When the idea to write something called “The War on Black Women’s Bodies” (WOBWB) first popped into my head months ago, it was simply going to be a blog post. Ever since I started my blog in 2012, I thought in blog posts. I knew their DNA in and out. Titles would pop into my head and I would madly type away anchoring that title with 500-700 words. But, the more I jotted down notes for the WOBWB, the more I realized the topic could not be contained in one post which is why I decided to write my first blog series.
Blog series are an excellent way to take a deep dive into a topic and engage your audience in a consistent way over a longer span of time. In the case of the WOBWB, I wanted to explore the many ways I felt Black women’s bodies were under attack, in a state of emergency, yet also being redefined by Black women themselves.
Writing a six-part series that reached nearly 17,000 words was one of the most challenging and transformative things I’ve undertaken in my blogging journey. Here are a few things tidbits I learned along the way:
Prepare, research and outline
The WOBWB didn’t happen overnight. In fact, I originally underestimated how long it would take to pull the series together and ended up delaying it by a month. Looking back, I probably could have planned even more than I did. I would suggest starting with a detailed outline–that’s where I went wrong. I knew the six topics I would tackle, but I found myself scrambling to outline the topic a week before it was set to be published. It all came together, but certainly not without some sleep-limited nights. A detailed outline up front will help to organize your thoughts, influence your research and give you an accurate gauge of how long it will take to write each part.
Conduct phone or in-person interviews; don’t just email some questions
A blog series requires more than simply spewing your opinion. To really anchor the writing, it’s necessary to interview other people and do your research. I conducted 25 phone interviews with different women to help inform the series. I knew I wanted to have conversations with these women, and I am eternally grateful that I did. I got to form a more human connection with them and hear things that they probably would have been reluctant to reveal in an email to someone they didn’t know. Take the time to establish those authentic connections.
The highest read part of the WOBWB series was not anything I wrote. I knew I wanted photos to be a part of the series, and my sister recommended hosting a photo shoot with different Black women and using those photos as the series conclusion. I pulled a shoot together, invited friends and family and published a photo slideshow with quotes as the series finale. As much as I hate admitting this as a writer, people are incredibly visual creatures. The photo slideshow added a new dimension to the work I had done in a way I simply could not have recreated with words.
Engage readers beyond the series
At the mid-way point of the series, I took a week off from publishing anything and instead hosted a Twitter chat with Erica of EverythingEnJ. We tackled all six parts of the series during the virtual event. The Twitter chat also added a new layer and provided new fodder to inform the rest of the series.
Pitch and continue to breathe new life into your product
To paraphrase something that Leandra Medine once said, blog posts can often times feel like one-night stands. They’re there, everyone loves them and then it feels like they’re forgotten. The beauty of a series is that it’s evergreen. The post you’re reading now is the result of pitching Candice about the series I wrote. Don’t let your words or hard work ever go to waste. Pitch excerpts of the series to different publications. Convert your experience into guest posts for other blogs. Pitch, promote and publicize that thing like hell.
Have you written a blog post series? What are some things you learned during the process? Let us know in the comments section!
Tyece Wilkins is the creator and editor-in-chief of Twenties Unscripted, a blog for millennial black women. She enjoys drinking red wine, reading, getting entrenched in long conversations with friends and creating customized things that she doesn’t need on Zazzle.
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