We had the awesome opportunity to spotlight our first “Thriving” woman this week, Danielle Belton. And, in this second installment, Jenn M. Jackson got to ask Ms. Belton of Snob Blog, about her expert advice for up-and-coming bloggers. Sit down, grab a cup of coffee, and read the wise words of this experienced blogger, commentator, writer, and future published author.
And, if you didn’t get a chance to read Part 1, check it out now.
Jenn: You have been writing, commentating, and representing for black women for some time now. Have you faced any opposition, or you know, criticism, that you think would be a learning experience for our readers?
Danielle: Oh, I have dealt with my fair share of criticism from all, pretty much all over the place. I’d say, especially if you do anything in the public sphere, whether it’s writing or politics or music or art, you’re gonna have to deal with criticism. You’re gonna have to deal with people’s opinion. That’s the whole point. If you put yourself out there for the public to consume, the public is gonna give you their opinion whether you want it or not. So, the best thing you can do is just always remember the source when you are getting criticism.
Danielle: Because, sometimes there are people who like to complain. Like, it has nothing to do with you. Because they’ll complain about anything. You need to know the difference between people who are just being spiteful for spite’s sake versus people who have real legitimate concerns or constructive criticism for you. ‘Cause you could learn a lot from your readers who have constructive things to say or they have an interrupting opinion. Or, who even when they disagree with you, if they disagree with you in a kind of helpful and non-personal way. It’s when people are trying to get you riled up, that’s the stuff you need to acknowledge and you need to step back from. And go, “that’s not me, that’s not going to be part of me, that’s not even going to get in my head. I am not even going to read it.” You have to do that to stay in a good, creative place.
Jenn: So, do you think that black women in particular face that at like a greater magnitude than other groups or do you think it’s just kind of evenly spread around?
Danielle: Oh, I think on the internet, it’s bad for everybody. If you create something online, you will deal with criticism right now regardless of your gender or race. What makes it interesting for or different for black women is to have the types of criticism that you get. You might have the criticism or critique that a man wouldn’t get or that a non-black person doesn’t get just by virtue of your race and gender. You get like, the criticism could be very specific to you but everybody deals with this type of drama when they put themselves out there online.
Jenn: So, I mean a lot of, for SheThrives, a lot of our readers are also bloggers. And a lot of them, you know, are just starting out. Now, you have like “hit” success. I mean, when people talk about blogs that have done well, especially in the black community, yours is probably one of the first ones that comes up. What recommendations would you give to some of the new up and comers about how to really see the success and carve out a niche as successfully or comparably to how you have?
Danielle: The best thing is to try to find something that is going to make you different from everyone else. You know, there are so many different blogs and so many different types of blogs, and there’s a lot of competition for readers. So, you have to come with something that’s original otherwise, if they can read it someplace else they’ll read it someplace else. You have to give them a reason why they should read your blog over some other blog.
Danielle: What is it? Is it your style of writing? Is it that you can get news that other people can’t get? Is it a different point of view or commentary that people can’t get someplace else? It’s always about the content. You have to figure out a way to create unique content that’s going to make you stand out in the crowd. You know, I see a lot of people who will start hair blogs, they’ll start dating blogs and the problem is that there’s a billion of those. It’s like, what’s going to be the thing that sets your hair blog or dating blog apart from the others?
Danielle: If you can’t say that your content is going to be different from Curly Nikki or Long Hair Don’t Care then what are you starting the blog for if you can’t do something different than they’ve already done? You have to find out what your niche is and you have try and find out how you can make yourself different. You know, how you can stand out in the crowd, because it is a crowd. It is very very much a crowd. When I started blogging in 2007, there were not a lot of black political blogs. It was like me and Jack and Jill politics and maybe one other that I can’t think of right now cause that’s how few there was. We all know each other. All the black political bloggers knew each other ’cause there weren’t that many of us.
Danielle: Now, you know, there’s tons. There’s a plethora of us all running around making our opinions be known. So, you have to do something different. You can’t just say that you’re going to do something that’s similar to what Baratunde did because Baratunde already did it. So, what are you going to do different from him?
Jenn: Right, so in that same vein, I mean, is there any one thing in your writing, your professional journey that you regret or that you wish you had done differently based on your experiences now? You know, hindsight 20/20 kind of thing?
Danielle: Sometimes I have a tendency to start projects on my blog like series or really in-depth things and I didn’t finish them because it was too much work. I got involved with, I either got hired by somebody or I just didn’t have time to work on it. I got overwhelmed with other things so that’s really a personality trait of mine where I have so many ideas and I want to do so many different projects and I can’t dedicate myself to all of them. And so, if anything I regret, is that sometimes I didn’t follow-through with things like I should have because I got distracted.
Jenn: I understand the feeling girl.
The interview isn’t over yet. In the final part of this series, Ms. Belton talk politics, mental health, and social justice. This “Thriving” woman proves that she can wear many hats all of which fit her perfectly.
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