I love experimenting with things. Ever since I was a kid, I would tear my toys apart and conduct various experiments on the ripped apart toy much to the disappointment of my parents who would have spent quite a deal of money buying the toys. I heard about this scary word – blogging, and it really caught my attention. A “blogger” was said to be someone who would write stuff on the internet on a website and have people read the stuff. I didn’t know much about how to create a website or how to “blog” but I did know this – I wanted to be a blogger.
Blogging Adventures Pt 1: The Real Zimbabwe
Did I tell you that I’m a poet? Yes I am. Some people said I was quite good after reading a poem that I had written (for some reason I don’t remember) and this motivated me to start writing poems. I compiled all my poems in two books and gave my friends to read. An old friend told me about how he published to the local newspaper, “The Sunday Mail.” I listened as he explained the process and I tried that a few months later. That didn’t work so I chose the next best option – to keep my poems hidden in counterbooks.
After many moons, I met a poet – Tyra Vanadis. Very interesting person she was, and she explained how she was into poetry and how much she wanted to create a community of bloggers, photographers and poets who would show how great Zimbabwe is by displaying their talent online. I was totally sold by this and immediately joined the community. That’s where I started to become a blogger.
I typed the poems from the books I had and turned them into word documents. I would then send them to Tyra who then published the poems on the website https://therealzim.wordpress.com/author/therealzim/
After a while, we managed to get the attention of a web developer (or something like that) and we got ourselves a pretty nice website – www.therealzimbabwe.co.zw for FREE! That was a really huge leap. Content was published and the site was quite active. I got to know a few other interesting people in the poetry space and I also attended a few events. I learnt that poets, writers and bloggers are really fun people to hand around.
Blogging Adventures Pt 2: Maputiatota's Blog
It was time for me to create my own personal website. I wanted to actually post stuff and have people read my stuff. Tyra was the one who managed everything for “The Real Zimbabwe,” so this meant that it was time for me to learn everything on my own.
I bought internet bundles (valid for a few hours – 10pm to 5am), and it was time to get started. I googled how to create a free wordpress website and boy was I confused. There were so many guides out there and I didn’t have much time to really do anything. I failed to do anything that night.
Five bundles later, I managed to create the very first version of the maputiatota blog. It was hard work, the site looked really ugly but it was there.
After a few weeks of really hard work, I managed to have a few blogs up and running. The experiment had succeeded. The Maputiatota blog was real.
Back in high school, we had a format that we followed for experiments (anyone who learnt at the school I went to knows this format). It looked something like this:
Let’s discuss the results of this experiment.
- There is always a group of people (strangers included) ready to help you out
I remember publishing my first post on Wordpress. I had no idea who would read it and why they would want to read a blog from an unknown newbie. I remember sharing the links on twitter and thinking to myself “Nobody is going to read that.”
I was wrong.
I got to meet a load of people from different countries and of different races. In addition to that, those who are close to me showed immense support for my blog and gave a load of encouragement.
Top mentions: @friends, @family, @Zimbofooddiaries @Bhobha ATU, @Bae, and @Jane Kiwanuka-Musoke
- There is a community of talented people
I discovered this thing called “Afrobloggers.” Afrobloggers is not a person, or just a twitter handle. It is a community of creatives who support each other. There are very many bloggers who share their talent on a weekly basis. This leaves you with a wide variety of blogs to go after from all sorts of people in all sorts of countries in Africa.
I got to discover the following (the list is pretty long so I’ve just chosen a random few): Beaton, Benjamin watch and Bolaji gelax
- There is always that one die hard fan
I learnt that there is always that one die hard fan. There is always that one person (who you will never know) who always reads your content no matter how boring it is. There is always that once person who adds an extra view to your YouTube channel no matter what rubbish you post there. There is always that one person who will always listen to your podcast no matter how terrible the audio is. When you run out of motivation, remember that there is that one die hard fan. Don’t let them down.
To you, my die hard fan, I say thank you.
- You need to have an online presence
I started blogging just for the love of it. It was an experiment that was fueled by a lot of passion. During my blogging adventures, I learnt that you really need to have an online presence. You need to show people who you are online. Show them where your talent is. If you are a doctor, talk about your life as a doctor. If you are an artist, show your stuff like what this guy does instagram.com/mcleish_sm_art/ If you are a gardener, then show people how a typical day in your life is like. You can make a podcast like what this talented creative does https://anchor.fm/juliana-makonise , you can make short Instagram posts like what bae does https://www.instagram.com/mazi_zw/ , or you can make epic blogs like what the “Grandfather of bloggers” does in his blogs on his site, https://becomingthemuse.net/
Having an online presence shows people what you do. It shows them who you are. It shows your prospective partners (financial, relationship, spiritual, etc) what your personality is like, how you do your stuff and what makes you stand out.
I believe that having a good online presence is something that really really should be taught to everybody as a kid. Create a free wordpress website in which you blog about your passion –or– create a free Instagram account and show people good photos of what you’re good at –or– Create a YouTube channel where you show people what makes you YOU.
- You can get sidegigs…if you have a portfolio of some sort to show
Believe it or not – I got a few side gigs thanks to my maputiatota blog. Yes. That free wordpress website with a very unprofessional domain name helped me to get a few writing side gigs and also helped me to get into some great mentorship programme. How? They wanted to see what I was all about. They wanted to get to know what I was currently up to. How did I show them? I sent a link to my site. And it worked. With that ridiculous name, it worked.
- You really need to learn Wordpress
I learnt that there are a few basic skills that every post COVID individual needs to learn. Wordpress is one of them.
If you want to create a quick and easy online portfolio, Wordpress is a skill you need to have. If you want to create a business website, you need to learn Wordpress. If you want to be relevant in some remote jobs, you need to be able to understand how Wordpress works. If you want to become a freelance writer you need to know how Wordpress works. Wordpress is the new Microsoft Word. You need to learn it.
- Life needs a bit of order
I used to start the content ideation process, create a blogpost and publish it all in one day. That doesn’t work. You can do that once in a while, but that’s definitely not sustainable. After a year or so of blogging, I discovered that you need a content creation and publishing system that best suits your lifestyle. In my case, I write down all the content ideas in a content calendar Microsoft word document. I then add a bit of flesh to the idea and leave it till I have some time to turn the idea into a blogpost. I also make sure that I always have a reservoir of content (since I want to create some consistency in my life). I make sure that I have about 3 weeks’ worth of content so that if I get really busy, all that I will have to do is hit the publish button and I’m DONE!
Life is full of experiments. The maputiatota blog is one of them. Through this experiment, I got to meet very many new people, I gained new skills and learnt how to create sustainable systems that work.
Well, that’s it for the week! See you next week Wednesday!
Have a great week!
Have a great maputiatotalicious week!