Unpopular opinion: We should all be familiar with the conversation about how unromantic Banyankole men are by now, right? The conversation started trending with a clip from a YouTube channel, The Unpopular Opinion. True to its title, the channel covers topics from an angle that is not necessarily popular yet in the four months of its existence, the channel now has more than 10K subscribers.
The three co-hosts were friends long before the channel started. All three have digital content channels individually, with sizeable followers on their own. So what inspired them to start the show?
It turns out the show’s bones started coming together during a visit between Prim and Claire, shortly after the latter had had a baby.
“We talked about how there is a lack of a show/programme where people can speak freely about issues,” Prim reminisced as she turned to Claire, her face lighting up at the memory, “I will never forget how you (Claire) leaned forward and said, ‘Oh my, that would be such a hit! I am going to come up with a plan.” Prim suggested that they talk to Fiona because she is totally different from the two of them.
Prim tried to recall how the idea was pitched to Fiona. Was it a phone call or was Fiona added to a WhatsApp group? Prim wondered out loud before Fiona chimed in.
“I called Fiona that day, and her response was, ‘Yeah, absolutely!’” Claire recalled.
“At the time, it was a different concept. We were thinking more along the lines of an event,” Fiona added.
“To backtrack a bit, the three of us had talked about doing an event together but things were not aligned at the time,” Claire elaborated.
The idea was shelved until the visit mentioned earlier. The three friends each wanted 2022 to be a year of growth, which requires something big.
If you have watched the show or seen their individual channels, it is evident that their personalities are different. This difference played into their decision to come together.
“We felt like we would have more diverse topics so that we are not talking about only one type of woman,” Fiona pointed out as Claire and Prim nodded and added, “Or idea. Or opinion.” Each of these women has a different background and experiences, and indeed this adds a certain je nais se quois to the show.
Who is what on the team?
Claire: The Idea Woman, Mama Bear
Fiona: Voice of Reason, Ms Perspective, The Tie-breaker, The Prefect
Prim: The X-factor, Ms Influencer with an almost cult following
“These differences make it so easy to work together because we balance eachother out,” Claire pointed out.
On dealing with fear
“We are afraid even at this moment. We are scared about how Saturday will go, how big it will be, what it will mean for us as women, as creatives. At different stages, there is a certain amount of fear; when you are starting out; when you release an episode; what the reactions will be,” Prim said.
In this instance, Prim is talking about the fact that they are recording an episode of their show in front of a live audience tomorrow, and with a special guest, Murugi Munyi from Kenya to boot.
“There was a lot more fear at the beginning because you are starting a new thing. Now it is more of nerves because you are going to try something you have never done,” Fiona added, as Prim and Claire remarked about currently having a mix of anticipation and nervousness.
“It is like going bungee jumping. You are excited but also nervous about what can happen on the fall,” Claire chipped in. She added that sometimes the fear is more about how the people they discuss on the show will receive the show, especially when this happens subconsciously.
“When we are recording, it is easy to forget that there are other people in the room. It always feels like it is just the three of us having an ordinary conversation. It is easy to forget that the whole world will hear something you are not comfortable talking about yet or the fact that it may backfire against our families and friends,” Claire said.
“People have asked me whether our exes have called us to complain about being talked about on the show. They haven’t,” Fiona added.
“I always say, they can also create channels and talk about me too,” Prim quipped.
For such a conversational show, it works in their favour that their partners understand their content creation process.
In Prim’s case, “My partner knows that I cannot talk about my life without mentioning him, and he is at peace with it. I know it looks like I am very open with that relationship but I know what to talk about and what to leave out.”
Claire has conversations with her husband when she realises that they are going to talk about topics that may be sensitive. “Fiona is responsible for writing out an outline of how we shall approach a topic, what we will talk about specifically, and she shares it before we record the show so that we can prepare. If any of the talking points touches my husband, I talk to him. But as we have said, something might slip out while we are talking. On such days, I confess to my husband about it and he is usually gracious. We have not had too many occasions where things had to be edited out.”
What inspires the content?
“We go through things and do not talk about them because we are afraid of being judged yet they are part of life. So we have talked about them on the show so that people can see that we are all on the same ocean called life; just on different boats,” Claire said, inadvertently illustrating why the show is called The Unpopular Opinion –such opinions always go against the status quo.
That said, things do not just happen haphazardly. There is a content plan document that three of them contribute to. From what they said, the show has a good number of topics to go into the New Year. While life inspires their content, they are not too keen on jumping onto trends –all three are firm on this.
“The only time things change is if we feel that there is something happening with one of us that we feel more inclined to talk about for some reason,” they explained.
How do they keep each other accountable?
The difference in personalities and life, in general, has already been pointed out, which begs the question, how do they keep each other accountable and sane so to speak. The answer is in the age-old saying that communication is key.
“Our communication game is on point. The more we work together, the easier it becomes because we now have a better idea of what is expected of each of us, and how we can support each other,” Fiona said.
“It also helps that we are all fully in it equally so we know that if one person is slacking, then everyone will be affected. That is why we are quick to communicate if for some reason things are not going as planned,” Claire added.
“We all agreed that our friendship is the most important thing so it comes first. This show is a complement to that,” Prim stressed.
“It doesn’t mean that we will not have situations where we have a bit of conflict. But for now, we are determined to work together and make this work.
“I feel like even when any frustrations come up in the future, I am confident that we will be able to deal with them because we are open with each other and do not let it fester.” Fiona adds.
