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How To Start a Successful Blog In Kenya From Scratch Part 1

Picture this, you in a Jeep Wrangler making your way throughout East Africa and exploring the world while you still make money. You get to sleep in all the expensive hotels and go to all the exotic places without caring. You’re basically breaking the bank and it keeps repairing itself, haha. Well, for most successful bloggers, this is a reality they live with.

I’ve had this website for over three years and I’ve always wondered what I would do with it, I didn’t think that I could actually make it a successful blog, I thought you needed some kind of sophisticated knowledge to succeed in blogging. I even attempted to do this once or twice before but gave up quickly after. Goes to show that blogging, and successful blogging at that, is not for the faint-hearted. If anyone tells you that you can make quick money blogging, they’re lying to you. Successful blogging is a job just like any other. Starting a blog is the east part, turning it into a successful blog is where it’s at. Majority of the effort is in showing up.

Now, granted that this is not yet a successful blog as of the time I’m writing this, but I feel like I’m doing something right. Over the past week, I’ve risen in my Alexa Rank from 8,024,143 to 5,545,189. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty impressive to me. I plan to get to the top 10k worldwide. Godspeed!

Now I’m going to share with you some tips, tricks and techniques that I’ve researched on how you can start from having no blog to having a blog that gets at least a thousand visitors daily, that’s what we bring in on the average at the moment.

You can skip to a specific point:

  1. Start
  2. Getting traffic
  3. Monetizing your site
  4. Moving or setting up WordPress.org
  5. Setting up
  6. Customizing your site
  7. Creating content
  8. Keeping up with analytics
  9. Monetize your site 2
  10. Know your limits
  11. Advanced

1. START

I know, it sounds generic but that’s it. You just have to start. The beauty of blogging nowadays is that the barriers to entry are so low that practically anyone can start blogging at any time and the best part, with zero finances.

The best place to start blogging, according to me, would have to be WordPress. It has such a fantastic community and the possibilities with this simple piece of software are practically endless. You can do any kind of website with WordPress, from new and entertainment to learning management systems, to e-commerce, video on demand, you name it, WordPress can do it. The way WordPress is able to do so much is because it’s open-source (There is WordPress.com and WordPress.org, which I’ll discuss in a few.) This enables the community to contribute plugins and extensions that make it do just so much, gone are the days where you would look for a programmer to do a website for you. You can design a whole website without writing a single line of code.

Which one should you go with, WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

WordPress.com

When you’re starting out, I’d advise you to go with WordPress.com. You can create a free site and utilize some of the free themes used in there to get a start with blogging and see how you like it. Play around with it for about one or two months and get yourself familiar with what WordPress really is.

The free plan will allow you to set up a simple blog although it will operate under a wordpress.com subdomain. For example, the domain to this site is conceptworld.world, a subdomain of that is example.conceptworld.world. So for WordPress, you’ll likely get something along the lines of example.wordpress.com.

Now, you can’t use this sub-domain name for any kind of monetization really unless it’s brand endorsements, this will just enable you to start putting content out there. On your website, you’ll always see one or two advertisements at the bottom of each post, this is how WordPress makes money and keeps offering WordPress for free. Nothing to worry about though, the ads are non-intrusive and they won’t ruin your user experience.

This will enable you to start your blog, but a successful blog? Not really, no. It’s going to be difficult. For that, you’re going to have to move to the premium plans so you can get all those custom goodies.

After you’ve gotten familiar with the free plan, I’d advise you to move on to a premium plan by upgrading your account. Just go for the personal plan, which goes for $4 per month, you can convert that to Kenyan shillings according to prevailing exchange rates. With this, you can attach a custom domain name and get some more control over your site. Instead of example.wordpress.com, you’ll now have example.com. That’s a big step up in terms of branding your site.

Personally, I never really got to upgrade to these plans, I jumped straight to WordPress.org, which if you know what you’re doing, you can go ahead and jump right ahead.

WordPress.org

I’m not going to go into details on this here because I’ll cover it further down the post but this is basically a self-hosted version of WordPress. With this one, you get to install it to a server and manage it yourself, you have a lot more freedom in terms of customizing it. If you’re a newbie, don’t just here yet, go along the steps I’m outlining, however, if you know what you’re doing, then, by all means, jump right in.

2. Getting Traffic

This is without a doubt where the journey starts going uphill. You’re already familiar with WordPress, you’ve built up a couple of posts, you’re sure this is what you want to do. Now you want people to know your site exists.

