Afros, braids, curls, and kinky coils – I am surrounded by hundreds of beautiful brown women sporting natural hair styles at the 2nd Magic City Natural Hair Meetup.
The increasing number of African American women who are choosing natural hair as opposed to chemically straightened hair has sparked what some call a revolution because for many of these women the choice has less to do with a hairstyle change and is more about a lifestyle change. The shift to natural hair has inspired, in many women, a shift to healthy eating, regular exercise, self-acceptance, and even improved relationships. These are the kinds of stories being told at this and other natural hair meetups that happen all across the country.
Surprisingly, a closer look at the natural hair movement also reveals some valuable lessons for writers, all writers, regardless of race or how you wear your hair. As women were making the transition from chemically straightened to natural hair some of them began to take to the Internet starting blogs about their beauty trials and triumphs. Soon these beauty bloggers became experts and their sites became the spaces to which women flocked as they sought information and support. Today natural hair blogs are some of the most successful blogs on the web. So let’s look at what they did right.
Know your niche. Blogs need focus and good natural hair bloggers know this. They stay focused on tress talk and even if they write about something other than their curly coif those posts will still be somehow related to natural hair – such as posts about those lifestyle changes that natural hair can spark. So feel free to get creative with how you approach your topic -- otherwise you’ll get bored and so will your readers -- but stay centered on your niche and research it like crazy so you can write with authority.
Cultivate community. Sure, writers should write for themselves and for the love of the craft, but helping someone along the way wouldn’t be so bad either. Most natural hair blogs were created to help other naturalistas struggling to find the right products and styles for their hair and struggling with serious issues like “Will my boss think my natural hair looks unprofessional?” and “Will my partner find me less attractive with natural hair?” Good natural hair bloggers cultivate community by encouraging readers to comment on posts and interacting with those who do. Some natural hair bloggers like Nikki Walton of CurlyNikki.com also encourage readers to submit guest posts so that her site will feel like their forum, platform, and safe space.
Mix and mingle. This may be tough for introverted artists, but eventually you have to step away from the computer and go out and socialize. Some of the most successful natural hair bloggers have taken cultivating community to higher heights by hosting mixers that allow them to meet their readers IRL. So maybe it’s time for you to throw a shindig for your blog. I hope I’m invited.
What lessons have you learned from your favorite niche bloggers?