Hanna Ali: Through my short stories, I hope that Somalis will connect to feelings of uprootedness

Hanna Ali is a writer, poet, teaching fellow and so much more. She is the first contemporary author to publish her collection of short stories in Somali.

Through her book “Sheekadii noloshayada”(The Story of us), she never shies away from controversial topics, while she proves that where there is pain, there is beauty.

She explores the themes of home and (un)belonging in her creative works, and captures the unspoken tensions and hopes of displaced people, therefore, it’s only apt that her work is accessible to the entirety of the Somali diaspora and beyond. 

Having shared her insights on how to stay relevant as a creative writer during an SLA Facebook Live, Hanna talks extensively about her writing and her decision to publish in Somali instead of English language.


Why is it important for you to publish in Somali?

I think it’s powerful to say that I am a Somali author who has been translated to Somali. Buying my short stories is much bigger than myself and it’s about supporting this incredibly amazing movement of bringing modern stories in indigenous African languages.

Market FiftyFour has given me an incredible platform to publish in Somali and I was attracted to the notion that African stories in African languages matter. They matter because we exist, and we not only deserve but demand brand new, contemporary stories in the indigenous languages. 


Your work covers themes of displacement, fracture, uprootedness. Why are these important themes for you?

These are important themes for me because I was a child refugee, and the experiences that I have had of course affect my work.

I also think that a great deal of Africans and of course others in the West do feel a sense of displacement as part of the diaspora experience and the notion that you don’t quite fit in anywhere.

Through my short stories, I hope that people (Somalis in particular), will connect to feelings of uprootedness and to know that they’re not alone in their life experiences.

 

There is a poetic ring to your prose, and you consider yourself first and foremost a poet. What is it that draws you to poetry?

Poetry, for me, is very raw and it’s a genre that always sticks with me; poems have a way of hitting you hard in that pit in the bottom of your stomach and unearthing all the tense feelings that we carry.

My short stories were created out of my poetry and the intent is for my stories to read like poetry in the sense that I want it to be raw and vulnerable and full of meanings that hopefully anyone can relate to and draw from.

Do you have a routine to get into writing? What space do you get into for you to be creative?

I find that I write at the most random time, whether it’s convenient or not! Sometimes it’s waking up from a dream at 3 am and making notes on my phone, other times it’s whilst working on something else.

I wish that I could say that sitting down with a big cup of tea and soft music at home is the magic trick that wills my mind into writing but mostly you just take what you can get.

Having said that, most of my best writing has come from sitting outside on a warm day or night so maybe that’s my secret after all; fresh air and warmth.

Since storytelling is very important in Somali culture, how do you draw inspiration from your Somali roots in your stories?

I draw inspiration from my Somali roots simply because I am a Somali who was born in Somalia and who speaks Somali. 

I grew up in Europe and therefore my culture is all around me, I’d say it’s hard to not draw inspiration from it!

A lot of the topics you tackle are contentious, how important was it for you to veer away from conventional and safe topics?

Nothing about me has ever been “safe” or “conventional” and so, of course, my writings have no place being in that sort of category.

I wouldn’t necessarily claim that I went out of my way to write contentious topics, but I do think it’s important for any writer to speak their truth and to let their creative imagination take them to where it needs to go to organically by not having an agenda per se but an idea.

Also, safe and conventional just oozes out boredom and I hope that my writing is anything but boring.

How do you make sure that your writing skills improve?

I think that it’s very important for writers to be well-read and to take themselves outside of the bubble of writing by reading different genres and writing styles.

Sometimes when you’re in a writing phase, you tend to lose yourself inside of an imaginary world so reading lots and taking time out to focus solely on my doctoral studies helps me to then come back to my creative work with a new perspective.

I also find that there are always going to be bad first drafts and accepting that is an important way to improve.

What is your advice to young African female writers on getting published?

 

My advice is put yourself forward and apply to as many writing competitions as possible alongside online magazines and other creative platforms that are continually looking for submissions.

It’s important to know that rejection is an essential part of any creative work and that you should never let that steer you from your goal.

Ultimately, you must be the greatest believer in yourself and your work and eventually, the world will catch up as well. Just do it!


DO YOU HAVE A STORY TO SHARE WITH US? SHARE YOUR STORY HERE.

Dr Yabome Gilpin-Jackson: My work is about developing our human capacity to be, think and do things differently and better

Dr. Yabome Gilpin-Jackson was born in Germany, grew up in Sierra Leone, and completed her studies in Canada and the USA. She is a social scientist, organization consultant, academic and writer. Dr Yabome Gilpin- Jackson considers herself to be a global African, dreamer and storyteller – a curator of African identity and leadership stories.

She’s been named International African Woman of the Year and Emerging Organization Development Practitioner 2017. The author of Identities: A short story collection, and initiator and co-editor of We Will Lead Africa, Volume 1.

Best known for: Her laugh. Yabome, who is married and the mother of 3 children, has also published several journal articles and book chapters and continues to research, write and speak. Most recently at Princeton University – on the importance of holding global mindsets and honouring diversity and social inclusion in our locally global world. 


What is We Will Lead Africa?

We Will Lead Africa is a platform for inspiring continued change and transformation on the African continent, in two ways: First, we collect, curate and share the stories of everyday African leaders who are making a real impact on the progress of the continent. Second, we encourage networks of everyday leaders to gather in their communities to share, learn and inspire each other to continue taking actions that make a difference.

At our root, our work is about sharing inspiration and action, through the power of storytelling. We know that the personal narratives of ordinary everyday leaders are in fact extraordinary. Our first volume shows this powerfully. It reminds us everyday that Africans are taking charge of their destinies and futures, despite popular opinions.

 

Africans are taking charge of their destinies and futures, despite popular opinions Click To Tweet

What inspired you to create We Will Lead Africa?

My inspiration came from a deep desire to be part of the movement of Africans reclaiming our own narratives. When you live in the West/Diaspora, you are bombarded by news, images, and everyday negative stereotypes, that imprint the challenges and deficits of the continent on entire populations that don’t know any different. As this is perpetuated, Africans ourselves become hooked into a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, even when we know that the dominant view is an incomplete one.

We do not hear about all that is going well, the innovations occurring, the industries emerging and expanding, the people and groups who are no longer waiting for our political leaders and foreign aid to fix all our problems. As we lose hope, our conversations become like the very dominant Western narratives we are subsumed in.

