#CreatorStories: Meet Benjamin Teschemaker Minnow, the Ghanaian Creator Building a Business as a Canva Designer

#CreatorStories showcases the honest personal experiences of digital creators who monetize their knowledge of a skill and sell it on Selar. We share these stories every week to inspire you to create and sell a product out of your wealth of knowledge and be a part of the digital creator economy.

This week, we turn the lights on Benjamin Teschemaker Minnow, a Ghanaian also known as AfricanGeeks (Benny) online. Benny works as a Canva designer, creating design solutions for brands using Canva.

Let’s get to know him, shall we?

Can we Meet Benjamin Teschemaker Minnow?

My name is Benjamin and I’m a Canva designer. I was born, raised, and currently live in Ghana. I’m interested in technology, that’s where the name – African geek came from. I’m an African interested in everything tech. 

What was your career journey like before becoming a Canva designer and digital creator?

I worked at a warehouse sometime in 2017 and later got tired of it. I discovered Motion graphics and became very interested in it. So I started doing it for clients. I was also interested in Videos, so I used lots of After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro. I joined an NGO later and they asked me to create a flyer for them. Because I didn’t want to use Photoshop, I started searching for simple tools I could use. I first came across Picsart. I used it, they loved it. But I realized that it didn’t have a lot of things I needed to create designs that would stand out. I did further research and came across Canva. I started using it to design simple graphics for the NGO I was working with. Because I didn’t want to use Adobe Photoshop, I started looking for ways to create designs that looked like they were made with Adobe Photoshop using Canva. 

Do you have any digital products on sale? 

Yes, I currently have some Canva bundles on sale.

What made you decide to create a digital product? 

When Canva came out, I wasn’t a fan of their templates. I always tried to see if there were other people creating templates that would satisfy me but there weren’t any. So I decided to create templates to aid designers to save more time and put in less effort when designing. 

What was your first digital product?

I wouldn’t say I have a first one because I created a lot in bulk. But I never published them. I created my online store on my website and hosted them there. They were just single flyers so I released them all at once. Later I thought about putting everything together as one product. That’s when I came up with the Canva bundle which has lots of posters you can use. 

How did you start monetizing your design skill? 

When I started, I wasn’t doing it for the money. I was just doing it because I just wanted to do it. I believe that it was because of what I was sharing and the value I was giving out, that people started asking me if I could do designs for them. I wasn’t asking them to DM me for any specific thing. I was just sharing design content online. I believe it was because of the type of content I was posting that got a lot of people interested in working with me. 

Is there a reason you chose Canva over Photoshop and Illustrator?

I chose Canva because it was so easy to create designs on it. It’s very easy to locate the tool you need unlike others like Photoshop. Also, anytime I open the software, I see that there are just a few tools in the work area but there are so many things hidden that you need to know where they are before you can use them. That’s a lot of time I’d have to waste looking for things. I wasn’t interested in that hide-and-seek game. So when I came across Canva and was able to design in a few minutes, that got me and I just decided to stay with it.

Can you replicate any design done in Adobe Photoshop on Canva?

Not every design, but the majority of designs can be made. Even the ones that may not be possible to replicate, you can find another way around them. I’m not saying Canva is at the same level as Photoshop. But you can still create interesting designs in Canva.

Would you say you leveraged the power of community to make sales as a digital creator?

Yes. Aside from the community, the value of the content you share also counts. Because before anyone is interested in whatever you have to sell, they have to be attracted by the value you give out. So they think, if you can give this product for free, then a paid product will be more valuable. I believe community + value is what has attracted people to purchase what I have to offer.

Have you had any challenges in the creator economy?

Yes. There’s been a lot of challenges. Firstly, in this part of the world, you get to spend a lot on data. You pay as you go. Most of the time, I realize I spend more money on data. And since my job demands me to be online all the time, I can’t avoid it. Secondly is the payment system. PayPal and Stripe are the most popular. But to create accounts on these platforms from this part of the world, you need to go through shortcuts. Thirdly is pricing.Some clients want to pay you less because you’re from Africa. So every time I give my price, they say, “Oh you’re too expensive”. Good thing I’m past that so anytime they say that I just overlook it. Because if they want it, they should be ready to pay for it. 

How have you navigated these challenges?

In terms of data, things are better now than when I started. So when I charge clients, I know how to incorporate it into my pricing. With the payment systems, platforms like PayStack help, though there are still some issues. Then for the clients, I believe that if you’re ready to pay you will pay, if you’re not, you’d find excuses. I know what I’m offering so if you want it, you should be ready to pay.

Do you work as a full-time Canva designer?

No, I’m not a full-time Canva designer now. I’m currently serving my country in the National Service and I was posted to the IT department of a bank here in Ghana. That’s what I do mainly with my Canva designs on the side. Moving forward, I’m looking at going full-time into my Canva design. Maybe by the end of this year.

What have your years of experience in design taught you?

Everything is backed by principles, even in design. If you want to become a better designer, you should know the principles. It helps you to become better at what you’re doing. It’s not about throwing shapes and colors. You need to be intentional about certain things you have in your design because that’s what helps it stand out. I’ve also learned that design isn’t just design. It’s you communicating something to someone. So you have to think about the best way to pass your information. Another thing I’d say is that the tools don’t matter. You just need to know your way around the tool, think outside the box, and be creative. 

What advice would you give to digital creators in Africa who are inspired by you?

When you’re starting, you don’t need to plan. Once you start, you’d know what you’re interested in and share more about it. For me, I started sharing After Effect tutorials. Now I share Canva designs and it’s all because I started. I just started sharing my content. From sharing after-effects tutorials, I moved on to sharing business tips, then Canva designs. The thing is that once you start, you get more clarity on the kind of content you want to share and focus on it. It’s all about starting. Just start. 

Create solutions for a problem you faced, package it as a digital product and sell it on Selar. Selar is here to guide you through every step of your creator journey.

To get started,

  • Sign up on Selar.
  • Set up your online store and bank details.
  • Upload your product.
  • Share store link with customers and start selling.