Monday, April 7, 2014

"The Little Engine That Could!" by Jennifer Brown Banks

Jennifer Brown Banks stops by today to share her wit and wisdom as only she can. I trust her words will encourage you as they have me. :)

My Life as a Metaphor
How I Became “The Little Engine That Could!”      
(And you can too)
By: Jennifer Brown Banks

I’ve always been known to “dance to a beat of a different drummer.”

So, it stands to reason that my blogging approach would follow suit.

Initially, I had some false starts. I used the direction that other popular Bloggers before me had ventured, as a navigational “G.P.S.” system of sorts. But, doing so caused a few detours.

Though I studied their work, remembered their advice, and sought to emulate their success, I realized that the journey I was to embark upon had to be mapped out for the most part, by me. After assessing my options, I decided upon the road less traveled.

Little did I know that my story would become symbolic of “The Little Engine that Could.”

Here’s why…

I was smaller in size than many of the other Bloggers in my niche; yet, I felt just as compelled to share my message and my gifts.

I believed that power was not defined by size, but by impact. I didn’t allow myself to be intimidated. When I sought to guest post around the blogosphere, (as the experts advised), I targeted award-winning sites and famous folks: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Daily Blog Tips, and the Well-Fed Writer. They all gave me the green light and ultimately accepted my submissions. Though I was a small player, I managed to have my work presented on some pretty major stages.

The moral of the story here: You can too. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

I didn’t travel in the fast lane.

My blog’s pace was a bit slow, but steady; the growth was organic. There were no tricks, no gimmicks, no give-aways to get people to sign up. I merely tried to add value to the blogging community. I interacted with my readers, and I kept moving forward; even though at times I felt overlooked and passed up.

The moral of the story here: Blogging is a journey, not a destination. Keep chugging along.

I “spouted” in an authentic way.

Political correctness aside, I shared my own personal truths: whether it was about my relationship with chocolate, or my relationship with God. My views didn’t always mirror the majority, but they always reflected what was in my heart and based upon my (humble) experience.

The moral of the story here: In a world of far too many phonies, avoid “lip syncing”; develop your own true writer’s “voice.”

I said no to SEO.

According to the experts, without Search Engine Optimization, my Blog would be as invisible as a woman trying to get her fellow‘s attention during the Super Bowl. Still, without it, folks have managed to find me, and I’ve garnered some unexpected attention along the way.

The recognition includes…but is not limited to:

* Sybil Chavis, at Possibility of Today, (and a Harvard Graduate) recognized me in her “60 of the Best Minds in the  Blogosphere.”
* Blog World featured me in their “16 Brilliant Bloggers” Series.
* I was selected in the “Power 100” compilation of the Best Blogs for Modern Writers in 2013 by
* And recently my site was chosen as one of the Top 25 Writing Blogs by Positive Writer.

The moral of the story here:

Sometimes we have to be our own designated “expert.” Trust our gut.

We must chart a course that takes into consideration our goals, our strengths and weaknesses, our lifestyle, and our own personal dreams.

It’s the only way to stay on track, gain ground, and go the distance!

Are you on board?

Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, ghost writer and pro blogger. Her Blog, Pen and Prosper, was recently recognized by, among “The Power 100”---the best sites for modern writers in 2013.   

How about it, are you on board with Jennifer?

Happy writing,


Photo credit: Stock Exchange

The winner of the chocolate giveaway is Keith Wynn. Congratulations Keith! Thanks to everyone who stopped by!


  1. Awesome advice on how to look at our blogs. And so true that blogging is a journey to discover what you want your blog to be and how you want it to grow. The important thing is that you enjoy doing it, not that you're chasing after numbers.

  2. Hi Karen and Jennifer - it's a good thought isn't it .. "The little engine that could" ... and yes I've never chased around the blogosphere - tried to meet friends whom I connect with .. and by being seen we eventually catch others we don't know so well - but know we know ... because they've been 'around too'!!

    Having a blog opens doors and lots of learning .. cheers to you both - Hilary

  3. Natalie,
    Jen shares some great stuff, doesn't she? I agree, you do need to enjoy the journey. :)

    It is a great ride, this blogging thing, isn't it? So glad we met through it. Looking forward to getting to know you even better! :)

    Happy writing,

  4. Jennifer, You are a superstar in my book (but I think you know that). No one will go astray if they follow your excellent advice and role modeling. You're a Big Engine Who Does now, my friend. =0)

    1. Sue,

      "You are the wind beneath my wings"""". ;-) Thanks!

  5. A great metaphor and a great success story. Finding your own way when everyone's telling you it's not the right way shows how unique you are. Enjoyed your story.

  6. Great advice, and now of course I have to head over to your blog. :) Lots of good stuff here.

  7. Awesome. I completely agree you have to go with your gut and press forward no matter what people say. Success is a question of personal definition.

    1. Crystal,
      Glad you agree. Great to have you in the mix here.

    2. Glad to be in the mix. (Does it include cheese? How about chocolate? ;)

  8. Hi Jennifer and Karen! Congratulations on all your many awards and citations! And you did it your way, which turned out to be just perfect for you. I'm still not too clear on what SEO's are, so I guess I said 'no' by default. Good move on my part I guess!

    Thank you for a supportive blog post that talks about just being comfortable with yourself, and that being enough. Not only enough, but award-winning too.