For example, I received a call for submissions to the Kwame Nkrumah International conference a few years ago and the list sparked a deep desire for change in me. The list was focused on all the historical issues that have led us to the political leadership challenges we face on the continent. Then, I thought what about leadership NOW and into the FUTURE? What does that look like? That was what sparked the idea for We Will Lead Africa.

When I met my co-founders and co-editors, Sarah and Judith, they shared similar thoughts and sentiments and off we went. It’s important to say also that we are not interested in a one-sided view or only the positives…we want to know and be inspired by the fullness of stories of everyday leaders. How do they navigate and overcome the challenges they face everyday, to solve complex problems on the African continent?

 

My inspiration came from a deep desire to be part of the movement of Africans reclaiming our own narratives Click To Tweet

 

What one story had the most impact on you?

This volume is so full of inspiration and examples of courage! I was impacted by all of them in different ways. But, the one that I keep remembering though is, Chris Mulenga’s story about starting a program to help get street children recognized for their resilience and innovative capacities and reunited with their families.

Chris describes how he has done this work that has a 90% success rate. He describes himself as poor when he started and says he is still poor. Yet at the time of writing the book he had helped over 6,500 children and has been recognized with international humanitarian awards.

He attributes his inspiration to the value of being hospitable-which he learned as a child- whereby his family would share what they had no matter how little; and to the orientation of service to the poor that comes from his Catholic faith.

I just keep thinking about the resources available to so many of us, and yet, we are stopped by the myth that we do not have enough to make a meaningful difference to the lives of others. What if we just tried? What if we just started now, with whatever we have?

What are the 3 main steps you’d advise for an aspiring author ?

1. Get clear what story you are passionate about telling and why

2. Get clear who you want to tell it to

3. Be focused and determined…and just start writing.

There really is no magic to it – it’s 90% determination and the willingness to make time to do the work needed.

 

Growing WWLA brand…

Our priorities are growing We Will Lead Africa networks and encouraging other African leaders to take on editing volumes as well. The three of us have identified a volume we will work on next, and we are documenting our process, which we will make available to others interested in editing a volume as well.

For now, stay tuned in the next 18months to 2 years for the following volumes: We Will Lead Africa: Technology; We Will Lead Africa: Women; and We Will Lead Africa: Governance.

Our priority is in growing our impact in inspiring everyday Africans to take action for the change and transformation of the continent. We are in this for the long haul and are choosing to go together so we can make real progress. As the often quoted proverb attributed to African wisdom goes: If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.

 

If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together- African proverb Click To Tweet

 

Your roles include: social scientist, consultant, academic, writer, curator of African identity and leadership stories. How do you prioritise all your roles?

My overarching anchor is that I am an applied social scientist in the field of Human and Organization Development. My work is about developing our human capacity to be, think and do things differently and better than we are doing today.  What excites me is the idea of human potential and what we are capable of- under the right conditions.

Everything else is attached to my work as an applied social scientist, whether I am working with a single leader, an organization, a community or students on a campus. My consulting to leaders is about how they can lead in ways that helps their teams and groups reach full potential.

My teaching in the field, is to help students develop the capacity for complex, systems-thinking about human concerns. My writing and research is also to spark transformational change in the issues I write about.

Before and beyond all this, I am a wife and mother and that person who loves my close and extended family fiercely. I pray for strength to always be a decent human being in the world. At the end of the day that’s my first priority. Living and loving well, such that who I am and what I do makes a difference to others. Even if it’s just my smile…or my crazy laugh.


Do you have a positive story to share about an African initiative?

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Annemarie Musawale: I took my power back

Annemarie Musawale
Being a single mom, academic writing seemed the best option in order to be home for my son & earn a living Click To Tweet

Annemarie Musawale was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya and she says, she’s never actually stepped one foot out of East Africa. Growing up this self-publishing author almost always had a book in her hand. Needless to say, she made up stories of her own. By the time she went to high school, Annemarie had pretty much read every book her classmates were just beginning to discover.

Annemarie went to the University of Nairobi to pursue a BSc. Degree in Botany, Zoology, and Chemistry. Two years into the course, she was accepted to Makerere University to do BPharm. Leaving work as an active Pharmaceutical Technologist, 2009 was the year Annemarie Musawale became a full-time academic writer. In her own words, ‘Being a single mom, it seemed the best option in order to be home for my son when he needed me, and still earn a living.

SLA contributor Rumbidzai had an opportunity to interview her and Annemarie had all these interesting stories to tell.


How long does it take you to write a book?

Unfortunately for me, writing my own books is not my day job. So I can only write in my spare time, which is very scarce these days. So on average, it can take me anything from six months to two years to write a book. I’m working on making time no matter what, to write daily but so far, I’m not there yet.

Looking at the books or pieces you have written what is your ultimate goal?

When I wrote “Single Motherhood Unplugged” almost eight years ago, it was a catharsis for me. A way to get my baggage off my back and let it go.

I put the book up for sale because once it was written; I could not just throw it away. There were life lessons to be learned, a way for someone else to learn from my experience. So I let it go out into the world and find its audience. It is my one non-fiction book and I call it my ‘step-child’ because of how much I do not market it. The goal therefore with that book was…help someone else who was looking for answers.

My other books are fictional in nature. They were written with a lot of love and I guess their goal has been achieved. To have someone read them, and enjoy the words; perhaps be touched by it. My ultimate goal, of course, is to make the New York Times Bestseller lists.

My role model in this business is Diana Gabaldon because our paths are remarkably similar. Background in the sciences, Diana started out writing (in her late thirties) just to ‘try it’. She ended up creating characters it is difficult to let go of. Twenty years later, Diana is where I want to be, twenty years from now.

My ultimate goal, of course, is to make the New York Times Bestseller lists - Annemarie Musawale Click To Tweet

Annemarie Musawale

For the sake of some of our Motherland Moguls who haven’t read your book, “Single Motherhood, what can they expect from it?

They can expect it to be raw, painful to read even and completely truthful on what it is really like to have a baby on your own. I called it ‘unplugged’ because it is like those musical performances where the singer has just a stool and a guitar and whatever talent they have in their bodies. They present it to you and let you judge them on the merit of their work.

In the book, I let people into my head and lay it bare for them to do with, as they will. It was a very difficult thing to do, but from the feedback I have gotten, there are people out there who needed to read it. So have a look at it with my blessing.

Now that’s interesting! In your line of work is there anything you find particularly challenging?

Well, the business of writing has its challenges as many writers can tell you. The first is marketing. Getting enough people to hear of your books so that they want to go look for them. The market is crowded and getting noticed is hard.

