The Other Side Of Being An African Content Creator In A Western World

July 3, 2017

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.

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  • Thanks for stopping by.

    I know what you mean. I’m never in support of any kind of hate against any race.

    Yes, friendships do come and go and “see finish” happens too, lol. And sometimes it’s hard for the people closest to you to recognise your potential or they’ve seen what you can truly become if you keep at it and the thought of that scares them, either way you’ll recognise the friendships that matter.

    See you around dear x

  • Elizabeth Akanbi

    Loved this realness.

    I am careful about some of these black communities I join though because some to have a hatred towards other races but all in all they do make you feel comfortable in your skin.

    With regards to the friends section, you will know your true friends when you start something like a business, blog etc I unfortunately didn’t get support from really close friends but from those afar. I guess your close friends have “seen you finish” lol so they can’t imagine you as a success.

    Keep working hard sunshine x

  • Thanks Annabel for taking out the time to check out my blog. I’m glad you could relate to some of my points. We just have to keep pushing on amidst all of this. Hope you succeed in your pursuits. Cheers! xxx

  • Annabel

    First off, your blog is amazing. I found your Instagram today and decided to check it out and my eyes have been glued to my computer for the past 15 minutes. Secondly, this post made me think about a lot as I’ll be launching my lifestyle blog soon. I can already relate to the friends part because when I tell some FRIENDS about my blog, they show no support at all but I have decided not to let that stop me from doing what I have to do. Thanks so much for this!!

  • Thanks dear. You’re too kind.

  • Thanks so much for all your continuous support and wise words. I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. I am loving this journey and taking both the good and the bad as they come knowing I shall come out victorious. Enjoy the rest of your week xxx

  • Chi-Chi

    I’ve thought that most of your posts are well thought out…this one is quite deep. Thanks for sharing your truth when it comes to blogging. the fact is that the internet and social media has left us vulnerable to the not so nice people, rude people and downright idiots of the world.

    However i’m sure you are finding that blogging is a beautiful struggle; I have been reading your blog for sometime and i have seen it flourish. with being more successful your may find that the issues that you have discussed above will grow or take uglier forms….. but keep Faith, stay true to yourself and “it will be alright on the night” (i.e. it will work out to be fine).

  • Blvck Bee

    Preach! This was such an interesting read and I can relate to in so many levels. You have an amazing blog and your photos are on point just keep doing you babe 🙂

    Agnes x


  • I know I’ve shared some of my struggles in the past. If you’re not attending the blogger event, then I’m not 😂😂😂. I’m also really behind on Scandal. Might play catch up one of these days when I’m bored xxx

  • I’m behind on Scandal too, 😂

  • Thanks for reading. It can be tough out there but we need to persevere. Send my regards to your sister 💙💙💙

  • Thank you so much for all your support and kind words Shannae. You’re God sent and the type of friends I pray for. I really appreciate you 💙💙💙

  • Hi Kola, lovely to see you here. Thanks for stopping by. I might have to consider some yoga session before attending blogger events, lol. I’m working on creating more content for YouTube 🎥

  • Thanks dear. That’s good to hear that you can relate. The struggle is real but we must persevere 😊

  • Thanks for reading dear. You’re not alone in this struggle. You’re right! We must go back to our reasons for starting in the first place xx

  • Thanks for reading dear. It’s always good to share these experiences so others know they’re not alone in their struggle.

  • Onyi, this was really beautiful! I read the post twice and i was pausing at every point made to nod and agree hehe
    This was soo relatable at all levels and it felt good reading something heartfelt!
    And i have to say kudos to you for handling ”classily” all the naysayers and entitled folks!
    You’re such a beautiful person and it shows in your work! Just keep doing your unique self and inspiring the world ! We ♥ you!

  • Angel Patricks

    Onyi, thank you for this! I thought I was crazy in my tiny world of blogging, with absolutely no reward whatsoever. . I relate to nearly every point hinted, and I’m glad you shared. Whenever I feel like giving up, I remember why I started I’ll definitely return to this post. Xxx

  • Yara Mel Rozaay

    OMG Onyi this is such good info! The ‘few friends’ part is sooo relatable! And I can’t believe the famous guy actually wanted editing tips from you. Your photos are stunning and unique and that is amazing!
    Yes. Sticking to community platforms is definitely a must. And being an introvert must be hard in events indeed. I wouldn’t go either. Networking and fake talks are so draning and exhausting!
    Awwww feel like giving you a hug after reading and relating to all the struggles!

    Great post 🙂

  • I think you’re so brave for sharing this. I definitely relate to alot of this especially the introvert struggle. I’ve somehow learned to come up with different strategies to just enjoy all those networking type events and make sure i have booked a nice 1 hour long massage to go and recover after Lol!! Though to be fair, I’ve never done a blogging event. Most of my networking is for consulting. I might need a 5 hour massage to recover from a blogging event haha. Neways, I was missing your videos and sauntered over to your blog to leave this long ass comment. ok bye <3

  • ok this makes me feel 10x better about my lack of Scandal watching haha. heart you Samio

  • Shannae Ingleton Smith

    Thanks for sharing your story Onyi. You already know how I feel about you and your work. You are a superstar as far as I’m concerned and it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world catches on. You hit the nail on the head with the Scandal quote. But you know what, I’m up for the challenge and please let me know if there is anything that I can do to help you along the way. 😘😘

  • Thank you for sharing this honest post. I completely agree with the quote from Scandal and it can be so frustrating. I love how you handled the dm asking for your editing skills! Also, my sister and I LOVE your work.

    -Sabine |

  • I loved reading this post Onyi. Some points here I can definitely relate to and it was also interesting to hear some more of your personal experiences too, some which we’ve spoken about in the past also. Also you’ve made me want to watch Scandal again, I stopped watching it and I have sooo much to catch up on but I always remember that line that Eli said in the show.

    Samio xxx