How to Start a Blog in South Africa – 5 Top Tips
Do you have article ideas you want to share with the world? If so, blogging is the best medium to channel your thoughts and spread these out for people to read. But before we get into the nitty-gritty details about blogging, how does one even start a blog? In this article, our expert bloggers here at MoneyToday will impart knowledge about their experiences and tips on how to start a blog in South Africa.
Blogging has been on the internet since its inception. And, in 1999, a free blogging platform called Blogger brought blogging to the mainstream. It is impressive that even Blogger still exists until this day. What makes blogging more attractive it is one of the simplest ways to make money online. Since it has stood the test of time, it shows making money off of blogging is still possible and sustainable. Are you interested to earn some buck while doing blogging as a hobby? We have simplified the steps on starting this hobby to help rookie and aspiring bloggers out there.
In a hurry? Here are the steps to start a blog in South Africa
- Brainstorm your niche
- Conjure up your blog name
- Choose a web hosting provider
- Build your blog
- Stick to a publishing calendar
- Monetize your blog
Brainstorm your niche
Since you are reading this article, I assume that you already have a vague idea of what you want your blog to be about. However, by experience, having this faint idea is not enough to establish a successful blog. You need a plan, and we are going to help you with it!
If you have not started a blog yet, the experts at MoneyToday strongly advise newbie bloggers to plan before acting on building the blog. Creating a strategy gives you a bird’s-eye view of what you need to do and what your goals are. It can lay down a concrete roadmap that you can follow in your blogging journey.
Moreover, it will save you time that you may waste when you do not have a plan. Trust us, we have been there before. And a lot of other bloggers will agree with us.
Here are the things you need for this blog to be successful – a niche, article ideas, monetization strategy. Let us start with the article ideas. We will discuss blog niche and monetization later in this article.
If you do not have a lot of article ideas now, you will struggle in coming up with them down the road. Additionally, perhaps a year from now, you will be out of ideas and your blog has already failed. Based on our experience, it is 100% better if you already have 20 or more article ideas.
EXPERT TIP: Immediately write down article ideas when the thought comes to you. Creating a new spreadsheet is ideal, but writing on scratch paper will do.
No niche yet?
The first thing you need to do before creating a blog is to brainstorm the niche you want to delve into. Before anything else, what is a niche? To put it simply, a niche is the main topic or category of your blog. Is it a personal blog, product review blog, or finance blog? There are a lot of niches out there and their markets are already saturated. Therefore, it is better if you think of a unique niche that separates you from the competition.
One trick you can apply is to combine two niches that are usually not related to each other. For example, the entertainment and cryptocurrency niches. On this website, you can discuss actors that are involved currently in cryptocurrency. Or you can list movies that mention cryptocurrency.
EXPERT TIP: When brainstorming a unique niche market, combine two unrelated niches to set you apart from other blogs.
Profitable niches that are already proven
If you do not have a niche yet, here are the most popular niches that you might be interested in:
- Finance, sales and marketing
- Food and drink
- Beauty and fashion
- Health and fitness
Conjure up your blog name
Now that you already have a niche in mind, the blog’s name should be the next checkbox you should fill in your list. As a rule of thumb, you must provide a simple name for your blog. Doing so will help new visitors easily remember your website for later reading. Who knows, they may even become repeat or avid readers due to it.
EXPERT TIP: Your website’s name should be short and sweet. Also, it should be easy to remember and easy to read.
If you are putting up a personal website, you can also use your name or pen name as your blog’s name. However, there is one more thing you should consider when doing so – consider the domain length. For example, your name is Alexander Copenhagen. You should use alexcopenhagen.com instead of alexandercopenhagen.com if not yet taken.
Create a brand
In 2021 and beyond, it is necessary for a blog to be its own brand. Why? Well, in today’s internet marketing, multi-million brands only advertise and partner with reputable brands regardless of size. Moreover, the potential of your blog will be unlimited as compared to those without a brand. What else can you say besides brands are marketable?
The domain name should be MARKETABLE
Speaking of being marketable, the domain name should be the same or similar to your blog’s name. Let us put a made-up brand as an example: The Dog Lover. In this case, the domain name you should acquire is thedoglover.com, and not the ddoglover.com (because ‘the’ is sometimes replaced with a d).
