Five years ago I wrote a piece "Journey To Your Dreams" as I celebrated the first year of FARRINHEIT 411 with my team. At that point, I had just returned to Atlanta from LA for the first time and I was so full of life, full of optimism, my dreams were so bold and vivid. I admire that younger self because without that dare and determination I wouldn't be here writing this post on year number six. Bare with me as I share how I got here.
After the first year, I scaled back from being at the forefront of 411. I didn't want this platform to be about me. I wanted this to be an internal place for those needing an outlet to have an opportunity in the media field to get their first shot or a place to really produce some amazing content without it being attached directly to Farrin. I wanted to change the narrative within my reach that urban media isn't limited and independent platforms can operate at a high level with professionalism. I achieved that. I want to thank every writer, photographer and teammate that has contributed to this platform. As much as I mentored an extended this to you, you helped me grow. You helped this grow and the successors we've had, couldn't have been done without you. Looking back over these 6 years, I dedicate a special award to my friends. Y'all are the real MVPs. As much as you all have benefited from going to all of these events and meeting your favorite celebs, I wouldn't have gotten to a lot of those places (literally especially in the beginning) without some real riders. It was a friend that purchased my first business cards and it was another friend that used to sneak the Canon from her job so we could go take pictures for red carpets. It was a friend that said "you take one side of the room, I'll take the other" and meet at the end of the night sharing contacts. It's the friends that read your posts first and encourage you or find those grammatical errors.
FARRINHEIT 411 started as a blog that I created to build as a digital resume if you will. In 2013, I was a student at Spelman majoring in Psychology. By this time I had interned with a small Atlanta-based PR firm, interned with an independent film and an event company. I wasn't fulfilled. I was actually frustrated. I had to quit my PR internship before the semester was over because my phone was off pretty much that whole semester, I wasn't getting everything done by just email and I didn't have a car to get to clients and events. I had this trap phone I made calls on and my iPhone when I was at home and on campus wifi. Now that I think of it, I used to use my upstairs neighbor's internet. There were only a few people that knew that real life I was living! I wanted to write for a magazine or intern with a record label but despite my experience thus far, I had trouble securing opportunities that only gave college credit to certain majors. Social media wasn't what it is now, so you really had to get out there and make yourself known to people.
Summer 2013 I went back to Charlotte disappointed that I wasn't interning or working paid at a job of my interest. I kept applying, trying to perfect my cover letter, trying to prove I had experience. The BET Awards rolled around and I was sitting at home sick another year had passed and I wasn't there. The next day I saw all of the recaps from the on the blogs and by the tone of the writing in those articles, I could tell these people weren't there either. It was almost instant the idea came to me to create my own outlet so that I could tell authentic stories. Not only did I know I could use my own platform to get to where I needed to be, but I wanted people to feel connected to real things happening by knowing - this is first hand coverage. I stayed up all night revamping an old blog and BOOM, the 411 existed. The name FARRINHEIT 411 didn't come until maybe a month later.
That August, I was a finalist for an internship at Atlanta's newly launched station at the time Streetz 94.5. My mom drove me to Atlanta for my interview, dropped me off at my apartment, turned right back around and went back to Charlotte. My mom is the President of my fan club. I just knew I nailed that interview. I didn't get the internship. A few weeks later I succeed in securing an internship with Atlanta's V103. I was happy. I had my website and now an internship at Atlanta's biggest radio station, I felt good starting my last year of college. J. Cole comes to town on tour and my dad calls me the afternoon of to get to the Fox Theater by 5pm for the meet-n-greet. I hurried and typed out five questions in the computer lab on campus and printed them out. In my head I was like "I'm about to get my first interview with J. Cole, my site is about to blow up!" I had to catch a shuttle to a nearby train station, walk to my apartment, rush to get ready and call a cab (pre-Uber days) to get through traffic to make it on time.
I was approaching the front of the line. I had my questions on deck ready to ask for this interview. My phone rings. It's the intern coordinator from V103. She tells me that she reconsidered hiring me, thinking my major wouldn't make me a good fit and told me not to show up Monday to start the program. Ma'am it's Friday after 5 o'clock. What?! After I got my advisor and the dean to sign off on me doing this, in addition to writing a long essay? What more did I have to do? I'm upset. It's my turn in line. J. Cole's bodyguard introduces us and let's him know how we're connected. His warm heartedness made me relax and forget about that phone call. After a few minutes I ask J. Cole if he'd mind answering a few questions for my website. He declined of courseee "due to time" and wished me well. We parted on "when your shit blow up, I got you." That day was both a catastrophe and blessing for so many reasons.
That was six years ago. The crazy stories didn't stop there. The denials and disappointments didn't stop there. These are the things that make this platform what it is, because everything is authentic. Everything comes from a real place and everything has a story. That day six years ago I didn't want to give up. I was mad as hell, I was fired up. I was determined to prove that I was worthy and qualified, not just to myself but to other people. I was adamant that if no one would give me a way, I'd make it on my own. To be honest, those fights don't stop either. I cared more about this platform at the time than doing well in school. I knew I was graduating and I couldn't wait so I could be free.
There was a time where entertainment sites were popping up everyday and I felt a strong urge to compete, to be first. At lot of times I was first or had the better content but that's besides the point. After a while, it became less about posting things for clickbait. My spirit physically rejected it. I genuinely wanted to find better ways to connect real people to real people - that happen to be famous. I wanted original content, I wanted a niche. When I got serious about photography, I wanted my photos to look like art. When I stopped going along with what was popular I fell more in love with what I was doing. People gravitated to authenticity. I met Necole Kane of NecoleBitchie one year and she told me something that stuck with me to this day "quality over quantity." She advised me to put more effort into 1 amazing piece in one day than 10 that aren't good.
