One of the comments from my nominations post came from Yolanda McCutchen, an NABJ member and a university professor. When I clicked on her name, I was led to the Professor Diva Diaries blog.
The blog was co-founded by McCutchen and Nekeidra Taylor, a professor at a community college, two friends who recently began careers as college professors with an interest in fashion, fun and travel. “Niki and I have been friends for years. Last fall, we both started teaching at the college level. I lived in Washington, D.C. and worked at NBC, but I went to grad school because I wanted to teach,” McCutchen recalled. “I spoke to Niki, and we both went to the Blogalicious conference and thought what we were going through was interesting, and we said let’s share it with everyone else.”
“We were both in communications and decided to take on the academic world,” said Taylor. “New things come up for us and we talk about it. And we wanted everyone to see what the classroom is like for us,” she said. “The blog is a way to share what we’re doing without having to call everyone individually.”
Taylor went to school for broadcast journalism, but she has done public relations for the last nine years. She teaches public speaking at her college. McCutchen has done independent PR work, but has worked mostly in broadcast news. She’s currently teaching mass communications and PR courses at her university.
The blog’s audience is for people like us, in their 30s and making a career change or those interested in making a change, said McCutchen. “We also talk about our other interests. We like fashion and travel, and people with those interest are our target
The professor stereotype is an older white male, not two modern African-American women in their 30s, said Taylor. “People find the blog interesting because we provide a different perspective, and that’s why people come back,” she said. “We do things outside the classroom and we incorporate that into the posts. Academics are important, but we have lives too.”
The blog is broken down into six categories: academic probation; beauty student; divanaires; divascapes; school dayz; and stiletto studies. “All the posts are about things going on in our lives,” said Taylor. “It’s amazing how easy it is to come up with a topic. With many of our fans are women, that’s how we come up with ideas.”
The blog was created back in November using the Mimbo theme on WordPress, and we hired a graphic artist to create the logo, said Taylor. The blog does accept ads, and Taylor said she hopes to have at least two sponsors by the end of 2010.
Social media has been “100% important” in getting the word out about the blog, said Taylor. “We had problems with our blog at the beginning, so we used Facebook to put up our posts,” said Taylor. “What we saw happening was a good amount of people coming to the Facebook page. And our Facebook posts are connected to our Twitter account.”
Both McCutchen and Taylor urge people to do their research before launching a blog. “A friend referred us to a book, ‘Blogging With Moxie,’” said Taylor. “For someone who’s not an avid IT person or knows HTML, the book breaks down on where and how to host your blog and the type of blog you want,” she says. “It asks what are you looking to do and who try to capture with your blog. You definitely need to blog about something you’re really interested in and know about. Your audience will pick up on that, engage in what you’re interested in and keep coming back.”
McCutchen also urged new bloggers to talk with other bloggers about how they got started and what issues they faced. “We went to the Blogalicious conference and learned so much,” she said. “After you start, ask other bloggers what they think. Comment on other similar blogs links and leave your web address.”