Add to that the fact that my books are not the typical ‘African writers’ type of book. One of my Kenyan readers put it this way; “This book could have been written by anyone, anywhere. It is not confined by time or space.” And while I agree that that is true, I think that nobody but me could have conceived of these books the way I did.

It was my unique perspective brought about by living in the ‘global village’ but residing in Kenya. For that reason though, my books don’t have a readymade market. They have too many elements that are foreign to the African psyche, and yet if it were written by a Westerner, most Africans wouldn’t have a problem with it. But the combination of being an African, writing a global book is a new idea.

The upside of this is, my audience is not confined to those around me but is truly global. When I see that people from as far away as Japan, Ukraine, Russia, America, and Brazil…have clicked on my links and looked at my books…it makes me feel warm and happy. However, it also makes hosting book signings a bit difficult.

When I began in this business, I was traditionally published. However, my publisher was very stingy with information to do with my book. They expected me to do the lion’s share of marketing (as most authors are expected to) without giving me feedback on what was working, what sales figures were or even paying me royalties. So I took my power back, took my books back and went the self-publishing route. This way, I have complete control over my content and when I try a marketing style, I have direct feedback on whether it is working or not.

Another major challenge is getting people to leave reviews. I can get an email from a reader telling me how great one of my books was, and why. But asking them to post a review gets an ‘I’ll do it right away.’ and then crickets. All of my reviews that have been given on any of my works have been totally random and unrequested. Those are usually the best kind though so I am not complaining.

Annemarie Musawale: The first challenge in the business of writing is marketing Click To Tweet

Annemarie Musawale

Do you read your book reviews? How do you react to both the good and the bad?

I read every single book review I get. It is like catnip for writers I think. Any writer who tells you they do not read their reviews is either lying or not invested in their work. I am yet to have a bad review though, so maybe when that happens I will be more selective. Even when I get less than four stars, the reasons given for it are not to do with the work; one three star review stated that the price of the book and the size were not commensurate. Well, at the time, my publisher controlled the price…

My one and only two-star review was one I got on my book, “Child of Destiny”. It is actually one of the most comprehensive and complimentary reviews I have ever received. But the reader had a policy that if she is unable to finish the book, she gives it an automatic two stars. I urge you to go and read the review on Amazon, and see if your curiosity to read the book is not peaked.

I am always grateful for anyone who takes the time out to read my book and then go the extra mile and write a review. It is a compliment whether the review is good or bad and I always appreciate it.

Annemarie, what’s your favorite under-appreciated book/ novel?

I think one book that probably does not get the recognition it deserves is “Children of God” by Maria Doria Russell. I cannot emphasize how much her creation of new worlds and her envisioning of the future of this one influenced my writing and my life.

Annemarie Musawale

Are there Annemarie Musawale stories or experiences you would love to share?

Well, recently I have had several aspiring writers ask me how I got started. It’s a difficult question to answer because I’ve been writing stories since I was six years old.

I’d write something and take it to my mother to read. She’d read it and tell me I did well. I guess she was my very first ‘fan’. When she died, I sort of lost my way or my reason for living and I channeled all that pain into writing “Single Motherhood Unplugged.” It was a conduit to get rid of the rage and the pain. It was that or go mad.

It was the beginning of getting better. After that, there were many stories I began and failed to finish. But then one night I had a dream about a teenage girl and a teenage guy. And when I woke up the story was still in my head. And it stayed in my head until I wrote it down.

Then I sent it to the Kwani Manuscript Project. And they long listed it despite the fact that it was in no way an ‘African writer’ type story. So when people ask me, “How did you do it?” I really don’t know what to say. Because it just happened.

Tell us would you rather be unable to use search engines or unable to use social media?

This is a hard one guys. Search engines are necessary for just finding things out and social media is necessary to get the word out. They’re both equally important. But if I absolutely had to choose, I guess I could do without social media for a while. There are other ways to get the word out…hopefully.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Facebook Live with Frenny Jowi: Journalism as a profitable career choice(July 6)

For 4 years, Frenny had a successful career at one of the world’s leading international broadcasters, the BBC. Join us for a Facebook Live session with her on July. 6th, as she shares with us how journalism has been a profitable career for her.


Journalism as a sector is evolving, and there are plenty of job opportunities in the field. However, Aspiring journalists have to build their experience and gather certain skill sets to thrive in the industry.

If you’re interested in starting (or growing) a career as a media Motherland Mogul, then you have a lot to learn from Frenny Jowi.

Frenny started her career in journalism as an intern at the BBC African Bureau in Nairobi and quickly scaled through her career as a journalist, amplifying African voices and stories.

Join Frenny on Thursday, July 6th, for a 30-minute Facebook Live session where she’ll be discussing journalism as a profitable career choice, and the skills aspiring journalists need to acquire.

Register for this Facebook Live below and ask Frenny all your pressing questions.

Click To Tweet

Some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • How to make it as a journalist
  • Media career choices for young people in Africa 
  • Moving from employment to entrepreneurship
  • Personal PR: Social media etiquette and how it impacts your professionalism
  • Why young Africans should demand quality content from media outlets(African advocates of public interest journalism)

Facebook Live Details:

  • Date: Thursday, July 6th, 2017
  • Time: 2pm Lagos / 3pm Johannesburg / 4pm Nairobi
  • Where: https://www.facebook.com/sheleadsafrica/

Watch here:

Facebook Live with Frenny Jowi, Journalist and Media consultant, sharing insights on the skills aspiring journalists need to acquire to thrive in the industry.. Join the She Leads Africa community by visiting SheLeadsAfrica.org/join .

Posted by She Leads Africa on Thursday, July 6, 2017

 About Frenny Jowi

Frenny Jowi is a journalist, digital media and PR consultant who is currently consulting at Media Focus on Africa, as a radio producer, media relations trainer and digital journalism trainer. She also works as a volunteer youth mentor and freelance journalist.

For 4 years Frenny had a successful career at one of the world’s leading international broadcasters, the BBC.

While working for BBC Africa both in Kenya and the United Kingdom, she led several productions including creating digital content for younger audiences and news coverage of historic President Obama visit to Africa.

In June 2016, she took one of the lead roles in setting up Kenya’s first 24-hour news channel, KTN News.  Her work helped direct the day to day running of the newsroom and training journalists on storytelling and social media skills.

She has a BA in media studies from the University of Nairobi.

