The African Blogging Journey by Moses Kemibaro at WordCamp Kenya 2011
The African Blogging Journey
In 2005… • I registered moseskemibaro.com. • I created a hos?ng account. • I found some basic HTML templates I could “redesign” with my content. • I put the “web site” online. • I went “live”. • No one came. Nothing happened. NADA!!
Nothing happened, un?l 2007 that is… • I fooling around on my hos?ng account and saw a “one-‐click” installa?on for WordPress. • I tried it. I am not a techie. It worked. I had a blog. IT WORKED! J • But, I had nothing to write. Yet. • I did however have some ar?cles that had been published. So I re-‐published on my new “blog”. I was a BLOGGER. ! YAAAAAY!!
WordPress changed EVERYTHING! • I could update content regularly is a user-‐friendly manner without knowing HTML, CSS, yada yada… • I could use themes and plugins to “redesign” my blog and extend func?onality by “clicking” • I could manage my web site without needing to be a hardcore “techie” or needing one J • Suddenly, I could self-‐publish online on my blog without any hassles and it was super easy!
Self-‐hosted vs Free WordPress Blogs? • Don’t skimp on your blog – get your domain name and a self-‐hosted pla_orm. • There are really good free themes that you can customize. That’s what I use. IT WORKS! • Test themes and plugins before you go live – things can break unfortunately… • If building a commercial blog of some sort BUY Themes and plugins – get Pros involved in building and managing the blog.
The ﬁrst six months. • Acer re-‐publishing my ar?cles, things went quiet. A saw a small up?ck in traﬃc though since 2005. • I then started wri?ng on my blog as a personal journal – whatever came to mind, I blogged it! • Formula1, Rugby, Technology, Robert Mugabe, Obama, etc etc. • You name it?! I BLOGGED IT! Nuﬀ Said…
The next six months: 2008 • I made a profound discovery about my blog by looking at the sta?s?cs. • I no?ced that certain content was driving traﬃc and some was not. • I realized, when you blog, not all content is traﬃcked equally. • Some content is more equal than others. • I found the secret formula. Its all about CONTENT!
What content is popular? • Funny enough, the content that gets the most traﬃc for me includes: – Lists and rankings. – Exclusives (video, interviews, etc) – Stuﬀ that is currently in the news – Product and service reviews. – Service and product pricing – Service and product comparisons.
Why content maoers. • Think of your blog as a magazine or book. • Which books or magazines do you like to read? • What stories and genres are you into? • What are you most passionate about? • Which topics and content do you know “inside out”? • Could you do it for FREE and s?ll LOVE it?
Epiphany! (and other strange words) • I love lots of things but what I really know, and know well is technology. • I LOVE reading and wri?ng about technology. • I have been working in technology for 15 years and started coding when I was 12 years old. • HINT: Am I pain?ng a clear picture of what happened next? • BLOG what you LOVE! LOVE what you BLOG!
Everything changed. EVERYTHING! • I started REALLY enjoying BLOGGING. • BLOGGING got easier as I FOCUSSED on topics and content with a technology bias. • IT was not easy to focus. It took discipline and pa?ence. • My eﬀort paid oﬀ. Traﬃc spiked like a hockey s?ck. • The media started calling. I became an EXPERT! This was not part of the plan…
2009: Learning the Niche • I started to realize that technology blogging had a gap. I could cover global issues or focus on local issues where I could be more relevant. • NICHE is everything in blogging. I decided to focus content “sharper” on: – TECHNOLOGY (Topic) – KENYA (Geography) – PEOPLE (Technophiles, like ME)
Outcomes of a Niche TechBlog. • Ini?ally a drop in traﬃc and less people. • However, beoer focus meant more loyal readers, more comments and eventually more people. • My blog slowly became the “go to” place for all things “tech” in Kenya. • All of a sudden, my blog became bigger than me. I was expected to “publish” regularly like a newspaper. Be careful what you wish for!
Find your OWN voice. • When blogging, think of the way you speak or talk to a friend. Keep it PERSONAL! • Imita?on is good when you start but in ?me develop your own wri?ng SYTLE as this will resonate with your audience. • Do not SELL OUT. Write authen?cally and say it as it is – this will make your blog stand out from the cluoer online – theres lots of it BTW
Passion is key! Trust me on this one! • Blogging is not for everyone. You need to be really really KEEN and PASSIONATE about what you write about. • Burnout is possible but there is always something around you to blog about. • Being consistent and regular keeps a regular audience “checked-‐in” to your blog. • Breaking news can become…ADDICTIVE!
Bloggers Gold: Making money online • Started using Google AdSense in 2010. US$ 500 to-‐date. • Realized quickly that there is no way I could live oﬀ my blog if I ever considered AdSense – I would need to create my own products & services to sell or go Aﬃliate marke?ng (This is s?ll Work-‐In-‐Progress but we are geung there). • Did I men?on I s?ll have a day job? J
My blogging makes money “oﬄine” • How? I get invited to conferences globally to make presenta?ons for a hecy fee. • I consult independently for businesses that want to leverage digital media strategically. • I write ar?cles for mainstream media who pay me for my “expert” insights based on my niche. • I ﬁnd myself turning away money! (too busy)
PERKS of blogging to-‐date. • Lots of interna?onal travel. • Front seat invita?ons to media events and “exclusives” ahead of mainstream media. • Lots of free “goodies” like phones every month and free Internet access (SERIOUSLY!). • Global (& local) recogni?on as the “go to guy” • You can become a ROCKSTAR! through blogging. Not always that cool….
Things go wrong when you blog • My blog got hacked in 2009 when I did not update my WordPress version. Quite silly and avoidable. • My blog “broke down” earlier this year when I upgraded but did not conﬁrm ﬁrst if my host supported version 3.0. 2 days oﬄine and a real techie needed to ﬁx things -‐ s?ll reeling! • Some?mes, blogging makes you TOO visible.
Good things happen when you blog! • You “jump the queue” when it comes to business and social engagements. • Job interviews become a formality since employers already know who you are, what you do, and why they want you. • You stand out from the crowd and this has many many dividends when everyone now has an MBA. Nuﬀ said!
Diversify your content. • Wri?ng all the ?me on your blog can get hard and downright boring. • By diversifying your content to audio, video and photos, you enhance your content and your audience appreciate it. • Diversifying content also can be less work – people love video and audio content as its easy to access and a no-‐brainer.
Integrate social media to your blog • I have integrated social media to my blog using plugins and feeds. • The eﬀect is that I “one-‐click” publish and all my social media proﬁles get my content. • I get more traﬃc from social media than from Google. This is HUGE. • It also means I eﬀec?vely control and grow my reach without using expensive digital marke?ng.
My never-‐ending blogging journey. • Content makes all the diﬀerence. • Passion keeps you going. • Mix-‐it-‐up to keep it fun and compelling for your audiences. • Be authen?c in your own voice and tone. • Always be regular and consistent. • Blogging has explicit and implicit beneﬁts. • BLOG what you love. LOVE what you blog!
Drop me a line. Cheers! J t: @moseskemibaro b: moseskemibaro.com e: moses (at) moseskemibaro.com