Shay D. Davis is a 2014 graduate of The University of South Carolina with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. Shay has worked in the Public Relations field, media and publishing as well as various online blogs and publications. In 2016, Shay launched her blog, The Bronze Hustle, to provide resources and tips to black women who are bloggers and online entrepreneurs looking to advance their content marketing strategies. Shay also has an up and coming online digital download platform andAction Shop, where both brands provide assistance to up and coming girlbosses, like herself.
I had the chance to chat with Shay about her entrepreneurial journey, so let’s get right to it!
What was your “light bulb” moment that inspired you to start your business?
I think my light bulb moment came in spurts! I graduated from college in 2014 and I was certain that I would immediately dig into my dream career. It completely caught me by surprise that nothing was panning out. I started doing a few freelance projects and started a small blog (that I didn’t keep up with) until I eventually got a full time job in my field. When I got the offer for the position, I was ecstatic thinking that I had finally found my “light at the end of the tunnel.” But of course, it wasn’t that simple. I ended up fending for myself in a hostile work environment and after 9 months, I quit the job determined to fight my way into a career I loved. I was already working on the relaunch of my old blog but instead of relying on my name, I opened a blank Word document and ended up coming up with the name “The Bronze Hustle.” Every since then I’ve been creating my own path to career fulfillment. If I would have had a smooth transition out of school, I’m not sure if I would have started blogging and jumped into business at all.
What was your strategy to get your business up and running?
I didn’t have a strategy. The most important thing is to start and get moving. I’ve learned so much more about the importance of strategy as I have grown. In the beginning, I just wanted to post blog posts consistently, post often on Instagram and actually keep up with something that I wouldn’t get bored of after a few months. Now, strategy is more important and I always think ahead.
How do you remain productive, consistent, and organized? Share with us your Productivity Hustle Hacks.
This is something that I’ve had to learn over time and I am still learning. There are days when I get a lot done and days when I struggle to turn on my laptop period. I’ve also learned to start listening to my body. If morning rolls around and I REALLY don’t feel like jumping out of bed, sometimes I won’t. I wish I was more organized but, I keep a lot of my documents, files and ideas within Microsoft OneNote and in Google Docs. I take breaks when my mind wanders and make myself watch a Netflix show or spend time away from my laptop and later get back to work. If I spend too much time away from work, I come back and work a little longer.
What are your must have business tools that keep your business running effectively?
At the top of my list are all things Google! After losing computer files more than once, I rely heavily on keeping things within my Google Drive for the auto-save feature. I hate scheduling social media but I love Buffer. I live by ConvertKit for my email newsletters and being able to segment subscribers and shift them between lists within my brands. I have noticed over time that we love signing up for business tools but those costs add up! Sometimes, we have to figure out what we can do without and work around what we already have.
How do you push past fear in order to live up to your fullest potential?
I believe fear is inevitable. It’s an emotion we all feel at some point but, it does not have to leave us immobile. I have an affirmation I repeat that says “nothing or no one can stand between me and my success.” Sometimes that “someone” is me and I have to check myself. Sometimes it’s a huge project that I have to tackle. I know that I have the brainpower to push through, it’s just the process that can seem daunting. It just takes little reminders and putting in the work as time goes along to make fear irrelevant. I’m going to be scared but so what. We’re all scared.I believe fear is inevitable. It’s an emotion we all feel at some point but, it does not have… Click To Tweet
What sacrifices have you made that have contributed to you reaching the next level in your business?
I have put forth a lot of my personal money into building my brands. I am just now beginning to really monetize. Any domain fees, business tools, assistants etc. have all come from my personal paychecks. Sometimes I’ve wondered how it all gets paid but, it always does. I’m looking to flip the situation and have my brands fully support themselves but it all takes time. My goal to reach and educate women has always been more important than monetizing but spending so much time on an endeavor should eventually result in a monetary return.
What has been your most effective strategy to raising awareness for your business and gaining new customers?
A lot of my growth stems from social media. Through Instagram and Twitter specifically, I’ve met numerous women who are putting in work on their own brands. I’ve started collaborations, gained business besties, gotten online features, gained customers and more just because people love my voice, my brand’s personality and standpoint online.
What are the top 3 skillsets needed to set an entrepreneur apart in her industry?
One thing I’ve begun to talk about is having the “secret sauce.” The secret sauce is that mindset shift that you can actually accomplish the things you want to get done. If you have a hard time researching and figuring some things out on your own, you don’t have it. That go-getter mindset is very high on the list. The other two that are important to me are personification and research. Personifying your brand draws in a real audience of engaged women. Research means you have an eye on what other entrepreneurs are doing and how they’re doing it so you can improve on your own offerings. Knowing your brand inside and out and knowing your audience down to one specific type of person will put your brand on a pedestal and draw in the right eyes. It’s not important to be a superstar to everyone, just the people who are there to support and foster growth.
What’s your favorite quote or mantra?
“Nothing or no one can stand between me and my success.” It reminds me to boss up and get things done regardless of what the circumstances look like.“Nothing or no one can stand between me and my success.” Click To Tweet
What was one of your biggest mistakes and how did you snap back from it?
A few months into starting my blog, I hired an intern to join my team to help with social media. At the time, I was overwhelmed with how quickly my brand was growing and thought I needed to hire someone. The intern was inexperienced, made constant mistakes and needed more “hand holding” than I thought. She didn’t have the brand voice quite right and a lot of things slipped through the cracks. I realized that a lot of it was my fault for not being more in depth on my processes, systems and communication. The relationship became too forced and I dissolved the internship. Instead, I decided to do what I could alone until I was in the position to really give people authority within my brand.
How do you stand out amongst your competitors?
My personality shining through my brand. People love The Bronze Hustle because the voice is not exactly like any other brand out there. It’s supportive, yet a little sassy and real. I always keep it real with my audience and do my best to make everything a teaching moment to make them better as I grow alongside them.
What is the best advice you have received as an entrepreneur?
The best piece of advice I’ve heard has been that sometimes you have to decide to either make an impact or make money. It’s not always about a check. Sometimes it’s about the result of your project or how you touch lives, that will in turn eventually make you money.Sometimes you have to decide to either make an impact or make money. It’s not always about a… Click To Tweet
What’s one of your top goals you are looking forward to achieving in the next 1-3 years?
One thing that I’ve always held in mind is that I want The Bronze Hustle to become a movement. It has never been “just a blog.” I want to create learning event experiences for black millennial entrepreneur women and help them to grow in life and in business. I have some events in mind that I would love to begin kicking off within the next year.
Events are a starting point but, I would also love to donate back in various ways over time.
Join Shay’s tribe of girl bosses at The Hustle Hive today!