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This Brand Strategist Talks Shifting Careers & Building A $10K A Month Revenue Stream

Erin Winters is a master class in owning your talent and starting where you are.

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Erin Winters is a master class in owning your talent and starting where you are. The Detroit native launched her digital marketing and video production company Erin On Demand in June 2018, premiering her YouTube channel under the same name six months later. Less than a year in, the Creator on the Rise surpassed her goal of 50,000 subscribers, opening her Internet home to a flood of entrepreneurs and content creators seeking to fortify their brands and impact.

Erin didn't see this chapter of her life coming. While in college, the broadcast journalism major spent her summers interning full-time at Fox 2 Detroit with the intention of gracing screens as an anchor, but her final year sparked a change of plans. "I didn't like the stories they were sifting through and overlooking, but I still loved being on camera and telling stories," Erin tells xoNecole.

Courtesy of Erin Winters

One week after crossing the stage at Howard University, she took on a position as a spokesperson for a credit union in Michigan. "Everyone was expecting me to be the girl they saw on TV," she reflects. Deep-diving into speaking engagements and social media management, however, was exactly what Erin needed. "It really introduced me to a more creative side of storytelling and digital marketing that a lot of companies need," she muses. "They let me be super creative, and I hit the ground running."

Once her yearlong contract drew to a close, Erin would later stumble across National Geographic's nationwide call for its first-ever digital correspondent. Between her infectious personality and razor-sharp skill set, she not only soared to the top three but beat out a professional videographer and news anchor in the process. "I fell somewhere in the middle," she says of her mega win.

As grand as the opportunity was, like her first job after college, her gig was ultimately temporary, leaving Erin to face one question on her way back to Detroit 10 months later: Now what?

In this xoChat, the brand strategist talks building her business in the thick of unemployment, growing her YouTube channel with authenticity, and maximizing what you have now to create the future you want.

*This interview was lightly edited for clarity.

After your contract with National Geographic ended, how did you navigate the silence when you were applying for jobs and nothing was sticking?

Courtesy of Erin Winters

It was really hard. I had one big lead that I thought I would get, so when I didn't, it was even more crushing. It was a dark time for me in a way, but I'm glad I didn't get a job because it really gave me time to think about launching my business. I was working on my website. It gave me time to value my health. I was working out twice a day. I was eating good.

Even though it was hard emotionally in terms of what I was going to do next, it was also like, 'I'm here, I saved money, I can handle these interim months. Maybe this is the time to pivot, and you need this moment to be still and figure out what direction you want to go in instead of trying to beat God's timing.' It's crazy to look back on those months because if I did get a job, I wouldn't have any of this.

What I appreciate about your channel is that you’re very transparent about moving back in with your parents and living at home while building your business. When you first made that move, was it humbling for you in any way or were you just thankful to have that support in your corner?

It wasn't one or the other. It was both. I felt so grateful that I could actually come back home, and they let me convert one of their rooms into my office space where I can be focused and build. My parents are super supportive, and my mom is my business manager, so it's actually convenient for us to be in the same household because we literally talk about my business nonstop. It's good, but when you've come from living on your own and being able to go and do as you please, you do have to revert. I need to respect their household, check-in, and fix dinner for all of us, not just me. It's different things that I did have to readjust to, and it was a humbling experience, but at the end of the day, when you're building something, you have to sacrifice. There's no way you're going to be able to build something sustainable without that.

Why did you decide to create a YouTube channel after launching Erin On Demand?

Courtesy of Erin Winters

Two reasons. People were asking me the same questions over and over again (laughs), and I really did miss being on camera. That is probably my top passion. There was about six months in between launching the business and starting the channel. It was very important to me to get in the game in terms of entrepreneurship. I was still an infant, but I was still six months further than a lot of people who hadn't taken the full leap. I could still tell them things like how I prepared for the journey, how much I saved, what my target audience is, and what my goals are. I wasn't giving hardcore marketing advice at that point, but I still realized there were people at ground zero and I could help them get to level one. That was the mindset, and [my business] has completely blossomed since then.

