5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Blogging

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Blogging

We look up to and compare ourselves with our favourite influencers in the blogging sphere, conveniently forgetting that it took time, hard work, patience & dedication to get where they are now. The rosy portrayal of this life and work in social media definitely doesn’t make it easier for newbies. Be patient and work on your craft, even when you think no one’s watching.

Just like every other person watching from the sidelines, I equally thought blogging was a breeze. I figured all I had to do was own a laptop, take a few good photos, put a few sentences together and voila! I’ll become famous overnight. Or at least in 6 months. LOL. 

This is the last post in the “Own your blog” series and I figured I’d share a few things I wish I knew before I decided to become a blogger. If you missed the first 4 posts, you can catch up here, here, here& here

I was featured in an article on Bella Naija (here), where I talked about my initial struggles with blogging, all the somewhat “silly” things bloggers obsess over and how I finally realized the book wasn’t as enticing as the cover page.

For the past 2 years, I’ve worked tirelessly to grow this platform and my personal brand into something I’ve become proud of; but here are some things I wish I knew before jumping on this bandwagon.

Not everyone will get it & that’s fine.

The initial stages of blogging where you have to convince your friends, family & sometimes yourself that you’re not just a narcissist, obsessed with perfectly curated flat lays, photos, and angles, will probably be the hardest. In my experience, I’ve found myself avoiding social gatherings with my “professional” group of friends, for the simple fact that I’m not a fan of explaining what I do over and over again. Also, there’s only so many times I can answer the puzzling question “You have 2 degrees in Engineering, why are you a blogger then?” before getting to the bottom of my cocktail glass.

On countless occasions, I’ve had to verbally remove myself from the inconsequential box that society tends to fit all bloggers in. You know the one with the notion that all a blogger has to do is look photogenic and the $ will start rolling in. If wishes were horses, I’d have taken this one for a million rides.

Life becomes as “Instagrammable” as you make it

I knew I was lost in the sauce when I captioned a photo on Instagram “I have a thing for Instagrammable coffee shops”. Who even made up the word Instagrammable?

The filters through which you view your daily life and the world automatically changes. Your favourite restaurant on the corner suddenly becomes unappealing because the food isn’t plated in an aesthetically pleasing way, a relaxing afternoon with friends turns into a struggle of trying to capture the “perfect unrehearsed” photo, etc….You’re constantly thinking of fresh ways to update your follower-ship about your life with just the right amount of pose, timing & perfection. It can get exhausting, even for those with passion.

It’s okay to take some time off to enjoy the moment & pleasures of life without the pressure of capturing it for the internet. Not every new buy has to be featured on a flat lay & not every sunset has to be shared. At the end of the day, the internet will still be fine without that extra photo.

Budget what? Your finances will be in a constant state of higi-haga

Say bye to perfectly balanced accounts and excel budget sheets. The business of blogging requires spending money to make money. Just like any other field, it involves investing in equipment, your website, random coffee meetings, props, travel/event tickets, clothes, shoes, makeup, the list is endless.

In the case that you’re a finance guru with templates on how your every $ or N is made and disbursed, skip over to the next point (also, drop your templates in my mailbox, merci) but for those of us crippled by the idea of money management, sadly, it might not get easier.

Blogging requires Patience

Bad photoshoot days? Growing an audience? Hours of researching a topic so you don’t look stupid to your audience? Chasing invoices? Collaboration rejections? You name it. Most people dive into the world of content creation thinking success and fame are attained overnight.

We look up to and compare ourselves with our most loved and popular bloggers, forgetting that it took time, hard work, patience & dedication to get where they are now. The rosy portrayal of this life and work in social media definitely doesn’t make it easier for newbies. Be patient and work on your craft, even when you think no one’s watching.

You’ll be grateful for it

After all,learnt is said and done, blogging will teach you skills that you never thought you could learn. I recently landed a high paying job at a prestigious firm because of a sklearnedsolely to develop my blog. I’ve also been opportune to meet with so many amazing people along the way and work on projects I would never have dreamt was possible.

The road might be filled with boxes of tissue and an insane dose of Advil on some days, but it’s not a journey I’ll ever regret taking.

Have you ever done something for the first time? What was your biggest fear and how did you overcome it?

Till next time,

*Originally posted on The Alma Chronicle 

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Design Stunning Social Media Graphics for Free

Design Stunning Social Media Graphics for Free

Incorporating eye-catching graphics when creating a social media presence is important, especially for visual platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. Whether you’re starting a business, a blog or a theme for your personal social media account, graphics should be unique and on-brand, without the stress of finding the funds or skills to get it done.

