In the last six months or thereabout, I’ve attended about a dozen or so seminars/conferences/trainings. This is mostly as a result of my streamlined Twitter timeline. I follow quite a number of public speakers who are always promoting one event or the other. From Subomi Plumptre to Iyin Aboyeji who is awesome btw. I’ve listened to him speak twice now and he never fails to add value to my life, I feel like I could listen to him all day to the LagosPhoto Foundation who always send invites to a number of their ” exclusive” events (It never feels like a public event. There are hardly ever crowds) and so on. In one way or the other, these people have helped put things in perspective for me. I’m figuring out a whole of possibilities and whatnot.
I know what I want and where I’m going and it just feels like I’m steering in the right direction.
There are a few things I have learnt that I’d like to share.
I’ve been doing all of this officially for a little over two years now. The first job I got was via recommendation. When I still had my tweeting mojo – I hardly tweet this days – I was constantly talking about natural hair. I think that was the period I discovered natural hair and I was so excited about all of the knowledge I had gained that I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I had to share – tweet. Then all of sudden, a follower slides into my DM and asks if I was interested in talking about natural hair on a bigger platform. I was gobsmacked. I’ve never done that before. I was utterly clueless but I took the job anyway. That was one of the best decisions I have made in my entire life because it set the pace for me. Although I didn’t get paid in cash, I was fully compensated. Still am. It wasn’t even about the money. I didn’t think I was good enough to get paid and that’s the truth but I savoured the experience. It was everything.
Lesson 1 : Take advantage of any/every opportunity.
It’s as cliché as it gets but you can’t actually comprehend it until you’re faced with it. You might never know what’s in it for you plus it’s not like you have anything to lose so go for it. Don’t discard any opportunity.
Lesson 2 : It’s not always about money.
I think everyone at one point or the other have done pro bono jobs. It’s pretty much part of the system. Yes, we all have bills to pay and I don’t mean to sound like a broken record but there are times you have to make sacrifices for a greater good so think about it.
After a while, I read somewhere that guest posting brings exposure so it took a lot of my guts to churn out my first post. It turned out okay – I think and then I sent another and another to a few websites until I lost the courage. Apart from the fact the the so-called ”exposure” didn’t come soon enough, I realised that I needed to channel my energy to something. I didn’t think I was cut out for guest posting. Then, I read somewhere else that I shouldn’t be writing for free. I think that was the paradigm shift I needed. In the meantime, after struggling for a while, I finally found my niche – lifestyle. It was so hectic. Almost the same as finding my voice which I haven’t even found.
Lesson 3 : Don’t Force It.
If something doesn’t come naturally to you, please for the love of God, don’t force it. Apart from the fact that you’re wasting precious time, it might not turn out as good as you want it to.
The next job I got, I basically pitched myself to her. It was a tad difficult to find lifestyle jobs that pay so I didn’t really mind anything. So, I went straight into her DM and asked if she was in need of paid writers. She said yes and I started immediately. A few months passed smoothly without any problems, then I had an idea. I realised that she was in need of someone to handle the blog in its entirety. It was quite tough handling both a virtual and an online store simultaneously. So, I decided to pitch myself once again as an assistant editor but my guts failed me as I was writing the application email and I tossed it in my drafts. It’s still there.
Lesson 4 : Offer your services and asked to be paid.
The golden rule – Don’t write for free especially if the platform can afford it. Don’t let folks take advantage of you. Don’t be deceived, quite a number of them can afford to pay the writers but you need to bring something to the table. Don’t wait for them to put up a vacancy. Approach them. Offer your services. DMs are free anyway.
After about a year with several months of backlog, I decided that I needed a new job. I couldn’t afford to be idle. At this point, I couldn’t even do anything anymore until the backlog was cleared.
Lesson 5 : Be Alert.
You need to be at alert so you’re aware when things are slacking and not progressing.
Then one day, I was reading a blog post and the blogger basically just talked about needing writers for a new site.
Lesson 6 : Take This Things Seriously!
Subtle adverts here and there. They’re everything.
I didn’t believe it either.
I was both giddy and crippled with fear that I didn’t do anything for about a month. But one day, I woke up and decided to do something. A mean what the hell? Whatever happens, happens. I used the same technique that had worked for me previously – pitch yourself/offer your service and ask for/negotiate payment. That went on and on until it was finalized and was asked to start. About a month later, I signed the contract.
Lesson 7: Follow up
Bug them with endless regular emails so they know you’re serious about it. Follow through and ask for feedbacks. Don’t give them breathing space until you get the job. But watch it, don’t become a pest.
That was huge.
I read Cosmo growing up and now I get to write for them!
I’m not over it!
So, that’s pretty much all I’ve learnt this past few months. It’s been such eye-opening and insightful experiences when I’m not thinking of covering the events or taking selfies with the speakers which I never do anyway.