Using Social Media to build your business without a website

Investing in a business website is one of the most basic ways of running a successful business. Instead of just create a Facebook page or IG account, consider creating a website. It’s not expensive and can even be a one page website but it’s good to have. You can also use your blog as your website as we discussed before (because it doesn’t make much sense to spend money on a full website if you have one or no books out). Using social media without a website is putting your eggs in one basket because social media is not stable. Likes does not mean sales unless you have somewhere to direct people to purchase your books. Social media is not the final destination or at least it shouldn’t be. Social media is a doorway that must lead to a place. Your website is that place.

❌Only marketing and promoting your books online

“Social media is an important part of your business but it shouldn’t be the ONLY part of your business.” (The Six Figure Chick) The Six Figure Chick IG account is one of much value and she’s right. By only focusing on promoting and marketing and selling books online you are leaving money on the table. Although people talk about the death of print, radio and traditional media is still a big deal. There are still many people who aren’t tech savvy, still many people who prefer to visit libraries and bookstores, still many who prefer print books, and still many who want to see you in person or hear you speak. If you are already outspoken, this is an extra good thing for you. You’ll have no problem networking at events and meeting new readers. If you’re an introvert (like me), events help you to come out of your shell and meet new readers who can follow you online. My social media pages don’t have many followers but my numbers go up after every event. While I don’t think requiring your presence to make you money is wise (because I mean, the technology is here), scheduling at least one public appearance (such as a book signing) every now and again is a good way to meet your readers face to face.

❌Only publishing books. (Neglecting other ways of making long-term sustainable income as an author)

I recently attended the inaugural We Buy Black Convention in Atlanta where hundreds of black-owned businesses convened to support one another. There, I met Real Estate Super Agent Lisa Puerto, one of the featured speakers during one of the business talks (Jay Morrison was another speaker and Dr. Boyce Watkins was another speaker but I missed them). Long story short, my husband and I loved her passion so much that although we aren’t into real estate, we were ready to buy her book when she finished and got to chat with her after the segment.

Here’s the thing that surprised me though: her table was basic. Black table cloth, books and business cards. It looked similar to my table at the signing at Nubian books earlier this year! (see pic) There weren’t any fancy fixings but her line stretched down the hall and her business cards were getting picked up like candy. She had wowed us with her passion alone and her voice was big enough to outdo any banner. I say all of this to say I’ve learned that public speaking is how we as authors get the message out about our books. Instead of promoting the book, we could promote the message of the book and help people to understand why it’s worth their time to read our stories. It’s why celebrity authors go on book tours where they get to speak to the audience and despite how we feel about her, Omarosa sold the mess out her book just by talking about it!

The book is important, but it is not the only way of making money as an author. Once you’ve established yourself as an author and have started making waves with your books (please do this first), you can expand into other things such as teaching, coaching, and public speaking, as additional income sources. Only writing books is another form of putting your eggs in one basket because you’re limited to just one income stream. If you write full-time (no day job, no side hustle, e.g.) this is especially important. In striving to make a living from writing alone (once you’ve been established for awhile), it’s a good idea to expand your brand beyond just writing books.

❌Not building an email list

Email lists aren’t for everyone but in the event there is no more social media (blogs included), the email list becomes of great value alongside your website. It becomes another way for you to connect to your audience on a personal level. While I don’t have many subscribers I can say with the integrity I have more subscribes than unsubscribes and I am learning more and more how to better manage my team. Every business has an email marketing to accompany their business. I don’t know why writing has to be any different. Do you want to know why people don’t take Indie writers seriously? Because we assume the basic rules of running a business doesn’t apply to us. Yes, you can opt not to do certain things as there are no rules, technically. However, there are basics and you can‘t opt out until you fully understand the basics. A website, email list, social media, and a payment method are among the foundational basis of an online business. Your website is your home, your email list is your connection, your social media pages (includes blog) is your traffic and interaction, and your payment method/shopping cart is how you get paid. These are the basics. 
 
One of the many criticisms of the email list is that people don’t like to be emailed often. I have found this to be only a half-truth. Yes, people don’t like being emailed often but that is dependent on the kind of emails they are getting. I sit back and watch people send emails almost daily and I am not talking about struggling writers. I am talking about authors and business people with millions of dollars, people who have proven their value who send emails out very frequently. Dr. Boyce Watkins himself sends emails out it seems like every day and I open every last one. It’s not about how many emails you send, it’s about the quality of the emails you send. Spam is junk mail. Don’t send your readers junk. Your readers want to hear from you, they just don’t want to be spammed with useless information that means nothing to them and offers nothing.
 

