The 5 Most Amazing Things About Being a Blogger & My Story of How it All Started

Jamal Browne in Times Square

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My mom often takes the credit. She would quip, “I was very good at essays when I was younger. Maybe that’s where you got it…”

My love for literature and creative writing, goes as far back as I can recall. Thankfully, I was placed in the hands of some amazing teachers at the elementary and high school levels, who quickly picked up on my fledgling gift, and nurtured it as best as they could.

In my mind, sentences and paragraphs are meant to flow as perfectly as untouched streams in the wild. On most occasions I would like to believe that I come fairly close to this ideal, although my curiosity compels me to continue exploring new techniques towards perfecting my craft.

Throughout my years as a graduate student, I think the consensus among faculty members was that my colorful and flowery language was inescapable, and that my case was one where purely academic writing should not to be expected.

It was in 2012, as a Masters student at the University of the West Indies, that I decided to start my first blog – Caribbean Charisma – to document my very first trip to South America. There was nothing overly charming about the blog, but I was proud of the fact that I was escaping my academic routine to do something truly creative and inspirational.

Within a few months, I started mentoring two young writers, one of whom has gone on to become a published author of a children’s novel, and the other a Gourmet Chef. That obviously gives me a sense of pride, and perhaps absolves me from the naivety and awful gaffes of my Caribbean Charisma years.

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In 2014, I joined the United Nations, and moved halfway around the world to Nairobi, Kenya. I was ecstatic, and had even vowed to document my experience there in a new blog. Let’s just say that did not particularly go as planned. As it turned out, I found it incredibly difficult to mix a career in International Development with a blog of any real substance. On that occasion, I chose International Development – it was pretty much a no-brainer then.

I have since then left the United Nations, moved back to the Caribbean, and most recently completed my PhD… It feels really incredible to be able to say that by the way – a PhD is not for the faint of heart, and I plan to make the very best of this title.

Faced with the decision of what to pursue as a career, I was somewhat torn between a career in International Development and Content Creation. This time around, I decided to follow my heart, and found myself right back where it all began. So in a recent blogpost, I wrote about the importance of following your heart and doing what you love, and I strongly recommend that you guys consider checking it out. It was one of those pieces inspired by the richness of my professional and academic journey over the last decade.

I am today a fulltime Lifestyle Blogger, covering a range of topics including Travel, Hotels & Resorts, Men’s Fashion, Luxury Real Estate, and Career & Lifestyle for Young Professionals. So what has this transition been like thus far? Well, being a Blogger has offered me a measure of creative freedom and joy that far exceeds any professional experience that I’ve ever had – and I’ve had quite a few. But what else could I have really expected from something that I’ve loved all my life?

The 5 Most Amazing Things About Being a Blogger

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Last weekend, while visiting Manhattan’s Upper East Side for a photo-shoot, I could not help thinking about how amazing an opportunity I had right before my eyes – to be able to explore the world with a freedom unlike anything I had ever known. It made me think of how many persons out there are feeling imprisoned by jobs and careers that they merely tolerate. Again I say, do what you love, and do it well – after all, we’re only guaranteed one shot at life.

For those of us who believe that we have discovered what we are truly passionate about, and have decided to pursue that as a career, I want to challenge us to share the five most captivating aspects of our work – not to boast, but to inspire those who continue to struggle in this regard. I think everyone deserves the opportunity to discover and pursue what their hearts are truly inclined to.

So what are the five most amazing things about being a Blogger? Well…

  1. The Opportunity to Do Something I Truly Love

In a previous blog post, I asked a very candid question on this subject: “If you had just one choice of what you can spend the rest of your life doing, what will that be?” I challenged my readers to follow their hearts and do what they truly loved.

My journey to Blogging started many years ago, and has followed a very peculiar path, that has literally taken me around the world, through several jobs, careers and academic programmes, before ultimately leading me back to a career as a Writer and Blogger.

I think most persons who find themselves stuck in jobs and careers that they are not particularly passionate about, struggle to see the viability of their true professional interests. I can vouch for this, because I have been there. In fact, it took a lot of prayer, patience, faith, and determination for me to embrace Blogging as a viable career option for myself. My initial indecision was not a matter of how I felt towards the profession, it was a matter of whether or not this thing that I was so passionate about offered me a real shot at gainful employment.

