Jackson Biko is the author of Bikozulu which is a very popular blog in Kenya, parts of East Africa and even outside the continent. He has a large following on his blog which he has been able to transfer to his social media accounts.
He writes for Msafiri Magazine which is Kenya Airways’ inflight magazine, He writes for the Daily Nation and Business Daily which circulates East Africa, He’s written for Yummy Magazine, Eat Out Kenya, Travel Africa and he’s a regular contributor to True Love Magazine.
He has 111,000 followers on Facebook, 56,900 followers on Instagram and 159,000 followers on Twitter. Through his blog, he’s been able to raise funds for social causes such helping a young man named Jadudi.
Sharon Mundia started her blog, This is Ess, as a cathartic way to get over an ex and express her love for fashion. Her blog became very popular and through it, she managed to transition to Youtube.
She’s got 42,000 followers on Youtube. She has 312,000 followers on Instagram. She has a radio show on Capital FM which is one of the leading radio stations in Kenya. The show is called Our 2 Cents. Towards the end of last year, she started hosting a TV show called Living With Ess and she turned her blog into a magazine called This is Essential. All of this, born out of blogging.
Libby Hakim was working part-time as a lawyer. She managed to switch to writing and blogging for other business. Somewhere in March/ April, 2018 she posted about the success of cooking one of her great grandmother’s recipes on Instagram and shared the recipe.
The response was huge which was the inspiration behind her blog; Cooking with Nana Ling. 6 months after launching her blog, she was on a TV show where celebrity chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin visited her at home to cook with her.
Looking at these three cases, is blogging worth it? Yes! Without a doubt! But I think you’re asking the wrong question.
What is it that you want to achieve with blogging? Do you want a blog that will serve your readers, evolve into a brand and make you known as guru in a specific niche and hence use the blog to earn an income through endorsing brands, selling courses, writing for clients and also have it open doors for you such as starting a TV show?
Or do you just want a site that serves as a platform for your clients to find you and purchase from you?
Knowing what it is that you want to achieve with your site will determine whether you should be blogging or setting up a traditional website. Blogging is focused more on engaging, educating, sharing, and growing traffic.
A traditional website is more of a shop where people pick what they need and go. There’s not much interaction or learning. It provides the necessary information that people are looking for and they can purchase from your site or they’re directed to where they can purchase the product or service.
How to blog successfully
Perhaps you’re not interested in blogging to make money or create a brand. Maybe all you want to do is express yourself through your blog and connect with people. Even if this is your motivation to blog, I would still recommend that you implement the following steps.
1) Do a blogging course
I’ve emphasized this before. Doing a course like ProBlogger’s Free Ultimate Start a Blog Course will hold your hand and guide you through choosing a niche, how to set up a blog, choosing a design and theme, launching your blog and many more of the essentials of blogging.
There’s a second course that Problogger sells called 31 days to build a better blog. It’s for writers that have a new blog and want to make it profitable. It’s also for experienced bloggers that have lost their mojo. Some of the topics covered are identifying your audience, designing a monthly plan for blogging, and monetizing your blog.
Walter Akolo’s article writing and blogging course is very thorough especially considering what it costs – $40. It includes article writing; keywords, SEO, setting up a blog, proposal writing and mentorship.
Each lesson has homework to ensure that by the end of the course you have a blog with articles and you’ve pitched to clients. Two of your articles will be read and ranked. You’ll also receive feedback on where to improve and the edited versions will also be read and ranked with feedback.
2) Offer quality content.
Be that person that writes quality articles every single time. If your blog is an entertainment blog then entertain. Have the latest on what’s going on in the entertainment industry. People should know that if they want the latest music hit or want the latest entertainment news, they will get it on your blog and it will be accurate, not speculation.
For over 10 years, the Zen Habits blog by Leo Babauta has been a great source of forming new habits such as saving, eliminating debt, decluttering and fitness. Fluff does not have a home on his blog. It’s quality content after quality content because he writes about his own experiences and does his best to help his readers through the lessons he’s garnered.
His blog has over 200,000 subscribers and he’s been named as one of the top 25 blogs by Time Magazine.
