Here’s how to balance blogging and your day job perfectly


According to Technorati, up to 64% of bloggers are classified as Hobbyists and another 13% are Part-Timers. It would be good if every blogger could devote 100% of his/her working hours to blogging but realistically not all of us are full-time bloggers. 

Balancing blogging with your day job and your life can be quite difficult. After all, we have only 24 hours in each day and we have to spend at least 6 of those hours sleeping.

So how can we balance blogging and our day jobs perfectly? 


You don’t have to do everything. You can outsource design, marketing and any other task that would steal your time.  Ask yourself what is the most important thing that you have to do on your blog? Create excellent content of course. If that’s all you can do, do that and outsource the rest. 

Carry a notebook with you. 


Sometimes you get an idea for an excellent post when you are at work, hanging out with your friends or when you just wake up. While you won’t always have the opportunity to write this post right away, you can jot it down in a journal. When it is time for your next blog post, you will have an excellent idea waiting for you. After all, there is nothing worse than a writer’s block when you there’s a deadline.

Enjoy time away from blog. 

This is probably the most important part. The blogging world can easily consume you. Having to think of new posts, updates for the blog and what’s going on on social media can be draining but no matter how much you love blogging it is important to step away from it and spend time with your loved ones, devote some time to your health and spiritual needs. This time away from your blog will give you more inspiration to create the most excellent and amazing content.



#TheSparkleInterview – ‘Birthing any idea is hard work and you have to do the hard work to birth it.’ Toyin Poju-Oyemade


Today’s interview is a bit different from the norm for so many reasons. We had the pleasure of interveiwing the delectable Toyin Poju-Oyemade. Although she has not written a book yet (because after this interview we knew we got a book title!) she’s doing something quite amazing for authors and the reading culture in Africa.  

Wondering what that could be? She’s the brain behind Chapters, a program that seeks to explore, understand and learn principles of life and living specifically through books. 

There’s so much wisdom and fun packed in one interview and  we KNOW you would love it. 

Hello. Can you please tell us who Mrs. Toyin Poju Oyemade is?

I am a simple young lady trying to discover and live God’s purpose for her life. I am a media person, studied Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. My passion lies in media, ministry and music and the key is to use those areas to touch and impact lives positively and for the kingdom of God.

What inspired Chapters? You could have done a show on music, why books?

For the longest time, I always knew I would have a show or shows. I had started that in the university and when I finished, I went into documentaries but I always knew I would have a flagship show for TV and the online space, I just did not know what it was. When I got married, I remember that my husband would ask me, ‘So what do you say it is that you’re going to do on TV?’ All sort of ideas had come up but I hadn’t felt that one thing that would at least be the first of many. 

Flashback to 2015 I was reading a book, ‘And The Storm Came‘ by Kike Mudiaga where she tells her story of how she went through the loss of her family members and came through. The pain and the story at that particular time resonated with me because it showed how somebody could have gone through so much tragedy and loss, especially as a Christian and still come out whole and complete. It was a time in my life I was thinking about a lot of things and I was also becoming aware of the fact that there seems to be a lot of tragedy, pain and loss in life and people seem to get lost in that space. This was someone who had gone through that and came out to say I’m still standing. 

I remember sitting down reading the book and telling myself ‘somebody needs to know this’, ‘how can I share this story?’ So I called a friend and that was when the idea of doing a show around books came up.  I remembered that when Oprah was doing her show she had something called the Oprah Book Club, a segment of the show where she would talk about a certain book and why people should read it and sometimes she would have the author on the show and talk about the concept of the book. So I thought to myself, ‘Okay, what you are doing is not really different; the only thing is that you’re just taking that part and turning it into a show specifically.’ I called a couple of friends and asked, ‘What do you think about a show on books?’ One or two people thought it was amazing, we went back and forth and came up with the name, ‘ Chapters.’

