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Shalomoji Says Shalom To Humans of Judaism CEO Nikki Schreiber

Welcome Shalomoji Friends to another round of our Shalomoji column where we interview Jewish influencers around the world to help inspire and support aspiring newbie entrepreneurs, creatives, and thought leaders.

In this week’s feature interview, we are saying Shalom to the Founder and CEO of Humans of Judaism, Nikki Schreiber. Schreiber discusses the story behind her uplifting and mega-popular brand, the impact Judaism plays in her life, digs deep into what it takes to create a successful business, and much much more!  Check out the full interview below!

 

Q: We here at Shalomoji absolutely adore Humans of Judaism. Tell us about Humans of Judaism for those who may not know.

A: Thanks so much Shalomoji! Humans of Judaism is a Jewish media brand, best known for its presence on social media. The idea was to highlight the positive within the Jewish community, share feel-good stories and encourage public participation with the brand slogan: ‘Everyone has a story, what’s yours?’

Q: How did the idea of Humans of Judaism come about?

A: I was in the year of mourning for the sudden loss of my father and it was important to me to do something meaningful in his memory. At the time, I would see negative Jewish community content online and often positive content was met with anti-Semitic and aggressive engagement. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a page that offered positive posts as well as negative comment management? And so, in June 2014, Humans of Judaism shared its first post.

Q: Tell us about your role at Humans of Judaism and what a day in the life looks like for you?

A: Every day is a new adventure. More often than not I couldn’t tell you what will be posted later that day. It’s pretty much what one would expect; finding/creating content that works, research and editing, posting the media across several channels, monitoring engagement, checking messages and emails, connecting with partners, meeting new people, go to sleep and repeat again in the morning. Obviously, this was the short version but you get the idea.

Q: As the great Albert Einstein once said: “Failure is success in progress.”  What have been some of your “failures,” and how has it helped propel you towards the success of Humans of Judaism?

A: Some of my greatest “failures” have been my best lessons. In media, it’s a mix of creative content and presentation. Very often you have to take risks and try new formats and ideas that could be deemed a failure if it’s not well-received, but ultimately teaches you what works and what doesn’t. It’s a process, failure is a part of that process that must be had in order to succeed.

Q: How has Judaism played a factor in your journey through creating Humans of Judaism?

A: Humans of Judaism is clearly a labor of love. It is the love I have to honor my father and the love of the Jewish community. Judaism is home, it’s family, it’s life. It plays a vital role in this journey and has given me unique opportunities to successfully connect with Jews from all backgrounds, this part to me is the most meaningful.

Q: Out of all the stories you share on Humans of Judaism, is there one in particular that stands out from the rest? 

A: A few years ago, Humans of Judaism started using the hashtag #telfie, which is essentially a tefillin selfie or photo of someone in tefillin. At first, it just was spotting photos of tefillin and sharing it. But then it moved on to followers sending in photos of themselves wearing tefillin from all over the world. The response is always so incredible, the places people go and pride they have to show off to everyone, ‘this is important to me’. It’s really powerful.

 

Humans of Judaism

 

Q: Do you have any habits, tools or business hacks you find useful to share with the Shalomoji readers?

A: I always say the recipe to a successful post is one part good content, one part timing, and one part mazal. Focus on your content and your end game. Ask yourself what you are looking to achieve and produce content that lends itself to that end. Look at your best accomplishments and pay attention to your most successful posts by what has the best engagement and work on more of that style of content for potentially similar results. Always try new things, if an idea doesn’t land, that’s what the delete button is for It’s finding your niche and style. Keep things consistent, make sure to focus on one thing and branch out from there. I tend to operate as a user first and editor second.

Q: Are there any books, blogs, or podcasts you recommend that you believe helped shape your success with Humans of Judaism?

A: I wouldn’t really attribute it to books, blogs or podcasts, it has been more with my personal social media activity and keeping up with current events. Typically, I’ll surf my Facebook and Instagram newsfeeds just to see what everyone is talking about that day. It’s important to follow and connect with people and pages that keep you informed on things you are interested in. Staying current on what’s in the news, milestones/occasions, media trends and things like that.

Q: What tactics did you use to develop your loyal customer base/ create buzz around Humans of Judaism?

A: There’s really no magic wand, it is all about content. Loyalty on social media is usually from users who can look forward to a reliable style they can get when they come to your page. It’s not that the content itself is predictable but the general feeling you get from the page is consistent. A lot has changed on social media since I got started, one of the things the page works harder on today is staying apolitical, maintaining a space on the internet that you won’t be arguing over a controversial post or politician.

Q: We here at Shalomoji would like to leave our readers with a nugget of inspiration. What has been your greatest inspiration? Is there a particular quote, life motto or mentor you look up to that has given you unforgettable advice? 

One of my favorites is from Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, “The day you were born is the day G-d decided that the world could not exist without you.” We all mean something, we all have purpose.

Q: Any new and exciting updates for Humans of Judaism that you’d like to share with the Shalomoji readers?

A: Always exciting and new. As for today, I am finishing up details for my trip to Israel at the end of November. The occasion will mark my father’s 5th yartzeit (memorial). This will be the first official Humans of Judaism trip to Israel, complete with exciting partnerships and activities. In 5 years since my father’s passing so much has changed. This project in his memory has given me tools to do so many things that I never could have imagined. As for what’s next, like I said, every day is a new adventure, stay tuned.

