Blogging is no easy feat. It requires a lot of dedication, drive and courage to write blog posts and place them on a public platform for all to see. However, South Africans are quickly latching on to the idea that their own thoughts and opinions can be read by the world. In the past it was rare if you or your company had a blog, but in today’s South Africa, if you’re without a blog then you’re without the tools needed to reach out to people and connect with them in the 21st century.
Why Start a Blog?
Before you start your blog you need to ask yourself about the purpose of doing so. Blogging to make money shouldn’t be your primary aim. You need to blog to convey your own values or those of your business. People will respect you for that and they will flock to your blog if you provide interesting, thought-provoking posts – not posts that serve as advertisements in order to make a sale.
Making money should be secondary to blogging. And blogging should be seen as a fundamental (but also a more humble and grounded) aspect of marketing your business. If you are a business, you should be blogging to help solve questions that your customers may have or simply to reach out to them and bridge the gap between you and them. If you’re blogging for yourself, you may also be blogging to help others or to convey certain information to them. Or you may simply be doing it for your own self-development as a writer.
Nonetheless, be sure to blog about a topic that fascinates you and that you are never bored of. If you blog about a subject for the sake of blogging, it will soon bore you and your desire to blog may decline.
Finding Your Niche
As a blogger, the most important thing is to find your niche. Find out what interests you and what you enjoy writing about. When you find your niche, also try and find a unique angle as this may be what differentiates you from other bloggers. The trick is to offer something different or alternatively, offer something that has been done before simply in a brand new way.
Some niches you can consider are as follows – you can also specialize within each of the below:
- Entertainment and lifestyle
- Science and Technology
Research Keywords Related to Your Niche
If you want your blog to be found for certain keywords or phrases in Google then I suggest doing some research prior to setting up your blog. Use Google Adwords Keyword Tool to find relevant phrases or words that have a high number of monthly searches (but with low-medium competition). You can use these keywords in blog titles, within your blog post (as naturally as possible) and also within your blog’s actual name if possible.
How to Setup a Blog in South Africa
The are numerous blogging platforms which are all free and easy to setup. The main ones include:
If you are looking for functionality then Wordpress is your best option. Wordpress is the most tricky to navigate but once you get started it gets easier.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a blogging platform that is quick and easy to set up then you should go with Tumblr (especially if you have awesome photographs to post) or even Blogger (a Google-owned blogging platform).
In addition to the above 3 main platforms, there are other platforms which are also pretty easy and quick to setup such as Wix or Weebly. However, note that there may be some ads on the site that you cannot remove unless you upgrade to a pro version.
Choosing a Domain Name
Wordpress, Blogger, Wix and Weebly all provide the option of purchasing a domain name such as .co.za or .com. If you can’t afford a domain name, just use the free one that comes with your blog i.e. .blogspot.com or .weebly.com etc. This will also depend on whether you are blogging for yourself or on behalf of a brand.
How Can I Spread the Word of My Blog Posts?
Social media platforms are the easiest manner in which to spread the word of your posts to people you know and even to those you don’t know. If you’ve written something valuable, people will often easily spread it so make sure what you are contributing is your absolute best.
I suggest using the following social media platforms (rather choose 2 and use them properly instead of trying to use all of them and doing a poor job):
- Facebook – set up a Facebook page for your blog (so it’s separate to your personal Facebook profile).
- Twitter – great for connecting with people who are blogging about similar topics. This platform is the best if you want to chat to new people and make more blogging buddies who can share your work.
- Pinterest – ideal if your blog is visually-oriented. You can upload your photos to different boards (almost like a scrapbook) and ensure each links back to the actual blog post where these images appear.
- Google+ - There are some fantastic communities on Google+ so don’t underestimate this social media platform! I’ll discuss this in more detail below.
Networking Groups and Communities for South African Bloggers/Writers
The best advice I can give you in order to spread word of your blog posts and connect with other bloggers is to join online networking groups (that often meet offline).
A simple search within Facebook/Google+ Communities/Twitter can bring up a myriad of groups you can join. For example, you can try and search for ‘South African Bloggers’ or similar phrases depending on your niche. I have found that attending some of the events these communities run is really worthwhile as other bloggers can put a name to a face and it will also strengthen your ties with them.
These are some of the communities I found which may be of use to bloggers and writers based in South Africa:
- South African Food Bloggers Network (Facebook Group)
- SA Bloggers (Facebook Page)
- South African Writers/Bloggers/Journalists (Facebook Page)
- South African Arts Writers and Critics Association (Facebook Group)
- South African Writers World (Facebook Group)
- South African Writers’ Circle (Facebook Page)
- SA Bloggers (Google+ Community)
You can find a myriad of Google+ communities here – just search for your niche and location. If you can’t find what you are looking for you can also start your own blogging group.
Can I Make Money from Blogging?
If you really put your mind to it you can. But first you need to provide a lot of value to your readers. If you provide value and interesting blog posts then you can easily grow your readership. Concentrate on providing value first and foremost and growing your readership before you can even think of trying to make money off your blog. Once you’ve obtained enough readers you can then consider different moneymaking options like ads, pay per click and other third party advertisements in newsletters or on your site in the form of widgets.
The above pointers are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to blogging. There is a wealth of information out there and if you are serious about blogging then you’ll discover new things as you go along. So open yourself up to the plethora of knowledge at your disposal. Good luck in your blogging endeavors and remember – all you need is a bit of hard work and dedication and the battle is half won.
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