by Cory Hott January 31, 2024
Buoyed by her mission, this author learned how to build broader appeal and improve her nonprofit marketing by reaching a smaller, overlooked audience with her own personal story.
J. René Walker stepped up to the podium looking poised and confident, but inside her stomach was turning. It’s not because she’s unaccustomed to public speaking – she does that every day as part of her career as a broker. No, what makes this speech different is her audience – it’s the entire congregation at her Texas megachurch, thousands of faces looking expectantly up at her.
When she decided to write another book, she knew it would lead to some exciting opportunities, but she never expected to speak on stages this large.
Writing a Book to Serve
It all began when the pandemic hit in 2020. J. René knew she wanted to write another book to help with nonprofit marketing for Her First Place, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing financial assistance and coaching to Black women on the journey to home ownership, so she turned to Difference Press, which had been on her radar for a while.
“I wanted a broader audience, which is why Angela resonated with me.”
Initially, she planned to write a straightforward guide on home buying, a topic she knew intimately. But as she researched statistics, a different story emerged. As Dr. Angela teaches her clients, the only way to eventually gain a broader audience is to first start with a niched audience.
A Niche Audience
“I began to realize I was really writing a love letter to Black women,” J. René said, “because that segment has the most opportunity. But yet, they are the most underserved.”
Using her own challenges she faced as a single Black woman purchasing a home when she was younger, she dove into research, returning with staggering statistics about the homeownership gap in America along racial lines.
Drafting the book content proved to be a journey itself. The publishing process challenged J. René to get vulnerable and tell her story – failures and all. “How do I tell my story without being the victim, but the victor?” she mused. She persevered, buoyed by her mission to help other women avoid the same pitfalls on their path to homeownership.
“I hadn’t had a lot of success on my own with the other books,” J. René said. “So ultimately, I was writing books for friends and family. What this process did was make me focus. It gave me systems, gave me a process, gave me deadlines. And then for me, it [became]: trust the process. I had to remind myself of that several times during the process.”
The book, Her First Place: The Black Woman’s Guide to Building Generational Wealth as a First-Time Home Buyer, was released in December of 2022, but that was only the beginning for J. René’s book journey.
Speaking Engagements as Nonprofit Marketing
“After I wrote the book, my pastor asked me to come and speak in front of the congregation. I can speak, but not in front of a church like that. I go to a really big church. It’s not like a little tiny church. We’re talking about thousands and thousands of people.”
Of course those thousands and thousands were a mix of people—all genders, races, ages, etcetera—most of whom probably weren’t J. René’s target audience. And so, she had fun with them, cracking a few jokes to help ease herself in.
“You are not my mission today,” she said to the men in the pews. “I’m sure that there are other realtors that are here in this congregation that will be happy to serve you. It just won’t be me.”
As a result of her speech, a young woman approached her afterward confessing that she had been wanting to buy a house, but had no clue where to begin.
“I think you were speaking to me this morning,” the young woman said. “How do I do this?”
J. René walked her through the process, eventually helping her to realize that there was potential for the young woman to build a brand new house—an opportunity that wasn’t on their radar when they first started looking for homes to purchase.
A Servant’s Heart
The home is now close to completion and every couple of weeks, J. René gets pictures texted to her of the most recent updates. “I am so excited for this experience for her—her very first time in buying her first house. It’s so special.”
Even better, J. René keeps none of the money made during this process, but rather, it all goes back into the client’s pocket or to help another woman buy her first house.
Just like J. René telling the men they were not her mission, ensuring the money goes back into the pool to help other women is an action of a servant’s heart—something Dr. Angela says is required if you want to write a book that makes a difference.
And the speaking opportunities that help with her nonprofit marketing didn’t stop there for J. René.
“‘Oh, you have a book?’” J. René mimicked of those interested in hiring speakers. “’Can you come talk to our group about that?’ I was surprised. I got invited to speak to realtors. I’m thinking, don’t they know how to buy houses?”
Writing the book for a targeted audience is the same special sauce that led J. René to so many speaking gigs.
“They wanted to talk about niches. And I had created a niche with the book. I was speaking to one person, right? Angela and I spent a lot of time isolating who that one person is. Once you’ve done the writing just to that one person, it becomes a whole lot easier. You can apply that technique to a lot of other things, not just writing a book—if I’m marketing, if I’m advertising—the process of writing the book also helps me in my presentations.”
Increase Revenue of Your Nonprofit with a Book
For any woman wanting to write a book to help with nonprofit marketing, J. René has one key piece of advice—trust the process.
“She’s done it before with other authors,” J. René said of her publisher Dr. Angela. “Trust that she’s not going to let you fall.”
To learn more about Her First Place, visit HerFirstPlace.com.
To book J. René for an event, email [email protected] and follow at @JReneWalker on Instagram.
Listen to Our Secret Podcast!
Unlock hidden revenue strategies for authors in our exclusive and enlightening podcast series
By opting in, you’re joining our vibrant community! Expect 2-3 weekly newsletters packed with curated content, exclusive updates, and valuable insights to fuel your journey. Welcome to the conversation!