As of this article, it has been four months since I launched "Sloane Stephens Off-Court." I am proud to share that I am steadily growing my reading community by exploring the topics, that in years past, I never made the space or time to do. As I'm still in the process of developing a form and flow for how I'd like my space to function on this platform, I wanted to solicit advice or feedback from my readers.
While I strive to keep my content as organic and authentic as possible, I also want to learn how I can better serve, educate, or entertain my audience. I aim to always be better, provide more of what people enjoy, and discover more of what people need. The goal, for me, is to have loyal readers; not just thousands of one-time visitors or viewers.
Entering a creative space that I've never dabbled in is less daunting when I hear from you. Your feedback means more than I could ever truly express. If you're one of my faithful readers OR want to become one, I'd love to hear from you in the comments after finishing this read.
In my first publication, Welcome to My Bulletin, I shared that I wanted to do one or all of the following with my writing:
1. Cultivate Connections within the Community
2. Prompt Community Engagement/Discussion
6. Provide Resources and/or Tools
7. Story tell
Looking back over my previously published articles, I believe I did reach at least one or more of the seven objectives. What do you think? Did the recent articles accomplish at least one of the seven goals? Don't hesitate to comment below.
To keep my vision intact, I also created a mission statement for my bulletin, which reads:
Rereading my mission statement and reviewing my Bulletin, I question if I am doing what I said I would. All my posts are digestible and relate to the community I set out to serve, but I also feel that I have had to lean into the stories and information that majority of my already existing supporters come around for: tennis. Does that mean I don’t have confidence in my ability to expand my audience? I’ve been sitting with that question for a while.
Even though I would prefer to steer clear of tennis content, I know that much (if not all) of my following comes from the tennis community. I love the tennis community. With that in mind, I don't want to deprive my loyal supporters of seeing other sides to me either; if they’re open to receiving me beyond tennis. The pieces I've shared involving tennis aren't necessarily exclusive, but I will defer to my readers. After reading some of the articles about tennis, would you agree that it's not only to be enjoyed by people who know tennis or like it? Replies in the comments are appreciated.
Although my Tennis community isn’t reflective of the community mentioned in my mission, is it still possible to grow and expand my audience by speaking on topics that connect Black women and other women of color, without losing the people who are fans of me as an athlete alone? Replies in the comments are appreciated.
Since posting content that features or represents Black people or Black women, I have seen my follower count drop swiftly and dramatically across all platforms; that has brought me to a whole new realization.
Fortunately, I'm more encouraged by those changes and drop-offs, because in revealing more of myself and breaking free of my comfort zone, I’m finding my tribe. For me, the best supporters are those who look at me as an entire person and wish me to achieve in every direction I choose to travel, as my full self;a Black person, a woman, and as a human-being. Because after all, I wasn’t put on this Earth to just swing a racquet.
FUN FACT: Majority of my following across my social media platforms are white males.
As I have gone deeper into my reflection, these questions have also come up: What is the nature of the relationships that I've developed with the people who have grown to know me through tennis? What happens if I begin expressing myself more about my Blackness, my womanhood, my interests, and my thoughts? Do I even need to worry about that; or will it dilute the writing I wish to do? Do I have the right to speak to, and on behalf of, a community that has never really heard my voice? Will it come across as disingenuous? These are all questions I am choosing to sit with, as I bravely solidify myself in this space.
The purpose of sharing this openly is not to complain about the building process. I feel it necessary to openly share with my readers as I become more of who I'm destined to be, and as I decide what's most important for me to embark upon. This is also a great time capsule piece for me. Eventually, I will revisit this article and tell the story of how my Bulletin has grown and how all of my readers helped make it a success. Thank you for being on this ride for me! See you next week!
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