This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.
5 Apr, 2017

Ask Nicole: Are Newsletters Valuable?

By | 2017-04-05T09:55:45+00:00 April 5th, 2017|Categories: Ask Nicole|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Have a question you’d like to be featured? Let me know.

I have another question from Jocelyn, a reader from the Raise Your Voice community weekly newsletter. This time, it’s about newsletters. Jocelyn asks via Twitter:

I used [to] send a newsletter out to help maintain a professional/personal network. How do I decide how often [to send out a newsletter, and] if it’s valuable to others? I think I have a clearer focus now than a few years ago, but my work is still broad/not specialized. Appreciate any tips!

Ahhh, newsletters. Also known as email subscriber lists. I started my newsletter back in 2012, mainly because business people I follow would routinely say, “The money is in the list”. You want as many people subscribed to your newsletter so that, when you need to promote something, someone will buy it.

My relationship with my newsletter—everything from the design of it to the content I share—has evolved along with my business. I’m more comfortable promoting my business services as I’ve gotten clearer on what I do, how I want to show up in the world, and what value I want to give. Plus, I give priority to my newsletter subscribers over my social media platforms because social media is saturated and filled with noise. When someone gives their email address to you, it shows that they want to hear directly from you. Also, outside of posting my latest blog posts on my platforms, I tend to go on brief social media detoxes. If you don’t hear from me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn, chances are my newsletter subscribers have.

Along with answering Jocelyn’s questions, here are some things I’ve learned along the way:

Figure out your purpose for creating a newsletter 

Since starting my newsletter, I’ve shifted the way I view my newsletter as well as my newsletter subscribers. I see my subscribers as not only people I want to share information with or people who may one day become clients or collaborators, but also as a larger accountability system.

My “why” for sending out my weekly newsletter is first and foremost to provide value. Outside of my weekly blog post, my subscribers get information on awareness themes (such as National Minority Health Week or World AIDS Day) and ideas on how to raise their voices in their community about these themes, resources and tools related to Reproductive Health/Rights/Justice, design thinking, program evaluation, and other things related to social justice and community collaboration that they can use in a variety of settings, and resources that promote self care and prevent burnout.

Also, my newsletter gives a behind-the-scenes look at all of the ups and downs of being a social worker running a business based on my passions. I may disclose certain struggles or successes in my newsletter than I wouldn’t otherwise mention “out in public” on social media. For example, my newsletter subscribers were the first to know that I was leaving my day job in 2016 to go into my business full time.

Be consistent

This ties into my first point because it’s through becoming clear on why I have a newsletter and what value I want to share that’s allowed the process of creating a newsletter to no longer suck. For 2017, I’ve decided to post a blog and send out my newsletter on a weekly basis, no matter what. If you’ve been a Raise Your Voice subscriber for a while, you know that I’ve been consistent, and not so consistent, so the point where I had to remove “weekly” on my website when promoting my newsletter list. By the end of 2017, I’ll re-evaluate if I want to continue on with weekly newsletters and blog posts.


22 Mar, 2017

There’s No One Way To Be a Social Worker

By | 2017-03-29T16:01:49+00:00 March 22nd, 2017|Categories: Social Work|Tags: , , |0 Comments

March is Social Work Month, and today’s post was inspired by a comment left on the article “I am Getting in MSW, but I Do Not Want to be a ‘Social Worker‘” on the Social Work Helper. The comment reads:

“Although trained to think in a multi-systemic way, many of us choose to specialize. I do a great deal of mezzo and macro work; however, I chose to concentrate on clinical practice when completing my master’s in social work…Outside of our profession, there are some practitioners who do not understand what social work is. When I’ve testified on legislation and engaged in policy making, people assume I don’t have the skills necessary because I am not a lawyer or didn’t major in criminal justice. I can’t help but wonder then if this is why some social workers impose practice goals and assumptions on others (or upon students) as a part of assuaging the anxiety produced by how our profession–as a whole–is undervalued and misunderstood by society.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, social work is one of the fastest growing careers in the United States. The profession is expected to grow by 19% between 2012 and 2022, and more than 650,000 people currently hold social work degrees. If you’re not in the profession, chances are you know someone who currently is or who currently studying to enter the field. And there are some common misconceptions about the field. The biggest misconception about social workers is that they only work with individuals and families, provide therapeutic counseling or link clients to programs and services via case management, or that our days only look like Mrs. Weiss’.

