5 Questions with Media Entrepreneur Karen Civil
The mogul-in-the-making shares her indisputable truths of the game
Karen Civil is on a mission. Since launching her blog, Karencivil.com, in 2008, the media mogul in the making has approached everything—her book, YouTube channel, speaking engagements, partnerships with big brands—with the goal of building an empire, one that transcends her hip-hop roots.
We recently caught up with the blogger/author/marketer extraordinaire in between meetings to get her take on how others can follow in her footsteps.
I have my inbox organized and categorized by topics and folders. It’s synced with my calendar, which is categorized by colors. My day runs off my calendar and emails. I need to able to find information and know what’s next while I’m on the go. I’m on time constraints. I’m moving on 100. I like that everything is arranged and set. A lot of people might think, “I don’t want to live like that.” But time management is an energy saver, time saver, and lifesaver for me.
What does “Entertainment the Civil Way” mean in terms of how you operate your business?
I just want it to be about the music and what artists are giving us from that aspect. Not whom they are dating. Unfortunately, with women of color who run music blogs, people often assume we’re all running gossip blogs. That’s not me. I can’t tell you whom artists are dating, but I can tell you about their music. Through the years, people have realized I’m someone to take serious. “She’s about the music. She works with brands. She posts with no bias or no extra.” That’s what I use in my favor. I believe in allowing artists to use my platform to get the story they want out there. We don’t have to add personal details of their life. Tell me what you want your fans to know and that’s it. My site’s not as popular as some of the gossip blogs. But at the same time, it’s whatever floats your boat. It works for them.
What is the difference between building a brand and offering a product?
I am my brand. I’m getting paid for being myself. Sometimes it can be frustrating. You’re living your life on your schedule. But when it’s a product, it’s different … like my book. It’s detached from me. The spotlight is not on me, what I wore, what I said. If you hate clocking in, working 40 hours plus, then you cannot be an entrepreneur. You cannot be a brand. You have to eat, sleep, and live it. There are a lot of things I want to do and places I want to go, but I can’t. I have to say, “Karen, you can’t be associated with, you can’t be around that.” You have to constantly take into consideration a lot of things. Everything has to match who you say you are and what you stand for. If you don’t have a site … if you don’t have a deck, you’re not a brand. You’re a person with a social media account.
How do you build and maintain the relationships necessary to do what you do?
I’m very organic with that. Just because you meet someone on Tuesday doesn’t mean you have to try to work together on Wednesday. I meet people all the time who say, “We need to work together.” Ok, on what? There are people I’m just now working with whom I met years ago. I never force relationships. You never want to be ill prepared. You reached out to them about what? You need a game plan. I under promise and over deliver. People are like, “Karen’s here. I don’t have to babysit her.” They know I’m going to be prepared, that I’ve done my research. Google is free, baby. You want to make sure you’re fully prepared for everything. I want people to see that young, female Millennials has the same opportunities as big companies. I’m out-of-the-box marketing. It’s something fresh and new, and companies are taking advantage. Companies are saying, “Here’s this young Millennial who gets it.” It’s great to have likes and fans, but at the end of the day you want buyers.
One thing that stands out about all your products is the design. It’s obvious time and dollars are invested. Why?
I’m always about quality over quantity. People think when you have a smaller business you might cut corners. No. I hold myself in the same regard as a Fortune 500 company because that’s what I aim to be. That’s the field I want to play on. I might as well get myself used to it.