Caroline Numuhire: If you want to be a human rights advocate, just do it

Work on your gifts and then the universe will grant you wisdom to shine. Click To Tweet Global health and creative writing go hand in hand for Caroline Numuhire. From Kigali, Rwanda, Caroline got her start in global health as an intern with Save the Children Rwanda. She went on to address childhood malnutrition as a Global Health Corps (GHC) fellow at Gardens for Health International (GHI) in 2014 before joining GHC staff as a Program Associate last year.

Caroline regularly contributes to ECOFORUM and Environmental Africa in addition to penning inspirational short stories. She is currently working on a novel and pursuing a Master’s degree in Global Health Delivery at the University of Global Health Equity in Kigali.


You are both a global health practitioner and a writer. How do you juggle your main hustle and your side hustle? Is there overlap in these seemingly disparate worlds?

My professional life in the global health domain matters a lot to me to feel fulfilled as a human being as this is my contribution to build a more just world. I enjoy sleeping at night knowing that I spent a day achieving a good goal. If I was ever asked to pick one job, it would be a hard decision because I am passionate about my work as well as my writing. I always feel lucky to live in a world that allows me to practice both.

When I believe in a cause or a profession, it becomes so easy to handle it because I understand why I invest every drop of energy and I ensure that I find time to juggle and work on my passions. The reason why I (agronomist and writer) smoothly fit in global health is because it is not and has never been an isolated technical field. Communication, writing, and public speaking are some of the key tools that allow me to be an effective advocate for global health issues. There’s still a huge need to write about these issues that are affecting humanity.

Caroline Numuhire 2

Agriculture, nutrition, and the environment are often overlooked aspects of health and wellbeing. Why are you passionate about these issues?

The simplest answer would be that I have an educational background in agriculture, rural development, and global health delivery. But the true answer is more complex.

Sometimes when we talk about good health, we think about the absence of diseases and when it comes to wellbeing, we picture cash in our minds! In Rwanda, communities of farmers are the first victims of climate change effects and of malnutrition. In the early days of my career, one of the startling realities I faced in the field was that farmer communities suffer from malnutrition while they produce all the beautiful and healthy food that we consume and consequently they face poor health outcomes. In my eyes, it was an obvious facet of social injustice that I had to dedicate my efforts to.

You work with Global Health Corps fellows in Rwanda, many of whom are new to the health sphere and even to living and working on the African continent. What’s been your most challenging experience in this role so far?

The biggest challenge of my work is to work with smart, energetic and result-driven young people who want to observe the impact of their fellowship right away. It requires a form of art to help them understand that once you sow a tree seed it takes days, weeks, and most of the time years to yield flowers and then fruits.

And your most rewarding?

The most rewarding part is to see fellows graduating from the fellowship as empowered, more resilient leaders who are ready to continuously change the face of poverty and inequity wherever they are heading. It is a true transformation!

Caroline Numuhire says 'Don’t fear that there are so many human rights advocates already – they are not YOU' Click To Tweet

Professional women are often stereotyped and coerced into looking, acting and being a certain way. How do you stay true to yourself in the face of societal pressure to conform?

Oh, that’s a poisonous disease! Yes, we live in a society with predetermined norms. Yes, we want to experience the feeling of belonging. Yes, we have so many excuses, right?

In the last 20+ years of my life, I have played the card of likability. You know what? I lost, miserably. Just because I failed to please the only person who matters to me: myself. It’s so easy to be a submissive, scared, shy, soft, incompetent, slow, lazy woman (beauty being tolerated!) and be accepted, included and appreciated. But if your inner voice tells you that you are something else, then be exactly that person. For yourself. Don’t fear making men feel insecure because of their own weaknesses. It’s not your role. If you want to look sexy, smart and happy, be sexy, smart and happy. The formula is simple.

I intimately know that I’m an energetic, hard-working, empathic and imperfect girl and I totally, shamelessly and unapologetically embrace myself. What other people think of me is their own right but not a business I manage. A woman has to value herself and if you don’t know how you can start reading or watching Louise Hay’s meditation videos as well as learning about other women who understand the secret of true self-love.

What advice would you share with other young leaders who want to use their gifts to make a difference in the world?

First of all, work hard on your gift. The world will respect you if you respect your gift. We are all talented. God created us with tremendous reserves of amazing aptitudes and gifts. Just find your own, refine it and it will blossom to heaven.

Epictetus said, “If you want to be a writer, write”, so if you want to be a human rights advocate and you believe that this is your call, your life purpose, just do it. Just do it and dare to believe that only the sky can be a limit. We are all wonderful, we just have to see the wonder in us. Don’t fear that there are so many human rights advocates already –they are not YOU. They don’t hold your values. You are another highly valuable advocate among them. Our biggest enemy is that inner voice that criticizes us, or when we chose to trust other people’s negative criticisms. You have to intentionally shut their volume down, work on your gifts, and then the universe will grant you wisdom to shine.

Caroline Numuhire 1

From one Beyhive member to another, what’s your favorite Beyoncé song? What do you find empowering about her music?

Oh wow. I love all of Beyoncé’s music and certain songs become my favorite depending on my life weather. Currently, I am in love with “Grown Woman”. Because I also “remember being young, tough, brave, I knew what I needed, and… I can do whatever I want.”

I love Beyoncé because she is not only a performer, she is an empowered lady who empowers other women around the world. I play her music on YouTube, and think what a great beat for relaxation! When I am singing and dancing to her songs, I have the feeling that she understands me as a woman and she gets the personal and professional struggles I go through. Then, I smile because I know we could be friends and talk about women’s rights until 3 AM. I also watch her interviews. She empowers me and taught me the importance of beauty in a woman’s life. But most of all, I respect her because she works hard, gets up when she’s down, keeps progressing, is creative and competitive with herself, and she is so gracious!

What is one leadership mantra that you live by?

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” – Zig Ziglar


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Mpho Makhafola: You’ll look back on this time and be proud of the woman you became

Mpho Makhafola greatest passion in life is inspiring young women through her writing Click To Tweet

Mpho Makofola is an inspired storyteller and creator of the Young Mothers Series, a platform that grew out of her very interesting and addictive blog, I Am My Own Gift. Through the blog, she has created a safe haven for young mothers to feel accepted and loved.

Mpho’s blog in a way validates the worth of young mothers as valuable members of society. It creates a sense of community, belongingness, and sisterhood as well as a safe space for young mothers to share their stories about the joys and hurdles of existing in a world that largely discriminates against them.


Tell us about yourself, who is Mpho?

Mpho Makhafola is a linguist who studied at the University of Pretoria (South Africa). She is also a blogger and an educator at an all-girls school in Pretoria.