There’s a saying that ‘if you want to hide something from an African man put it in a book.’ I do not like that notion and the truth is they’re so many things written in books that can transform our lives. I want Chapters to help people regain their reading culture and showcase Nigerian authors and books. 

To have a show on books you must be a reader! What encouraged you to start reading and have you been able to sustain it wih your very busy schedule? 

I come from an academic family. I read Famous five, Secret Seven, Eze goes to school at a young age because reading was encouraged at home. Then I was an art student in school which involved a whole lot of reading. Besides, I believe reading is a part of my nature. I genuinely like to read. I’ve learnt that we are not as busy as we think we are. It just boils down to structure, lifestyle and balance. If you think the book is important you’d find a way to make sure you make yourself read. 

One thing we are going to try to do with Chapters as well is create a book club because you need to find a way to help people have structure I always say: If it’s a chapter a day, you’re fine; if it’s a page of a chapter a day, at least get something in your brain, get your brain thinking about something. 

If you know that you don’t read, you can start with fiction and then you can read deeper topics later but it is important to read. There’s a reason why there are books, and there’s a reason why the Bible was written in book format. It shows that books are important.


What of people who were not raised to read how can they learn to read? 

First off, as long as you went to school you had to read. So nobody can say. ‘I don’t know how to read.’ You’ve just not rehearsed yourself in the practice of reading. I know so many people struggled through school because reading was hard but if they told you, ‘Open this book and 50 million dollars would come’ everyone would read! Sometimes you just need to find a compelling reason. If you feel reading is hard, audio books are available, just listen. Just start, start with something easy, start with a magazine, start with fashion, something fun. Just read. 

It’s easy to advertise an entertainment show. How do you advertise Chapters? 

Advertising Chapters is daily work, daily wisdom, and daily insight. We use social media mostly – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. I think one of the things that makes Chapters special is that every show is different because we’re talking about different authors, subjects and specific things that affect day to day living.

Season One had episodes on finance, wedding planning, leadership, teenage parenting and marriage. These are things that affect me and you so what we are marketing is not the show itself but the concept, the subject matter for that day. We are not just saying watch Chapters because it’s a show, we are saying, ‘Look 2019 is coming and we have an episode on leadership. Listen to this person’s take that may help you decide who you’re going to vote for.’ That makes the marketing more targeted and with social media you just have to find engaging ways to reach people.

The quality of the show is partly dependent on the the books you review. How do you select the books to read?

Selecting the books for Chapters can be interesting. For Season One I went to Laterna and Terra Kulture. We looked for books that spoke to specific issues, anything that concerned life and living with an interesting angle to it.  I read through all the books to have an engaging conversation with the author and to ensure that the values are values I support or want to adopt.

What would Chapters do to anyone who watches it? 

Chapters would educate you. We are an education platform, we’re here for knowledge dissemination and even if it’s not knowledge that you need now, there’s no knowledge gained in life that would not be useful to you. Chapters would empower you to make better decisions.


What’s your most interesting episode ever? 

All of my episodes of Chapters have touched me but one of the books I like is the book called Conscious Life written by Funmi Oyetunji. It seemed like she sought to write a book that answers all the questions of life from the day you were born till you die. The book is such a complete conversation, broken down properly till the end. All of my books speak to one area of life but this book tried to bring everything into one book and she did massive research. 

Zahra by Sola Aguda is another book and the only fiction book we’ve done. I went to Terra Kulture to look for books and one of the sellers talked about it. Fantastic one. How someone can tell a story about marriage and you’d be so educated? It’s simply an amazing book. Leadership by Dr. Maxwell Uba has also gotten so much traction.

What lessons have you learnt from birthing Chapters?

Wow, so many lessons! 

1 Birthing any idea is hard work and you have to do the hard work to birth it.

2. Believe in yourself and your ideas. I remember when I wanted to start Chapters and I told somebody who I regard as a mentor and he told me nobody wants to watch this. I understand people see the world from their point of view and I had to believe in my dream and although this person has become a staunch supporter, if I had listened at that time, we wouldn’t be here.  People did not see what you saw; so don’t expect them to respond to it the way you will. 

