Today we’d like to introduce you to Javacia Harris Bowser.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Javacia. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
On March 24, 2011, I invited a group of women to meet me for dinner at a Mexican cantina in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Most of these women I’d never met before; they didn’t know me or one another. But we all had one thing in common: We all loved to write.
I had invited these women there that evening because I wanted to start a networking group for women writers. I must admit I wanted to start this group for selfish reasons. Two years prior, I had left my job as a newspaper reporter in Louisville, Kentucky and returned to Birmingham – where I was born and raised – to teach English at a local high school for kids gifted in the fine arts and math and science. Though I was fond of my new colleagues, I missed the group of female writers I was surrounded by in my newsroom.
I searched for a women’s writing group that would welcome poets, authors, journalists, and bloggers – all hats I’d worn at one point in my writing life – but couldn’t find one. So I decided to start an organization of my own — See Jane Write.
About a dozen women showed up for that first event. My next event — a workshop on how writers can use Twitter to boost their careers – drew 40 attendees. Next, I hosted a panel discussion on blogging and 75 people showed up. I knew I was on to something.
At this point, See Jane Write was not a business. I wasn’t charging for events and I was paying for everything out of pocket — much to the chagrin of my very frugal husband. So, eventually, I registered See Jane Write as an LLC and started charging for events. I also started a paid membership program. After realizing that letting dozens of people “pick my brain” about writing and blogging was actually called “consulting,” I started a formal coaching program, too. And my membership program grew to no longer just be a local writing group, but also a virtual community with members across the country and around the world.
Along the way, I started winning awards — I got recognized as one of the Top 40 Under 40 by the Birmingham Business Journal in 2015. The next year, Southern Living magazine featured me on its list of Innovators Who Are Changing the South, a list that included household names like Dolly Parton and actress Reese Witherspoon. Alabama Media Group recognized me as one of 30 Women Who Shape the State.
Best of all, the women of See Jane Write were making their dreams come true — self-publishing books, landing book deals, getting jobs because of their blogs, and writing for some of their favorite publications.
In 2019, I quit my teaching job to write and run See Jane Write full time. This was a hard decision to make because I love teaching, but with See Jane Write I can still be a teacher just in a very different way.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Until recently, the toughest challenge I faced was trying to balance teaching full time with writing part-time and building a business. Teaching is not a 9 to 5 job. It’s a lifestyle. You’re constantly working outside of the classroom — grading papers, planning lessons, counseling students and sometimes even parents. To juggle all of that with writing assignments and See Jane Write and to be excellent in every role, I pretty much didn’t sleep. This affected both my physical and mental health.
It was also tough transitioning See Jane Write from a free local resource into a business with customers all over the world. Even today, many people just expect me to do A LOT of work for them for free.
See Jane Write – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
See Jane Write is a website, membership community, and coaching service for women who write and blog. Quite simply, I help women get paid to write — whether that’s helping them write and self-publish books, write for media outlets, or build a business from a blog.
I think what separates See Jane Write from other writing communities is that we’re for the writers that feel like they don’t fit in elsewhere. If you have lots of different interests as a writer and that’s made you feel out of place in other groups, See Jane Write is for you.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
As I mentioned, I’ve won a lot of awards thanks to See Jane Write. And in 2018, I had the honor of giving a talk at TEDxBirmingham about See Jane Write and why I believe writing can be a feminist act. (You can watch it at bit.ly/BowserTalk)
See Jane Write also helped me land my own column in two magazines!
However, I think I was most proud when I landed a deal that would allow me to publish the works of other women.
In 2019, See Jane Write partnered with AL.com and Alabama Media Group’s Reckon Women platform to form the Your Voice column and give women with Alabama ties an opportunity to get published and get paid.
Each week AL.com’s “Your Voice” column features an essay from an Alabama woman. The essay is also featured in the Reckon Women newsletter. I have the honor of recruiting writers and editing content for this column. It’s been such an honor to help elevate women’s voice through this platform.
- See Jane Write Collective Membership is $19.99 per month
- See Jane Write Goal Digger Coaching Program is $200 per month
- 30-minute virtual consultation – $75
- 1-hour virtual consultation – $125
- Website: seejanewritebham.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/seejavaciawrite
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seejanewritebham/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/seejavaciawrite
Photos by Megan Tsang Hand, Jamie Golden, and Deidre Clark