Her greatest passions in life include writing and inspiring young women through her blog posts and being surrounded by strong women who in turn inspire and motivate her to be great. Mpho loves a good laugh and is absolutely a girly-girl who loves having her nails did and her face beat 🙂

What is that one tipping point that caused you to create the Young Mothers Series on your blog? And are you yourself a young mum?

What inspired the Young Mothers Series was all the young mothers I have the privilege to have met and engaged with. Many if not all of us have a friend or family member who is/was a young mom and I noticed just how negative society is towards these young women and how falling pregnant young has been and is still such a taboo across all races and groups.

This really broke my heart because I believe that being a young mom is a challenge in itself. Why add on to that by hiding your pregnancy and loathing oneself just because society is so negative? Why not accept of one of life’s greatest gifts to women, motherhood? So the continued judgement and ostracism of young mothers pushed me to seek these young women out, document their journeys to motherhood and give them a voice to say, “Yes world, I fell pregnant young, but I am still capable of achieving my goals and pushing myself to get my education and so much more. A baby doesn’t mean the end of my life and all that is good in it”.

And no, I am not a young mom myself. I initially thought this would make it hard to capture the stories of these young mom’s realistically without watering them down because I “can’t relate”. I really tried by all means to treat each feature as a new experience and always remembering that these young women deserved their truth’s to be shared as raw and beautiful as they are.

The Young Mothers Series helps young moms with whatever they are struggling with at the moment Click To Tweet

Mpho Makofola 1

What is your favourite thing about the blog?

It has to be the impact that it has had on strangers, on the featured mommy’s and even on me. Some of the responses I got still get me emotional. I had no idea of the struggles and emotional trauma some of these young moms go through because the world is so unkind to them. I mean some even had family turn against them, partners desert them and literally had no support at all throughout their pregnancies. And I’ve always been so humbled to hear that my blog has resonated with someone or given them hope in knowing that they are not alone.

Besides the young mother series, I was also lucky to feature a number of amazing personalities like Fareida Metsileng (pharoahfi), a young poet Thuto Gaasenwe and I also did a blog post for NUK and Artemis brands in relation to the young mother’s series.

What obstacles have you overcome in order to be the kind of woman who’s capable of reaching out to uplift other women?

I’ve always said that it’s hard being a woman, we go through mountains of struggles and obstacles are constantly put in our way to break us yet we still show unbelievable strength and manage somehow to put on that lipstick and fight on.

I’ve had my fair share of challenges, struggled a lot with self-image and body issues, insecurities, relationships and all of that negativity seeped into all areas of my life. My blog started out as a place to vent about my relationship frustrations and how hurt I was at that point. But God had better plans for my hard times and I managed to still heal and share on myself whilst healing women out there who shared some if not all of my sentiments.

Mpho Makhafola young mother's series

Mpho Makhafola young mother's series 1

I also was raised in an underprivileged area so I always felt the need to fit in with friends and be someone I wasn’t, especially in high school. I had to really dig deep to find myself and be comfortable with who I was and where I came from and not be ashamed of myself and blame myself for things I had no control over.

So I saw the need for the upliftment of women especially in our personal lives, we are often so ashamed to speak about our hurts. I decided to basically tear myself apart and to share deeply into my life in order to piece other women together one blog post at a time.

I saw the need for the upliftment of women especially in our personal lives - Mpho Makhafola Click To Tweet

What inspires you to continue your work every day?

It has to be my admiration for women. I am absolutely amazed when I see women pioneering in life and breaking down barriers to achieve and be phenomenal. I just light up inside when I see a fellow sister making waves.

And of course, the thought that this blog post I write could help someone with whatever they are struggling with at the moment and give them a new outlook on life.

What else do you do outside of blogging?

Besides blogging I am an educator, a student and a lover of life!

What message would you like to share with young mothers who’re dealing with backlash for being who they are?

Ha-ha! This is actually the question I always asked the young mothers, but to her, I would say…YES! You’re a young mom but that doesn’t mean you’re incapable. Your child can only mean you fight harder to reach your goals not that you give up on them.

YES society will not make it easy for you, it’ll probably kick you when you’re down. But there is strength and so much beauty in your journey, nobody is more suited for this path than you! You’ll look back on this time and be proud of the woman you became. Fight on heroine!


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Abigail Arunga: Freelance writing is sustainable, everyone needs writers

abigail arunga
Abigail Arunga quit her job for more sleep and less money as a freelance writer Click To Tweet

Abigail Arunga used to be the Digital Editor for Zuqka.com before she subscribed to the ideal of happiness at work and quit her job for more sleep and less money. Before that and other subsequent mutinies, she worked as a contributor for several local Kenyan magazines such as Home and Living East Africa, DRUM and Saturday Magazine (Nation).

Now, Abigail is a 28-year-old (yeah, she can’t believe it either) writer, blogger, scriptwriter and committed lover of sleep. She is the author of Akello and a side of raunch, both (only slightly) sensual poetry collections, is trying to avoid questions about when the next volume is coming. 

Abigail was also a scriptwriter for the award-winning soap opera “Lies that Bind” and continues to write for TV with shows such as “How to Find A Husband” and “Majaribu”. She began her writing career as an intern for Storymoja Publishers and is a 2011 honours graduate of USIU (don’t forget that. She thinks it is very important, mostly because she was surprised). Oh, and duh, she’s a feminist –who isn’t?

Here, Abigail shares her expert advice on surviving the struggle of being a freelance writer.


Did you always set out to be a freelance writer?

That was not the plan! Employment was kind of the plan. Until I got employed and realized I was not only a terrible employee, but I also hated having to be employed. Not because of the sweet salary, but because I hated having to answer to something outside of myself —no matter how nice that something was to me.

Small decisions, by the way, like not being able to stay home on my period, or having to ask to not come to work? It felt like a cage.

What’s a typical day like for you?

Wake up at about 10 or 11 am, noon or 1 pm if I have been working past 3 am. I will get up, work on my social media for about an hour or two, then get up and have breakfast (brunch!), watch something, read something, probably leave the house —if not, I will start working.

If I leave and come back, probably late, from whatever —an event I am covering, a film I am reviewing, whatever it is— then I will start working when I get home. If I have eaten out, I’ll start immediately —if not, I’ll cook.

Then TV, then sleep. The only thing that is constant though, in that list, is what time I wake up, hehe.

To be a successful freelance writer you have to be willing to do the work required Click To Tweet
Some of Abigail's self-published books
Some of Abigail’s self-published books

What will you say to people who say one can’t make money as a freelance writer?