3. Money doesn’t answer all questions. Many times what holds people back on their dreams is that they don’t have money. When I was going to do Chapters, I did not have all the money I needed. I leveraged on friends, relationships and work I had done in the past. I borrowed cameras and other equipment from different people. I couldn’t afford to pay for them but I leveraged. Learn to build bridges in life and understand that no man is an island. The same way you’d need people is the way people will need you. There are people around you that God has given you to help you birth your ideas. I got a space for free to shoot from someone whom I had volunteered with for free for seven years. You have to sow good seeds.


4. Sometimes the birthing of a dream can be tiring. I remember when we shot the first stage of Chapters, we had done nine episodes and I was tired emotionally exhausted. I was reading books so I was physically exhausted and because I didn’t have money to pay everybody, I was the writer, presenter, producer, director…everything. My brain cells were stretched. I was in a situation where they’d say ‘cut’ and I am thinking of the chapters I had not finished for the next episode. There was a time I had a shoot that morning and I hadn’t finished reading the book and I just told my husband, ‘You know what, I can’t even lie. I haven’t finished reading this book. Just read and tell me where I should focus on.’ 

I was financially tired and I almost entered into depression. We finished shooting and I couldn’t sit down with the editor. I was just like ‘who sent me message?’ The pressure of life is real, the excitement comes but can wash away quickly because the reward for work is more work. We recorded and now we had to edit. Some episodes were 40 minutes and I had to cut down to 10 minutes because it was on television. 

5. When you’re birthing a child everything that can go wrong sometimes goes wrong. It doesn’t mean it’s a foolish idea or you’re not called, it just means life happened. One Tuesday morning, two of our ACs packed up and the two episodes we recorded that day couldn’t be used. We were sweating throughout and we kept saying, ‘Cut cut cut’. That was part of my depression, money wasted. Luckily, we were able to call back the two authors. Shooting Season Two, it’s like the forces have said, ‘Even if the AC works, something else won’t work.’ The call time can be 10 am and we won’t do anything till 1 pm but no matter the challenges, keep pushing. Your dreams will work. 

The reward for work is more work

If there’s a purpose behind what you’re doing you won’t end after one level of glory. 










#WordOfTheDay – Meander is not a difficult word


Hey Sparkle Writers, we are super excited to bring a new word to you this Wednesday. Before we continue, what did you do with last week’s word? Use it in a sentence if you haven’t done so already. 

Today’s word is meander. Wondering why we say it is not a difficult word? It’s because you have used its synonyms so many times. We just want you to get familiar with it too. 

Meander is pronounced /mɪˈandə/.

It could be used to describe a river or road following a winding course – zigzagwindtwistturncurvecurl. 

Meander could also mean to wander aimlessly or casually without urgent destination. In this case roam or ramble would be perfect synonyms. ‘

Here are a few examples;

My dog meanders round the street every night. 

The trail meanders through towering evergreens, over a river and beside a fountain. 


#WritingQuote – “When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone.” Stephen King

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“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”
—Stephen King. 

What makes a story or an article so powerful? The fact that it resonates with readers.

The next question would then be how can my story resonate with my readers.

The answer is by writing your truth. 

Once you’ve written down your truth consider that your first draft and this is by no means a way of saying your story is ready for publishing. All you’ve done is the ground work.

The next task is editing that work to make sure it hits the right notes and strikes the right chord. 

Stephen King advises that you cut it to the bone. Why? It is because you don’t want to put words. phrases, punctuation marks that would distract your reader from the essence of the work. 

Editing your work may not be easy because it could feel like you’re hurting your child, something you created, but you have to remember that it is  necessary and must be done. 


#PickOfTheWeek- Life is not always what you expect


Hey Sparkle Writers! It is another Tuesday morning and we have four amazing writers to feature.  Are you ready? 

