Blogger Profile: Sylvia Kerali
Hi Sylvia! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi there! I’m Sylvia Kerali – a digital strategist with 10+ years experience building online brands for non-profits and start-ups including my own site CurlsUnderstood.com. I founded Curls Understood in 2014 and built it into a 260K+ online community for women with curly hair. I’ve been featured on FOX 5 DC, Allure Magazine, Essence Magazine, Buzzfeed.com, MindBodyGreen.com, and Black Enterprise.
I'm originally from the UK but have been living in the States for 14 years now (can't believe it's been that long). I work for myself full-time as a blogger and independent consultant!
What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
So I actually went to undergraduate school for Architecture but I knew I wasn't very good at it so opted to pursue a career I at least had a shot at being the best at. My parents were moving to D.C. soon after I graduated so I decided to move with them to the U.S. I secured an internship in NYC for 5 months working for a PR/events/grassroots marketing firm and this opened my eyes to all things communications and marketing!
So after my internship ended, I moved back to D.C. and went to grad school at GWU for an MA in Media & Public Affairs. After graduating I began my career in communications (while blogging on the side).
When did you get into digital strategy and what drew you to this line of work?
My first job after grad school was for a small association and they were in the process of rebranding their website. So I put my hand up to help with the project and loved the whole process from giving feedback on site designs to helping members understand the new site when it went live. When I started looking for new jobs I only applied for positions in the digital departments of organizations and was fortunate to get one as a Digital Content Editor.
What led you to begin CurlsUnderstood.com?
I've been in the natural hair world for over 15 years now but never found a site or online community that spoke to me in terms aesthetic or content. Most of my hair education came from forums and later YouTube. So I wanted to create an online destination that was fresh, fashion-forward, and practical. That's when CurlsUnderstood.com was born! You can search on the site for salons, products, hairstyles, and tips segmented by texture volume, and length.
Why is it important for you to provide resources and insight for bloggers and influencers? Could you tell us about your resources that you offer?
I love giving back to the community that allowed me to blog full-time! So many women supported all three of my blogs over the last 10 years and many readers would ask me how to start blogging so it was time for me to create my site SylviaKerali.com. There you'll find advice, tips and real-life case studies on how to create, grow and sustain a profitable blog or social media page.
People can also sign up to my FREE #idratherbepaid blogging bootcamp HERE!
Do you have some tips that can help people leverage social media and blogging to make money?
The best piece of advice I can give people and businesses is to use Pinterest. When I started CurlsUnderstood.com it was back when Instagram and Facebook's algorithms were super friendly and you could grow followers or traffic quickly. That isn't the case anymore and new bloggers and businesses are finding it harder than ever to build their communities.
Pinterest allows you to send traffic to any link/online destination in droves because it is a hybrid of a social media platform and a search engine - it's as if Google and Instagram had a baby! So whether you have a blog article, social media post, product etc. you can find your tribe quickly by pinning to Pinterest and associating a link to your content to that pin. I discuss this in more detail in my free blogging bootcamp.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face with your work?
Well, working for myself means I have to wear multiple hats from accountant to web developer and everything in between. I'm often faced with the challenge of figuring something new out but when I do it's incredibly rewarding. Most recently I figured out to incorporate lighting and a microphone into my filming set-up so I'm looking forward to creating better quality videos!
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
It's important that women support each other because we still live in a male-dominated society and they consciously or subconsciously pull each other through the ranks - we need to do the same to redress the balance. As far as entrepreneurship, I love collaborating and brainstorming with fellow female entrepreneurs. I've always been involved with all-female Mastermind groups - I love the energy our support of each other generates.
What creative women do you find inspiring?
I adore Oprah (#Legend), Myleik Teele (#Hustler), Serena Williams (#Warrior), Lupita Nyong'o (#Pioneer) and of course Beyonce (#Queen).
What have you learned from your experiences that you think can apply to any creative endeavor?
Getting feedback is EVERYTHING. Feedback has helped me define, pivot and refine. I get so into whatever project I'm working on and that can prohibit me from being objective. It's important to let others in and give you a fresh perspective.
I'm also super resourceful. If I don't know how to do something I will figure it out and I've gained so much knowledge that way. Of course, knowing when to outsource a job is also important but how can you begin to outsource something you know nothing about?
How do you deal with moments of self-doubt?
Reading the biographies of successful people is a great remedy for self-doubt. It reminds you that people start from ground zero, face setbacks, fail but come through it. Right now I'm reading Richard Branson's "Losing My Virginity" - it's eye-opening to learn about how many risks he took to get to where he is today (I'm talking wild, crazy risks not calculated risks!)
What are you trying to learn right now or what is something that you are wanting to learn?
Right now I'm learning all about sales funnels. I have a background in digital marketing but have never really had to create one for a product launch. My goal is to put my product launches on autopilot. We'll see how that goes!
What are some of your favorite places in DC?
My all time fav is Barcelona on 14th street - great service and food. El Chucho is an awesome summer spot for cheap food and drinks. Their happy hour is great! The Wharf just opened up in my neighborhood so I'm excited to explore what it has to offer. It has bars, restuarants, bookstores, workout studios etc. all on the water.