The foundation of social work rests on social justice, with social workers like Jane Addams in the late 1880s dedicating their career to taking action against the injustices of sexism, racism, classism and poverty, taking the approach of addressing these through research, reform, and building up urban areas.

And then professionalization happened 


1 Mar, 2017

Ask Nicole: What Should I Do With “Pick My Brain” Requests?

By | 2017-03-01T03:03:17+00:00 March 1st, 2017|Categories: Ask Nicole|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Do you have a question to share with the Raise Your Voice community? Let me know. 

I recently got a tweet from Raise Your Voice reader Jocelyn, a social worker and consultant in the Boston area:

I LOVE your emails. Looking for tips on how to make others pay you when they’re seeking “informal” consultations? Any links?

This is something I’ve been going back and forth with for some time. Maybe it’s the social worker in me that just wants to be as helpful as possible. But sometimes being helpful can get in the way of getting work done for my clients and even working in my own projects.

The reason why these requests can be annoying is that they can be very time consuming, and as writer Ruchika Tulshyan shares in “How 3 Successful Women of Color Navigate ‘Can I Pick Your Brain?’ Requests“, you have to create your own criteria for how to handle these requests. I tend to have a soft spot for some people (most notably social work grad students or people interested in entrepreneurship), so it’s not uncommon for me to schedule time for them when I can. If the person is someone I’m interested in building a professional partnership with, I don’t mind having them pick my brain because I’m picking their brain right back.

Here are my recommendations:

Get Money!

Requesting money up front can show people you mean business. Here are some examples:

  • Web designer Krystle Rowry of Kriss Did It: Krystle has a “Kriss Critique” where you pay to do a walk-through of your website design and she provides areas of improvement. She also has a “Pick My Brain” service where you can ask her specific questions related to your website design. She follows up with you a month later.
  • Social Worker and business brand coach Vasavi Kumar: Vasavi Kumar gives you 2-hour, 4-hour, or 6-hour opportunities to pick her brain. This service can focus on self-promotion, content and product creation, pitching yourself, and more.
  • Branding boutique Ready To Werk: Ready to Werk provides 45 or 60 minute phone consultations for budding entrepreneurs who need some help in flushing out their ideas.

Create a “Frequently Asked Questions” 

My “Ask Nicole” blog posts are my way of providing a FAQ for my business. Throughout the month, I get emails from a variety of folks–social workers, graduate students, activists, executive directors, etc. I often get the same kinds of questions, and to prevent me from answering the same question multiple times, I may share a question in a “Ask Nicole post” so when someone emails me with the same question, I’ll point them to that post as well as add any additional (but brief) information specific to their situation. I also point them to my Blog Archives so they can read blog posts related to their question, as well as read related blogs posts by topic. I do this to not only save time, but it’s also a good way to share information on a much  broader scale.


1 Feb, 2017

Ask Nicole: How Can I Get Hired for Workshops & Speaking Engagements?

By | 2017-02-01T00:54:56+00:00 February 1st, 2017|Categories: Ask Nicole|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Do you have a question to share with the Raise Your Voice community? Let me know. 

Michelle, a social worker in Pennsylvania, writes:

I have been researching other options to become involved in within the [social work] field and came across your website. I was wondering if you [could] discuss how to get involved in facilitating workshops/speaking engagements.  This is an area I’m very interested in pursuing and am eager to build resources and network with other professionals.

I’m always excited to hear fellow social workers eager to show their expertise in a variety of ways.