"It just goes to show that you can't discredit your passion. If you are talented in some area, you're going to make money in that area if you put your energy into it."

I love that mindset of not waiting until you’ve “arrived” and sharing the process. 

People appreciate that. I think that has contributed tremendously to the growth of my channel. One of the most frequent comments I get is, "I just love watching your journey." It's just crazy when you just start, and you don't care about the house you're in or the backdrop. It's really about capturing your journey as you go. I didn't see that on YouTube. I saw people in the entrepreneurial and productivity space who were already "there" or who had "built it". They weren't showing themselves grow. I just slid in there, and here we are.

Do you think that’s why your Day in the Life videos resonate with your audience so much?

Yes, because they can see me doing the work instead of just hearing me talk about it. When I started those, my channel really took off because people like to see you "do". It also goes to show that you can't be scared to try new things. The way that started, I didn't have a video planned, so I brought my camera along with me to a meeting. Girl, they loved that video. The thing in marketing is if it works, keep doing it. That really helped with the growth. It gives people more to connect with, and those connecting points build trust. So many people get caught up in the information, but it's also just [as] important that people like who you are.

Courtesy of Erin Winters

At some point in your Day in the Life videos, you always share your Top 3 list. How did you arrive at this method?

I've always been a to-do list type of girl, but my lists were too long. It would be a week's worth of stuff that I would try to put on myself for one day, which wasn't healthy. My first degree into the Top 3 was writing my to-do lists on sticky notes. If it can't fit on a sticky note, it is too much to do. Maybe I lost a sticky note or something, but I stopped doing that (laughs). Then, I bought a planner that had a section for priorities, and I decided to start listing my Top 3. So much of productivity is feeling like you've actually got things done, and I felt so much better, so I started sharing it. I get tagged on Instagram, and people send me emails and DMs about how this really works. It was just about simplifying it. You'll get so much more done. Baby steps are still steps, and Top 3 is literally turning into this big thing that I did not expect.

You recently posted a video about how you make over $10,000 a month through seven streams of income. Why was it important for you to share this information with your subscribers?

It was important to share so people can know the possibilities that they can create for themselves with whatever it is they want to do in life. I just wanted to open people's understanding that there are so many ways to make money and once you understand that making money doesn't have to be hard, then the opportunities come. At the beginning of this year, my income streams looked nothing like this. Even six months ago, they didn't. It was very spotty and sporadic. I would always say, "At the end of this year, I don't care how much it is, I just need consistency."

"Once I really started to pour into how I could make things more consistent and didn't worry about the actual figure that I'm making, the opportunities kept coming and the streams of income kept growing. You can't get discouraged when you're in that seed-planting phase. You can't stop watering the seed. At some point, it has to harvest."

You’ve mentioned that things are changing over at Erin On Demand. Where are you right now when it comes to the evolution of your brand?

Courtesy of Erin Winters

The bulk of my time is YouTube. I always call it the heartbeat of my business. Aside from that, it's my eBrand Club. Once YouTube took off, I was never getting questions about video. It was always, "How do I build my brand?" and "How do I grow my social media?" I didn't have anything in place, so I had to create something that was affordable. I am firmly against absurdly charging people when they're trying to get their businesses off the ground, which is why the membership club is only $30 a month. I do weekly live lessons, Instagram audits, YouTube audits––I really get in there and help them figure out the best way to brand and monetize their businesses. We bring in experts every month as well to talk about different things like Facebook ads, media kits, and pitching yourself. That's what I spend a ton of time doing because it's growing so fast. Then I'm doing one-on-one strategy calls, helping people get clarity on their businesses and helping them package it in a way that attracts their target audience.

People decide to become entrepreneurs every day. What’s in your Top 3 for thriving as one?

Faith. I have a very strong sense of faith. Without faith, I wouldn't have even taken a chance on myself. Faith is just so interwoven into everything in business. After you take the first leap, there's going to be a thousand more you need to take.

Support. I can't stress it enough. It's very hard to thrive as an entrepreneur, especially as a full-time entrepreneur, when you don't have support. That was another reason why I created the [eBrand] Club because people were coming to me about not having friends or parents who supported them, so I wanted to build a community of like-minded people.