I haven’t lived at home for five years, so that’s a lie. You just have to be willing to do the large amount of work required to sustain yourself and have a hard-line stance on when people pay you  —because self-motivation and chasing cheques are probably the hardest parts.

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Can you talk about rates? How did you go about setting rates for your work?

Rates depend, for me, on who is buying. Every time. I have my constant contracts that I have been working for about four years —those don’t change much. Friends shouldn’t get different rates, I know, but they do.

Everyone else? My minimum is about 5 bob a word. Or I charge per piece of work —for example, per script, as opposed to the number of words. For my television scripts, I ask for about KES15000 per script. Which I am told is below industry rate…hmmm…new year, new rates?

The reason why sometimes rates are so fluid with me is, honestly, sometimes, you are broke as hell and have to take what you get. Then you get on a little bit, and you’re like no, I deserve more! Which is all fine and dandy, until you hit a patch and you go back to cheap. Especially at the beginning of a freelance career.

It can be very hard to not only know your worth but stick to your guns. I would say start with what you want and stick to what you want, without having to go back –and with a backup plan. Savings, or Mshwari, hehe. If your work is good, they will pay. If they don’t, you will get better, or pivot. You will do what you have to do.

Abigail Arunga: At the beginning of a freelance career, it can be very hard to know your worth Click To Tweet

Would you say freelance writing is a sustainable career choice?

Of course. Especially if you are thinking out of the box. You do realize that everything needs writers? All businesses need stuff written. They need newsletters. Copy for brochures. Memos.

Who writes this stuff? Articles. Magazines. Menus…everything. So sometimes they have in-house writers. Many don’t. Figure out what you want to write and write. Write hard. It is sustainable because everyone needs writers.

What should anyone looking to become a freelance writer know before embarking on this path?

Ask for half of the money before you do any work for anyone. People are not nice in this town —in this world.

Don’t feel bad if the jobs take a while to get there —they’ll get there. Just keep going. You want to be a writer? Then write.


Ready to share expert advice on your industry based on your experience? Tell us about it here.

Refilwe Kumalo: The South African content junkie

We have so much to learn from each other but we lack the time to. Click To Tweet

Have you ever wondered what it takes to produce the content of your favorite television programme? Refilwe Kumalo is from South Africa and she is a content junkie who produces television shows that keep you both informed and entertained.

Content is information and experiences which are directed to audiences or users. Refilwe’s purpose is to create content that will be consumed so knowledge can be transferred. She has to spark conversations that can inspire people to be better.

She works hard at producing content that is entertaining and leaves one wanting more. Refilwe wants to be able to create memorable content that will leave a mark in society. 


What are you most passionate about?

People…

I believe that everyone has something to offer the world. Everyone has something good and remarkable to offer. My work has made me realize how important it is to treat every single person delicately.

I studied Anthropology as a major for this very reason, which is to be able to study human norms and values in our society. We have so much to learn from each other but we lack the time to.

People’s perspectives need to be documented so stories could be told and generations to come can learn from them. As vast and different South Africa is as a nation, it has many facets and molds. Every child, household, taxi driver, miner, men-in-service, artist has a story to tell.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Funny enough a lot of people inspire me every day of my life. The ordinary person who wakes up every day to fulfill their dreams inspires me. There are many individuals in our country doing remarkable things in different fields.

I’m inspired by people who work hard and who dream big. For me it’s not about how much money you make but how you change people’s lives through the work you do. It’s about creating jobs which will put food on the table and take children to school.

The ordinary person who wakes up every day to fulfill their dreams inspires me Click To Tweet

A few people who inspire me are Khanyi Dhlomo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Basetsana Kumalo, Dr. Precious Motsepe, Folorunsho Alakija, Isabel Dos Santos, Victoria Beckham, Oprah Winfrey, Mamokgethi Phakeng, Nunu Ntshingila, Thuli Madonsela and Serena Williams.

These women are game changers and I follow their work.

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What is the most interesting television show you have worked on?

Every show I’ve worked on in my ‘short’ career has been interesting and has taught me what I know today about television. From Diski Divas, which is a reality show about South African soccer wives to Mzansi Insider, which I am currently in production of.

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Right now, I have enough experience to conceptualise an entire episode on my own. It’s a process but one which I’ve grown to appreciate. I’ve been privileged enough to work with great producers who allow my voice to be heard.

It is rewarding to see my work and ideas play out on the screen and also see viewer responses.

What makes a great television show?

These days television content is measured by how much it’s talked about on social media and if it trends. Well unfortunately, Twitter trends won’t get show ratings. What makes a great TV show is the experience and message it leaves the viewer with.

A great show’s content is what keeps audiences tuned in and it will result in high ratings. A lot of elements go into putting together a great TV show and in my opinion, the team behind the show plays an important role.

What makes a great TV show is the experience and message it leaves the viewer with. Click To Tweet

Being in television production I am privileged to see a show from its conception. Therefore, there are many aspects to a great TV show. From the team which is pre- and post-production, the content which is the topics on the show and what message they drive which will of course, give you high ratings.

Where do you see yourself in media ?

Definitely in conceptualizing futuristic content. Content which will engage the youth to think better and be better people.

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Where will African media be in the next five years ?

Firstly, we need to treat media as informative tool not just for entertainment. I see media in Africa being driven by young people in the next five years.

The biggest voices we have today are the young people who use smartphones and social media to drive content. It’s amazing to see a lot big stories today being broken with the use of media platforms.

I see media in Africa being driven by young people in the next five years. Click To Tweet

In the same breath, all media platforms have to be monitored by stakeholders so that it can be used in the right manner and be preserved.

What is the last thing I watched on TV and why?

Botched! Hahaha I’m a sucker for reality TV.

As I said, I believe that people need to tell their own stories which will in turn teach people lessons. Botched is an interesting yet daunting show that exposes you to body image alterations which people have done to themselves.

With the rise of body image issues in Africa like skin lighting and back door plastic surgery, it is an informative show. We need to create content which seeks to engage these issues which our society faces and depict the long term results of altering or modifying our bodies in any form.refilwe-3

If you were a mobile app, which app would you be?

I would be Twitter, mainly because it drives a lot of content and allows users to be news makers.

The simplicity of it is what makes it the number one go to for us content researchers. One is able to follow trending topics all over the world by using a hashtag. I use it on a daily basis and also for research purposes.