❌Publishing on Amazon exclusively while neglecting other retailers

I think relying too heavily on Amazon is a mistake. I think a smart person would definitely have their books on Amazon but that they will also explore other retailers. It‘s about balance. Say what you want about them but having books on Amazon is just good business sense (you have to look at it the way readers do…they will search for your book on Amazon first before anything), but that doesn’t mean we have to only have books on amazon. One of the most valuable ways to sell your books is through your own author website! The reason Amazon is winning is that mostly we are promoting it. Our books may be present on other sites but if we aren’t promoting those links alongside Amazon, we cannot expect to see sales through those channels. How many times do you promote links to your book on Kobo? Barnes and Noble? Smashwords? Your own author website? If you’re honest with yourself your answer would be like mine, very little. If something were to happen to Amazon, do you know of any alternative ways of publishing? Have you educated yourself or are you only sticking with the zon? Publishing only on Amazon is putting your eggs in one basket because if amazon suddenly crashed it will take your eggs with it.

❌Wasting time arguing about whether Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing is better.

These debates are a waste of time (this is coming from the person who doesn’t think anything is a waste of time) and forces authors into putting their eggs in one basket. Publishing Independently works for me but I won’t sit here and say that I will never traditionally publish a book if it came time for it. There’s a time and place for everything and I am at a place where Independent Publishing works well for me. I cannot say this won’t change because I cannot predict the future. There’s nothing wrong if you suddenly decided to go the traditional route or if you decided to self-publish because the value doesn’t change. You are still worthy no matter how you choose to publish. By making this out to be some type of competition we lose sight of what really matters and create self-imposed limitations. This bullet point is different from the others and may seem out of place but that’s why I must mention it. It’s a low-key way of putting your eggs in one basket. Self-Publishing is one basket and Traditional Publishing is another basket. You are not limited to just using one. It’s okay to keep your options open.

This post will be too long if we covered every single area of how we leave money on the table by putting all our eggs into one basket but here are some additional areas:

Neglecting audiobooks

Not developing a business plan for your writing business / not legalizing your writing business

Not listing your books on Goodreads or creating an Amazon Author Central Page

❌Discounting your books / products so much that it undermines your business

Consider not relying on one way of doing things. People say that you don’t own social media but that is true for everything online. You don’t own that blog no more than you own that email list, no more than you own those social media pages.

I have to say, when Facebook tripped, as it often does, I was so happy that I at least have a website and email list to direct people to. If I had to rely on my Facebook page only, it would have caused me to panic as Facebook not working would mean losing all my contacts. Social media is an excellent tool as I can sit here and write to people all over the world from my computer. But traditional media still holds weight and that face-to-face “old stuff” still works as an option to connect you to your readers. People thought farming was old too until it was the poor black farmers whose homegrown food fed them during the depression.

The eleven sons of Jacob survived and flourished because their brother Joseph, who had become second in command to Pharaoh through his gift of properly interpreting the Pharaoh‘s dream, had created storehouses throughout Egypt where the people could come and buy food. When his brothers left Canaan for Egypt, they could find refuge. Could we learn from this? Could we be the Joseph’s of our day? Or will we wait until the famine wipes out all we have?

In the Atlanta area? Join me for a book signing / poetry recital celebration in honor of the one-year anniversary of I am Soul! The event also features other authors as part of a Co-Advertising Campaign and takes place at the Medubookstore at the Greenbriar Mall from 2-5:00p EST on December 22nd.

Authors, Are You Forgetting to Introduce Yourself??

If you are new to this blog, you may not know that I host weekly author interviews but you may have forgotten because it’s been months since we met a new author. I do know there are some people a bit confused on the process so I am reiterating the steps below. Usually, I publish author interviews on Monday’s but since it’s been awhile if you can get your information to me this week, I’ll post it this week. First, a recap of what this series is about.

About Introduce Yourself

In my ten years of publishing, I have come to understand that relationships sell books. By learning more about YOU the author as well as your writing style in general, your readers will be interested in other things about you, such as your writing and eventually, your books. It cannot be ignored that we are most likely to buy books from people we know. It’s why we support celebrities whose names we are already familiar with.

