It would be wonderful if politicians would stop dividing the country by political parties. When addressing the media or posting their opinions on social media, it would be refreshing if they went by the creed “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Stop blaming what is going on in this country on one party or another and come to together to fix what is broken. We have more in common than not but yet we put all our attention on the few things that cause this division. I want everyone to make the effort to Choose Love and not division. Make the effort to Choose Love regardless of someone’s religion, political party, race, and whatever else that seems to be dividing not just our country, but the world.
As a part of my series about social media stars who are using their platform to make a significant social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Autumn Murray. Autumn lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two children. She is a travel addict, self-professed foodie and has an obsession with cycle/spin classes. She is an abuse survivor and is passionate about her online lifestyle magazine — Simply Amazing Living — where she dedicates a section of her site on overcoming the obstacles of her past and sharing her experiences of making the conscious choice to Choose Love in all aspects of her life.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I worked in public relations and communications for a five-star hotel brand for nearly twenty years and I left to be a stay at home mom. In 2015, I discovered blogging through my friend Stacie Connerty who has had her blog for over 10 years. She knew my career history and asked me to write articles for her blog — Divine Lifestyle. After going on a few media travel destination trips for her I was hooked! I love being able to travel and to write about my experiences, so I started Simply Amazing Living.
For years I have been contemplating whether to write a book, a play, or a movie based on my life experiences. I decided that I could dedicate a section on my blog about on my life experiences. The section is called “My Story.” I also have a section dedicated to social justice as it is something I feel passionate about.
One day soon I will write my book, play, or a movie (or all three) on my life. I would like to talk to a few industry people before taking that step and getting their advice on how and where to start.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?
I can say that the most interesting aspect of my blogging career is being able to interview celebrities and professional athletes.
It is a humbling experience for me to meet and interview people that I never thought I would meet let alone interview.
I have interviewed Octavia Spencer, Chris Evans, Shannon Sharpe, Keegan Michael Key, John Cena, Judy Greer, and a host of others. My dream is to interview Michelle Obama and/or Oprah.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Who volunteers to cover an event on social media without actually knowing details of how social media works? Me, that’s who.
In 2016, I was on social media but I wasn’t familiar with how to use it to its full potential. I had Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, but I rarely used them. I was only active and familiar with Facebook.
I was asked to attend and cover the 142nd Kentucky Derby for Divine Lifestyle in 2016 because Stacie was not able to attend. She asked me if I wanted to attend for her the day before the flight to Kentucky was scheduled. I had never been to the Kentucky Derby before and couldn’t turn down the chance for a VIP experience. It was a scramble to get everything together so quickly, but I was able to do it.
This was the first event that I was covering for Stacie, all of the other trips that I had been on were media travel destination trips. Upon arrival in Kentucky, my contact for the Kentucky Derby experience gave me a list of hashtags and a list of companies to tag in the post. I had never used a hashtag or tagged anyone on Twitter or Instagram before. However, I did not tell anyone this.
So, I went to my hotel room and Googled why and how hashtags are used and how to tag someone on Instagram and Twitter and spent the night familiarizing myself with best social media practices. I didn’t want anyone thinking I didn’t know what I was doing!
My motto is — when in doubt, Google it!
Everything worked out well and by the end of the event, I was a social media pro.
Ok super. Let’s now jump to the core focus of our interview. Can you describe to our readers how you are using your platform to make a significant social impact?
I developed a “Choose Love” campaign in 2018. Every day, I send out a tweet with a positive message encouraging people to “Choose Love” above all else in every aspect of life. The tweets include a quote and a picture of individuals wearing my “Choose Love” t-shirts.
I also post regular articles focused on diversity and inclusion and on simple steps people can take each day to make the conscious effort to “Choose Love.”
Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by this cause?
The individuals who have purchased my “Choose Love” t-shirt are always sending me messages about receiving compliments on the sentiment of the shirt. This world needs love more than ever before, and I want to be a leader in the “Choose Love” movement.
Was there a tipping point the made you decide to focus on this particular area? Can you share a story about that?
Even though I have always lived my life by focusing on the positive and not the negative and making the choice each day to “Choose Love,” my tipping point was after the 2016 presidential election and all of the divisiveness that ensued after the conclusion.
Hate crimes are on the rise in America and something needs to be done to get people to love and respect each other regardless of our differences. My goal is to work hard at getting my “Choose Love” message across to get people to respect each other. I would love to get celebrities and athletes to join in on the “Choose Love” movement and help to bring about unity.
My past has always driven me to help others. I specifically want to help those who have been abused and/raped to let them know that they can lead a successful loving life regardless of what was done to them. Ultimately, my goal is to be a resource in the field of sexual abuse and discrimination.
I am open to supporting multiple charitable causes and have a dedicated section on my blog called “Sharing is Caring” promoting charitable organizations.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
It would be wonderful if politicians would stop dividing the country by political parties. When addressing the media or posting their opinions on social media, it would be refreshing if they went by the creed “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Stop blaming what is going on in this country on one party or another and come to together to fix what is broken. We have more in common than not but yet we put all our attention on the few things that cause this division.
