Finding your voice as a woman content creator
When I was growing up in Atlanta, I remember watching endless commercials for a local car dealership (for the record, they are still around). The main speaker was a man, and his sidekicks were a dog (who was silent) and a woman (who was very nearly silent).
I think the idea came from an amalgam of popular images of the time in which I grew up: the dog looked like Spuds MacKenzie, a dog used in a popular series of commercials for Bud Light. The blonde female sidekick was reminiscent of Vanna White, the co-host of Wheel of Fortune.
What was never up for debate or question? The speaker and center of attention would be a man. After all, you couldn't have a woman telling you about cars or being much of an authority on anything other than baked goods and house cleaning.
In the years since, there has been a wide world of content that has opened up, just waiting to be filled by a variety of voices. My business has been built on the content I've created, and over the years I've done virtually no paid advertising for my services. Clients have come to me by finding me online through my writing at Inman, on my blog, on Reminder Media and other websites, and through webinars and interviews.
I can't say that I started out with a fully formed strategy in mind. I had no budget but I had a lot of opinions about the quality (or lack thereof) that I was seeing in property descriptions and other forms of writing for real estate marketing. I wrote my first blog post and my first Inman article based on a terrible property description a friend sent to me for a laugh. I sent that article in to Inman without knowing anyone there, just hoping that it would find the right person, and it did.
Why aren't there more women creating content?
There are plenty of reasons why women don't create content, from personal preference to cultural impact to professional concerns.
For one thing, creating content is simply not the same for women as it is for men. I've seen men write about controversial issues and be praised for it. Let a woman write about those same issues and they'll be called terrible, hateful names for it or told that they don't know what they're talking about.
I've written about fair housing and had my articles submitted to right-wing blogs specifically so that I'd be harassed and intimidated. I've been called disgusting names and been told that I shouldn't reproduce. That last was pretty funny since I have two daughters who are, if anything, more opinionated and ornery than I am, so that ship has sailed.
Aside from the intimidation factor, a lot of women probably don't create content because they simply don't have time. Study after study confirms that women take on too much of the burden of housework and child-rearing in this country while also maintaining full-time professional positions. If you're trying to build a real estate business and be everything to your family as well, developing your talent as a writer, video creator, or podcaster might be the last thing on your mind.
In addition, the simple fact is that women are too often conditioned to find their value in their appearance far more often than in their opinions or in their knowledge.
My Instagram feed is filled with gorgeous women in real estate taking glamorous vacations or promoting their million-dollar-plus listings. Little wonder that a woman with an extra 50 pounds on her might have trouble thinking that anyone wants to hear her thoughts on the finer points of farm and land contract negotiations, but I'm here to tell you that there is an audience for both of those types of women.
When women aren't creating content, it's all too easy to dismiss their concerns and make them invisible. This is especially true for women of color and other marginalized groups. At Inman, we've created a huge amount of content about the lack of women in leadership positions in the real estate industry, yet whenever we write about the need for woman-centered spaces, the comments and correspondence are full of people questioning the problem. "I know lots of women in real estate," the logic goes, "so that means there's not a problem."
Whoever is creating the content is centered in the conversation. If that's a man, their perspective will be the one that dominates. If it's a white man, their perspective will be the one that dominates. If it's a middle-aged white man, their perspective will be the one that dominates. If you are a young woman of color, you should be concerned about what that means for you and your chances of advancing in the industry.
This is not about creating an us-versus-them dynamic. This is about ensuring that everyone's perspective has an opportunity to be centered in the conversation. You have the control over that. This is no longer the age of publishers and media companies gatekeeping content. Start a YouTube channel, blog or podcast and make your voice heard. You will find your audience.
When I am choosing photos to go along with a story or blog post, I always look for a POC or a woman or a young person or anyone who seems to look different from the same old image that's sold to me as "what a real estate agent or entrepreneur looks like." That's a small way of broadening the perspective of the people who consume the content I create.
When you're the content creator, you get to exercise that kind of control. You get to offer a different voice. You get to tell a different story. You get to use a different analogy. You get to give a different insight.
It's not just about what it can do for your business, although that's certainly a plus. It's about what it can do for the industry and for that little girl or that young woman who's coming up behind you and needs to see or hear someone like you.
So where are you supposed to start?
There are so many things written, both here and out there anywhere, about starting a blog, video channel, or podcast. There are lots of experts, both real estate-focused and entrepreneurship-focused.
If you're not sure what style you want to choose, look at the content you consume and start there. Who do you enjoy and what speaks to you?
One thing women often worry about is appearance, especially if they're thinking about video, so I'll tell you a story to help. I heard it from a colleague and it helped me when I was creating video for my (currently in hiatus) video channel.
A content creator of her acquaintance knew she needed to do video but was intimidated because of her appearance, so she decided to make her worst fears come true. She went on video in her glasses with her hair in a messy bun, in her pajamas and robe and did her videos as a Monday morning update. She would talk about the market and the week ahead.
Her videos took off and she was invited to a prestigious event to talk about video creation. She showed up beautifully dressed and coiffed and, you guessed it, everyone was disappointed because they loved her glasses and her messy bun.
When I create videos, people reach out and respond. I don't do them often simply because writing is more fun and comfortable for me, but the response I get from videos and webinar trainings is truly second-to-none. Do not worry for a second about how you look. Nobody cares.
Aside from that, the best advice I can give you is just start! Don't overthink it. That tendency to overanalyze is just your brain's way of keeping you from beginning. Just start and refine as you go on. The more fun you have with it the more likely you'll be to continue, so try to make it as fun and manageable as possible.
We need your voice. If you have questions about content creation, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.