My name is Dan Blank, and I help writers develop a human-centered approach to marketing and reaching their readers. I believe that writers have this magical ability to create stories and help others. Connecting their work to people in an authentic manner is an imperative that makes life better for everyone. For the past 10 years, I have worked full-time with thousands of writers and creators.
I believe that you should GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO CREATE. Put craft first and accept that the world needs what you create. You are ready to be seen and heard as a creator. Don’t follow trends and rush for the easy “like” on social media.
I believe that you need to UNDERSTAND WHO YOU HOPE TO REACH. This is not some vague demographic. It is a real person with a name, a face, a lifetime of experiences, and someone searching for what you create.
I believe you should CONNECT TO A PERSON, NOT AN AUDIENCE. Connecting your work to others should be a process of deep connection, not one of trying to amass faceless followers, judging your success on likes and reshares. It is about connecting through writing and art, and how that changes someone.
My Official Bio
Dan Blank is the founder of WeGrowMedia, where he helps writers develop a human-centered approach to marketing and reaching their audience. He is the author of the book Be the Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience. He has worked with thousands of writers, and amazing organizations who support creative people such as Penguin Random House, Sesame Workshop, Hachette Book Group, Workman Publishing, J. Walter Thompson, Abrams Books, Writers House, The Kenyon Review, Writer’s Digest, Library Journal, and many others. You can find Dan on his blog at https://WeGrowMedia.com or on Twitter and Instagram at @DanBlank
I Love Helping Writers and Creators
My days are spent in my private studio creating and working with writers and creators. This has been my full-time work for the past 10 years. This is what lights me up:
Helping Writers & Creators
I love being in the trenches with writers and creators as they strive to fulfill their creative vision and ensure their work reaches an audience. I have worked with thousands of writers via consulting, online programs, mastermind groups, in-person workshops, webinars, and summits.
I have also worked with publishers and creative organizations, assisting them in setting strategy to grow and engage their audience. These brands include: Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, Sesame Workshop, Workman Publishing, Abrams Books, Perseus Books Group, Writers House, F+W Media ,The Kenyon Review, Foundry Literary + Media, Publishers Weekly, Writer’s Digest, Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), Library Journal, School Library Journal, Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, J. Walter Thompson, Springer, Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners, and many others.
I am the author of Be the Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience. My writing has been published in the book Author In Progress, Poets & Writers magazine, Compose Journal, the National Endowment for the Arts’ Art Works blog, Writer Unboxed, and Folio: magazine. I have appeared in Professional Artist magazine, 99u, and the book Blogging for Writers.
Blogging & Newsletters
Every single week for more than 15 years, I have published an essay on my blog and sent an email newsletter. Every post is meant to help and inspire writers to better share their work. I believe that your success as a writer grows when you make a habit of writing and sharing — this is advice that I live every single week.
In The Creative Shift podcast, I interview writers and artists who have doubled-down on their creative vision. I delve deep into how they moved from merely dabbling with ideas to becoming a doer — someone who creates, finishes, and shares their work. I have had the pleasure of speaking with inspiring writers, artists, musicians, and performers — the podcast is a pure joy for me to do.
I have spoken at many of the top writing and publishing conferences, engaging with executives from the largest publishing houses, to writers just trying to get their foot in the door. I’ve spoken at BookExpo America, Writers Digest Conference, Romance Writers of America Annual Conference, AWP, Thrillerfest, Grub Street’s The Muse & the Marketplace, and dozens of others.
Volunteering & Events
I have also had the pleasure of working with some of tomorrow’s great writers and creative professionals, the kids up at PS 123 in Harlem. I began a partnership with them back in 2003, and for 15 years, helped plan dozens of events with the students, always focused on publishing, literacy and communication. PS 123 is an amazing community, and I feel truly honored to have been a tiny part of their lives. I have also volunteered to help run the Morristown Festival of Books, created a local arts festival called Madison Storytellers Festival, and ran a series of meetups for writers and artists (which I have written about here and here.)
Growing up, I was the “art kid” who was always drawing, writing, and creating. Here is a look into my history with the arts.
I have been an artist, a poet, a musician, a paper sculptor, a writer, a publisher, a photographer, a teacher, a radio DJ, a cartoonist, a designer and an entrepreneur.
As a kid, I went to art school. Each week, I ventured into the basement of Mrs. Flannigan, my art instructor, whose walls were covered with murals and floors covered with splotches of paint. It’s hard to describe how creative and limitless that cold dark basement felt as a kid. At home, I found creativity in old shoeboxes and empty coffee cans, sometimes turning them into makeshift drum kits.
In grade school, I went to extra art classes each week, and was always doodling in class. My family had a sold baseball cards on the weekends, which gave me my first taste of entrepreneurship, and allowed for me to meet Muhammad Ali. My high school had a separate wing of the building where kids studied performing arts: dance, theater, video, etc. I wasn’t a part of that program, but most of my friends were. I got into writing, poetry, and photography, spending my time outside of school taking black and white photographs, and on projects such as making a book of poetry out of sheet metal.
In college I published a music zine, where I developed contacts at all the major record labels, and got to interview most of my favorite musicians. I was also a college radio DJ, a cartoonist for our campus newspaper, and interned at Rutgers University Press. Oh, and I graduated from Rutgers University’s School of Communication, Information and Library Science. After college, I managed an indie bookstore & cafe, where I helped schedule bands, poetry readings, and art exhibits.
After working at a series of web startups, I spent this entire decade working for a large media company. My time was spent with the editorial teams of more than 50 publications. I spearheaded their blogging strategy, launching 300 blogs, and trained hundreds of writers and editors in social media and developing their platforms online. I had a front row seat for how the web was changing the business model of publishing, and expectations of readers. Working day in and day out in New York City also allowed me to experience the art and cultural events it offered, including “The Gates” exhibit in Central Park by Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
This is the decade that I founded WeGrowMedia, and learning how to grow a business while raising a young family. I wanted to be around my wife and kids as much as possible, so I had to become a master of “work/life balance,” which, let’s face it, never felt all that balanced! Working from a small private studio near my home, I focused on infusing my daily life with creativity, business growth, and lots of quality time with family. I also began several new creative rituals to ensure I was growing amidst an otherwise busy life, including learning to play guitar. Over two years, I established a 1-hour per day practice schedule to turn this lifelong dream into reality.
This is my story of building a successful career as a creative professional.
And here are three interviews with me where I talk about my creative process: