Sunday 15 November 2020

Slow growth is the way to go

Being an author!
 As I am sure you are all aware as well as being an author I am a lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Winchester. Over the summer, I did a lot of research and upskilling because I knew I needed to be able to help my third-year students prepare in the best possible way for what was likely to be a difficult job market thanks to our friend COVID. I wanted to help them stand out effectively and for the right reasons as well as realise what options would be available to them.

Little did I release this would prove so useful for me as an author too. I attended various business symposiums, career webinars and joined some groups. I followed a variety of people on social media that you wouldn't necessarily normally associate with my life as either an academic or being a writer. They were in fact more associated with my previous life, pre academia and pre writer. I learnt so much from them. 

Jessica Bendien

I attended a symposium for business women run by Emma Gosling, which had a variety of talks. Some of which were not useful but some were. I was checking out anything that was related to employability or presentation related that I could use for the students. Through the symposium, I won a one to one session with Jessica Bendien who runs Bang Talent but also Finding Fame courses. Don't be mislead by the title of the courses. It is not about being a celebrity. It is about becoming 'a go-to person' in your area and raising your profile.  It is easy to be sceptical about this and I am the world's worst cynic, but I learnt more in an hour with Jess than I have for a long time. She really made me stop and think about how I saw myself, what I wanted to achieve then how I was going to do it. 

Vix Meldrew
Glow & Grow
It has made me more conscious of my social media and how I use it. I am well aware that social media can have a negative impact on my mental health. I cam across Vix Meldrew with Glow & Grow on Instagram. Again it is aimed at business people. I have not joined the group (yet - I might soon but with school visits down so much finances are very tight). But I do follow them on Instagram and the information posted is very useful. I save a lot of their posts to remind me how I should be using social media. I am far more strategic about my social media engagement than I was before. I have a better understanding of it from both Jess and Vix. I also have found Alice Benham who is an advocate for slow growth, which anyone who is an author, is really going to empathise with. Nothing about being an author is fast. Everything we do is about the long game. It is not a race.

Now I can almost hear the shouting at this blog post. 'I am a writer, not a business person.' 'I don't need this.' And that is fine, you don't have to do it. This is just a way I have found of looking at my writing career and dealing with some of the issues I have faced following COVID, which I thought I might share. I have been lucky and always gained a lot of knowledge from people like Candy Gourlay who have always shared their author experiences including social media best practices. The links I have shared here just add a further dimension to it. For me, I became aware that I had a brand. There was Vanessa Harbour, author, and I needed to decide how to get that brand out there and what image I wanted to create so that people would be interested in my books and in me as an author with the knowledge I have. I needed to think about consistency and strategy. I confess I have not got this right yet and it is still a work in progress, but then I am working on the idea of slow growth. I intend to be here for the long run. What I do know is that I am open to ideas and seeing how  I can make my brand one that is recognisable, reliable and one that you would think of automatically. Yes, I am an author, but I need to remember not to be closed-minded when I think about how I am promoting myself. Anything is possible.

The Internet is a great resource and it is here to stay. Let's make the most of it. 

Enjoy Michael Kiwanuka's Light