If you have a blog then plugins are a necessity. For the novices amongst us, plugins are like apps for your blog. They add features that your blog doesn’t originally have such as a portfolio to showcase your articles.
One plugin that I highly recommend is YoastSEO. It helps you make sure that your articles have the right number of keywords and nudges you to include them in the right place. There are so many aspects of SEO that it will teach you to incorporate when writing articles on your blog and it makes it easy for you to do so.
Even when you’re writing articles for clients, you can write the article on your WordPress site and use YoastSEO to make sure it’s search engine optimized. You can then cut the document and paste it on Word or whatever documents you use to submit articles to your client.
4) Write consistently
It’s annoying when you’ve identified a blog that you love and have even subscribed to but it rarely has fresh content. Remember, you’re competing with businesses that have writers that post multiple articles daily.
Writing consistently will also sharpen your writing skills and these are skills that can be transferred to social media posts such as this one on Biko Zulu’s Instagram which is about… wait for it… a mango:
Writing consistently will also help you figure out what type of content your readers want.
5) Promote your content
You’re competing to be found in a sea of blogs so you have to promote yourself to get noticed. It can be subtle like, posting captions on your social media pages and including a link to your blog. You don’t even have to do this daily. Set aside three hours a week to promote your blog.
One way to attract readers in your target market is to guest post on blogs that have many subscribers and are in the same niche as you. I’m sure you’ve discovered blogs that you love via guest posts.
What are some pros and cons of starting a blog in 2019 or 2020?
- Blogging is crucial to understand who your readers are and what they like. It will probably take time to understand your target readers and the niche you’re writing in. You may have to change what you write about several times before you get the right rhythm.
- It will improve your SEO skills and you could even sell yourself as a digital marketer. SEO skills tend to stick when you practice them rather than reading about them. Through blogging, I discovered YoastSEO and through YoastSEO, I’ve learned about metadescriptions, slugs, passive voice, and more.
- You can convert readers or subscribers to buyers.
- You can make money from your blog selling your products or services.
- Brands may want to pay you to endorse their products or sample them and write about your experience.
- You can get writing clients. You could get businesses that would want you to manage their blogs or create content for them because they like your writing style. You could also use your blog articles as samples to pitch to potential clients.
- You get to connect with people and share. Whether you’re blogging as a business or doing it as a hobby or as an online journal, it’s nice to connect with people and even create your own tribe.
It’s also fulfilling to be able to serve people. It’s nice to have someone say that they were able to do something because of your blog. It’s nice for someone to be able to go from unfit to fit because of your assistance. It’s not always about the money.
- You will hone your writing skills. When you read Bikozulu’s captions on Instagram (the mango guy), they’re captivating. They’re the perfect partners to the images he posts. As a follower of his blog, I’ve watched his writing evolve and get better and it has benefited all his other avenues of writing.
- It can open doors that you hadn’t thought of. You could be asked to be part of a podcast or start a course. You could be asked to teach or speak at events. You could end up starting a TV show or a YouTube show. The possibilities with blogging are endless.
- You could end up tackling social issues with your tribe such as raising money for school fees for kids in your area that need that assistance.
- You could have the hard conversations such as mental awareness that people like to talk about for a day and move on. You could change that.
- You need to be consistent otherwise you may lose followers and it could lower your search engine ranking.
- If you don’t find a niche that you can stick with and enjoy, it will be very hard to maintain the blog. You need something that you can easily do whether you have zero readers or thousands.
It needs to be a topic that you’re motivated to write on even if you’re not making money out of it.
- It takes time to build a following. Think of it as building one relationship at a time. Relationships are work.
- You need to have a strategy. Writing posts and blogging consistently will not suffice.
- Sometimes it feels like you’re shooting in the dark.
Will blogging die?
Hmm, let me look into my crystal bowl. Oh wait, it’s broken.
Right now, blogging’s worth it. I can’t speak for the future. I think blogging will continue to evolve just like it did from weblogging to the personal blog to all the variations of blogs that we have now.
What I can say with strong conviction is that blogging is a great foundational skill to have in the writing and online world irrespective of what direction we’re heading in. It has so many advantages and if done seriously, it could open windows of opportunity for you.