I want everyone to make the effort to Choose Love and not division. Make the effort to Choose Love regardless of someone’s religion, political party, race, and whatever else that seems to be dividing not just our country, but the world.
What specific strategies have you been using to promote and advance this cause? Can you recommend any good tips for people who want to follow your lead and use their social platform for a social good?
I use social media as my platform in spreading my positive message of “Choose Love.” Social media is key at reaching a broader audience vs. blog posts only.
The key is to post quality over quantity. Yes, you should post on a regular basis. But, if your posts are not impactful and/or relevant, your message will get lost.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Key ways to use social media to get your message across.
There are so many options in regard to social channels. Finding what channel(s) work best for you and focusing on them vs. spreading yourself too thin and too many channels that you can’t post consistently on.
For me, I had to step away from Snap Chat and put my time and focus on the platforms that work best for me.
2. It takes time to build your following. Stay true to what your vision is and don’t compromise it because you think you will get more followers if you try to do what might be working for someone else.
As I stated above, I tried using Snap Chat to gain followers. I only tried it as my friend has thousands of followers on her Snap Chat, but that is the only social channel she is active on. For me, I just don’t have the time to spare for it to be successful.
3. Invest in the Yoast plugin for SEO.
The Yoast SEO plugin is worth every penny as it guides you on a step-by-step basis on what you need to do for the best SEO for blog posts.
I struggled with SEO as I was just writing my posts without focusing on it. The Yoast plugin gives you suggestions as you are writing your blog posts on what the best options are for SEO.
4. The blogging life is all about the hustle. Pitching for sponsors/brands is something every successful blogger has to do to in order to make money.
Take a writing class to boost your creative writing skills.
I struggled with my pitching (it is a work in progress) until I took an online creative writing course in addition to getting advice from PR experts on what they are looking for in a pitch.
5. Most importantly, don’t compete with other bloggers.
There is enough profit for everyone to go around. In fact, the more you network and partner with other bloggers — the more your business will thrive. We can all learn from each other as well as support each other.
I attend blogging conferences so that I can network with other bloggers and meet up with brands.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
To continue to bring awareness of my “Choose Love” campaign. It would be wonderful if compassionate and influential leaders like Ellen DeGeneres could help drive awareness and take the campaign to the next level.
Ultimately, I would like to raise money with the “Choose Love” campaign and to donate to organizations like Youth Villages. Youth Villages is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping emotionally and behaviorally troubled children and their families live successfully.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite Life Lesson Quote is “Choose Love.”
If everyone could make the effort to Choose Love and not division. Make the effort to Choose Love regardless of someone’s religion, political party, race, and whatever else that seems to be dividing not just our country, but the world.
If someone with my past can make the effort to “Choose Love,” anyone can. I have been physically abused, sexually abused and discriminated against because I am bi-racial (my birth mother is white, and my birth father is black). I was adopted by a white family in midwestern farming town with a population of 2,700 and I was the only minority in a sea of white people. Throughout my fifteen years of living with my adopted family in the small town, I had crosses burned in front of my face, was told I couldn’t sit next to a boy because I was black, and a long list of other racially discriminating incidents.
The family that adopted me did so because they saw signs of abuse from my birth mother. However, the sexual abuse that I encountered by my adopted family was worse than any physical abuse could have been. Regardless of all this, I still Choose Love.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Hands down — Oscar winning filmmaker, comedian and actor — Jordan Peele.
I have been wanting to meet him for years! I recently interviewed Keegan Michael Key in Vancouver, Canada and I wanted to tell him my story and get his opinion and contact information. But, I was working, and I wanted to remain professional and not disrespect my sponsor with my own interests.
As I stated above, I want to write a book, play, or a movie (or all three) on my life’s experiences. Jordan would be the ideal person to talk to about this for obvious reasons — Oscar winning filmmaker. However, he is also biracial and would understand some of my discrimination experiences on certain level. I believe he would have the best advice on how I should move forward and possibly take on the task of making my movie.
Additionally, as we all know Jordan is a comedian. I want whatever it is I do with my life story to have a comedic aspect to it. I don’t want the entirety of it being so dark with only focusing on the facts. I want my story to be told in a way that is educational and inspirational. Humor and music are what got me through my childhood experiences and they both continue to help me navigate adulthood as well. Jordan Peele is a master at creating unique horror films with a message and I am open for my life story being made into a horror movie with a subjective ending or whatever Jordan recommends as Itrust his professional opinion and expertise.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Please follow me on Twitter for daily inspirational posts about love and inclusion @autumnatlanta. You can also join the “Choose Love” movement by purchasing a “Choose Love” t-shirt and promoting a positive message of love and inclusion everywhere you go. “Choose Love” t-shirt purchases can be made HERE.
I encourage people to post pictures of themselves wearing the t-shirts and tagging me @autumnatlanta on Twitter, @simplyamazingliving on Facebook and/or @autumninatlanta on Instagram. I include all of the photos I receive on my social media posts and/or on Simply Amazing Living.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!