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I'm just an ordinary girl who has found a way out

Tuesday October 1 2019

Social media influencer Joan Murugi-Munyi

Social media influencer Joan Murugi-Munyi popularly known as Yummy Mummy. She's a full-time digital content creator – she creates lifestyle content for Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. PHOTO | COURTESY 

BETT KINYATTI
By BETT KINYATTI
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It is Yummy Mummy's idea to meet at the terrace of a coffee house in Hurlingham that overlooks a roundabout. Its 2 pm on a Friday and the sun is so close to our foreheads we can smell it. Traffic is chockablock with urbanites looking for a place to roost and drink away their week's sins. Yummy Mummy is her online moniker. Her government name is Joan Murugi-Munyi. She's a full-time digital content creator – she creates lifestyle content for Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Her content revolves around pregnancy, parenting, marriage and also personal style. Brands pay her to push their products to her online audience of mostly millennial women. She says, "My mother-in-law doesn't yet understand what I do as an influencer, but my parents do."

The word according to Yummy Mummy:

"Creating content came naturally to me. I'm an extroverted over-communicator – I over-share my feelings, thoughts, and opinions. If Zack [my husband], has said or done something to upset me, I'll tell him, "Babe, we need to talk. I'm not happy how you..." He's an ambivert, he can keep something inside for weeks.

INSPIRATION

I was in USIU for my undergrad in international relations. I graduated in 2013 then got a scholarship to the University of Cape Town [South Africa] for my post-grad in transitional justice. Ethan, my son, was five at the time. I selected this course because I had a passion for children and humanitarian rights. When I returned home in 2014, I got a communications job with a cigarette company.

My passion for transitional justice wiped away the minute I got my first salary. Laughs.

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How did I get to what I do? It was in July 2018. My nanny, Mukami sent me a video of my daughter taking her first steps. I remember she said gleefully, "Mukeni ametembea!" I was away in Dar es Salaam for work. It was a Friday and I was to come home the next day. I cried in my hotel room while watching that video. It was at that moment I asked myself, ‘I'm 28. Honestly, is my job worth missing my children's milestones?'

SELF-TAUGHT

I am proactive. Everything I know about shooting and editing videos, how to package myself online and grow the Yummy Mummy brand, how to be consistent with content creation, how to write proposals to brands…name it…. I have self-taught thanks to YouTube academy. I'd advise anyone who wants to become an influencer to be proactive. My first paying job as an influencer was with a mothers' event this particular mall was hosting last December. The campaign ran for a month. As with all brands I collaborate with, they told me how many Instagram posts, Instastories and YouTube video mentions they wanted. I was paid in six figures. It's then I thought, OK, this influencer marketing can actually be a career.

JOURNEY

But I would be lying if I was to say everything came together in a snap. I was broke for the first three months of this year. Quarter one is seasonally slow for most businesses. Not making my own money made me doubt my decision to go into content creation fulltime. I read the Bible a lot and I frequently repeated my favourite verse to myself. 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and of a sound mind." That's why I believe my career experience has been preparing me for this journey. First as a communicator at the cigarette company—I left because my then-boyfriend (now husband) joined our department—then my ad agency experience and eventually my role at the betting company which I was hunted to. I was the head of marketing at the betting firm when I quit in August 2018 to become a content creator.

I decide what to share online based on what I feel about it. Content is everywhere – but you draw the boundaries of privacy and the rules of consent, for yourself and your family. There have been photos I've pulled down, though, because Zack said he wasn't comfortable with them. I have a burden to help other people, especially women. My mother is the same way. It breaks my heart that I can't help as many people these days as I could, say, a year ago. Now I have 80,000 followers on Instagram and 37,000 subscribers on YouTube – I get over 400 messages a day.

RELATABLE CONTENT

Nonetheless, the greatest tool of empowerment I want to give women is knowledge. I launched my YouTube channel on August 6, 2018. I didn't have a professional camera but I'd invested in an iPhone 8X, it shoots high-quality photos and videos. I realised my subscribers don't watch my videos for their production value, they watch because I'm relatable and authentic. People look at my life online and imagine I have everything figured out. I'm just an ordinary girl going through life with a small circle of intimate friends. I'm also keen to share both sides of this coin – I share photos of myself glammed up and without makeup. I share when I'm struggling with pregnancy fatigue or when I'm anxious. I pose in lingerie to promote plus-size body positivity.

SAYING NO

I'm maturing as an influencer. Now I don't say yes to all brands that put money on the table. Only yesterday, I said no to a partnership with a high-end clothing brand. I turned it down because I now understand my audience better – the brands they're likely to connect with and what they'll buy from my campaigns.

The pressure now is to seek long-term influencer partnerships and have consistent pay. I also want to be associated with particular brands. I ultimately want to have my TV show. I'll be co-hosting a new round-table talk show on Ebru TV with three other women. I also dream of setting up a resource centre and a haven for women."

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