Behind-the-scenes players donâ€™t always earn shine from a backlight. Karen Civil is the exception. As the creator of her self-titled hip-hop blog, the music industry insider has proven that she can pimp the online ring from any and all angles. Even with a resume that boasts impressive bullet points such as Lil Wayneâ€™s Young Money Social Media Coordinator and currently, Beats By Dre Digital Marketing Manager, itâ€™s KarenCivil.com, that positions the New Jersey native as one of todayâ€™s most authoritative digital gatekeepers.
Kick-started in 2008, KarenCivil.com site was born from a simple, but sticky idea: Produce premier content on cocooned artists Civil believed would blow up. And with early cosigns that include hip-hop stars Drake and J. Cole, itâ€™s safe to bet her ear and eye are worth trusting, especially since theyâ€™ve earned her a 2010 MTV Hip Hop Award, 2009 Essence Black Web Award and features in The Source, XXL, Complex and Billboard. Printing out traffic reports of 1,000,000+ monthly visitors, the site generates around $125,000 in yearly revenue. Farming the lifestyle element of her brand, Civilâ€™s recently collaborated with eco-friendly jewelry maker Good Wood for a successful line of Live Civil bracelets seen on not only everyday fans, but rappers such as A$AP Rocky and Lil Wayne. Next up is the summer debut of her very own pink pantone snapback under Rock Smith apparel. As part of Black Blogger Month, BlackEnterprise.com catches up with the tech savvy 26-year-old to see how her digital empire was built.
I started blogging becauseâ€¦
Back when I was working with Dipset and Max B, I used to service hip-hop blogs like Nah Right and Hip-Hop Game. But as people really got to know who I am, instead of passing out news on the artists I was working, I decided why not just create my own hub for this. I was toying around with it and thinking, Okay, maybe I can do some interviews, maybe Iâ€™ll put up music and people can just take it directly off my page. And if they want to know more about my artist Iâ€™ll just have these generic questions answered. I knew so many artists on the come up who werenâ€™t getting attention anywhere else so it was like why not just figure out a way to get them on my site. The first interview I did was at Starbucks with Drake the day of his birthday and when it got like 700 views I was so excited [laughs].
The overhead for running my blogâ€¦
Depends on if thereâ€™s an event. Iâ€™ve been working with sponsors on a lot of things lately, which is great, but if thereâ€™s an event like the Grammyâ€™s [then I have to factor in] having to go there, video editing, things like that. Monthly, Iâ€™d say it can be anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000. But, thank God, Iâ€™m getting all this corporate money from sponsorships now [laughs]!
The biggest influences on my career areâ€¦
I love [New York radio personality] Angela Yee because sheâ€™s herself. She likes to wear $900 shoes, have a good time and it all works. Sheâ€™s also a hustlerâ€”very ambitious and I like that. At times, I look at myself as the hip-hop Blossom because I wear so many different hats and itâ€™s the same as [Yee]. She has her site, sheâ€™s on the radio, she does TVâ€¦ I appreciate someone in entertainment whoâ€™s similar to me but on a higher plateau, but it doesnâ€™t feel like it. Usually itâ€™s hard for females in the same field to be okay with one another, but sheâ€™s not like that at all. Another person is [Funkmaster] Flex. Whether you like him or not heâ€™s making sure that he stays relevant, that heâ€™s No. 1 and thatâ€™s still pushing his content. He never gets old and thatâ€™s exactly where I want my brand to be. Him and Angela Yee, they just do it for me. Theyâ€™re two wonderful people that I watch on a daily basis and kind of implement certain things they do into my business life and itâ€™s working.
My blog stand out from others in the same space becauseâ€¦
KarenCivil.com is going to give you great, curated contentâ€”from the interviews to things that are happening in the cultureâ€”and weâ€™re always going to have that Civil voice. As things are happening, weâ€™ll make sure to have that insight people may not necessarily knowâ€¦ Itâ€™s not about posting XYZ song first, itâ€™s about telling the story. Where did they record it? Why did they put it out? Who was in the room when they recorded it? We like to tell a story from the fanâ€™s perspective. It makes our posts that much better.
Having a Civil voice meansâ€¦
Never having to step out your character to get things done. Youâ€™re being well received and getting the job done by being just you. Itâ€™s honestly about self-love. I love my opinion, but I donâ€™t have to go crazy, I keep it civil. I keep it as humble as possible.