You can’t just write posts and expect people to magically find them, well, if you’re lucky enough, Google will recommend your site, but with most new domain names, good luck anticipating that. Allegedly, Google usually puts new domain names in a sandbox, which is basically some sort of testing area, to check how it performs and it’s consistency and stuff like that. I’m not an expert in that, you can Google that and get some answers. But basically, the first six months, don’t expect to get a lot of organic traffic (meaning people who visit your site after searching for something on Google). For those first six months, you’ll have to be innovative.

In comes social media:

I’m not sure if many people know this, but for bloggers, Facebook is a really powerful tool. I learned that the hard way. Sure, most people look at Facebook as a tabloid, but it’s more powerful than that. The sheer amount of sites that use Facebook and the number of people who check on it even once a day!

Facebook is so powerful because of the amount of data they have on their users. If your site is focused on youths, you can pay for Facebook ads specifically for that niche and you can fine-tune it ever so narrowly that you’ll get the most out of your finances.

Well, don’t go crazy with Facebook advertising, for starters, you want to spend the minimum amount and see how you like it. Promote one of your best posts for the minimum amount over a day and see how people like it. Adjust your settings and promote another post then see how they like that. Fine-tune your settings until you get the right target audience for your blog. It will take a lot of trial and error but in the end, it will be worth it.

The beauty about Facebook is that it can push your posts over to Instagram, where all the hippies are, haha. Just make sure your posts have captivating titles and images. I’m not an expert in social media marketing but that has gotten me this far.

You also don’t want to promote every single post, come up with a schedule that will suit you just to make sure you’re not blowing up all your finances because you’ll need them if you’re intending to become a successful blogger.

For the first six months, you’ll have to rely on social media but after that, you’ll slowly start seeing organic traffic, mostly from Google coming in and building up slowly. Don’t get too excited, keep going with your social media campaign because the way Google works is; if it sees a lot of people going to your site, it will recommend your site to others. Your traffic is coming from social media and if that dries up, Google will stop recommending your site which will stop your organic traffic from coming in and you’re back to square one.

There are so many ways to get traffic and this is just one of them, do your homework on which works best.

3. Monetizing Your Site

You’ve worked your ass off and built a good site, now you want to get some pennies out of it. I call them pennies because at first, that is literally what most of you will get out of it.

On WordPress.com, the only way to monetize your site is through, drum rolls, WordAds. If you’ve not gotten it by now, there’s no AdSense on WordPress.com just good old WordAds. You’re actually getting AdSense if you have WordAds since they sell Google’s inventory.

The way you get WordAds is by upgrading to the premium plan. I’m not sure if the personal plan has that, you can check that out as you do your sleuthing but once you have premium, your site is immediately approved. No long waiting times for them to review it. You, however, have to post family-friendly content, otherwise, you’ll be kicked out of the program.

Before we go further, let’s discuss a few of the terms you’ll run into when you’re digging into site monetization.

  1. CPM/RPM
    CPM stands for Cost Per Mile while RPM stands for Rate Per Mile. This is basically the amount, in dollars, that you will get paid after a thousand ads have been served on your site.
  2. CPC/PPC
    CPC stands for Cost Per Click while PPC stands for Pay Per Click. This is basically the amount you’ll be paid when someone clicks on an ad on your site.
  3. CPA
    CPA stands for Cost Per Action. This stands for the amount you’ll be paid when someone acts on the advertisement on your site. For example, if someone clicks on an advertisement and downloads the software being advertised or schedules a meeting or something.
  4. eCPM
    eCPM stands for effective Cost Per Mile. This one might be a bit confusing so stick with me here. Some advertisers pay for CPM, CPC and CPA, eCPM is an umbrella for all those. It shows you how much you’re making from all three of these earning methods in one metric.
  5. CTR
    CTR stands for Click Through Rate. This is the rate at which visitors click on the advertisements on your site.

Now, WordAds operates on a CPM delivery method, which means that the more traffic you have, the more you can earn. Sounds very attractive, right? Wrong! In Kenya, our traffic is classified as tier 3 and they assign us just terrible CPM values. I had WordAds here for a week and the highest CPM I got was 0.04 after having 15,000 ads served. Other advertising networks would probably give you better.

WordAds pays advertisers on a net 30 basis and you have to have gotten the minimum required 100 USD for them to send to you your money.

At this stage, don’t really expect to come up with a successful blog because the metric we use to measure how successful your blog is is how much you’re making. Well, there are other blogs that don’t need to make money, but for us, we’re looking to make some.

You could hang around with WordAds for a while and see what they’re going to give you. If you’re comfortable that’s fine, if not then it’s time to move on.

This is where we finally get on WordPress.org.

Now, this post is getting kind of long, so I’ll do a part two which you can follow up on here.

There’s a lot that I’ve not covered in this post such as the nature of posts and posting schedules among others, I’ll talk about in as we proceed because everything is just so interconnected that splitting it efficiently becomes difficult.