I’ve been facilitating workshops in some capacity since 2003-ish. I started co-facilitating workshops as a student, with other youth activists around the country, then as a Reproductive Justice activist and professional social worker. Because I was so new to it, I leaned a lot on my peers to guide the workshop facilitation. I also sought out people who have a delivery style you like or who speak on topics that interests you. The goal isn’t to imitate them, but observe how they engage their audience. Whenever I co-faciliate a workshop or training with someone, I focus on how they engage the audience, how they interject personal experiences that tie into their content, or how they tie in real-world examples to illustrate their content. I eventually found a facilitation style that worked for me. 

First, determine what your interests are and what you want to share your expertise in. Next, brainstorm how you want to deliver your information.  I’ve written a series on preparing and facilitating workshops (Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four). We tend to think of workshops as being in person, but you can also deliver great content via online formats such as GoToMeeting or Zoom. In my Blog Archives, there’s a section on workshops where I share my own experiences with workshop facilitating as well as exercises I’ve facilitated in workshops.

Secondly (and probably most important), let people know that you’re available for workshops and speaking engagements! Word of mouth has been a driving force for my business and for lots of people interested in professional speaking and workshop facilitation.

Next, find ways to show your expertise before going into a conference or workshop space. My preferred method to show my interests and expertise has been through blogging, and in using my social media platforms to promote my thoughts. Blogging has been a good way for me to show my expertise, gain clients, and have folks invite me to speak. (I view it as an online business card). Blogging has also given me a platform to share my perspective AND has allowed me to revisit my stance to either strengthen my voice or to share a new perspective. Blogging may be that for you as well. Or it may be podcasting or sharing your perspective via YouTube. You can also engage with folks via live feeds on Instagram, Facebook, or Periscope. You can curate the topics you like to talk about and it aids in developing your personal approach and what you’re known for (aka, your brand), which then helps people associate you with certain speaking topics. I recently updated my Speaking page to show what my interests are as well as what I’m most requested to speak on.


4 Jan, 2017

Ask Nicole: Any Advice for Social Workers Leaving New York City?

By | 2017-01-04T14:12:17+00:00 January 4th, 2017|Categories: Ask Nicole, Social Work|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

If you have a question that you’d like to share with the Raise Your Voice community , contact me. 

Ebony, a social work graduate student, writes:

I just completed my first semester in [my social work graduate program] and I  have some questions which are not really being answered in my school. I’m not sure if it is because I am one of the few black women in [the program] or if the my advisor really does not have any answers for me.

I graduate in May of 2018 the the plan is for me to have my MSW along with a certification in child welfare. Shortly after graduation I plan to take the exam for me to get the LMSW. I really want to  get the LCSW because I eventually I would like to open up my own practice working with the youth and obtain my DSW. My dilemma is that I would like to relocate south to Georgia or Florida. I would like to move to a place where it does not snow and the cost of living is lower. I have been living in New York all my life. Do you have any tips or suggestions for me? I do not want to wait until the last minute of my graduate school career to have a concrete plan.


You may recall that I was asked a similar question by another student, only Ebony’s question is the opposite: leaving New York City to work elsewhere as a social worker. Here, I focus on what I felt was Ebony’s primary need: how preparing for the LMSW or LCSW exam (and transferring those scores and licensure) varies by state.

Many students wait until their second year (and sometimes the final semester) to think of the next steps in their social work path, so it’s great that Ebony is thinking about her trajectory while in her first year.

And yes, the cost of living in New York City is significantly higher compared to many southern cities, and that’s always been a major draw for many folks moving down south. While it provides lots of career opportunities, it can feel like a completely different world to a native New Yorker. As a Georgia native, it didn’t take long for me to adjust to life in New York, but many of my native New York City friends had to get used to the slower pace of southern life, even in major cities like Atlanta, Orlando, and Miami. That doesn’t mean the same will apply to Ebony (or to you if you’re planning to make a similar decision), but I just wanted to throw that out there.