Many brands are forced to engage with their consumers on Twitter for complaints, competitions and launching new products. PR companies and brand influencers are paid to tweet and get consumers to follow brands. What a time to be alive!


Hey South African #MotherlandMoguls, the SheHive will be in Johannesburg from November 3-6. Find out more here.

Nomthandazo Tsembeni: I was given a gift to pass unto others

nomthandazo tsembeni

Nomthandazo Tsembeni does not call herself a musician or a poet but an artist. She does not classify herself in one basket, her talent allows her to explore each and every artistic bone in her body.

She speaks very passionately of her talent and gift which allows her to be who she wants to be. Nomthandazo doesn’t have any limitations and for her, the sky is not even the limit. She wears so many hats one will start to wonder about their own journey.

SLA contributor,  Lerato recently got an opportunity to speak to this vibrant woman. Nomthandazo shared many gems on being a performer while working a full-time job and gave us a glimpse of her award-winning poetry.


You are a performing artist and an award winning one for that matter, what is your genre of music?

I have been exposed to a lot of genres. Commercial house music is what a lot of people know me for although I love music without any boundaries.

I do afro-pop, afro-jazz and soul music because it connects me to my first love, poetry.

You don’t have your own album as yet. Where have you been featured and how was the experience?

I have been featured on DJ Nova and Tapes song called “Ndihoye”, “Heal Your Heart” by Tapes and “George” which was a remix by Rabs Vhafuwi who is known for “Count Your Blessings”.

Working with different artists has helped learn to appreciate the gift of others and the learning is limitless. It is not about what you want but what needs to be given or done to produce results.

I was given a gift to pass unto others, to heal and mend broken souls. It is God-given, something I had to obey and not because I want to appear in magazines and billboards but it is my calling.

I never compare myself with others. Art is a spirit, you can not create art but can transform from one level to another.

You seem to be an artist of many forms, do you regard yourself as a singer or poet?

I regard myself as an artist, I define myself as God’s best Stanza. I can sing, write music, stories, come up with a script for a play, play drums and I am still learning how to play a guitar.

If one classifies oneself according to one discipline then there are limits to what one can do. Trying to define myself in a specific form will confine me.

I am not an ideal woman but a woman in reality. A woman in reality can have it all and do anything they want to and are comfortable without limits because they define their own beauty and success with no pressure to be perfect.

Tell me about your awards, what were they for?

I have three awards, two online international poetry awards which I received in 2012 and 2013 and one from Moduwane District Arts Festival in 2012.

The first international one from AllPoetry was in 2012 from a poem I wrote for a general category called “The Hardest Part”.

“The hardest part

About having both feet is that

We are unable to jump a certain step in life.

In order to be successful,

You need to work hard.

For you to be wealthy,

You need to have some knowledge about poverty

And for you to be somewhere,

You have to start somewhere…”

It defines the limitations of one’s body parts through defining each part, its function and where it is limited to do certain things.

Another award I won in 2012 —Moduwane District Arts Festival— was with a poem was called “Mmabotle” which speaks of the beauty of a woman. I got the first price.

“Side by side, she would move her hips.

On her head, she put nkgo alokga metsi.

She left me drooling as she licked her back lips.

That woman left me choking on my own saliva.

This chick makes the traffic stand still tsi…”

I was again awarded by AllPoetry in 2013 for a general category for a poem called “Reality shaded in 3D pencil”.

“What if

Our bodies are graves of dead emotions?

What if

We think we are over certain people,

Yet we carry the corpses of their deceased images deep within us?

What if

Our faces are tombstones of pain and unhappiness

And the smile we wear is just a marble stone making the whole womb luxurious?….”

AllPoetry is an online platform where various poets from all over the world submit their poems and the best poem is selected. It gives global poets a stage to get to know one another and to introduce themselves in the industry.

nomthandazo tsembeni
Photo credit: Ntsako Mbhokota @ Carob Magazine

Growing up in a small town of Welkom, do you think you are getting enough exposure?

I grew up in a location called Thabong and yes, I am getting enough exposure. It is not about where you come from but about the work you do and where you see yourself in the future by associating yourself with the relevant people that are in the same field of your expertise.

Coming from a small town must not limit or be in a definition of who you are, it is about exposing yourself to things that will assist you to succeed in life. Yes we have limited access to resources but that is not an excuse to not try. It is about how you present yourself, the love and respect for your art or whatever that you specialize in.

I have had the honor to work with the likes of Jerry Mofokeng, Tina Mnumzana, Tinah Mnumzana, Ntsiki Mazwai and Wilson B Nkosi among others. I have been featured in local newspapers like Express and have been on the finals of Welkom’s Got Talent 2014.

I have performed at the State Theatre in Pretoria and the MACUFE Annual Festival in Bloemfontein and have recently been on the cover of Carob Magazine for their Woman’s month issue. I have also been interviewed on 90.9, Mozolo FM 98.2 and CUT FM 105.8.

I have not limited myself to anything based on where I come from. Instead, I have sought for help and used social media to get access to other things.

Who would you like to work with in the future?

It is so unfortunate that I have so many fellow colleagues that I would like to work with and I have to list only a few so I will only mention four artists.

  • Aus Tebza (Tebogo Sedumedi) who is from Gauteng Province and plays base guitar.
  • Asa who is a Nigerian-French artist who sings pop, jazz and indie pop.
  • Black Coffee (Nkosinathi Maphumulo who is the African God of House Music from KwaZulu Natal.
  • Samthing Soweto (Samkelo Lelethu Mdolomba) who is from Soweto and does acappella.

Tell us about Nomthandazo, how does performing and art  make her feel? Who is Nomthandazo when she is performing?

I feel alive when I am performing, I am actually fulfilling my purpose, the reason why I was born. I have been sent to heal, mend, teach and help (deliver) people. I move from one space to the next when I perform because every time I ascend the stage, for me, that is taking a step further as far as my art is concerned.

People come to tell me I helped them to get over whatever they were dealing with. I get a lot of feedback that my performances makes them get a certain feeling and find a certain kind of healing. People confess their problems and quote my work. That also motivates me to keep writing and performing.

I knew I was meant to be a performer from a young age when I could sing lyrics fluently, the pitch, tempo and everything from the age of 4. I never saw myself doing something else than just live art.

When I was doing my matric, I started asking myself if I am doing this for fun or must I take it seriously. I realized that this is not just anything but a gift, I do it effortlessly because it is a gift. I respect each and every person who comes to watch me deliver what I have been called for.

I listen to the spirit and everything that comes to me I do it there and then. My art is spiritual as I too am of the Spirit.

