In the summer months of 2020 when I decided it was time to begin preparing to resume the podcast, I knew that while there were now staples to our offering and platform, I also knew that we would need to reboot the platform in a way that would raise the bar and improve not only the content, but the experience for our Blazer Nation community.
In today's episode, I wanted to share some of the decisions I've made to improve and grow our platform and share why I did this, in hopes it will not only help to provide clarity but inspiration as you work to do the same at some future point.
I wanted to first set the stage with some observations I’ve made over the past 5 years, where I’ve seen, and learned about a large number of successful Black entrepreneurs and business owners in different industries who are mostly unknown to the masses. It’s not that Black success is limited, but instead the main stream media tends to create and promote its own version of America, with a very limited representation and positive association of Black people … mostly they’ll focus on Black professionals in sports and music.
By limiting this range of positive Black representation and association, it excluded a very needed group of everyday Black business owners and entrepreneurs.
Why is this a problem?
Black business owners and entrepreneurs are on the rise. Black women entrepreneurs are one of the fastest growing segments of new entrepreneurs entering the market, but we lack the representation and awareness as being capable for these roles.
Without adequate understanding and support, our Black founders are struggling to:
- Access funding
- Get adequate mentorship
- Start from the same footing as our white counterparts who have more wealth
- Scale our businesses and stand out in a digital world
When I first launched Trailblazers.FM back in 2016, my focus was to give a voice to Black professionals in business, including entrepreneurs, creatives, corporate leaders and career employees. And while I’ve definitely seen these groups as segments of our listening audience, the truth is, that 90% of our featured guests in the past have been entrepreneurs and business owners.
Updating our Messaging
As a brand strategist who is constantly telling others to focus on the messaging of their brand, I had to do a bit of soul searching to ensure that the messaging of the podcast and our platform was in alignment with the content we are aiming to deliver.
For that reason, I’m not so much making a shift in our content, because it’s what we’d always been focused on. But our messaging will make a shift to align with our content. Going forward, I’m retuning the messaging for Trailblazers.FM as a podcast focused on exploring successful Black entrepreneurs. We will still feature the legendary creators, best-selling authors, and passionate leaders you have always enjoyed, but we are now able to truly double down and deliver even more targeted content for our self-driven entrepreneur community, so that whether you’re running a brick and mortar or you’re operating a side-hustle, you’ll have top tier Black representation and digital mentors on the Trailblazers.FM platform, who have done something similar to what you’re working to create and/or that you’re doing now.
I’ll double down on going deeper in these conversations to extract more of the meat and potatoes that will help you to succeed. And here’s a request – if we aren’t already connected, I want you to shoot me a DM or tweet or an email (email@example.com) and tell me what you want more of in the content of this show.
Expanding to Include Video
Now one of the things we’ve all noticed is the rise of video.
And of course, it’s not that video wasn’t always there. But our using video has become even more common in the simplest of day to day activities, whether it’s Zoom video calls for work or school, or watching more IG Live streams or Facebook Watch videos on LinkedIn Lives.
And so while I’d always had a desire to expand our delivery of content to include video, I think there’s no better time than the present, and so you’ll notice that we’ll begin publishing the full length videos of our interviews, and also several shorter highlights from interesting parts of these podcast conversations. It’s our hope that those who aren’t podcast consumers, or those who maybe don’t like the longer form content, will prefer to digest our videos and highlights of those conversations.
Ultimately, my goal is to reach more people who need to see the positive representation of Black success. I truly believe that by flooding more examples of positive Black stories, we will begin to shift the conscious and unconscious biases of others toward Black people.
I know and have joined in the Black Lives Matter protests this year, and I believe in their impact, but I also believe this is another method to educate and bring awareness to the masses and expand the limited media narratives.
Updating our Brand Identity
So there’s one last thing I wanted to talk about and that’s the obvious changes you might have seen to our podcast cover and branding across our website and social media.
So a part of my dad’s legacy is his love and talent as a creative entrepreneur … he has always had a love for theatre, food, and art. These elements run through my DNA in many ways, and I wanted to showcase more of that as I continued to build out and enhance elements of the Trailblazers.FM brand.
I found myself down a Pinterest rabbit hole for a couple months, looking for ideas of art that was a nod to my roots in Jamaica, but still very much me today.
That search lead me to a group of artists who took part in the International Reggae Poster Contest, and to one of the co-founders Maria P aka ItsJustMe.net who is a visual designer in Greece. Her past work and projects included several personalities from Jamaica, including poets, musicians, actors and others. Maria and I worked on recreating a headshot of mine and I’m absolutely happy about the outcome that you now see on our new podcast cover and branding. As a brand strategist, I’m constantly telling my students and clients to work to stand out with your brand, by creating content that is authentic and relatable.
I doubt there’s ever going to be another podcast cover quite like this, and even if there is, I blazed the trail with it. It’s 100% authentic to me, and I know some will not like it, but I absolutely love it.
Listen, my mission moving forward is to create a first class media platform that highlights Black success in business and entrepreneurship. While I envision having many other brands under our network, Trailblazers.FM is an extension of me. And so I’m owning that!
If you’re a content creator, especially if you’re a Black content creator, I’m going to encourage you to own your brand. We are in need of Black media, but doesn’t mean you’ve got to conform to what has been.
In the words of one of the founding heroes of this platform, my brother Shawn Dove, constantly reminds us that:
There is no cavalry coming to save the day. We are the iconic leaders we've been waiting for, the curators of the change we are seeking to see!
I’m calling on you and challenging you to fight the urge to conform. Search for those unique attributes that make you YOU. Begin to curate and infuse more of you into your business and your way of serving your audience. Be authentic in how you show up and the way in which you serve.