Finding a graphic designer who understands your vision and budget may be hard to come by and some of us just aren’t patient or Photoshop savvy enough to attempt to master it on our own. Luckily, there are several companies who have created websites and apps that make all of us feel like professional graphic designers by providing templates, royalty-free pictures, texts, shapes and so much more.

2 FREE must use platforms to design your graphics

1. Canva

Canva is a great tool to use to create personalized graphics. Their array of templates is a one stop shop for practically any industry. With Canva, you have the freedom to choose from pre-existing models on their site or upload your own pictures to really create something unique. Canva also allows you to share designs with your team, save your brand colors, and keep an archive of all your designs. Upon signing up for an account, you will automatically receive 1GB of space to store all of your work. .

Besides being a free tool, Canva is easy to use, you don’t need experience to be able to design. All you have to do is search through their library, or upload your own photos, then drag and drop each element in your design.

There is a premium version to Canva that gives you more privileges, such as custom fonts, unlimited storage and more template options, but trust me the free version will do you just fine.

2. Gimp

GIMP can be compared to a platform similar to Photoshop, but the best part about it is that it’s free! GIMP can be downloaded onto your computer and if it’s not the platform for you at least there are no worries about wasting money; it can be removed just as easily and quickly as it was downloaded. In order to easily use GIMP I would say having a background in graphic design is a plus, but not necessary. If you’re just starting out and would like to challenge yourself, there are great step-by-step video tutorials on YouTube that can save you some time.

On GIMP you are creating almost everything on your own–unlike Canva that already has pre-made templates, fonts and colors. With GIMP there is a large community of people who have made brushes, color palettes and patterns that can be downloaded onto to GIMP.

Listed above are two platforms that anyone can use to create graphics, but there are several other options that are available out there. As time goes on, people are creating apps that are making our lives easier, especially for the new entrepreneur. If you know of any other apps that have been a big help in creating graphics, please share in the comment section below, you never know who you could be helping out.

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Turning Pain into Purpose

Turning Pain into Purpose

Growing up, I wasn’t sure of much, but one thing I was certain of was that I was going to grow up to tell stories that touched people. I spent a lot of my childhood reading, writing poems and short stories, and watching movies, thinking that one day I’d be an author, maybe a screenwriter or songwriter.

In high school I was encouraged to apply to Journalism and Communications programs and ended up completing my undergrad in Communications Studies at Carleton University. I struggled interning for a bit after I graduated, took on dead-end jobs after that and eventually went back to school for Marketing. Ironically, after going back to school I landed a Communications internship with a major Canadian telecommunications company which led to my promotion as a Senior Communications Specialist on the team. To me, I had made it! I’d achieved the one thing I wanted so badly – to get a full-time, salaried job that paid well and allowed me to tell stories.

Now don’t get me wrong – I love my job, but after years in the role, I started to question my purpose. What am I doing here? I’m writing every day, and I love it, but how much impact is this making? Am I touching lives like I always dreamt I would? I had stopped dreaming and felt disconnected from anything really meaningful. I was telling stories but not really helping people like I wanted to.

Naturally, I love helping people. I’m very giving, almost to a fault. This has caused me to be selfless in my relationships not just with friends and family, but with boyfriends too. Around the same time that I was questioning my purpose, I was months into dating this guy that was a long time friend of mine. But I never in a million years could have predicted what was to come and the events following that set in motion.

One night on my way home from work, I received a phone call from him. This was after I had already found out he was seeing other women, contrary to our previously agreed upon rules and boundaries. I was not excited to hear from him. He informed me on that call that he was expecting a baby with his ex-girlfriend in a couple of months – that I should know this since I had found out about everything else. This crushed me. I never saw any of it coming. I resolved to cut all ties but I was still down and out for weeks. Then as I was sleeping one night God spoke to me in my dreams. I dreamt that I was using my relationship experiences and self love journey to inspire a crowd of women and girls. It was in my dream that night that I began to manifest my purpose. I woke up with tears streaming down my face because I couldn’t believe what I had just experienced – it felt so real and I was invigorated. I immediately wrote it down and started asking myself, “well, what does this mean?”

That dream and subsequent brainstorming led to me picking myself up, refocusing my energy, enrolling in the New Girl On The Block mentorship program, and coming up with the idea to start a YouTube channel centered on self love and relationships. I am now working on launching the channel and website, and exploring the possibility of becoming an inspirational speaker. I stopped limiting myself and started thinking big. I used my passion for helping people and telling stories to guide me and I took one of the most painful experiences in my life and turned it into purpose. Sometimes it takes going through some major downfalls to get you to the place that you need to be.