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The first post questions the status quo. Many times love is painted in a certain way and attached to certain feelings. What if we never experience love , what if the hurt from past relationships is too much to bear? Thank you Hannah for this beautiful piece. 


farmto table (1)This post is everything! Loving yourself is undoubtedly one of the most important attributes and when you need to walk away from toxic situations please do without looking back farmto table Time is truly powerful! Sometimes it is the distance between what we want and what is happening now. All we can do is to wait for it to run its course. 

farmto table (4) We laughed the first time we saw this! Unexpected but is definitely a possibility. How would you react if someone told you that all these while they’d been lying to you? 


#GrammarSeries – More grammar myths you need to discard!

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Last week, we started a series on Grammar Myths you need to discard and you need to check it out if you missed it. We are continuing this series with more myths every writer definitely needs to discard. Let us know which one you have held on to for so long

Myth 4

“I.e.” and “e.g.” mean the same thing. Wrong! “E.g.” means “for example,” and “i.e.” means roughly “in other words.” You use “e.g.” to provide a list of incomplete examples, and you use “i.e.” to provide a complete clarifying list or statement.

Wondering how to remember the difference between these two words? From now on, i.e., which starts with i, means “in other words,” and e.g., which starts with e, means “for example.” I = in other words. E= example.

Myth 5

You use “a” before words that start with consonants and “an” before words that start with vowels. Wrong! You use “a” before words that start with consonant sounds and “an” before words that start with vowel sounds. So, you’d write that someone has “an MBA” instead of “a MBA,” because even though “MBA” starts with M, which is a consonant, it starts with the sound of the vowel E.

Myth 6

You shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition. Wrong! You shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition when the sentence would mean the same thing if you left off the preposition. That means “Where are you at?” is wrong (or at least annoying) because “Where are you?” means the same thing. But there are many sentences where the final preposition is part of a phrasal verb or is necessary to keep from making stuffy, stilted sentences: “I’m going to throw up,” “What are you waiting for” are just a few examples.


Make your fiction unforgettable with these tips

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All you need to do is enter a bookstore and ask for a fiction book or type fiction as a hashtag on social media and you’d see that there’s a lot of them. In today’s unbelievably competitive industry, how can you make your fiction the best?

How can you make you reader addicted to your story? Victoria Mixon has the answers! 

Secret #1 Unforgettable Character

The most fundamental truism of fiction is that all great plot grows out of character.

You can design any type of plot you like. However, if it’s not grounded in the character of your protagonist, it will be nothing but a mish-mash of events from which the reader can disengage at any time and walk away.

On the other hand, you can design almost no plot at all, and if it’s grown entirely from the character of your protagonist, the reader will not only be addicted to your work, they’ll convince all their friends and relatives to become addicted as well.

Ask yourself:

How did James Bond become a cultural icon, although his plots are repetitive and he must frequently be rescued by a young woman he’s just met?   

Because Bond is an unforgettable character from which his plot grows. 

This means that character is where we always start.

So how do we make this character unforgettable? That work is based upon the character’s conflicting internal needs. These needs must be internal or they won’t be powerful enough to fuel an entire novel. They must conflict, or there won’t be any climax to this story.   

Secret #2 Inescapable Plot

Now what is this unforgettable character going to do?

A story—short fiction or novel—is, at its most fundamental, simply an opportunity for the reader to spend time with your unforgettable character. To make friends with them. To bond. To allow this character to become a part of their life.

This means you must design a plot that gives the freest possible reins to the protagonist’s character—exploring it, exposing it, delving into it to reveal its most intriguing and hidden facets.

 A plot that hooks them quickly, takes them for a thrilling whirl, then throws them off a cliff.

Secret #3 Mesmerizing Prose

Finally there is the writing of this character-grown plot.