Introduce Yourself is a promotional opportunity for new authors I started back in 2016, hosted on The PBS Blog. It is an interview conducted by Yecheilyah (that’s me) with questions specifically tailored to helping us to get to know you better. Inspired by a song introduced in a children’s bible study class I helped coordinate, the song is meant to “break the ice.” With this feature, I hope to introduce new authors to my audience for an opportunity to learn more about them and their work. They say team work makes the dream work and I hope to do my part in making the dreams of authors come true.

The Process:

Participation is easy.

  • Choose at least 10 questions from the list below and email me your answers at yecheilyah(at)yecheilyahysrayl(dot)com) with your social media handles, photos, book covers, a brief bio, and a link to your website or blog. Please attach everything you would like me to promote along with the links. Also, please be as thorough in your answers as you canand be yourself.
  • Once I receive your email, I will respond in 3-5  1-2 business days. If I have any follow-up questions for you, I will ask you before setting a date for your feature.
  • The interviews that do the best are those in which you help me to promote you by reposting it to your social media pages and blog. To date, we’ve promoted 28 authors on this blog! Join them!

The questions are below. They are not in any particular order. Start with question 30 or question one. Your choice. Just make it an interesting mix!

  1. What is your name and where are you from?
  2. What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
  3. What is the most annoying habit that you have?
  4. Are you employed outside of writing? Is so, tell us about your job.
  5. What do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?
  6. What job do you think you’d be really good at?
  7. How many siblings do you have?
  8. What was your childhood dream?
  9. What skill would you like to master?
  10. What skill do you think you’ve mastered?
  11. In your own words, what is humility?
  12. In your own words, what is love?
  13. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
  14. If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house be like?
  15. What’s your favorite drink?
  16. What state or country do you never want to go back to?
  17. What songs have you completely memorized?
  18. Does blogging help you to write? If not, why so? If so, how so?
  19. What’s your favorite food?
  20. What’s your favorite color?
  21. Who is your favorite writer?
  22. If you could shadow your favorite artist, who would it be?
  23. What kind of music do you like?
  24. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
  25. If you could live in a movie, which would it be? Why?
  26. Who is your best friend?
  27. Are you married? How long?
  28. Are you single? Would you like to be married?
  29. Do you have children?
  30. Would you like to have children? Why?
  31. What takes up too much of your time?
  32. What do you wish you knew more about?
  33. What small things makes your life easier? What makes it difficult?
  34. Who’s your favorite Historical figure?
  35. What do you think of the world we live in?
  36. What are your thoughts on Race?
  37. In your own words (not Google’s) define racism.
  38. What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie?
  39. What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?
  40. What TV channel exists but really shouldn’t?
  41. Are you religious? Explain.
  42. Are you political? Explain.
  43. What is the most thought provoking book you’ve ever read?
  44. What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
  45. Why is writing important to you?
  46. What do you love about yourself?
  47. What don’t you like about yourself?
  48. If you had one superpower that could change the world, what would it be? Why?
  49. What genre do you write in, why?
  50. In your own words, what is truth?
  51. Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?
  52. What’s the funniest movie you’ve ever seen?
  53. Are you a spiritual person? (please explain how this is different from being a religious person)
  54. What do you think of police brutality in the black community? How can we do better?
  55. What do you think of the bullying in our schools? How can we do better?
  56. What do you think of the current political climate? What needs to change?
  57. If you could choose a city, state, or country to represent you, which would it be? Why?
  58. If you could, would you visit the past?
  59. If you could, would you visit the future?
  60. What advice would you give your younger self?
  61. Life is not always pretty. We all experience hardship every now and again. What is your best advice for reducing stress?
  62. What is the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
  63. What is the best advice you’ve ever been given? What made it special?
  64. What was your favorite subject in school? Your least favorite?
  65. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

UPDATE: AUTHORS, PLEASE NOTE: This segment is not new on the blog but has been going on for two years now. Be sure to check the Introduce Yourself page (HERE) to make sure you have not already been interviewed. If you have already been interviewed but you have new books out / updates, email me so I can update your page. yecheilyah(at)yecheilyahysrayl(dot)com

I am at your service!

