The night before I meet Blessing Abeng, a friend had sent words sliding towards glowing admiration of who she is, “she’s amazing,” my friend chatted to me. I know. Many with careers in the branding and communications space also know. And so when Blessing strode into the upscale restaurant where we’ve some days ago agreed to hold a conversation, I saw a weary Blessing Abeng. Fresh off from a meeting, Blessing still expressed her excitement that our conversation is holding.
Her eyes signals tiredness, a sign of long nights and endless days marked with hours of staring at the screen, sending emails and engaging in long hours of virtual meetings. It’s the same Blessing Abeng whose Instagram page has transformed into a mini google—a resource archive of ideas, tips and advice, like a site you can quickly run to breathe in some otherworldly stuff in the digital marketing world.
When she talks, her speed doubles mine, I see it as the speed she dispenses ideas when in a brainstorming session or the same speed she quickly quotes her rates to intending clients. I also see growth. In the last one year, Blessing has blossomed into “an expert level,” one whose thoughts are held in high regard and one whose advice is highly sought for. “How did it all start,” I begin our conversation. From there on, Blessing took me on what you’ll call “a trip down memory lane,” recalling how she two of her teachers had a heated argument in the principal’s office on either choosing science class or art class when she was to cross over to senior secondary school.
Blessing told me she did the impossible. “Then I use to be best in Maths, go for Cowbell competition, write articles for magazine then. So I did the two, shuffling between science and art classes. I was the only science student at the time doing literature and a couple of other art courses.”
Choosing what to study in school was also a dilemma between her and her dad. Opting for Biochemistry at Covenant University based on her dad’s advice with a plan to further ahead with medicine overseas after, the plan didn’t eventually go through. In school, she had a knack for helping friends who had business with ideas that worked and also assisted many with writing proposals and business plans. A friend would later advise her to study branding at Orange academy. Plus the journey after school wasn’t smooth either. Her dad’s plans fell through, but her own plans came through.
From there on, everything began to align. “After NYSC, I got this job, a social media job where the CEO noticed I was so vibrant and passionate about the job so he made me assistant manager. I told him I was going to register at Orange Academy and I was going to practice all I learnt in moving the company forward.”
It seemed like Blessing had planned out her life well. She’s very strategic with it, telling me of stories of her and the clients she’s worked with, and how detailed she is about documenting and making plans. At the onset of her career, she recalls having a plan. “I mentally had the plan that I was going to work with a small business, an agency, small business again then a corporate side of branding where you’re on the client side then do a multinational. That’s like the plan I had for my life. I call it the staircase plan.”
The trip down memory lane is still on, and we’re currently in 2016. Blessing is detailing and recollecting her career trajectory. Each year, each new career landmark. Hey it’s not smooth, she informs me. She’s with an agency now after leaving the first company she worked at. Here, things were heating up as well. She’s been assigned Heritage bank and tasked with managing the bank’s Twitter account, making them active, making them trend and making them standout. She did, but not in the way they expected.
“It was Heritage bank, and this was the time when banks were just plain and conventional. What came from banks’ social media pages were announcements and updates. But I came in with ‘let’s use game of thrones to teach people about finance, like we were just doing interesting things other banks weren’t doing.”
“One particular exchange was when a customer complained about something and I was throwing bants with the customer using trendy catch phrases at that time. It was a friendly exchange and that period, Heritage bank trended, Lindaikeji talked about us on how we’ve redefined customer service. But the bank people didn’t see it as that, they were uncertain if we should be doing that. So the agency took the account off me at the time.”
Blessing told me she learnt her lesson. She agreed she flouted rules and was supposed to take approval before taking such a bold risk but she offers her explanation, saying “social media is fast paced, if you’re going to take approval, you’re going to miss windows.” Moving forward, she was given Alomo Bitters to handle and she did the job well again and again, the brand trended without paying anybody to trend a conversation about the brand. She admits it was organic.
Slowly, we would flip that page and go through the rest of her work history. Big brands, big agencies. Lessons, experiences. One proud moment that glints in her bio is her speaking at Silicon Valley. The rest are accolades, building companies, assisting individuals and taking brands to higher heights. The first half ended there. Blessing tells me she had to take a break from work for a month to focus on what her next plan and move will be. This new plan wasn’t going smoothly, albeit but one event marked a turning point in her career. It was in 2020, and prior to that point, Blessing felt she needed something new. So around that time, she enrolled for a lady’s course and all through the duration of that course, she felt this was something she knew already, one she was already doing, it was something she could amplify by covering more topics. So Blessing set up her course for 25k and only two people signed up. “What was weird was I got a lot of shout out from notable people including the head of Tony Elumelu Foundation at that point.”