How do you turn a brilliant, well-developed idea into a novel of some 70,000-100,000 words—a novel that the reader can’t forget, can’t escape, can hardly put down even for a minute? Because 70,000-100,000 are a whole lot of words. And the reader has a life to

How do you write a novel that’s mesmerizing? One to which the reader is addicted?

You’ll hear a lot in the writing community these days about how to make time to write, how to write faster and more efficiently, how to get your manuscript finished. This advice is mostly about time management, on the assumption that your life is not set up for endless hours in front of the keyboard. However, focusing upon time management misses a crucial element of writing: you write because you love to.

Truly, if writing is not the one thing you love to do above all else, then go find out what is and do that. Life is too short for wasting on doing things you don’t love.

And if writing is the one thing you love to do above all else, then you don’t need time management. You need stamina. You need to stay in touch with your passion. You need, especially, to know what you’re doing.


Learn the best way to re-use old content

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Depending on when you started blogging, you probably have a pile of old blog posts that may not be easily discoverable because of the new ones that would come up first in recent posts.

How best can you remind your readers about the existence of other posts because hey, they really can still be useful.

Here’s how to go about taking old content and making it shiny and new again.

Figure out what content deserves to be revisited 

Not everything you have posted in the past will be relevant presently. It is your duty to find out what post is relevant and note them. Your content isn’t all created equal, especially where re-marketing is concerned. Some of it isn’t going to be at all helpful because it is too old, too out of date, or maybe too boring,

Wondering how to discover reusable old content? You can do this by looking at posts people focused on or what post got the highest comments, views and likes.

Don’t be too sentimental when doing the selection process. You may have liked   particular post so much and your audience didn’t. There’s no point reusing that content again.
Look for update opportunities

See how things keep changing? It can be as simple as figuring out how things are different now versus how they were when you first created the piece. Some topics are still relevant but the info is now out of date. Now may be a good time to bring it up again and write something that has new details that are important to know now.

Update your call(s)-to-action

Don’t overlook this step! In most cases, content that already generates traffic just needs a more effective call-to-action to improve your bottom line. You can embed a poll to learn how to improve your content to serve your readers’ needs better. 


#WriterSpotlight – “Never stop writing. For in continuous writing, you become perfect.” Precious Osikha


Writer Spotlight has allowed us to meet different amazing writers, publishers, poets and literary giants from all over the world. Today, we are bringing you another amazing writer we met recently. Precious Oshikha is a multi talented woman who amongst other things is a writer, lawyer and the Founder of the Precious Pen Academy, a platform where creatives are groomed and released to do exploits. We hope you love this interview. 

Please tell us about yourself

I am Precious Osikha, popularly known as Precious Pen (African Queen of Suspense). I live in Benin City and I’m the first child of my parents. I had my primary, secondary and university education in Edo State then proceeded to Law School, Abuja, where I got my B.L. 

It’s three years gone already as a Barrister and Solicitor and I’m very thankful to God. Here’s a wrap up of what I am; lawyer, author of the much talked about White Whispers, blogger, script writer, freelancer/ghost writer, content creator, writer and life builder, brand Strategist, actress, singer, dancer, song writer and a literary event manager. These are my majors among many others.  

Wow. That’s a lot. Can you tell us how and why you ventured into writing?

(Smiles). Actually, I started writing at the age of 8. I have had great admiration for authors. Each time I picked a book to read as a child, there was this burning passion in me telling me that I belonged to this world. So writing has always been in me.

How has it been for you so far?

It hasn’t been easy I must say. Life has thrown a lot of obstacles at me. But in all, I am glad to have recorded successes so far. Trying to merge these skills of mine and my profession is just one thing I am grateful for.

What challenges have you encountered?

At the beginning of my writing career, I faced challenges in terms of finance. Each time I needed assistance and I mention the area of writing, people would turn their faces away. It wasn’t easy making the people around me understand how much I loved writing.

Then I also faced some challenges from men who came into my life. I didn’t get enough encouragement from them. I believe that is because they found it quite difficult to accept the true me and my love for writing.

How have you been able to overcome these challenges?