As it turns out, there is an abundance of professional opportunities for Content Creators in every corner of the world. That for me, is a very satisfying thought.

  1. Adding Value to People’s Lives

Jamal Browne in Bryant Park

This remains a central tenet to my work – if it does not add value to someone’s life, then it is not worth writing about. One of my initial motivations in blogging, was to be able to inspire others – particularly the youth and young professionals.

I am convinced that our societies are in desperate need of good role models – men and women who are willing to defy the odds and pursue excellence, conscious of the fact that the next generation is looking on, and taking copious notes of everything they see.

  1. Meeting Amazing People & Hearing Their Stories

I absolutely love traveling, and I have had the awesome opportunity of visiting some amazing places – from London to New York, Nairobi to The Hague, New Mexico to Montevideo. From iconic scenes and sites, to centuries-old traditions and festivals, who can deny themselves such memorable experiences? But nothing quite compares to the beautiful people that I have met along the way.

I could never forget David – a young Kenyan Pastor and Aspiring Entrepreneur, who served as my chauffeur for my entire 11-month sojourn in Nairobi. We share the same faith, but we also share the same birthday. I grew close to his family – his wife and three lovely children – and even visited their home on a few occasions to share in some traditional Kenyan dishes. But the richness of that connection, was found in David’s story – of how God made something beautiful out of a life that many persons thought would have amounted to nothing.

Those are the stories that inspire me, and keep me going. Stories of ordinary people all across the world, defying the odds.

  1. The Opportunity to Collaborate with My Favorite Brands

One of my biggest gaffes with Caribbean Charisma, was the fact that I had no clue of how bloggers were actually generating income, much less to know about brand collaborations and how they worked.

Now before I become the laughing stock of the international blogging community, let me place the disclaimer here that Blogging is not a very popular career option in the Caribbean – so just imagine five years ago.

I have however spent the last year following and studying the work of some of my favorite content creators, and quickly learnt that brand collaborations are the order of the day, and that you will be rewarded for consistently delivering high quality work.

With that in mind, I am motivated to secure collaborations with some of my favorite brands, and even new brands whose products and services meet the standards and values that I have established for my blog.

  1. The Liberty of Working on My ‘Own Time’ and in My Own Space

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One of the most enticing aspects of blogging for me, is being able to work flexible hours on most days. This however is not to suggest that bloggers are not subject to strict schedules and timelines. Quite the contrary actually.

I have personally found that maintaining a strict work and publication schedule, is one of the key ingredients to a successful blog. The trick here is to develop a schedule that optimizes your most productive hours, as opposed to the traditional 9 to 5 model. That way, you put yourself in a position to consistently deliver your best quality work.

Importantly as well for me, is the opportunity to work in a space that is comfortable and conducive to my creative needs. I work best in clean, orderly, modern spaces, with vibrant – not loud – colours, and went all out to create the perfect workspace for myself at my home office. But even while traveling, I try my best to find or create workspaces that meet my production needs.

There remains a lot for me to learn about the ins and outs of blogging, brand collaborations, and marketing. But what I do know, is that success is not reserved for those who have pulled all the pieces of the puzzle together. It is however freely available to anyone willing to work hard, trust God, and help others along the way.

 

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. GG says:

    “A PhD is not for the faint-hearted”…my sentiments exactly. As a PhD Candidate, your post has challenged me in ways I had not thought possible seeing that you chose your love of writing (non-academic) over all the other glossy titles or jobs that may come with having a PhD.​​​ I still don’t know what I want to do when I am done, but this has given me something to think about

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi GG! Thanks so much for your feedback! I think most people are aware of exactly what their passions are. The challenge however, is realizing the viability of pursuing one’s passion. I personally struggled with that at some point in my life, until I started researching career prospects for writers and content creators, and realized that there was a whole new world of opportunities that I was yet to discover. I truly wish you the very best going forward, and I have a good sense that there is something – that one passion – that you may just need to embrace.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Medza Mtana says:

    A reading at the right time. “You are awarded for consistently delivering high quality work,”is an eye opener. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Medza! Thank you for your feedback. The honour is indeed mine. Here’s wishing you the very best with your work.

      Like

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