By most estimates there are hundreds of millions of blogs out there, so how does one blog break through? By having a distinct and refreshing voice. That’s one of the reasons Luvvie Ajayi ‘s blog AwesomelyLuvvie.com, where she writes about culture and just life in general, has been able to lure more than 500,000 readers a month. She has perfected the side-eye–with no excuses. On top of this, Ajayi’s razor-sharp wit and willingness to say what everyone else is thinking has attracted the goddesses of media and Hollywood–Oprah and Shonda Rhimes.
Ajayi is currently working on Rhimes’ Shondaland to develop a cable comedy series based on her debut book I’m Judging You: The Do Better Manual, which debuted at #5 on the New York Times bestselling list in September 2016. Where she finds the time is a wonder, but Ajayi also has a tech blog called Awesomely Techie offering resources, tips, and tutorials. And, she has a charity, The Red Pump Project, which she founded with Karyn of The Fabulous Giver. Red Pump, launched in 2009, is a national nonprofit organization that raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls.
Ajayi, 32, was born in Nigeria and moved to Chicago with her family when she was nine. Prior to starting her blog in 2003, Ajayi was building a career in marketing and digital strategy. Recently, Ajayi partnered with AT&T and took part in the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit where she discussed the power of sisterhood and digital connections. There was also an invitation-only “Seat at the Table with Luvvie” for top influential attendees at the Summit. Ajayi obviously has big things in the works.
Now she’s readying herself for the next big phase in her career and answering Hollywood’s calling. MadameNoire got to chat with Ajayi about blogging and Oprah’s head grab.
MadameNoire (MN): There are millions of bloggers out there, how can one make sure their blog stands out?
Luvvie Ajayi (LA): Your voice stands out because of your voice. What attracts people to a website or blog is that person’s perspective and how they approach life. Honestly, you have to stick to being authentic and never try to write or sound like anyone else. I stand out because of my voice, there’s nothing general or generic about who I am—I am authentically Luvvie, and I can’t be anyone else and that’s why I think people like my content.
MN: What do you feel is the state of blogging today? Is it still going strong, flooded, dying?
LA: I feel like blogging is evolving rapidly. It’s not what it used to be where it’s just blog posts. Now bloggers and influencers are clear that they have to have a strong social presence. So the content that you create is beyond just what goes on your website. It’s the full 360-degree snapshot of who you are and how you’re creating across platforms. Blogging in general, it’s much harder to break into the field because there are so many blogs out there but I think the value of bloggers can’t be underestimated because people ultimately still trust our voices. And that is one thing that is not dying, that level of trust between the blogger and readers.
MN: When you interviewed Oprah, she grabbed your head. What did you think at that moment?
LA: In that moment, I thought “I made it!” When Oprah grabs your head that’s like the anointing. I mean it’s Oprah!
MN: Is there another book on the horizon?
LA: Yes, there is another book coming. I haven’t started working on it yet, but there will be another book in the future. I’m excited that I’ve been able to elevate my words from just the blog and social media to a complete piece that so many people have enjoyed. So I’ll definitely look to keep that going but there’s still a lot of ground to cover with the first book.
MN: You are now working on the screenwriting project, had entering television been in the plans prior?
LA: Yes. For a long time, people have been telling me that I should write for television and I always thought that it would be cool, but getting to write for something that I created and bringing my voice and concepts to the screen is the real joy. And I’m working with Shonda Rhimes who I consider a friend and colleague…it could not be more perfect.
MN: How do your African roots play into your take on American culture?
LA: Being African plays a lot into how I write because Nigerians are very blunt and straightforward people and that’s how I am on and offline. Nigerians also happen to be hilarious. My culture dictates a lot of things in my life so when you’re reading my writing you’ll see I use Nigerian/Yoruba slang so it’s very much a part of me and how I approach and relate to the world around me.
MN: What’s next for the Red Pump Project?
LA: We’re going to continue our work around HIV/AIDS across the country to help benefit women and girls of color. We just wrapped up our 8th Annual Rock the Red Fashion Chicago in Chicago and we have a number of events upcoming this spring and summer including a signature event and fundraiser in Washington D.C. in June called our Red Summer Soiree.