Shalomoji Says Shalom To Jewess Magazine Founder Kylie Ora Lobell

Welcome Shalomoji friends to our third feature interview with Founder, Writer, Creator, and Jewess in chief, Kylie Ora Lobell of Jewess, an online magazine for Jewish women. Lobell dives deep into life as a freelance writer and online magazine owner. She discusses Jewess Magazine submission guidelines, offers a slew of advice for newbie writers, covers monetization tactics, and much, much more! Check out the full interview below!

Q: Jewess is described as a “site geared towards modern Jewish women of all backgrounds looking for a place of inspiration, entertainment, and community.” Tell us more about the online magazine for those who may not know.

A: I converted to Judaism two years ago after living an observant lifestyle for the last seven years. During this time, I’ve written a lot about Judaism and my conversion process for sites like Aish, Chabad, Jewcy, and The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles. I thought it was time to start my own publication for Jewish women. Some sites have sections specifically for Jewish women, but none of them are only for this demographic. I wanted to change that. We are doing too much good in the world and it should be publicized.

Q: What compelled you to launch Jewess Magazine?

A: As I said above, I found a niche that I thought was lacking. I know so many awesome Jewish women in my community and there are incredible Jewish women in the world at large doing amazing things. They are devoted wives and mothers, they run non-profits, they create television shows, they do art, they write, they volunteer, and they own businesses. I wanted to start a site that would highlight these women and their accomplishments.

Q: Tell us about your role at Jewess Magazine and what a day in the life looks like for you?

A: It just launched last week, but so far, I solicit articles from writers, edit them, make suggestions, and help them create a piece that is meaningful or funny or useful or whatever! I try to get pieces that you wouldn’t see elsewhere. I also update all my social media, which is hugely important for promotional purposes. I usually work out of my house or a coffee shop. If I’m at home, I’m doing my work while hanging out with my husband Danny Lobell and my dogs and my chickens and my tortoise.

Q: What are some topics Jewess Magazine looks for in submissions? Any specific topics you’d love to see more of?

A: I love personal essays and profiles of Jewish women. Right now it’s pretty Orthodox-focused, so I’d love to branch out to other communities. This is meant to be a site for Jewish women, not Jewish women of any certain denomination. We are all one.

Q: Do you prefer pitches or a completed article? What tips can you give someone regarding what information to include or not include in a pitch?

A: Pitches. Please include your professional background and some writing samples. I like specificity, too.

Q: Walk us through the submission process and how long writers should be patient before hearing back.

A: You can email me your pitch at JewessMag@Gmail.com, and as long as it’s not Shabbat or a holiday I’ll get back that day usually. When I’m not observing Jewish holidays or Shabbat, I’m pretty much constantly online.

Q: Tell us about the benefits Jewess writers enjoy including possible payment.

A: Right now all writers are volunteer, but of course, I hope to change that very soon. I’m a full-time freelancer myself and I know how important it is to get paid. That may turn off some full-time freelancers, but I completely understand. I’m doing all this for free. It’s a labor of love. Hopefully I’ll grow it really huge and be able to pay my writers $2 a word one day.

Q: What’s your policy on submitting previously published work on another site or personal blog? Do you ever consider that or does it need to be original for consideration?

A: It must be original. A) It’s a personal preference and B) I don’t want to get penalized on Google search.

Q: You have an extensive background as a freelance writer. In particular, you’ve written for a variety of Jewish publications, such as Aish, Chabad, The Jewish Journal, The Forward and Tablet Magazine. You’ve also written articles for the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Mayim Bialik’s Grok Nation. What advice would you give to a) a newbie freelancer writer? b) to someone who is thinking about starting his/her own online magazine or blog?

A: Go for it. You may need to have a normal day job for a while before you can do it full-time, but if you turn in excellent work on time and you are nice to your clients, you will get there. I started off in 2010 making $50-$150 a week writing articles for my local paper in Brooklyn. Now I make a decent salary and can survive in Los Angeles. As for your own magazine, learn the craft first and look for a niche before you jump in.

Q: What promotional tactics do you recommend newbie online writers/ bloggers to use to raise awareness about their online magazine/blog? What has worked best for you in terms of gaining a loyal audience?

A: Find a niche. Learn about social media. Read about SEO. Join relevant groups on social media. Make friends with influencers. There are lots of guides out there you can read. If you have enough money, hire social media consultants to help you.

Q: We noticed Jewess Magazine is preparing to launch a podcast by the end of September 2017. What inspired you to create the podcast and what can listeners expect from The Jewess podcast?

A: My husband has a huge podcast called Modern Day Philosophers where he talks philosophy with comedians and he told me I should start my own. That was supposed to be my new venture, and then he said to turn it into a website as well. My husband has the best ideas.

Listeners can expect a monthly interview with a Jewish woman doing amazing things. So far I have Rain Pryor, comedian Richard Pryor’s daughter and an entertainer herself as my first guest. My dream is to get on Lena Dunham and Rachel Bloom and Ilana Glazer and Jenji Kohan. Since my husband is a comedian I’m very into that world as well.

Q: Monetization is obviously an area of significance to online writers/bloggers who aspire to make either a part-time or full-time living writing. What monetization tactics do you recommend for newbie online writers/bloggers?

A: Build yourself up in a certain niche, and take all my advice from above. Always be humble and do what your clients want, as long as you’re not sacrificing your integrity.

Q: What’s next for Jewess Magazine?

A: I’m going to build it up and produce multiple pieces of content a day. And work towards paying my writers.