Your Books in Independent Bookstores

When 2018 started, I told myself that I would step outside of my comfort zone by trying to get my books accepted into bookstores, a challenge for an Indie Author with no large following and no large publisher backing her. But I did it and now I am making it a goal to get my books into libraries and in schools. And if it’s Yah’s will, I hope to do some public speaking. Before this year ends, I’ll be sending my email list my personal goal-setting chart and they will get to see exactly how I set my goals and the action steps I implement to achieve them. Today, I am taking the time to reveal some basic things you can do to prepare your books to be accepted at bookstores and how to go about the process and it’s yours free. All you have to do is subscribe to my email list HERE to access the PDF. You will get a welcome email and the document will be in that email. Please be sure to check your spam / junk folders if you do not see the welcome email in your inbox.

Some of the things covered in the document.

  • Know Your Why

Unless you are already famous, people aren’t gonna be checking for your books at bookstores in the same way they do online. In order for people to walk in and not look over your book, they must have some prior knowledge about who you are (more on this below). Be sure you know why you are doing this. Getting in bookstores and libraries is not some fast track to fame or money maker. That’s not what it’s about. Getting into bookstores is only a big deal to Indie writers because many of us aren’t backed by a big publisher so getting onto the shelves of brick and mortar stores gives us a greater opportunity for the possibility of hosting book signings at those stores, meet new people (who we probably would not have met online), and expanding our brand far and wide.

  • Get Your Name Out There

As you’ll see in the document, it’s not very difficult to get into small, local, Independent bookstores on consignment which means that’s not really the challenge. The challenge is selling those books which is difficult to do if people don’t know who you are. I am still trying to get my name out there and I have identified some areas where I could do better. However, you don’t have to be a celebrity or famous to start. You can start with social media and drive traffic through your blog and social media accounts. The most effective thing, though, is to get out and attend local events. Is there a book festival in your hometown? Go. Is there any event that matches what your books are about? Go to those events. Here, you’ll meet people who may be able to help you, work with you, recommend you, and help you to get your message out.

  • Target Stores that Match Your Audience

I approach black-owned bookstores because my books are about black history. There are exceptions where I’ll take a chance on a non-black-owned store (such as Tall Tales Book Shop…I love their store set-up), but for the most part my target is populations where the majority of the readers are Israelites (Blacks) and women. Why? Because my books are about the lives of Blacks in America and the lives of women. It has nothing to do with “race” and everything to do with positioning myself to be at the places where my ideal reader is.

  • Technology is Still King

Don’t overthink it with the bookstores though and forget why the Indie Revolution started in the first place. It’s good to attend events and get out and network with people face to face but don’t forget technology is still king. You don’t want to create a situation where your presence is needed to make you money as perfectly put by Cici aka “The 6 Figure Chick” on IG. That is, you don’t want to only bring in income when you do an event. Keep that online presence going. I am of the opinion that Indies with books in the store should do so as a supplement to the online business, not as the business itself.

A website, email list, social media, and a payment method are among the foundational basis of an online business (and if you’re an author with books on amazon be sure to have an Amazon Author Central Page set-up. You can learn how to do that here). Your website is your home, your email list is your connection, your social media pages (includes blog) is your traffic and interaction, and your payment method/shopping cart (including amazon) is how you get paid. If you meet people in person, it won’t mean anything without a way for them to keep in contact with you. Update your blog and social media pages regularly and continue to be consistent. Remember that your success is not the same as everyone else’s and being authentic doesn’t have to mean doing what everyone else is doing. Be you. Be disciplined. Be consistent.

Read more by downloading the entire PDF Document when you subscribe to my email list HERE.


Pictures from Friday’s signing at Tall Tales Book Shop are now available on my website HERE. Thank you to everyone who came out. If you’re in the ATL area, my next signing is December 22nd from 2-5p EST at the Medubookstore at the Greenbriar Mall.

3 Lessons I Learned from the Settlefree Mixer Event

If you’ve been following me on social media you have already seen the photos of this weekend’s mixer. I had a good time, though I spent most of it being reserved. I mostly listened. There were many in the room who had achieved greatness and I just wanted to soak up their wisdom. I learned a lot that way too and was given some excellent advice. I did not take many pictures at all. Most of the pictures I have were taken by others. I have included a few pictures in this post but to view more pictures, CLICK HERE.