Adaptability. There are just so many things in business that change. At this point, video projects are not the first thing I'm taking on [anymore], and it's only a year and a half later. If you are so stuck in where your business is when you first think of the idea, and that's not what your audience wants and that's not what's bringing in revenue, you have to adapt. I think I have really mastered adapting to my business and how it's shaped and just being a student to how all of this works.

I tell people all the time, "I don't know everything, but I'm very good at figuring it out."

For more Erin, follow her on Instagram @erinondemand and check out her videos at Youtube.com/ErinOnDemand!

Featured image courtesy of Erin Winters.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

Mj Rodriguez has been giving us all of our lives since she emerged on our screens as the ever-so-fabbbulous Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista in Pose, in 2018. Since, she has captured the hearts of many all over the world, from LGBTQ advocates, to everyone in between. The beloved series officially came to a heart-wrenching end, after three seasons of tackling homelessness, sex work, the rejection that the trans community deals with on a daily basis and combined it with heart and dance to captivate millions around the world weekly.

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Sometimes, when things are a little "off" when it comes to our health, there are simple steps that we can take to get ourselves back on track. For instance, did you know that around 92 percent of Americans are considered to be vitamin or mineral deficient in some way? And since there are core nutrients that all of us need in order to function properly, it's important that we're aware of what certain deficiencies are directly linked to.

Today, that is the focus. Here are eight health-related issues that, oftentimes, if we'd just add more of a vitamin or mineral into our system, we will start to feel better in no time (technically a couple of weeks but you get my drift).

1. Muscle Cramping

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Something that happens randomly to me sometimes is I'll have a muscle that cramps up, seemingly out of nowhere. Then I'll snack on a banana and start to feel better. You know why? It's because bananas are high in potassium and potassium is a nutrient that our system needs in order for our muscles to easily contract. If you sweat a lot or don't have enough fluids in your system, you can become a high candidate for being potassium deficient. As far as how much your body requires on a daily basis, it's somewhere between 3,000-4,000 mg a day. Foods that are a good source of this mineral (that is also an electrolyte) include mushrooms, zucchini, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and lentils.

2. Lip Cracking

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If your PMS is off the chain or you've been catching a lot of colds lately, it could be because you need some more Vitamin B6 in your life. However, a telling sign that this is almost definitely the case is if the corners of your lips are cracking or even if your tongue feels a bit swollen.

The main thing to keep in mind with this point is if you're noticing indications that you could stand to have more Vitamin B6, there's a pretty good chance that your system has gotten close to totally running out. And just how much does your body need of this vitamin on the daily? About 1.3 mg. Up it up to 1.5 mg if you're over the age of 50.

Foods that are loaded with Vitamin B6 are peanuts, poultry, oats, avocados and pistachios.

3. Brittle Nails

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If it seems like no matter how much pampering you do to your nails, they are brittle and breaking, that could be an indication that you are low in iron and/or Vitamin C. The reality is that just our periods alone can make us vulnerable to having lower iron levels. And just how much should you be getting into your system? A lot of healthcare professionals recommend somewhere around 14.8 mg each day. As far as the Vitamin C goes, not only can you have brittle nails when you're not getting enough of it, this is a nutrient that makes it easier for your body to absorb iron too. 75 mg per day of it is recommended (120 mg each day if you're pregnant or are breastfeeding). Foods that are high in iron include beef, dark leafy greens, quinoa, pumpkin seeds and broccoli. Foods that are a good source of Vitamin C include citrus fruits, peppers, potatoes, berries and Brussel sprouts.

4. Allergy Symptoms

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If you've got allergy symptoms that are driving you totally up the wall or you're someone who deals with asthma or eczema, these things can be so much worse for you if you are low in omega-3. Long story short, they're fatty acids that pretty much every part of our body needs from our skin and hair to our reproductive system and our heart. Matter of fact, I actually read once that if you tend to have an excessive amount of earwax, that can also be a heads up that omega-3 is lacking. As far as how much is good for you, 1.1 grams daily is enough. And as far as foods that have omega-3 in them, those would be walnuts, spinach, salmon, chia seeds and eggs.