Putting more effort into manifesting ideas, building real relationships and committing myself to this as an artform has been all of the benefit. I took this platform from a personal blog, to a legit media outlet, to running it as a business, to branching off and creating other avenues for myself. The skills I taught myself, the trial and error is what has allowed me to help others match their creativity with their business. It is no secret that FARRINHEIT 411 is not the largest platform existing in the hemisphere. Proudly, this platform has still managed to connect with companies for marketing/promotion, be influential to its organic audience, help others gain future opportunities and stand amongst international platforms covering major events. Understanding numbers and visibility matter, a strong brand does too. Some of my biggest joys have come from covering President Obama (twice), going to Selma, Alabama for the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," being on TV, starting FH411's "Campus Pop-Up," shooting Outkast in Centennial Park, traveling last minute to cover events, tripping in front of Trey Songz (he caught me by the way), getting paid for the first time from ads and interviews, and the feeling of hitting your first 20,000 views to seeing 1,000,000 views.
Did I ever make it to the BET Awards? I've been almost every year since I began 411, mostly as a production crew member. Returning every year is not only a celebration of FARRINHEIT 411, but symbolic to where I started. Did I ever get that J. Cole interview? No! Fun fact: I've covered J. Cole on this platform more than any other entertainer. In 2016 I did see myself (1 of 3 photographers) on his HBO documentary photographing him at his homecoming 'Forest Hills Drive' show in North Carolina. We might be even on the interview!
The website hitting a million views was a huge milestone. Something I had always dreamt of accomplishing. I celebrated alone. I felt a creative strain and didn't know what to do next with this platform. People are constantly asking "what do you have going on?" "what are you doing next?" Many times I really didn't know. That young fiery and carefree spirit wasn't as potent anymore. FARRINHEIT 411 opened a lot of doors for me to expand outside of this outlet to have a name of my own. Its weird because FARRINHEIT is a ploy of my name, but it's only a fruit of me. I grew into a woman while growing this brand and growing as a woman required me to be more practical and realistic with everything in my life. I had become so busy working in television production, beginning as a producer trying to stay employed that I didn't have the time to dedicate like I used to. I didn't feel like I had all the resources I needed still to put 100% in this and I was tired. I was close to giving up, so I feel back until I knew I was sure. I found myself being afraid of my own potential. I decided to have no team. Traffic significantly dropped because I hardly posted anything to the site within a two year span. The passion to write came in waves. I gracefully faded away. Last year I ran into my homeboy who introduced me to a fellow industry person and said "she used to be the hottest entertainment writer out!" I frowned my face and said "I still am now hold on." At that moment I knew it was time to find my way back to my roots.
Life takes you on a journey. Dreams change, you evolve, you experience, you go through good and tough lessons but life always has a way of refocusing and recentering you. The number 6 is a symbol of focus and working perfection. Rolling dice hitting a six is perfect. Admitting I almost gave up is proof that there's perfection in every story. Take authority over your gifts and create something of value. Kenny Burns once told me "when you stop, it stops." When I used to look at the drops in social media following, the small percentage of views, declining interviews and bringing people on my team, I saw this stopping.
Earlier this year, I decided to reclaim my creativity and take back control over what I started. This new website is clean. Its new energy. It's a fresh start. It's still quality over quantity. It's still passion over popularity. The foundation is here, but we've added a new room to the house. Thank you for supporting me, Farrin. Thank you for supporting FARRINHEIT 411. Thank you for referring, posting, sharing. I'm amazed at all of the countries this has been viewed in around the world. I'm so blessed and grateful. Everyone I saw starting out didn't stay the course, but I thank God for keeping me here to not just indulge in entertainment buff, but to use this platform to beam light and truth into the world. In "Journey To Your Dreams" I wrote, "for starters, you don't have much in the beginning just a vision and an idea where you want to be." Purpose has kept me even when my vision has gotten blurry. Cheers to longevity!
Our experiences teach us and cultivate us to perfect who we are and tap deeper into our purpose. For everyone starting out, quit, having a hard time, or is finding your way back I'm sharing a few things with you.
6 Things I Learned About Myself In 6 Years
+ I am capable of manifesting my words and thoughts
+ I need a personal outlet outside of my creative outlet (FH411)
+ My work is valued. My work is inspiring. My work is needed. Keep being pure
+ It's okay not to always have it figured out. It's okay to not succeed at everything. It's okay not to produce at high rates. Always be proactive. Be proud of your accomplishments and know it's okay to take a break to be reinspired
+ People are watching. People know who I am. People want to work with my brand. People believe in my visions. My name is in rooms I have yet entered
6 Things I Advise A Dreamer to Possess
+ No fear of your own potential or success. No fear of failure or rejection. No fear of not being the best. Don't be consciously fearful because, we all experience fear at times
+ The ability to ask for help. Focus on making real connections. There are people that will help. Don't do this journey alone, build a dream team. Be a help to someone else even if it doesn't directly benefit you
+ Don't be a trend. Don't limit your product/talent to social media. If your product is quality, your product is transferable
+ Own your confidence. Own your mistakes. Own your growth. Own your peace and good energy. Own your product and your craft.
+ Always be willing to try something different, implementing new systems, learning a new trade, talking to those that are more skilled in areas. The path is a continuum but it is not straight and narrow, you will shift and change. Evolve when you feel the tug to grow even if you think it's taking you a new path
+ Celebrate every once of success. You do not have it all figured out and you never will. When you change your mindset and free your heart, your life will change.
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