A Deeper Understanding of Self

Copyright©2018. Tinzley Bradford and Settlefree TV.

I have learned that the way you feel about yourself influences everything around you both on and off the job. It influences the way you run your business, the way you interact in relationships, and what you choose to accept and not to accept. It controls how you speak up for yourself and how you handle disputes. How you feel about yourself is so powerful that it shapes every single decision you make from getting out of the bed in the morning to laying down in the evening. How you feel about yourself is important because it influences the choices that you make. People with high self-esteem are not people who have it together all the time or never have down and depressed moments. People with high-self-esteem are also not necessarily people who are loud and outspoken. Whether someone is quiet or outspoken should never be used as a measure for how they feel about themselves because some people are loud to cover up insecurities. And people with high self-esteem are also not arrogant and proud since love is also not arrogant and proud. Instead, people with high levels of self-esteem know that they are good people regardless of the circumstances. They have a deeply spiritual understanding of themselves because their self-perceived value of self is set high.

But, there is an issue that arises that comes along with the self-love journey that must be acknowledged. How high is too high to think of oneself? Is there such a thing as thinking too much of oneself? How do you find the balance between humility and confidence?

Narcissism is an extremely positive view of the self, combined with limited empathy for others. The difference between arrogance and confidence is an awareness of other people / the other person’s needs. That’s why I have always said that self-love gives you what you need for yourself so that you can be better for others. When you start to disregard other people’s feelings, thoughts, and perspectives you have crossed the line. It sounds simple, but it’s not so much. If you think about your everyday interactions, there is plenty of room for humility or cockiness. Will you choose to put your call on hold until after you have finished your exchange at the register? Will you move out of the way when someone says excuse me? Will you cover your mouth when you yawn or wait until someone finishes speaking before you speak? All of this requires some level of humility. The more self-aware you are (aware of your own emotions, feelings, and needs), the more aware you can be of how you are with others. The more aware you are of yourself, the more humble you become.

“If you wanna be a Michelle Obama, don’t get yourself a lil Wayne.”

Me and Moshe (Hubby). Photo by Relle Godwin with “Let’s Get Relle”

Laughs followed this statement made by the financially successful women on the panel on how to improve finances. The point was clearly understood. Having nothing against lil Wayne, the advice was to make sure that you are with someone who can elevate you to where you want to go. Depending on your goals you may very well want to get a lil Wayne. You and he may be going to the same places. Maybe you want to change the world musically. But, if you want to be in the White House, figuratively speaking, lil Wayne is not going to get you there. If you want to be Michelle Obama, you need a Barack Obama. I am only interested in being a better EC, thank you. But the point is, in relationships, make sure that you are with someone who can help you to level up financially as well. Be with someone you can build something with together. I will tell you, I am good by myself, but boi am I a force when we’re together! You should not be unequally yoked by any means. Make sure that you are on one accord in everything that you do. Be with someone who can lead you somewhere in every aspect of your life.

Your Circle

Me and Actress and TV Show Host Chere Turner | TV One)

I spoke to the audience briefly about my perspective on the circle. I challenged the idea that our circles should be small. On the surface, yes, that’s true. You don’t want to surround yourself with a whole bunch of fake people. But, what I explained was this: the size of the circle doesn’t matter. The quality of the people in the circle is what matters. I explained, that, you can have only two people in your circle or who you fellowship with and who you kick it with. But if these two people are both snakes you need another circle. People also do not fulfill the same roles and will thus add a different kind of value to your life. My husband is in my circle. He adds a value to my life that cannot be filled by anyone else, not even my mother. But my mother is also in my circle and she adds a value to my life that no one else can fulfill, not even my husband. My sisters are also in my circle and they have a role they fulfill as well. Everyone will bring something different. Professionally, there is a circle as well and your professional circle is different from your personal circle.

Tinzley’s 4th Quarterly Settlefree Mixer Group Pic

Professionally, I want a balanced circle, people I look up to who know more than me or who can teach me something new. I know that sounds odd, but that’s because we’ve learned, in this society, to hate each other. By surrounding myself with people who are more successful than me, I can learn how to perform on their level and beyond. I want to be around people I can learn from and look up to because it forces me to look up. Instead of being jealous of each other we should be learning from each other. As a reminder, the professional circle may not be the same as your personal circle. Your personal circle is what we usually think of when we speak of the circle but remember there are different kinds of circles.

