By Gloria Mwaniga.
Earlier last week, I got a message from one of my face book friends. It was a passionate lady who told me that she would really like to write stories, books and even newspaper articles. She then went on to ask what she could do about it.
As I texted my co-blogger and friend Faith and asked if she would like to tag along for the Creative’s meet up Workshop at the Godown Sunday afternoon, I sure hoped that I would stumble upon some answers or at least find a way around helping the lady friend of mine who wanted to become a writer.
Once at the Godown, I met quite a handful of creatives; among them writers, Poets, Photographers and Crafters. The colorful mix-up of African attires, colored beads, dreadlocked hairs and what I can only describe as ‘strange’ hairstyles was evidence enough that the event had attracted its fair share of city artists who in turn; had come for some insights into how to harness their online connections
The event host Mumbi started off by inviting Wamathai, the renowned blogger who kicked it off by listing reasons why a creative just had to be online. Among these reasons were: to build networks, to promote ones work cheaply and also, social media presence made it easier for one to keep in touch with their clients.
He then went ahead and carefully explained to the group key points on how to successfully run a website and blog by putting up one’s contacts, being interesting and most importantly, being consistent.
Wamathai also emphasized on the importance of writers being able to distinguish between their brands and themselves and improving their communication skills by talking to their fans. He however warned of the dangers of overselling oneself to followers as this tends to be boring or nagging. Like the good teacher that he is, he advised the bloggers to promote other peoples work and converse with others thus create online lasting relationship.
Buddha Blaze, the hip hop rapper spoke next. Drawing from his vast social media experience, he emphasized the importance of using social media as a research tool.
Simon, a social marketing consultant gave a professional twist to the whole event by emphasizing that a creative who doesn’t market their work isn’t doing justice to themselves. He told the creatives to communicate, be bold or even hire someone to do the marketing for them if they weren’t confident enough to market themselves.
Ngwatilo Mawiyoo the soft spoken poet and the only female panelist of the day spoke too of the importance of networking and creative collaborations and how these help market the parties concerned.
Buddha Blaze then gave examples of local artists who’d used the social sites to their advantage. He sighted Camp Mulla , the only African group to be nominated for the BET and whose fame practically hung on social media and also the renown photographer Mutua Mutheka who also has social media to thank for a platform for marketing of his works.
Copy rights issues; a must conversation in any creative space was beautifully tackled by the panelists, who warned against putting up one’s masterpieces out there without thinking of the repercussions. The lawyers present at the event also advised the creatives to always copy right their work for protection.
On the future of online work in Kenya, the panelists foresaw more people going online and more corporate opening up their arms to work with artists.
As the event came to a close three hours after it began, one quote kept lingering in my, that ‘people buy you, before they buy your products ‘ so really at the end of the day, it is possible to find someone who is not very good at what they do but they easily get the top job just because they market themselves amazingly.
As I made my way back home last evening, I knew quite well that before I went to bed that night, I had to write down a few answers for my lady friend on how to kick start her writing .
First, sit down and write for no one will ever believe that you can write until they see it.
Secondly, put your work out there, on social media and even websites. If you can contribute to well known blogs free of charge so as to create a fan base and following, then please go right ahead.
Thirdly, give your writing your best shot every time, for like someone rightfully said, a writer is only as good as their last story.
Best of luck, budding writer.