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7 Tips to Crush it as an Intern

7 Tips to Crush it as an Intern

Being an intern is a great way to obtain an introduction into a field, gain hands-on experience and make connections within the industry of your choice.

The connections you make will not be beneficial if your supervisor or co-workers passed on that you weren’t a great intern. It’s crucial, even as an intern, whether paid or unpaid that you show up and go above and beyond so that you leave a good impression and get referenced for future job opportunities.

Here are a few tips to follow to help you crush it during an internship:

1. Be On Time

Being on time may seem like a given, but you’d be surprised how many people tend to be consecutively 5-10 minutes late. Even if you have seen your co-workers or boss coming in late does not mean you should follow suit. A lot of interns receive evaluations and this could be a negative point brought up when discussing your work. Try and always get to the office 5-10 minutes earlier than your shift, especially if you need to set up your work station.

2. Take Notes And Ask Questions

If you are given an assignment or shown a new skill, write it down. Being a newbie, you will be given loads of new information. Always have a notebook and pen handy to write notes. Also, while receiving an explanation ask questions to make sure you understand the directions given. Sometimes we might be too nervous that we do not ask questions. This can only hinder you from doing your best.

3. Be Organized

If you have a desk, keep it clean. If you are given many papers, look for a folder to keep them in and have them in order. If you are given multiple tasks, write them down with the time that they are due to keep track of everything. Showing that you are organized can prioritize and can multi tasks which is a big plus for employers to see.

4. Dress The Part

Upon receiving your internship, inquire on the office dress code and respect it. On your first day of interning dress like you already have the job. If the place that you are interning has a more relaxed dress code, still keep in mind that you should always look professional. Try avoiding short skirts, shorts, low cut v-necks and crop tops.

5. Ask For Feedback

In the middle of your internship, you can politely ask your colleagues or superior for feedback on how the internship is going. This can give direction on what needs improvement and what are your strengths. You’ll also have the opportunity to bring up any questions you may have or the skills you wish to learn before the end of your internship.

6. Show Enthusiasm

Show that you love what you are doing even if they are not paying you. You want them to say that it was a pleasure working with you. Be polite and make small talk with your colleagues. Develop a relationship but do not cross boundaries by being inappropriate. If your superior is looking to delegate tasks then raise your hand and take on the challenge. At the end of the day, ask your colleagues or superior if they need help finishing up any tasks. Be open and flexible.

7. Take Initiative And Give Your Input

If you have ideas on how to make something better, speak up and share your ideas. If you know that a certain task that is supposed to be done at a certain time, go ahead and get it done before being told because this shows that you are eager to get involved and be apart of the team.

The tips mentioned above will allow you to get great feedback at your internship. Nevertheless, remember to have fun and make the most out of your position as an intern. I’d like to hear from anyone who has done an internship or managed interns, what tips would you share with someone who will be going for their first internship?

 

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Coming Of Age: All The Things I Thought I Didn’t Want

Coming Of Age: All The Things I Thought I Didn’t Want

Where did you see yourself at 24-year-old? I’ll tell you where I didn’t expect to be at 23, pregnant, planning a wedding and living across the world from the closest people to me; my mom and brother. Like all things we plan and hope for, life did not go accordingly, but before I get ahead of myself let me tell you more about my story.

I was born in Luanda, Angola, for those unsure where that is, its a country in the south of Africa just above Namibia. Due to some life occurrences, too complicated to discuss here, at 8 years old my mom decided to move us (my brother and I) to Canada. The next 16 years in Canada were a bit of a blur, I had to learn a new language, new culture, make new friends, and mature in a society that later on I would consider my own. The goals and dreams I created for my life professionally, romantically and personally, were ones based on what I was exposed to, living in a developed country with access to just about everything. It was a great privilege, which I discovered much later on. I finished University at 21.5 years old, yes the .5 is necessary because I am a December baby, with a degree in Environmental Science, with great prospects for starting my career. I had planned in my mind that I would work, organize myself, date and get married by 27 and a year later start a family, meanwhile traveling as much an I could. What a great dream, right? Once I graduated, we (mom and I) decided it would be best for me to move back home to gain some work experience to then later return to Canada and work some more. Things didn’t go quite as planned, once I arrived in Luanda, it was a definite culture shock, the lack of social conditions, infrastructure, and overall the way of life and thinking of the local people took a while to get used to. After 3 months in Luanda, I was blessed with a job in HR, as a fromTraining and Development Coordinator. Goal number one not achieved, or so I thought. Working is where I met my now husband, he began to show me around the city, teaching me more about the culture, and patiently correcting my then terrible Portuguese (official local language). After a year a half of dating, I found out I was pregnant, goal number two not achieved, or so I thought. Something you should know is that here in Angola, once you become pregnant, culturally you must marry the man. So here I was 23, pregnant, planning a wedding and living miles away from my core family. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by the amount of responsibility that I knew I was about to face. I got married at 7 months pregnant, and a month after I went to Canada to give birth to my son. So, to resume, I am a newlywed, a new mother, and was about to return to my new home living in an environment I was still trying to adapt to, which was goal number three not achieved, or so I thought. About 3 months after having my son, I reunited with my husband in Luanda, where the largest dose of reality was waiting for me. In a few months time, I would have to juggle being a wife, a mother and working full time, essentially, it was not easy. Let me disclaim firstly that my husband is wonderful and helps out as much as he can, but he was also raised in a culture where men don’t usually do much to help in the home or with the daily duties with their kids. According to my dream, I had managed to go off track and not follow any of the ideas I had set for myself. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that it created a lot of internal conflict, where on one hand I was feeling blessed for my healthy beautiful baby and my caring dedicated husband, but on the other hand I felt sad because of all the pressure I had put on myself based on my plans and ideas of success which made me feel like a failure.

