In Conversation with: Andrea Makamba
Salut! My name is Andrea Makamba and I am 18 years of age. The 3 words I would use to describe myself would be imaginative, cheerful and competent. I am not afraid of hard work- In August, I am heading to the University of Pennsylvania, to study Engineering. I am a strong believer in the power of self- you can do anything that you put your mind to. This is the attitude that I employ whenever I come across a difficult task or situation, if you believe that you can, then you will.
Why did you start blogging?
I have always loved writing. I've written stories, poems and diaries since I was 7 years old. When I was 13 I started posting my short stories to Wattpad. When I was 14, I started writing tutorials on WikiHow and when I was 16, I embraced writing journals to motivate myself and to take a break from whatever was stressing me. It was a way to put my thoughts and feelings down on paper. There is nothing more therapeutic than the feeling of putting pen to paper.
I was yearning to have my voice heard. I wanted to share my knowledge with a wider audience: for people to marvel at the same things that fascinate me. To laugh at the same things that entertain me and to despair at the same things that sadden me. I'm a self-proclaimed bookworm and as such, I treasure the connection that can be made between author and reader. I wanted to live and breathe that culture so I sat down and went to work on my first blog.
Why did you choose to blog about food?
My late aunt instilled in me a love for cooking. I am happiest when my apron is messy and the kitchen smells like fresh bread. I realised that a lot of people my age and even people older than me struggle in the kitchen, and I felt that I could help by writing recipes, giving tips and teaching about the science behind your food. Cooking doesn't have to be difficult and I'd love to show that!
What do you hope people will take away from reading your blog?
When I read a recipe, I feel motivated to get in the kitchen and start working. That's the feeling that I want each and every one of my readers to take away. I try to explain the recipe instructions in a clear and concise manner to avoid confusion and really convey how simple cooking can be.
Describe your blogging routine.
Lots of recipe testing, especially when it comes to baking recipes. I have a notebook that I jot down ideas in, it's usually flavour combinations or simple doodles of what I want the final product to look like. Then I'll hit the supermarket (most of the time it's my fridge because I'm lazy to go out) looking for the ingredients that I want. Supermarkets are dangerous places for me because I get distracted and end up taking home a full trolley of things that I'll want to use in a future recipe and I'll completely forget what I even left the house to look for! Having tried the recipe and being satisfied with the taste, I'll work on styling the food in an attractive manner for photographs and then I'll write up the recipe and a story to post on the blog.
As I've finished school, I've been posting more frequently, up to 5 times a week, but I always set myself a minimum of 2 posts a week, unless I'm traveling.
What would you say to someone new to blogging or considering blogging?
Planning is everything. At the beginning you should jot down on paper what you'd like your blog to look like, what your goals are and what kind of content you'd like to share. These things are allowed to change over time, you shouldn't be forced to stick to one niche! It's important for you to know why you started blogging. There will come a time when you become lethargic and do not feel like writing anymore. When that time comes, you should be able to conjure up the feelings that you got from blogging when you first started. If you go in without a plan, you will find yourself stuck when you're lacking inspiration or when you feel burnt out. It's important to plan and pace yourself so that you don't ever reach the stage of burnout and exhaustion.
Do you have bloggers that you follow, if so who and why?
I love reading other people's blogs because it's like a window looking into their minds. You get to see how they think, share their experiences and an excellent writer can form an emphatic connection with their reader. My favourite bloggers include:
Lindsay Ostrom, Pinch Of Yum http://pinchofyum.com/
Aside from her beautiful food photography, she is an amazing writer. Lindsay and her husband Bjork also write tips about blogging for anyone and everyone- not just food bloggers. This website has been my go-to for blogging and photography tips since before I started blogging.
Lamia Farah https://leblogdelamia.wordpress.com/
I think Lamia truly is a wonderful soul and I really enjoy her style of writing.
Tieghan Gerard, Half Baked Harvest https://www.halfbakedharvest.com/ & Stefanie Goldmarie, http://stefaniegoldmarie.com/
Purely for their photography. They are everything that I want to be and more.
Would you say there are downsides to blogging, if so what are they?
There's the recurring feeling that you're not good enough. That other people are doing much better than you and that you should stop trying because you're not going anywhere. Sometimes there are intense feeling of blog jealousy, "Why didn't I think of that?" or "Why don't my photos/posts look like that?"
The only way to combat these feelings is to reassure yourself that you're doing just fine. There is always room for improvement, but there is no need for you to drag yourself down because you wish that your blog looked just like someone else's. Don't believe me? Ask a friend, a relative or your readers to tell you what they like most about your blog. You're in this to distinguish yourself from others, not to follow the crowd and blend into the same tired old theme that we've seen everywhere. You are unique, believe in your own originality and that will push you to do better.
From your experience, what have been the best memories of being a blogger?
Receiving thoughtful comments and emails from readers never fails to brighten my day. Being tagged in Instagram posts of your recipes that were made by complete strangers is also a memorable experience. What excites me the most is knowing that I inspired someone to get in the kitchen and start cooking!
What does blogging mean to you?
Blogging to me is an escape. It's a way for me to manifest my thoughts and feelings into a concrete form of art, if you will excuse my usage of the term. Being stuck in a regime dominated by numbers and figures, right and wrong answers and ones and zeroes, at school I needed something that deviated from that trend. With creative writing, there is no such thing as a right or wrong answer. Something doesn't have to be x or y, it can be any letter of the alphabet that it wants to be. It encouraged me to think outside the box. It fed the creative side of my brain. I've started with food, but if you look on my blog you will see that I have branched out into writing more about my feelings and my experiences in an effort to help anyone out there who may be going through the same things as me.
What/who do you treasure the most in life?
I treasure my free will. There is nobody on this planet who can stop you from achieving your dreams if you are determined. You cannot control what happens to you in this life, but you can control how it affects you and what you choose to do about it. You have one chance to chase whatever your heart desires- don't waste it.