On who their target audience for the show is, the three are in agreement, “us”.That may sound vain but the show targets people who are just like them, going through the same or similar things in life.
“We are what we would have wanted to watch, hear; the support community we would have wanted,” Prim explained, with Claire and Fiona agreeing to this, adding that they speak to different versions of who they are.
For example, the Fiona who was in full-time employment or the Prim who was in a specific relationship or the Claire who was adjusting to a new country.
This response might not be what people in marketing want to hear but it makes sense, especially when you read the comments from their viewers. Several people mention that the topics resonate with them. Others take the extra step of sharing their experiences or how what they share has helped them navigate a difficult season.
On content creation in Uganda
“Content creation is not well respected here. People think it is all glam or vanity. But it is a lot of work. It is also becoming essential for many businesses. Some people think it is a by-the-way for business. They hire you expecting to be the marketing team, sales team, and create the content yet we are the strategy itself. All this for a low price by the way,” Claire opined.
“We have had brands say you did not get us the sales we expected, which is disappointing because that is not what we are trying to do,” Prim said about the impossible expectations placed on content creators.
“What we do is create visibility and relatability for your brand so that people almost feel like they are interacting with a person when they use your services or buy your goods. The value of what content creators offer has, therefore, not been fully understood,” Fiona said.
Despite these challenges, the three are not deterred and see these as growing pains or as steps they will have to go through so that content creators who will come after them do not have to do so. In the meantime, they educate people on what it entails.
Speaking of content creators, on some weeks it feels like all our content creators are in the same WhatsApp group where they are agreeing on what to tackle. On this, Prim believes it is because some people stumble into content creation.
“For most creatives though, content creation comes from a place of passion and so you will see that their content is original even when the topic is the same,” she explained.
“There is nothing new under the sun. However, how you do it can be different. That is why there are thousands of natural hair content creators yet they have an audience. They do things differently, Fiona said, adding, “I would advise anyone getting into content creation to embrace their ka thing, whatever that thing is, run with it. Once you do, you will put your own spin to it in a way that cannot be replicated.”
“The other thing is people try to go ‘out there’ to find content yet the content is right where they are. You cannot separate yourself from the content –you are the content. Also, know your end goal so that you understand the value you are giving your audiences,” Claire stressed.
Prim is quick to point out that it is fulfilling work
“While it is slowly picking up in Uganda, it is growing, so it is worth diving into. Find what you enjoy and make that content. Even people in regular professions such as medicine and engineering can get into it and share their experiences. That is content,” she said, adding that if she was an engineer she would be taking people along while constructing roads and laying tarmac.
“The payment might take long to come but it is an investment just like any other business,” Claire points out.
What they hope to see on The Unpopular Opinion @ 5
The three take a while mulling this over. They are both excited and nervous at the thought.
“Put SDGs…. Lol!” Prim jokes. On a serious note, they would like the show to be a sustainable business. They would also love the show to impact people’s lives just like international shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show.
“We hope that we shall exist beyond borders and reach the entire continent, having guests on the show from different places,” Claire adds.
The idea of a live audience is also one they hope will have to be more consistent to the extent of impacting the people watching.
“We cannot wait to ask our audience to check under their chairs for gifts and things that will impact their lives,” Fiona said.
Dealing with trolls
There is no running away from internet trolls/haters if you have posted anything online. The Unpopular Opinion has, therefore, faced its share of this. They mostly deal with this by ignoring the comments and moving on.
“I am a fighter so I am always tempted to fight back but Fiona knows how to hold me back so I am learning to ignore them or delete them, especially if they affect Prim or Fiona,” Claire said.
Trolls also build character, the three agree. “You are afraid of the trolls before you start, but once you do, you get a tough skin, and learn to ignore them. They also move on with time when you do not engage.”
“We would not be The Unpopular Opinion without the people who watch our show so we are very grateful to everyone who tunes in,” Prim concluded, with Claire and Fiona nodding in agreement. It is no wonder that the three are getting into having this audience in the room with live shows.
On the side
“I laughed the most when we were shooting the work-life balance episode. Another episode I love is an upcoming one on whether you would leave your single female friends with your partner. Those were hilarious!” – Claire
“It was fun having guests for the first time, especially because they were men with different perspectives. I cannot wait to see how that episode will be received.” – Fiona
“Mine was on ‘that’s hella sexy”. It was the first time we were talking about a spicy subject so it was interesting.” – Prim
When we hit 10k followers this week because it is wild. It speaks to why collaboration is important because we would never have hit that number individually.
Another is listening to other people’s stories because it shows that this is bigger than us. We love it when people feel seen because of our show.
We have also grown personally and professionally.
The cost of producing high-quality content is high. It costs time, emotions, and money. Shooting one episode costs us between Shs2.5m and Shs3.5mn.
The other is sponsors turning us down or offering packages that are not mutually beneficial in that they want to pay us little while expecting a lot.
At a glance
Fiona Kemigisha (@fionakemi_):
Digital content lead at an NGO, content creator on her page.
Pet peeve: Lateness
Claire Nansikombi Muhire (@be.your.own.boss.babe):
Runs Be Your Own Boss Babe, a Montessori teacher who owns and runs a play-based school
Pet peeve: Judgement in all its ways even from herself.
Primrose Nyonyozi Murungi (@nyonyoziprim)
Formally employed, digital creator on her social media pages
Pet peeve: People who wear sandals anyhow, and anywhere.
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