Until this day I struggle sometimes with what my current reality is, maybe because of my feelings of not being as achieved as I had planned, or maybe because I am sleep deprived of breastfeeding during the night, most likely its a combination, but it is a daily conscious decision to not look back. The best part of how my life is right now is that I noticed that, as much as I like to think I should have been more accomplished and I would have done much more living in Canada, single and without a baby, that’s not actually the truth. Now, I feel a certain motivation, drive, strength, empowerment, than I ever did living in the wonderfully developed, opportunity-filled country as a young University graduate. I am filled with ideas, new hopes, new dreams and new goals, all of this because my life took a turn I never planned on.

So, what’s the takeaway, my dear millennial graduates? Its good to have hopes and dreams and goals and you should strive to achieve them all, but what’s even more important is to be flexible. Accept that not everything will go accordingly, and that is okay because they can go even better. Be kind to yourself as you chase your happiness, be kind to yourself, and most importantly, be open to new situations and challenges, because you never know where it might take you.

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Tips On How To Get Financial Aid In College/University

Tips On How To Get Financial Aid In College/University

Building your secondary education is a goal pursued by many. The benefit of furthering your education is good for both your personal and mental growth. But let’s be real, the cost to achieve a good education is ridiculously high. Many people either drop out of college or end up in a lifetime of financial debt due to loans and their interest rates. Personally, coming from a family who could barely make it financially,

Personally, coming from a family who could barely make it financially, University was not thought about in the budget. However, here I am. Two scholarships (full-ride) that will enable me to fly across the world to study. Here are some tips on how I was able to get some achievements:

What is the cost?

Knowing the cost of what you want to study is the foundation of landing financial aid.

Financially – tuition and expenses vary based on the school, degree, state/providence, and country. Making a chart with the total expense per year will give you an idea as to how much you will need to source.
Personally – know exactly what getting the degree will mean to you. Know the value it will have on your career and future. This will help you in writing personal statements and being honest with yourself and potential contributors.

Know your “FC”

What is FC? FC stands for a financial contribution. This is where you look at funds put aside by your family for you to go to university/college. This is important because subtracting this from your total cost (found on your chart from step 1) will tell you how much you would need to seek in financial aid.
I had no FC and that didn’t stop me, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t have any assistance either.

Research, Research, Research 

Utilize the resources around you. The internet is filled with information on the different scholarships within your school, town and country. Check your school to see the financial aid they supply for particular students. Do not limit yourself. Look at big and small corporations and what they have to offer. Some corporations even ask you to be on their paid internship if you land a scholarship/. Look in newspapers and other scholarship catalogs to see the funds that apply to you and your study. The more research you conduct the better your chances.

Apply!

Looking at the scholarship details, current scholars and alumni you may feel intimidated or discouraged because of the criteria, maintenance or status of those persons. However, apply. Don’t sell yourself and your abilities short. The more you apply to, the better your chances to get one. I can personally say, I went through the process and I know the people before me are excellent and brilliant. However, I didn’t undermine my possibilities. I have the ability to go for anything that will take me closer to my goal. So do you.

Wait
After you have gone through the process of building your foundation, understanding your finances, researching your possibilities and applying – wait. Being patient allows you to admire what you have done and the process you are going through. Understand that, right now, all you can do is pray and have faith in the process. Most of us overthink and stress over things that are no longer in our control. You have done your part, let the organization do theirs.

I do hope you find these tips worthwhile. I wish you nothing but blessings and the motivation you need to go and develop your education without a financial burden

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