Amaka Benson: My journey into full-time blogging
Amaka Benson is an energy economist, mummy-blogger and author of recently launched children’s cookbook Micah’s Meals. She tells NIKE SOTADE how she ventured into full-time blogging, which has recorded a phenomenal success within the short time she started, essence of her new book and more
Let’s meet you please. Your educational background, family etc.
My name is Amaka Benson. I am an energy economist, mummy-blogger and more recently author of Micah’s Meals. I have a wonderful, loving and supportive husband, Yomi. We have been blessed with two beautiful children, Micah and Eliana. Our son Micah, is three years old, a strong-willed but sensitive little foodie. Our daughter Eliana, is eight months old and she is a very happy and gentle baby. I hold a first degree in Chemical Engineering from the University College London and a M.Sc. in Energy Studies with a specialisation in Energy Economics at the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy. In 2014, I started the lifestyle and parenting blog, Maky’s Corner and I recently published my first baby/toddler cookbook, Micah’s Meals.
Why did you leave your lucrative oil and gas job to venture into blogging and writing? At what point did you take this decision?
The decision to become a full time blogger didn’t happen overnight, I moved to a new country and we were expecting a baby soon after. It was a high risk pregnancy so I wasn’t able to return to work immediately. At the same time, I was working on publishing my first book, Micah’s Meals.
The truth is I never compare my career as an energy economist to blogging and writing. I am thankful because I never approached blogging as a “career” or a means to make money. I simply wanted to share my story, but in a short period of time, my brand grew immensely.
My children don’t see me going to an office everyday, but my son knows there are different kinds of jobs – I have an office at home, which I work from and I try to be a strong role model for my children as well as show them that unconventional work can also be meaningful.
I make it a point to stay up-to-date in my field, in case I decide I want to return to full time employment. It also helps that my husband is in the same industry – it makes for insightful work/dinnertime conversations. And, as time permits, I still seek out opportunities to consult on projects in my area of expertise.
Any personal experiences that shaped your decision in life and brought you into the world of blogging?
If someone told me five years ago that I would be running a blog very much centered on faith, pregnancy, motherhood and family, I would have laughed it off but becoming a mother, especially after experiencing difficulties, drastically changed my perspective on so many things. The truth is, I started blogging because I wanted to share my pregnancy testimony and I decided that a personal blog would be the best platform to do so.
Who are your target audience and what has the response been like?
I don’t focus on a “target audience” – my blog, my story, my experiences are for everyone, regardless of age or sex. Having said that, I’m especially strong with women aged 18 – 34.
I started my blog with no expectations of a large readership, if any but the support has been overwhelmingly positive! In the first couple of months we already had over 300,000 views on the site. I feel so blessed that so many women open up to me and share their stories and testimonies. I connect with amazing women from all walks of life and have discovered a new passion in life.
Going by your strong social media presence, how have you been able to reach such a large audience within a short time?
I am blessed because I have been able to build my audience organically by doing the things I already do without focused intentions. By doing the things I love that come naturally to me, it is humbling to know that I have been able to enrich and add value to my audience.
Tell us about your book- Micah’s Meal. How can it be of help for today’s busy mothers?
Micah’s Meals is a weaning guide and recipe book for babies, toddlers and beyond. It is more than a cookbook; it is the quintessential guide to a baby’s important first years of feeding. From the introduction of solid foods at 6 months, Micah’s Meals provides information on taste, texture and what foods to avoid in order to help make the transition to family meals easier for babies and toddlers.
I personally think every mum is busy but Micah’s Meals is not just for mothers. It is for parents and caregivers too. To make things simpler for parents, Micah’s Meals also includes weekly menu plans and tips for cooking in bulk, so you don’t have to spend hours everyday cooking. With the menu plans as a guide, people can make dishes in batches and store a variety of nutritious, tasty meals. Micah’s Meals is an invaluable guide that is suitable for both the novice and experienced cook, it is the perfect addition to every home.
What are the challenges of parenting for the 21st Century woman? Tell us how she can juggle the serious business of parenting with her career? How can women cope with family life, giving your own example?
The Bible says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” So for me, juggling parenting with my career is learning about how best to manage my time and the opportunities God provides and blesses me with.
I need to balance quite a few roles but the roles I consider most important in my life are my roles as a wife and mother, especially the role of raising our kids to be wholesome and well rounded in their vital formative years. I try to be superwoman some days but I am honestly still learning to “balance” my ambition with my roles and responsibilities as a wife and mother. Ultimately I am a work in progress, subject to continual reflection and reassessment.
Who is Maky Benson? Tell us your philosophy of life, what values and principles do you live by?
I believe in loving myself for who I am, keeping an open mind to the rest of the world. Not letting the noise of other people’s opinions drown out my inner voice. I believe in not worrying about things I can’t change, enjoying the little things in life, never giving up hope, trying to be the best I can be at everything and living without regrets. More importantly, having the courage to follow my heart and intuition.
Tell us about your faith. What has lives experiences taught you?
My faith has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember – through school and into adulthood, though there have been times along the way where I have drifted and needed to re-align myself with God and rededicate myself to him.
Life has taught me that sometimes, you have to grow into your passion, it’s not something you are necessarily born with – sometimes you have to cultivate, curate, and discover what it is that makes you tick. It’s one of the reasons I find doing things so incredibly important; discovery, skill and mastery are as essential to happiness as many other things.
What have been the challenges of breaking into the blogging world?
The biggest challenge I faced was finding and starting a niche – when I started blogging as a new mum in 2014, there weren’t a lot of mummy bloggers. I created a platform to make women comfortable to discuss their setbacks, triumphs and the everyday joys that redefine their notions of motherhood. As a result, I got a lot of comments like “what is she going to tell us about motherhood that we don’t know” or some people weren’t comfortable with me being so open about my experiences and challenges. Through it all, these challenges have helped me grow into the person I am today and I thank God I’m able to keep doing what I love regardless of the trials I may face.
What is relaxation for you?
I love to do a couple of things. Listening to gospel music and reflecting on life is very relaxing to for me. I also love reading motivational and inspirational books – for my Christian life, family, marriage and parenting. Other times I love going to the spa, getting facials, getting my hair done and so on. Things that make me feel and look good.
What do you want to be remembered for?
How I want to be remembered? I want to be remembered as the woman who gave her all. Giving less than 100 per cent effort is not an option for me. I give my all in everything I do – you only get one chance at life, and I’m going to make the most of it. I want to be remembered as the woman who inspired others to reach their goals – I hope that’s the mark I leave on the world. I want to be remembered as the woman who never lost her faith. I’m a very positive by nature, and I think a big part of that is knowing that there’re things beyond my control and God has always got a plan for me. If I didn’t have that to hold on to, I don’t know where I would have been. I want to be remembered as the woman whose heart was full of love. I want to be remembered as the woman who lived with no regrets. Obviously, living without regrets doesn’t mean I never messed up or made mistakes, it just means that in those times I learned something. I also don’t want to get to the end of my life and wish I had done more with it – I want to live an extraordinary life. I want to be remembered as a wonderful mother and wife.
Finally, I would like to be remembered as someone who made a difference in the world, who accomplished her dreams, pleased God, and did what God created me to do on this earth.