5. Weakness

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Magnesium is both a mineral as well as an electrolyte that helps to regulate muscle and nerve functions and keep your blood sugar in balance. Well, when you don't have enough magnesium in you, it can cause you to experience extreme amounts of fatigue and weakness. A part of the reason why is because magnesium is what helps to keep your potassium levels where they should be. So, when your potassium levels are low, your muscles will not perform with as much strength as they should. Somewhere around 315 mg each day is what your system requires. Foods that are loaded with magnesium include whole grains, pumpkin seeds, halibut, bananas and dark chocolate.

6. Hair Loss

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One of the main things that all of us need in order for our hair to flourish is zinc. It's a mineral that assists with hair tissue growth and repair, fights dandruff and, it also helps your scalp to produce the sebum that it needs for your hair follicles to remain healthy. That's why it makes a lot of sense that if you're low in zinc, you could possibly suffer from some hair loss or, the very least, hair breakage. What can keep your tresses in good condition is if you consume around 8 mg of zinc daily. Foods that are high in it include Greek yogurt, cashews, black beans, sesame seeds and kale.

7. Sleepiness

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OK, if you're out here getting less than six hours a night on a consistent basis, that's probably not an indication that you are lacking a nutrient; what that probably means is you are sleep deprived.

However, if it seems like no matter how much sleep you get at night and/or naps you take during the day, you are still sleepy as all get out, what that could be telling you is that you are low in Vitamin B12. I can personally attest to this because I was sleepy a lot (and I get no less than six hours a night and sometimes a nap) until I started taking a B12 supplement. When you're low in this vitamin, it can trigger sleepiness or even sleeplessness because it plays a significant role in maintaining your energy levels.

It's kinda crazy that a lot of us are Vitamin B12 deficient when most of us only need .002 mg a day of it. Anyway, foods that are a good source of this nutrient include liver, fortified cereals, shellfish, nutritional yeast and milk alternatives (like almond or oat milk).

8. Food Cravings

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Last fall, I wrote an article about signs that you've got a sugar addiction going on (you can check it out here). One indication is if you're constantly wanting to eat sweets all of the time. Well, along these same lines, if you're experiencing food cravings, that too could mean that you've not some nutrient deficiencies happening. Sweets typically mean that you can stand to have more magnesium or tryptophan. Fatty foods mean you need more calcium. Red meat, caffeine or the desire to chew ice means you're low in iron. Salt is oftentimes connected to dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance.

Wanting to eat bread all of the time could also mean that you could use a tryptophan boost (because you are looking for something to make you feel better and bread is a comfort food. Tryptophan helps to produce the feel-good hormone serotonin so that you don't want bread as much). Foods that are high in tryptophan include tuna, cheese, turkey, milk and apples.

While I certainly wasn't able to tackle all of the nutrient deficient-related issues that exist, take this as a bit of an intro cheat sheet. Again, if you are currently experiencing any of these issues, try getting more vitamins and minerals into your system. You might be surprised just how big of an impact...a little bit of tweaking can make.

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I can honestly say that I haven't used Cantu since I went natural back in 2016. It's not that I don't like the brand — let's be honest, Cantu is the holy grail brand that a lot of us probably started our natural hair journey with. It was and still is affordable, accessible, and effective haircare. I somewhat strayed away though because it's very easy to get caught up in trying different brands that some products honestly just get lost in the sea of haircare. Nevertheless, Cantu has dropped a few collections that I couldn't help but try. One of their most recent drops is the Jamaican Black Castor Oil line which works for all hair types but is made with 4C hair in mind.

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As the sun shines and the weather heats up, we're inching closer to a breakout summer like no other. With most of us excited to be outdoors with our loved ones, it's time to get into the looks we've been mentally preparing for the past year and a half sitting at home. While I've gotten accustomed to the basic black and heather grey combinations from the loungewear overload we experienced, those dark days are finally over and I'm ready to brighten up my summer wardrobe.

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