There will always be people who look up to you but who do you look up to? Who is doing what you want to do one day professionally? Who can you align yourself with professionally, who can show you how to do what they do and to do it better? If you want to stop smoking what would be helpful to your life? Filling your circle with smokers who have no plan of action on how to quit or filling your circle with non-smokers whose non-smoking habits you can mimic? Which would help you to achieve your goal of not smoking? Common sense says the latter so why do we want to only be around people who are not where we want to be? What is at the core of us surrounding ourselves only with people who are at our levels or below our levels? Is it jealousy? Ego? Competition? Fear? It’s good for you to inspire others and to be a good example for others to learn from. That’s good. What’s also good is you having someone you can learn from as well. Seek to be informed and to inform, not just to inspire and be inspired.


Have you grabbed your copy of Even Salt Looks Like Sugar yet? Have you reviewed Even Salt Looks Like Sugar yet? What are you waiting for?? Grab your copy now and leave an honest review when you’ve finished reading! CLICK HERE.

Blogging and Time

One of the many complaints I hear from new bloggers is concerning time. Blogging takes a lot of time. This is true and time is a very precious thing. How we spend our time is a big deal. What you spend time on today can directly influence your day tomorrow or weeks and months ahead. These days, I don’t have a lot of time to blog and I am not mad about it. I have shifted my perspective on a lot of things, one of them being better managing my time. The PBS Blog is still growing and there are new subscribers daily even if I don‘t blog daily and engagement is decent. My posts are shared daily. All of this from not blogging. I am wasting time just talking about it, actually. I am sitting here writing a blog post when I should be doing laundry.

Define Your Purpose

What are you using your blog for? Do you plan to monetize your blog? In other words, get paid for blogging? Do you intend to keep your content free? Are you using your blog to reach more readers? Build an audience? Are you an author blogger or business blogger? Authors use blogging a bit differently than business bloggers. (I recommend Anne R. Allen’s book The Author Blog: Easy Blogging for Busy Authors) How are you using your blog to your advantage? This question is important because it will determine how you spend your time. Define your purpose for blogging. Don’t just say because you like to write or something vague like that. Be specific. Why did you start a blog and where do you want it to go? One thing I love about Dr. Boyce Watkin’s emails is that he has a clear purpose and everything goes back to that. His thing is Financial Literacy and by the end of every email you know that.

Your Purpose Can Change

Your purpose may also change as you grow and that’s not a bad thing. I didn’t know what I was blogging for when I first started. It took a couple years for me to figure that out and to narrow it down. I am here to connect with readers, black history buffs, to coach new bloggers of the WordPress platform, and to build with Independent Authors. Everything I do on this blog will ultimately go back to one or all of those points. I will either be writing, offering information on black history, giving out blog and writing tips or supporting Indie Authors. Everything I do must be consistent with these things. You may say, “but you didn’t say poetry and certainly you write poetry on this blog!” Truth. I also host a yearly poetry contest and I also didn’t mention inspiration though I am always offering words of encouragement. But this all falls under one of my core points.

Connecting with Readers

Poetry, Short Stories, Creative Writing pieces, Music, Testimony, e.g.

Black History Buffs

Black history articles and little known historical facts

Blog Coaching for New Bloggers of WP Platform

Blog Tips

Supporting Indie Authors

Book Reviews, Promoting / Supporting other Authors, Writing Tips

Build a Schedule

I cannot speak enough about being consistent and having some kind of schedule can help with that. If you think this is unnecessary, then you should probably reevaluate why you’re blogging. Personally, I don’t want to do anything that does not provide some kind of value. If I am incorporating anything in my life whether it’s a blog or a new diet it had better give me a return in some way. For this to happen consistency is necessary and having a schedule can help.

Consistency doesn’t mean every day. Consistency just means regularly. This can be once a week or once a month. (I wouldn’t recommend once a month. I’d try for at least once a week) You don’t have to blog every day but you do have to know what you intend to get out of it. Again, what’s your purpose? Everything will go back to your reason for blogging in the first place. How you blog, your blog schedule, and your content will all come from why you are here. Once you know that, you will be able to build a schedule around this purpose and decide how much time you want to spend blogging. Consistency builds trust, trust builds value and value builds support.