Tell us about your book, God is a Poet. What is that all about?

God is a Poet is an anthology of poems, short stories and quotes. Everything is original and I have written them myself. The book includes poems that I have written from high school and have been edited to meet the maturity of the work that I write now.

The name “God is a Poet” came during one of my performances when I was reciting back in 2013 in Kroonstad at a poetry session hosted by SoulStud (Phindile Mathonsi) who is originally from Mamelodi and an artist in his own right.

The words escaped my lips as I was reciting, magic was created from that moment and I knew that was going to be the name of my book. At that time, the book was ready but I didn’t have a title for it.

Because I am a spiritual person, the title “God is a Poet” made so much sense to me because in the beginning; God was with the word, the word was with Him and He was the word. Everything he did, He used words from the creation of nature to a human being, hence I emphasize that He is a Poet and I am his best Stanza.

When was it published and how long did it take you to write it?

I self published it in 2015 and it took me a long time to get everything together. I can say it took me 3 years to finally say I have a book.

My book is self published, therefore you cannot get it at book shops but from me for now. Anybody looking for any of my two books —the other one is Time is Never On Time and that is an ebook— can go to my website or my Facebook page Lady Black Poet. Anyone can also get me on Instagram or by email.

6 steps to building the confidence you need to bring your blog to the masses

Abiola Babarinde

Have you ever wanted to share something with the world, but you’ve hesitated? You ask yourself, ”can I really do this? Will people like what I produce?”

I can relate.

Putting yourself out there is daunting – the Internet can be a scary place. If anyone had told me a year ago that I’d be running my own website, www.abiola.me and sharing my thoughts on life and faith, I would have laughed in their face. Me? Faith? My experiences? It didn’t sound very glamorous and we all know it can be a touchy subject. After months of umm’ing and ahh’ing, I decided to take the plunge.

Since then, I’ve found that the world of writing isn’t so big and scary after all. In fact, there’s a lot of good that can come from joining the conversation. Now I’m going to share 6 steps to help you to launch your blog with all the Naomi Campbell-level confidence you can muster.

Step 1: Believe in your product and it’s purpose

First of all, your product (or in the blogger’s case, content) should be something you’re passionate about and you think other people will enjoy. I didn’t start Abiola.me just cause I ‘wanted to have a blog’, that’s not enough to sustain you when the novelty wears off. From chatting to friends and strangers alike, I could sense that we were all looking for something ‘more’ in our lives, that missing piece.

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Personally, I had found something that had a huge impact on me, and I had a strong feeling that other people might find it useful too. In true Olivia Pope style, I decided to trust my gut. A strong belief in your product will eventually outweigh your self-doubt or fear of what people might say.

Step 2: Your online voice is unique, believe in it, develop it

Next, think about your tone of voice. This is one of the most important things as it helps people to buy into and believe in what you’re offering. I decided that I wanted my blog to be approachable and relatable, kind of like speaking to a wise, trusted friend. Each time I publish a blog post, I continue to ask myself, do I sound like that friend? Asking yourself these questions regularly will help bring your content to life.

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But I can’t write as well as some of the other people out there… I hear you say. Listen, no one becomes good at something without practice – don’t ever let that put you off. We all have to start somewhere, as long as you’ve got your spelling and grammar down, you’re good to go. If you need help, send a draft post to a friend for feedback – that’s what I did at the start and it worked like a dream. The key is to share it with people who are supportive but also comfortable with giving constructive criticism.

Remember that this entire experience is a learning opportunity, and waiting until you’re ‘perfect’ is unrealistic (even the Chimamanda Adichie’s of this world have still got stuff to work on! We all do).

Step 3: Take the plunge, spread the word

The next thing to do is to tell people! It’s really that simple. When I first started my blog, I told no one except 4 or 5 close friends. Even worse, when I added new posts I didn’t tell anyone at all because I was too shy. This is where belief in your product and yourself becomes super helpful: I knew what I was creating was useful and I was putting in too much effort for it not to be shared. So I decided to finally put on my big girl pants and spread the word, what was the worst that could happen?

Sharing wasn’t easy – the very first day I prepared my social media promo posts, I was nervous. I knew deep down that I would never feel 100% ready, I’d always find another excuse, so I just did it. Sometimes, you’ve just got to close your eyes and go for it. It’s like jumping into a pool, you’re hesitant at first but the adrenaline pushes you to do it anyway, and once you’re in you realise that it’s actually pretty fun! It also gets easier the second time, then the third time, and suddenly you’re 6 months down the line telling everyone about it.

The best thing about sharing is that it’s infectious. If people like your product they will share it their friends without you even asking. I have had colleagues, old university mates and acquaintances tell me how much they enjoy reading my work. But it’s up to you to get the wheels turning; you are your first and biggest cheerleader, so never be afraid to lead the pack.

Step 4: Be sponge, soak it all up

Congrats, you’ve made it to Step 4 in one piece – not so bad is it?

Next, absorb lessons from everyone (and everything) around you; articles, blogs, other people, celebrities – whatever. Inspiration comes from the most random places. So many things inspire the way I write, the images I use or my future plans. Also, never underestimate the power of your own story, even though learning from your peers and the gawds is important, don’t forget to get busy living.

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Be open to discussion, collaboration and feedback – there’s nothing like bouncing ideas around with people you respect, whether that’s friends, family, mentors, your readers or your peers in the writing game. What you choose to do with the feedback is totally your choice, but always be open to listening.

Step 5: Your non-writing experience is relevant too

Ever had a job or been in school, university or college? These experiences have helped you to develop the prioritisation and organisational skills you need to keep your blog alive. Developing content takes commitment, dedication and sometimes saying no to brunch (#tears) or staying awake for an extra hour.

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Being able to keep yourself accountable and balance all your responsibilities will be the difference between a one-hit-wonder and something more substantial. Luckily for us, we live in a world of automation, so you can use tools like Buffer, HootSuite and Latergramme to help you get organised. So while you’re sleepin’ you’re also tweetin’ – you overachiever, you.

Step 6: Be patient, be authentic and expect the best

Stick to your blogging hustle ladies, you might have some kinks to work out at first, but stick to it. Continue to tell people, continue to improve and most of all continue to produce that good content.

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Some days might be easier than others, some blog posts may be more or less popular than you expected but keep at it, it’s so worth it. You’ve got something unique to offer, so don’t keep it under wraps! It’s amazing what happens when you’re willing to put yourself out there, even just a little bit.

Good luck!