At the end of 2018 Boring Cape Town Chick turned 7 years old. Every year, without fail, I will forget my blog’s birthday. It’s crazy that something that has taught me so much, kept me up at night for too many years and which has presented me with so many amazing opportunities, is consistently forgotten every year! But this year, albeit late, I am celebrating 7 years of Boring Cape Town Chick and 7 years of blogging lessons. Enjoy!
7 Years of Blogging Lessons on Boring Cape Town Chick
2011 – Buy Your URL and Self Host
When I meet someone in the world and they tell me about their project (and it sound intriguing), the first thing I’ll ask is, “What’s your website address?” If they say email@example.com/hello/679354/thankskillme
IMMEDIATELY I’m feel, “Aaaaaah nope.” Ain’t NOBODY got time for people who don’t take their projects seriously. Buying a URL is NOT expensive. If you want people to take your website seriously, at least buy the domain.
If you can’t afford to buy the domain, keep it simple!
Also try to self host your website (move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org) so that you can install Google Analytics and start seeing the response to your content from your readers. Know who they are, where they are, what they like, etc. This is all very valuable feedback for any website owner.
2012 – Sort Out Your SEO
I still receive 70% of my traffic through organic search. I started blogging while I was still a radio presenter on Heart FM so it was totally up to me to learn how to use WordPress, Yoast for SEO and create content accordingly.
While I learnt a lot at my first digital marketing agency, and without question that has assisted me, bloggers really should try their hand at SEO if they want anyone to read their content by simple Googling something. It will make a HUGE difference to your traffic and is actually quite fun.
2013 – Build Your Social Following
Once I’d created my first posts I wondered, “How the hell will I get anyone to read this?!” Social media of course! So I built a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Twitter definitely worked better in the beginning because the hashtags could immediately make your content relevant for users who were searching for that sort of information.
But Facebook is great for the long game. You can build a loyal following and do paid media to ensure your posts are seen. Building a community around your blog is just as important as sharing your content as it allows readers to feel a part of the brand and allows for two way communication.
It also allows you to stay in touch with your readers when you don’t have time to blog. Instagram is a great microblogging site that allows you to keep your brand front of mind with readers while you find time to update your site.
2014 – Put Your Money Where Your Blog Is
SO many bloggers want to take their blogs to the next level and aren’t prepared to pay to do so. Funnily – they expect to be paid for their work but not to pay others!
If you want your blog to stand out you have to deliver something presentable. PRs have to go back to their clients and report the features they earn. If you want to be on that report (and essentially make contact with brands) the make sure your site is neat, easy to read and presentable.
Give people something to believe in, which may include buying a theme and having a logo professionally designed. I paid R700 for my theme a few years ago and paid about R2500 to have my logo designed by an award winning UK designer.
It’s been a great investment and makes me blog stand out from the crowd. If you want to take blogging seriously, take the plunge. Afterall, it is your brand and does represent you.
PS Try to get a logo that will work well not only on site, but on business cards, e-mail headers, t-shirts and hoodies. Keep it simple and make sure it can be easily translated to other mediums for the most impact.
2015 – Don’t Write Anonymously
When I first started Boring Cape Town Chick I wrote anonymously for the first 3 years or so. I did this because I wanted a “safe” space to discover how to use WordPress, how to create content, how to grow a social media following without my previous radio career, husband’s DJ career or brother’s music career being an influence.
While many websites with journalists are hugely successful, when it’s opinion based, I feel a “face” to the “name” really plays a large role. Of course there will be an exception to the rule, however, I felt an immediate shift when I revealed myself on my blog.
Some for the worse – I felt some women were surprised I was white and stopped reading my blog. But mostly for the better. Your trust factor increases because people know who is expressing themselves. They get to know you better and that helps your content have heart.
My recommendation is, if you want to write anonymously, only do so for a limited time. Your value is in WHO you are as a blogger just as much as what you write.
2016 – Stop Saying Yes to Everything
There are 3 things in life that are a fact:
- PRs not caring that you’re up at 1am trying to insert their content.
In the beginning of my blogging journey, I would say yes to almost everything. I kept trying to help everyone as I felt that people needed a break. What it resulted in was YEARS of sitting up til 1am – 2am in the morning creating blog content FOR FREE. The PR’s are getting paid a salary. They don’t care that you’re spending hours and hours producing content for them, they just need to coverage (and won’t be using their salary to pay you for it). So STOP SAYING YES TO EVERYTHING!
Time is money, time is precious. The PRs are getting paid either way (and you’re not) so start saying no from early on and save yourself hours, days, weeks, months of your life.
2017 – Working For Free Is Your Problem
Having mentioned the many nights I have stayed up until 1am producing content for free; I realise now it totally and utterly my fault. The concept of, “If I create something for them now, perhaps they’ll pay me next time” is WRONG.
At no point has as PR ever paid me after I worked for them for free. It goes down to one of my favourite sayings of all time, “You teach people how to treat you.”
I have spent WAY too much time blogging out of guilt and worry. Guilt – that I should help people who are polite and nice and who will maybe pick me for a paid project in the future.
And worry; for the potential of being cut out; that is, not being invited out or missing out on great opportunities.
What I’ve realised is that sometimes driving to the shop and buying the product for myself is WAY more satisfying than all the work that goes into blogging.
At the end of the day, remember that the PR is still getting paid. The client is still getting exposure and you’re still up at 1am making it happen – for free.
I also understand that client’s don’t always have budget to pay for coverage and trade exchanges are an option. I’m ok with that if the value is equal to one of my blog posts. Then that is a fair trade exchange and is one of the ways blogging affords you wonderful opportunities.
PS If you love a brand then by all means collaborate, but stop trying to help everyone all the time.
2018 – Create Your Own Content
This may seem like the first and most obvious lesson to learn in regards to blogging, but it’s not. Surely, if you take a press release and rework it into your own context then that equals original content?
This is something I’ve really only realised within 2018. Original content, to me (now), means original concepts, original ideas, original content.
While I’ve never published press releases as is, sharing other people’s news is often not very entertaining to others. It may be useful and informative, but it doesn’t necessarily inspire others to return to your site.
Let’s take a look at my top 10 posts of 2018. I can guarantee they are all original pieces OR brands I’ve collaborated with such as day trips, accommodation or restaurant reviews. They are NOT press releases.
Best Original Content of 2018
- How To Buy ASOS in South Africa
- Changes to Rocking the Daisies 2018
- Durbanville Hills
- Brocka at Canal Walk
- Gate Restaurant
- Oppikoppi 2018
- Lux Grand Gaube
- Vindoux Treehouses
- Segway Tours Spier
- Katy Perry To Tour South Africa
Only 1 of these posts originated from a press release and that’s the Katy Perry piece. While many of the other posts were collaborations with brands (like visiting Durbanville Hills), the content was all created by me with my original images.
Blogging is A LOT of fun! For me anyway. It helps me learn things about digital creation, selling, content creation and technology. It keeps me connected to organic social media and how the internet works. It draws me into a community of like minded people (other creators), a community of readers (those who enjoy the same topics as I do) and an industry that’s fast, fun and futuristic – digital marketing!
If you want to blog, do it for yourself. Because you want to learn, because you want to express yourself and because you want to share. I hope this piece will help you do that.
Thanks for reading! Meg 🙂