This blog post is not my usual style of writing but a topic I think needs to be touched on as it forms part of my experience as a blogger. An African blogger to be precise. Everything I will be sharing is mostly based on my personal encounter which should give you some perspective into my life as a content creator. It’s very easy to look in from the outside and think all is well and rosy when the reality is somewhat otherwise. And I don’t blame you for having that perspective. You mostly get to see the glamorous side of being an influencer being flaunted all over the internet (don’t get me wrong, I too I’m guilty of this) but very little is shared about the struggles that come with it especially for someone like me. Before moving to England, I always had this notion that if I could “make it” a very western world, then I can make it anywhere. I guess somehow I was aware of the trying journey of succeeding in a foreign land however familiar it may seem from a distance.
I suppose this is where I do a full disclaimer stating that this post isn’t an attack on a particular group of people but merely highlighting some of my encounter.You have to work twice as hard
If you’re very familiar with the TV show, Scandal, you should be aware of the famous scene where Olivia Pope‘s dad tells her quote on quote “You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have”. At first I didn’t get it and thought that was just dialogue appropriate at the time to have the effect he wanted on his daughter. Still, that scene stuck with me. For those of you who haven’t watched the show, a bit of context seems appropriate. Pope is a Washington, D.C.-based crisis manager who runs her own firm, Pope & Associates, that specializes in political situations. Fast forward two years later, I would begin to understand what Eli Pope meant. That was around the period I started taking my blog seriously but saw little or no growth with my engagement on all platforms. I remember telling myself “focus on improving and perfecting your skills and the rest will come”. Perhaps it wasn’t so much of a shocker as my subconscious mind almost expected this to be the case. I found myself having sleepless nights learning and practicing photography, and still do.
Putting out mediocre content will put you at the bottom of the pile and great content might get you in the acceptable league even though your work speaks for itself. The struggle is definitely real. If I had a penny for the amount of times people have said to me they think I deserve more followers because of the quality of my content, I’d probably be eating out every week. No wonder there are so many avenues dedicated to promoting the work of black folks and people of colour alike. At first I didn’t want to engage with these platforms because I thought I would be limiting my audience which was a whole load of nonsense to think in the first place. I soon began to realise that these platforms are a safe space for people like me to grow and share knowledge. The benefits of being part of such communities is very rewarding and inspiring to say the very least. Very few friends
I remember very well when I first started out blogging, I would tag everyone on Facebook I thought was my friend in my posts and would get little or no support from them. Sometimes they’ll remove themselves from the tags or unfriend me altogether. I was quick to notice this and decided it was unfair to put that amount of pressure on the people I considered friends at the time. I got to realise that people closest to us sometimes don’t believe in our dreams as much as we do and this reflects in their reactions. The truth is I’ve managed to convince so many strangers while on this journey that my work is worth looking at and I couldn’t be much grateful. You’ll find that the people who doubted you the most want to get close to you when they think you’ve become a success. Only then will they openly admit to knowing you. It’s become apparent that in order to succeed in whatever you do, you have to surround yourself with the right energy and this includes people that push you towards your goals. I’ve slowly learnt to keep very few friends and that’s fine with me. I’ve heard quite a few people say the older you get, the less friends you tend to have. This is true for me and some of my friends alike. When you factor in the amount of hours needed for creating content, you’ll find that you can barely keep up with social engagements which results in a somewhat natural decline in the number of friends you have.
The entitled folks
I get the odd request from folks who don’t show any form of support towards my work send me private messages asking me to share my photography secrets which I imagine they’ll implement and shine even brighter than they already do. Very recently, I had a blogger in London with nearly 300k Instagram followers who followed exactly 0 people, message me to ask about my editing techniques which is no secret as I’ve found a way to share that knowledge in my eBook. I guess he wasn’t interested in purchasing it and might have thought I would be smitten by his online presence enough to give him this information because he asked. I did the sensible thing by ignoring his message. The interracial couple stigma
“She’s only successful because she’s with a white man”. Really? This is usually my reaction when I see this fallacy being hurled around the internet. The so called “interracial relationship” craze comes into play which puts less focus on my work as a content creator. I have received at least 50 emails and private messages criticising me for riding off the back of my “white husband”. The double standard really amazes me. Anyone who needs photography for their blog knows they have to rely on the support of family and friends to help get the shots every now and again. For a lot of bloggers I know this tends to be their partners or their spouse. So why does it matter in my case? What many folks don’t realise is that I and my husband work as a team. He takes most of my pictures when he’s available and when he’s not I shoot self portraits. I do all of the post production work. So how come when a fellow blogger like myself dates/marries from a similar background, who gets equal amount of support from her partner doesn’t get judged on that? I fear I will never really know the answer to this. The way I deal with it is to completely ignore these messages. After a while you can’t help but feel sorry for these folks.
Inclusion for the wrong reason
You might also find that you get included in certain projects not by merit but because of your origin so they can demonstrate diversity. In those instances, taking advantage of the “disguised opportunity” as I like to call it, is a good way to show unsuspecting spectators the stuff you’ve been practicing behind closed doors. It’s a chance to gain respect for your work if you play to your strengths. I have been included in a couple of projects like these, without being very specific, I can say I did my best to go above and beyond. And the next time they consider me, I can almost certainly say it’s as a result of my work due to the offers they present my way.Love or hate
I’ve found that my biggest supporters are other Africans in diaspora. Maybe it’s because they have a sense of what it feels like to survive in a foreign country and perhaps relate to my journey. The amount of support and love I get from these folks is indescribable. I can tell by their names when I look at my eBook sales. However, this can be a love hate relationship. Some of these folks for some reason unbeknown to me do not like to see others succeed. They pick at everything you do. First they criticise your accent, then your mannerisms, and then they tell you why you’re not good enough as you do not represent their ideas of someone from their community Some even go as far as disowning you which I find very bizarre. I mean, how sad must your life be to want to make someone feel guilty for personal choices they’ve made in their lives that remotely has nothing to do with you? Maybe you folks can help me out with this one. My usual approach would be to ignore these folks. But sometimes I can’t help but think they need educating on certain matters.
Awkward blogger events
Being an introvert doesn’t quite help me here. I sometimes think that not growing up here and engaging in the social scenes makes me hold back at blogger events. It’s easier for me to connect with other foreigners because I fee like like we get each other just by sharing this one experience of living abroad. Sometimes I don’t attend altogether if no one I know is going. This can potentially hinder my growth and is something I have to overcome. I do not want to change who I am in the process. I just want to find a way to exist as my true self in a space where I can grow.
This has been my experience so far. I’d love to hear some of the things you folks also have to deal with behind the scenes as content creators and how you’ve overcome them.