Decide Exactly How Much Time You Want to Spend Blogging

If you are reading this post it probably means you are short on time to blog. You may be too busy to blog regularly but you do want to keep connection with your readers. Once you know why you want to blog and you have created a schedule for your blog, decide how much time you want to actually spend blogging (which should be a part of your schedule). If you only want to spend two hours on your blog just spend two hours on your blog! If it takes longer than two hours to draft a post, save it for another day. We will still be here.

Choose a Time to Offer Support Only

Schedule some time toward supporting other blogs. This is good because if you support others, others will support you even when you are not blogging. Supporting others can take 2 minutes or 30 minutes depending on the kind of support you’re offering but it doesn’t have to be grandiose. Supporting other bloggers can be as simple as liking their new post or sharing it on social media. It can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. Since we are talking about managing time, you may be thinking:

“But EC, I don’t have time to spend on my own blog and now you’re saying I have to spend time on someone else??”

Firstly, you don’t have to do anything and secondly, I know and I get it. I must also admit that I need to spend more time on other blogs too. I don’t have as much time as I used to for blogging but supporting others, even if it’s just to retweet them, is something I squeeze in. Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” Likewise, if you don’t have time to be supportive of someone else blogs, why should anyone support yours? Choose a time (even if it’s a few minutes) simply to offer your support to someone else’s blog. Don’t mention your own blog and please don’t leave your blog link in their comments. That’s spammy and disingenuous. Make this time specifically about others and not you.

I read something once on Instagram the other day that applies nicely to this: “You don’t build a business. You build people and the people build the business.” I don’t know who said it but I’d like to apply the same to blogging: You don’t build a blog. You serve the people and the people build the blog. This blog is made up of people. I didn’t build this, the people did. YOU did.


Have you grabbed your copy of Even Salt Looks Like Sugar yet? Have you reviewed Even Salt Looks Like Sugar yet? What are you waiting for?? Grab your copy now and leave an honest review when you’ve finished reading! CLICK HERE.

When We Were Innocent

It took me a long time to realize Rick James Mary Jane song was about weed. For a long time, I thought Mary Jane was an actual woman he was in love with. Every time I heard the song I would smile, my heart melting at the sound of love. Even after watching the movie Friday, where there were obvious clues (such as the song being played as Smokey inhaled three joints at a time that day Craig got high for the first time), I still didn’t get it. After learning what the song was really about, I still liked it but it didn’t have the same happy feeling to it. I didn’t smoke weed so I couldn’t relate. I liked it better when I thought the song was about love.

I miss when we were innocent. Back before we really knew how messed up the world was. Back when the world was ours. Back when my Uncle told me and my siblings we couldn’t watch Bevis and Butthead. Back when the lyrics were still crafty enough to hide the “bad stuff” from the kids. When you didn’t know what the meanings behind the songs were, back when you had to be mature to know what it meant. I miss when we were innocent. Like before you really got to know someone. Back when you were besties just because. Back before we knew each other well enough to be aware of the other’s faults. When you meet someone for the first time there’s an innocence, a respect and a kindness you give because your mother taught you to be kind. As we get to know one another though, it seems like we are no longer as kind, as compassionate, or as merciful.

We take knowledge of the other person‘s mistakes as an invitation to pull back on the amount of love we give. And we do it in the cruelest way. We pull back without communication, without questions, and without checking to see if our assumptions were correct, we just leave. Abandon one another after realizing the other person was human. We didn’t do that kind of stuff as kids. We fought, argued and then invited our friends (the one we just argued with) over for dinner. We didn’t think they were possessed or insane or no longer worthy of our friendship. They disagreed with us but that didn’t mean we were enemies. We knew they were flawed, but that just made us love them better.

As you blog, not everyone will stick around. As people get to know you better, they will soon decide whether you are someone they want to keep up with. And that‘s not a bad thing entirely. People have a right to decide who they want to have around them. That’s life. People come and people go. Blogging is no different. This decision will come, either from you or from them. Somewhere along the lines, you’ll learn you either are or are no longer compatible.

If you‘re new to blogging you better take advantage of it. Those days of people being kind and generous and supportive and of you being loved on won‘t last long. Four and five years into this thing and you will look up to the faces of a completely new group of people, wondering where everyone has gone. This new group will love you now. Appreciate them for it. These are the childlike stages of blogging. The beginning of things, the freshness, the newness. These are the days when we are innocent.