  9. Susan,
    I agree with you, Jen is a superstar! And one of the nicest and sweetest ones I know. :)

    Don't you love it? Jen is s true inspiration! :)

    I think you will like Jen's blog. She is a wonderful font of information! :)

    This is so true about success. Take you for instance. I know that cheese factors heavily into the mix of your success. :) When you've got a good thing, you have to go with it!

    Jen is an inspiration, that's for sure. There's no giant secret to SEO, or search engine optimization. In a nutshell, it's just using key words to drive people through searches to your site. Glad you got to meet Jen! :)

    Happy writing,

  10. Such great advice. I especially like the reminder that "Blogging is a journey, not a destination. Keep chugging along."

  11. Good for you, Jennifer! My blog has always been unique for an author's blog, but it's what I enjoy and what works. Never hurts to ask bigger bloggers either. I've had yeses that have really stunned me.
    I like how you've not compromised your beliefs, either. (And I do think we are still the majority, just silent.)
    And the best part of this journey - the friends we make along the way.

  12. What a wonderful post. I'm on board!

    1. Joylene,

      Glad to have you on board! Choo, choo! :-)

  13. I don't think I have ever been to Jennifer's blog before- but I am on my way there in a minute. :) It was wonderful to hear about how she found her blogging groove and what she did to go after her dreams. Good for her for not giving up and for going after what she wanted. I love the quote she shared. I agree that we definitely need to be true to ourselves! Thanks for sharing and congrats to Jennifer on all the blog success!

  14. Ruth,
    And so we do that, right? It's great to be in this together! :)

    I agree, the best part of the journey is the friends. Your blog is a testimony to what Jen discussed and how much you care about others.

    I am glad you are along for the ride too! It's muc better with you here. :)

    I think you will like her blog. She's always got something great to share. :) I think you follow this thinking too over at your blog!

    Happy writing,

  15. Great post! All the SEO and techy stuff goes over my head anyway. It's refreshing to hear I don't have to board that train.

    Thank you for all the tips, Jennifer.

  16. Hello Jennifer and Karen...Thanks so much for the post. It's sooooo good to beat to a different drum! And Karen, a belated congrationlations, very heartfelt, on your 5th blogversary! Commendable, for sure. Susan

  17. I like this! Very refreshing and freeing. Thank you!

    And, I would say, biblical. Conventional wisdom isn't always. If you know what I mean.

    1. Rhonda,

      Biblical? Wow, that's an awesome compliment. Much thanks.

  18. I don't fully understand the SEO concept. It isn't something I care to deal with. Thank you, Jennifer, for your forthrightness on that subject.

  19. I made real connections through blogging with honest, thoughtful, and bookish posts, as well as guest posts from people I admire. I didn't do anything extreme. I saw SEO all over the place and still don't get it. I like how my blog evolved to what it is today.

  20. Jen:

    Like you, I march to the beat of a different drummer. The SEO technicalities are not for me, either.

    You know I'm on the JBB train! You were the first blog I started following, and I was among your first 50 followers. (Insert cheesy smile here!)

    Karen, thanks for hosting. Be well, ladies.

  21. I agree with you. Although it is nice to listen to what the experts have to say, at the end of the day you have to follow your own individual path.

  22. Thanks to all of you for your great comments and the warm "reception" here. It's been lovely. I hope to connect with you at my Blog as well. Thanks much, Karen! :-)

  23. Susan R.,
    In some ways, I think the whole SEO thing is overrated in this arena anyway. It has its place, but not always in blogging. Glad you got a chance to stop by! :)

    Susan W.,
    Thanks so much! I'm with you. Blogging doesn't have to be the cookie cutter approach. :)

    I know what you mean and have to agree. Sometimes I wonder just what others are jumping on the "bandwagon" for, you know? :)

    I too, appreciate Jennifer's candor and insight. It's refreshing, isn't it? :)

    I think your approach has worked well for you. :) All one needs to do is visit your blog to see it work!

    The JBB train has much to offer! :) Jen always has smart, savvy advice. Jen is a blessing, isn't she?

    It's all a balance, right? I think the best blogs reflect the writer's personality. :)

    It was a pleasure, as always! Thank you!

    Happy writing,

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Sorry, I wrote the wrong name. Had to delete!

    Karen, nice to see Jennifer Brown Banks here today.

    Looks like finding your way paid off. Congrats on the Livehacked award!

  26. Theresa,
    Glad you stopped by. Enjoyed your poetry in that guest post. I thought maybe you'd like Jen's post! :)
    Happy writing,

  27. Hi Karen,

    Lovely to see Jennifer Brown Banks here today.

    Congrats on the Livehacked award!

  28. I love this line: "Power not defined by size, but impact." I wholeheartedly agree, Jen. You are proof positive that success comes our way when we think we can and apply ourselves.

  29. Nas,
    Jen has great insight, doesn't she? :) Good to see you, as always!

    She is proof positive and quite an inspiration! :) So thankful to know and work with Jen, as I know you are too.

    Happy writing,

  30. Wonderful insight in staying true to the heart of the message we need to share. :)

  31. I loved Jennifer's encouragement to not 'lip sync.' How refreshing in an age when the formulas are all there and we're told to follow those who've got it all sorted.

    Thanks for the introduction, Karen, and great to find you, Jennifer.
    Have a wonderful weekend. :)

  32. Tyrean,
    I agree! Jen sums it up well, doesn't she? :)

    So glad you got to meet Jen! She is a treasure, isn't she? I'm with you - those who seem to have it "sorted" don't always have it down in a way that suits us. :)



Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!