FROM LEFT: CRISTINA, EVELYN, MICHELLE, NIKKI, KAMI

Blogging While Brown came to our hometown, Austin, TX this past Friday!

Of course, we were super giddy (and somewhat nervous) to not only attend the 8th annual conference of Blogging While Brown, but speak at the event on a panel called "Niche to Mainstream: Why Your Blog Matters." We were amongst an inspiring crowd of bloggers, vloggers, graphic designers, radio show hosts, and many more men and women of color who were there to learn, influence, share, and motivate one another through a specific set of eyes--diversified, unique, and innovative.

Senior Content Editor, Cristina Cleveland, moderated the discussion. Co-founder and President of TextureMedia Inc. Michelle Breyer shared her story of the birth of NaturallyCurly.com: "We were bitching about our hair over cocktails." Social Media Manager Evelyn Ngugi, who also tends to a personal YouTube channel called Evelyn from the Internets in her spare time, gave insight on her early days in the online forum world that NaturallyCurly.com was originally known for (we're talking, back when CurlyNikki was just another CurlTalk member on the site). Email Marketing Manage Nikki Johnson introduced herself bashfully but honestly. "Yup. I'm the one who sends you all those emails." Account Manager Kami Smith is a key liaison between the brands we partner with and the rest of our NaturallyCurly team.

With the focused topic being niche, our panel discussed various things, from the importance of understanding your targeted audience, to learning how to connect with them, to choosing which brands or bloggers to partner with, wisely.

From a shared and paid content perspective, Cristina believes that working partnerships of all sizes and levels should be considered. 
"Start working with someone on a ground level. People may want to work with you but cannot afford to pay you what you want immediately. And you may not have the following they'd like. But if there's a lot of potential in the relationship for growth, it may be worth considering."

Putting yourself out there and hoping for a positive response from a viral world of audience members can be a scary, intimidating thing. When Evelyn first started managing NaturallyCurly.com's social media platforms, she knew it wouldn't be an easy thing to create community out of the masses. But through her self-proclaimed "vanity measures" and analytics, she noticed tremendous growth month after month, especially with our Facebook page.

Nearly 3 years after Evelyn's takeover of sharing content, community photos, tutorials, salon reviews, and more, our passionate community has grown from 40,000 to over 382,000 followers. "We managed to grow such an engaged audience without spending any ad dollars with Facebook," she says. "They wondered how we did it--I think it's because we gave the people a space to share."

Nikki knows both sides of the fence--she also has a lifestyle blog called NikkiChanel which she curates in her spare time aside from being NaturallyCurly and CurlyNikki's Email Marketing Manager. When Cristina asked the panel for tips on pitching to a potential partner, Nikki simply said, "Pitch yourself as an authority on your perspective, yes you have to be able to back it up but confidence in yourself is the first and most important step."

Kami speaks with our brand partners every day, she is always in the know about what their plans are, and constantly thinking about what will make sense for incorporating our company as a platform for their future endeavors. In her eyes, engagement is key. "It's all about growing your presence, creating awareness in the community that you are specifically trying to reach, and making yourself an authority for that niche market."

Did you attend #BWBATX? What was your biggest takeaway from this motivational couple of days? Let us know!