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Friday, December 8, 2023

I use audio-visuals to tell stories, says accountant-turned-digital story teller

Meet Mrs. Ezinne Edet, a digital storyteller who transformed passion into profession, crafting variety of words and visuals that resonate far and wide. Digital storytelling, a symphony of creativity and strategy, found its muse in her.

From corporate corridors to the cozy corners of creativity, her story is a testament to the boundless avenues that passion can open. This is not just a tale of transitioning careers, but a symphony of reinvention orchestrated by the strings of her heart.

It’s a journey that started long before content marketing became buzzwords, ignited by a spark kindled at the tender age of nine.

But life, as it often does, took a detour. The allure of a professional path led her to the study of Accounting at the university. Yet, the narrative threads of storytelling remained intertwined with her being.

A thriving career in finance awaited her, but destiny had an unexpected twist – a twist that involved love, life-changing decisions, and an unquenchable thirst for creativity.

sometimes, the greatest motivation you need is to take a chance

As the curtains of her corporate journey parted, love took centre stage. In a plot twist worthy of its own story, Ezinne and her husband found themselves. Faced with the choice between a thriving career at a finance startup and a love that transcended professional walls, she didn’t hesitate. Love redefined her trajectory, making way for a new chapter in her life.

Join us as the 37-year-old mother-of-three narrates how she discovered herself.

My name is Ezinne Edet. I obtained my BSc in Accounting from Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) and MSc in Management from the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

I like to describe myself as a digital storyteller. Digital storytelling is an essential aspect of content marketing that involves the strategic use of stories to create emotional connection with a brand, product, or service.

It can be used for advertising, personal branding, employee branding, and entertainment. In my opinion, digital storytelling can also be used as a tool for shaping opinion, inspiring problem-solving, business growth, and brand visibility.

My passion for storytelling started as a hobby when I was nine years old. I used to write and tell short, fictional stories just for the fun of it. At the age of 16, I wrote my first poem, triggered by personal experience during the 2002 religious crisis in Kaduna state, and the poem was published in a magazine.

Although I was passionate about writing and telling stories, I decided to study Accounting at the university because I was convinced that it was a ‘more professional’ course with prospects of a great career and good pay after graduation.

Career and family
In 2010, I started working at a start-up finance company in Nigeria. The same year, my husband, who was also working at the same company, proposed to me. We started planning our wedding and later realised that our relationship was against the company policy.

What it meant was that one of us would have to resign, forfeiting the job for the love that we share and the home we desire to build together. My husband and I were the first employees to get married, so I believe it was also a learning curve for the company as the policy has since been changed.

though I was passionate about writing and telling stories, I studIED accounting at the university because I was convinced it was more professional

After our wedding in 2012, I resigned from the finance company and took up a teaching job at a primary school two years later. Things were looking up as I was later promoted to the post of Assistant Head Teacher.

In 2016, the finance company acquired a bank in Zimbabwe and transferred my husband to help with capacity building and business development. Since he did not want to leave his family behind, we had to move with him. I quit my job once again.

Moving to Zimbabwe came with its own culture shock and process of settling in. On top of all that, I became pregnant with our third child, so looking for a new job in a new country was the last thing on my mind.

Meanwhile, whenever I introduced myself at corporate functions or meetups, the accompanying question was usually ‘What do you do?’

I always wondered, ‘Should I tell them that among other things, I do laundry, cook, clean, and care for a pre-schooler, a toddler, and an infant?’ But I knew that was not the answer they were expecting. They wanted to know what I do!

The journey
That question drew me into a period of deep reflection and self-searching, and I found the answer, not for the people that were asking, but for myself. I wanted to tell stories.

I did some research and realised that I could use my storytelling skills to create digital content in the form of text, video, graphics, audio, and earn money from it. But first, I needed to brush up on my writing skills and improve my knowledge of graphic design and video creation.

whenever I introduced myself, the accompanying question was usually ‘What do you do?’

So, I enrolled for training in creative writing, graphic design, video creation and editing, and digital marketing. I worked with coaches and mentors and constantly updated my knowledge in the field by attending seminars and workshops, reading books, joining writing communities, and networking with other writers. Then I started a personal blog and challenged myself to constantly put out valuable content on social media.

Sometime in 2018, a friend tagged me on a Facebook post. It was an international writing gig to create content for a healthcare blog. Fear gripped me after I read the post, and I started asking myself all the ‘what if…?’ questions I could think of. What if I don’t have enough skills yet? What if I am not selected? What if this is not the right time? But also…what if this is an opportunity to broaden my knowledge? What if I try? I braced myself, applied, and took the screening test.

I received an email a week later stating that out of the dozens of people that had applied for the gig, only six people qualified. Upon further screening, only my article had 0% plagiarized text, so I was offered the job. I jumped, screamed, and squealed. I had landed my first paid writing gig!

Going forward
Over the years, I have gone on to author three books, been invited to speak at events, mentor newbie authors and writers, and work with many, many individuals and brands.

I have also been honoured with a few awards and have been featured on traditional and digital media platforms. Recently, I completed a master’s program in Management and started a career in marketing and communications at a leading regulatory drug development consultancy in Europe, where my family is currently based.

Life experiences have taught me that, sometimes, the greatest motivation you need is to take a chance on yourself.

I have authored three books, invited to speak at events, mentored newbie authors and writers

I agree with Trevor Noah’s reflections in the opening of the twelfth chapter of his book, Born A Crime: “We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most.”

Oftentimes, we are afraid to try because we ask ourselves “what if…?” but we will never know the answer until we step out and do it.

Christiana Alabi-Akande
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