20 April 2017

What Numbers Mean

south african blogger, blogging tips, start a blog how,

Some time in March, I tweeted that I wanted to be nominated for the Mail and Guardian young 200 thing. Yes, in 2017, bandla. And if you've even ever glanced at my twitter, you've likely seen me joking about wanting to be an influenza. Mostly, it's jokes. But perceived reach means much more than my thoughtful culture, fat acceptance, plus size fashion pieces.


In the late time of 2016, I created my @nomalifromsoweto Instagram account. I didn't post much for much of the year or promote it. But in that 2016, I'd decided I wanted to be a fat acceptance and plus size style columnist in a pub (Jet Club to be exact). I saw two to three pages that would make fat women and girls reconsider all the anti-fat propaganda they are raised with. It would be full of resources and encouragement and fashion and the underlying belief that it's ok to be fat. 

Still riding the wave of that inspiration, I even emailed the (old) online editor at Marie Claire to pitch myself as a plus size fashion, news and fat positive contributor. She was receptive, said she would be getting updated budgets in a month or so. I felt hopeful.

So when I said I wanted to be put on that Mail and Guardian list, someone I really respect tweeted me to say I don't need to be on a list. I know she meant well and was being all *pos* but as someone who has been doing this for six years, I know what I know. I know that there was a time in 2015 I starved, a time I sold my camera to pay back rent. If there's all this "brand money" out there, why would you, as someone who respects my small efforts as a writer, thinker and person on the internet, want me to keep struggling for data?

There's a South African (with footprints in the UK) portal that facilitates sponsored posts between brands and bloggers. The requirement is that you have at least 1, 000 followers on either ig, twitter or -- as I recently learnt -- fb. They don't check the blog engagement or engagement on these platforms on the quality. They pay in dollars. Dollars that are out of my grasp. Dollars I could have used when my depression made me leave a job again. Dollars that could make me feel, however fleeting, like money was something I could stop being anxious about.

When I was included in a list about South African plus size bloggers by Essentials magazine late last year, I wrote this on my personal ig:

While I have no use fir the yt gaze, these things matter. Being put on lists (even if they're not comprehensive or throwaways -- I actually like what this person had to say about me so 😁😁😁), having follow numbers, having retweets is what shapes who is considered a valid/valuable voice. (Of course, it sucks.) But usually, that validation leads to money, to less stress, to making things you care about more often. This means people who wouldn't know to look for your words or work find you. Thank you to everyone who reads, likes, follows. If you produce for Shift or, like, a radio show that isn't (VERY) problematic, aah, vhoboo. (Also, this is why I write and tweet and nag about the shit I care about. Even if I convert one person)

I have (to varying degrees over the years) always thought there's something to be found in my perspective and in the way I approach criticism and documentation. I don't, maybe I'm wrong. But even if there are three people reading here, the fact that they exist means I will no let anyone who want to use me to speak them take advantage of either of us. And so, even though I barely have any followers and the one person I can count on to share anything I post here is a friend I made on Twitter, I have made a collaborations page and a rate card. I write the things I wish publications and editors would commission from me. 

I remember seeing a tweet by Sibongile Mafu, whom I like and respect, that says if you want to do anything in media (writing, presenting) then you should podcast, youtube or blog. I know she meant well but these things are all so much effort and they need resources and we rarely get the engagement, consideration that makes it worth it. I blog here because, for some reason, I have things to say a couple of times a month. And every month, I feel grateful that, one day, I will find other outlets than putting myself on here.  

Would my cultural observations mean more published in a newspaper and with a R3/word tag? Nope. But I wouldn't be stressed about data or the fact that my computer crashed in December 2015. More people would read. OMarieke have had a lead on us. When they joined Instagram I was grateful to be pushing BIS. But we own the culture and we move it. It should reflect. All of this is my refusal to struggle for data because it doesn't seem like it will be falling soon. Asingahlulwa sikhona, ma-eh.

Mvumikazi made a bunch of relevant threads last week about supporting people you want to thrive, here's my five cents.


FIVE WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR FAVOURITES ONLINE:

1. Share, share, share. Share on Twitter. Share on FB, share in the family Whatsapp group.

2. Engage.

3. Follow them, tell others to follow them.

4. Let them know you're out there. When I wrote my "Being a Person on the Internet" post (which covered a lot of these thoughts too) last year, Nadia sent me such a thoughtful email. "I've just read your most recent post and was actually drafting this as a comment before deciding that private email"would work best," it began. And I cried and cried.

5. Let them know how they can make easier for you. I speak for myself when I say I'm mostly concerned with getting my writing to people who want to see it, which is why Bloglovin' means nothing to me now and my email list is everything.

Thank you for reaading. I'm on social media and the links are on the sidebar.

If you steal my fat pos column I will hex you.

Post a Comment

Thank you for reading.

@nomalifromsoweto

© Nomali from Soweto. Design by FCD.