Through prayers, perseverance, patience and my positive mind set.


You mentioned your book, ‘White Whispers’. Could you please tell us more about it?

If you are looking for a block buster book or let’s say a suspense filled book then White Whispers is a sure bet.

A collection of twenty Short Stories, White Whispers is a narrative collage bordered on love, loss, displacement, and the ‘everydayness’ of identity. The stories, dramatic and prosaic at the same time, attempt to steer the reader to spaces of thought filled with twists and longing. It is spell binding and emotional. The eBook costs N1,000. 

 What inspired you to write the White Whispers and what message do you want the book to pass across?

Awesome life experiences inspired White Whispers.  I want the book to tell people of Love. Hope. Humanity.

What or who is your strongest motivation?

My mother – Mrs Eki Osikha and my dearest companion- Ehi’zogie Iyeomoan.

Tell us about the Precious Pen Academy. What is the Academy all about?

Precious Pen Academy is a subsidiary of Precious Pen Brand itself. While Precious Pen Brand aims at providing services such as freelancing/ghost writing, editorial, publishing, marketing and sales of books, transcribing, scripting, literary event management, graphics design, web development, social media marketing, content creation and lots more; Precious Pen Academy is saddled with the responsibility of building writers and talented people across the globe. We aren’t just aimed at literary people. We are also aiming at training the likes of singers, dancers, actors and business oriented people.  You could see that the Academy has a broad layout to accommodate people and give out solutions to problems. For now, we are just an online/legal entity but soon, we intend to go physical about it. We offer a lot of courses that covers poetry, play writing, self development, brand story telling, fiction and non-fiction writing, running a blog and authorpreneurship. We have an online platform on Facebook with over 1, 500 plus members. We are currently running a program for people to learn the art of script writing for a very affordable token. The program is expected to take place March 29th- 31st, 2018. However, payment is going on now.

So far, how has the academy helped young writers grow?

Honestly, there has been lots of testimonies. Some academicians who came in with little knowledge about writing have improved greatly while some of them have also won prizes.

Recently, the academy got a recommendation from a trainee who subscribed to our course and this attracted other trainees who today are basking in the value they are receiving from the Academy.


What advice would you give to a budding writer?

Hello budding writers/authors, this thing we call writing is a gift. Use it well. Work hard and have patience. To make profit you must learn to be patient. Do not be desperate. Know your audience. Push for it. Give people information they don’t already know. And don’t be greedy. Always ensure you have a good name.

Keep writing. Never stop writing. For in continuous writing you become perfect. Keep winning.

Where do you see yourself and the academy in years to come?

Wow! I have a lot of aspirations. However, I would have been able to publish so many books and win a lot of prizes and awards, get enough tickets to travel around the world providing my services to better humanity.

The Academy would have been known to be a Top Notch Academy with lots of graduates giving out testimonials and getting recommendations from countries across the globe.





#WritingQuote – I think one of the keys to better writing is releasing all of your ideas and to not be afraid.


“I think one of the keys to better writing is releasing all of your ideas and to not be afraid. Dream big. This could be the greatest novel in the world you know.” Adora Svitak

If only we could take Adora’s advice hook, line and sinker, some of us would unlock the biggest stories the world has ever seen. But fear would not let some of us be great! 

Do you know that the average human has between 50,000-70,000 thoughts in a day but we usually take note of just a few of these thoughts. As a writer, do you know how many ideas you may have shut down because it is not good enough, not flowery enough or too vulnerable to be told to the world? It is time to stop it and that’s why we keep saying writers should have a journal because it helps you keep track of those ideas. 

When next an idea comes to your head either for a story, poem or book, don’t shut it down. Write it, give it flesh and life, and let it breath. Chimamanda could have laughed off the story idea for Americannah but she didn’t. Rowling could have laughed off the Harry Potter idea but she wrote it down. 

Don’t laugh off that bestseller because you are afraid to just try and put those words down.