She would later discover the reason why people failed to sign up. Her appearance on Instagram failed to portray her as someone who knew much about what she was selling. None of it aligned towards branding and communication. “What you’ll see then is ‘Blessing Abeng in Zanzibar, Blessing Abeng in New York’ nothing showed I knew much about communication.” What would come in next would help position Blessing way better as a thought leader.
What will follow will be a step away from the personal lifestyle that Blessing had embodied prior to 2020. Tips, resources, guides, secrets, how-tos, Instagram live sessions with other creators will pull in a whole lot of audience to her. She would move from a few thousands to 10k within a few months. Currently she’s on 22k, a product of consistency she tells me. So when she tried holding a class again, it was not difficult getting people to enroll. She had it sold out in days and more people wanted to join the class after. Another highlight of that 2020 run was Blessing Abeng having legendary business coach Seth Godin on an Instagram live discussion. I had to inquire how that came to be.
“I think it was around June, July 2020, I’ve always liked Seth Godin from afar. So I’m like let me just reach out to him. I reached out and in fact the first time I reached out, I wasn’t even inviting him to come and speak. I was arguing with him, he had just said branding wasn’t important. And again, why I respect people and what they say, I don’t agree with every single thing people say because we’re all human beings. So I reached out to Seth, and prior to that I had reached out concerning one of his books I read and how interesting it was and he responded. So this time, I was like I heard you talk about branding in this light and I don’t really agree with you. We had this back and forth thing like twice or three times and we just agreed to disagree.”
“So this other time, I sent him a message inquiring if he would like to have a discussion with me then when Covid was at its peak and you know I told him about how it will benefit my community and how he might as well get something else out of this too. He’s like yeah, I should pick a date in June and so that’s how it happened.”
Between all of these, the results started trickling in massively. The heads at Disha.ng requested she joined as a CMO/Co-founder, she spoke at Silicon Valley and also became a part of Ingressive For Good, a nonprofit platform that seeks to help African tech talents increase their earning power. After Blessing reads out some of the brands she’s worked with in past years, she owes much of the success to two factors: consistency and collaboration. With consistency on Instagram, many were able to regard as a force to reckon with and most of the companies she’s working with now reached out to her for collaboration.
As the day draws to a close, Blessing Abeng had me enthralled with her stories. She seemed like someone who’s disciplined and determined. She sets goals and she’ll do what it takes to have them fulfilled. Her perspective on matters we’ve discussed shows she’s breathed in thoughts from several authors. She tells me she reads a lot and she goes on to mention books that have played a major impact on her career. “There’s This is Marketing by Seth Godin, Atomic Habits, Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes, Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s Forget A Mentor, Find A Sponsor. Yeah, those books shaped my perspective about life.”
Blessing Abeng continues to share some secrets on her consistency, a trait often missing in most creatives who create smoothly for brands but find it hard to replicate such success on their Instagram pages. “It’s a thing, and I think the problem is most creatives immerse themselves in work and they just forget to build structure for their own brand. When people ask, ‘Blessing, how do you stay consistent, I’ve never been consistent in anything in my life.’ I’m like, but you bath, you sleep, you eat. Why are you consistent at those? Even if you miss one day, you pick up the next day and continue from where you stop. You don’t go, oh I missed one day of sleep, I’ll never sleep again.”
“For me, it’s building a structure and planning ahead. People most times are like ‘Hey I’ve missed a day, the whole world noticed, let me not post again, it’s not supposed to be a thing of shame. You can take a break, get your strength back and just continue from where you stopped. Also, it’s been accountable and having a mentality that people’s lives depend on what you do. Plus, creatives somehow see creating content like it’s supposed to be a big deal. If you cannot design, do video. If you can’t do video, do audio. If you can’t do that, write. There are people who just write on their notepads, screenshot it and they’re doing well.”
Before the conversation drew to a close, I had to glean in some advice from Blessing about goal setting. The questions are in parts, what apps aid her productivity and what’s her approach to setting and accomplishing goals. “Canva, yeah I use that everyday. There’s Notion, and also the Reminder app which makes me aware of my goals daily, Instagram because that’s where I make sales and Wave app. About goals, I’ll say keep it where you can see it. A lot of people who set goals in January, come back in December to come and mark it. So, set yearly goals, break them into more achievable chunks monthly. Every month, I just have one goal out of my yearly goal so i just say these are the two, three things I need to achieve this month to be able to achieve my yearly goals and I’ll go do it.”
This article was written by Olabode Otolorin; connect on Instagram with him here