Furthermore, there are plenty of domain checkers you can choose from online. Our experts recommend that you avoid the domain with a .com instead of .tech, .xyz, .co extensions.
EXPERT TIP: Do not use country-specific domains unless you are targeting that market. Doing so will affect how Google and other search engine ranks your website. For example, a blog with a .za domain will rank lower in countries like the US or Canada. However, it may do well in South Africa.
Choose a web hosting provider
Now, let proceed to the technical part of building a blog. Do not worry; we will try to explain this part in the simplest way possible. I assume that you are already aware that a website (a.k.a your blog) should be located somewhere on the internet, right? Or more specifically, it must be hosted on a remote server location. That is the reason why these web hosting companies exist – they have servers in different places in the world that host websites.
Why is it important to choose the right web hosting provider?
Since a web server somewhere in the world hosts your website, it is crucial that you pick the perfect web hosting provider from the get-go. Think of it this way – a server is a computer and if that computer is not performing well, your website does not also. Here are other reasons why you should pick the best web hosting provider:
1. It affects the performance of your website.
Performance is the paramount metric that tells the success potential your blog has. If you build your blog with suboptimal performance, Google’s search engine (and other search engines for that matter) will prefer other websites regardless of whether you wrote the best articles on your blog.
2. Most web hosting providers only offer long-term plans
Most web hosting plans are for the long term, we are talking about years here and not months. Therefore, it is a wise decision to get the best one right from the start. After all, you want this journey to be a long and fulfilling one, am I right?
3. It will dictate your experience through your blogging journey
A fair but advanced warning to newbie bloggers: you will encounter technical issues once in a while. Since I assume you are not that tech-savvy in terms of web development, you may have a hard time fixing some issues with your website. However, when you choose a great web hosting provider it will be not an issue (or at least lessen its gravity). A web hosting provider with equally amazing customer support is ideal!
Best PAID Web Hosting providers
When it comes to web hosting, most online entrepreneurs and bloggers choose Bluehost. After all, it is one of the best (if not the best) web hosting providers in the space. For most starting bloggers, the basic shared hosting starting from $2.75 (around 40 ZAR) per month suffices. Moreover, this web hosting provider is one of the recommended web hosting providers by WordPress themselves. When you are in doubt, always choose Bluehost because you can never go wrong with it.
Alternative to Bluehost, HostGator is another web hosting provider you should check out. WordPress also includes HostGator in its recommendations. Personally, one of the biggest advantages of HostGator that I see as an edge for new users is its 45-days money-back guarantee. Take note that Bluehost only offers 30 days. So, HostGator is indeed worth checking out.
If you want to get your website up and running but does not want to spend too much money, Hostinger is your choice. Hostinger offers one of the most competitively priced web hosting plans. Moreover, if you are looking for a more upscale web hosting experience, their cloud web hosting plan is worth considering.
Best FREE blogging platforms
If you do not want to shell out money and want to try out blogging first, you can accomplish it by selecting one of several FREE blogging platforms. Back in the days when I was still a student, I did not have enough money to get a web hosting plan. I looked at free blogging platforms.
At that time, only Blogger and WordPress.com are the only viable choices I had. WordPress.com (not to mistake it with WordPress.org) is an amazing blogging platform for a more professional look. On this platform, you can use elegant pre-built themes that make your blog look stunning in an instant.
However, I chose Blogger (Blogspot) because Google owns the platform which can give you an edge with Search Engine Optimization. Additionally, you can easily monetize your Blogger blog using Google’s Adsense, which you cannot do with WordPress.
Currently, there are more FREE blogging platforms other than the aforementioned ones. These include Wix, Weebly, Medium, Ghost, and Tumblr.
Stick to a publishing calendar
The main reason why most newbie bloggers fail at blogging is consistency, or the lack thereof. Like any brand in 2021, posting or publishing content should be consistent and of high quality. To force yourself into the good habit of writing and publishing consistently, it is advisable to create a publishing calendar.
A Publishing calendar creates a schedule of the articles that should be written and published. Like a newspaper outlet or magazine, it keeps you on track. To create one, you should produce a spreadsheet of article ideas with deadlines. You can use free spreadsheet software such as Google Spreadsheet or design a Trello board.
EXPERT TIP: There are also plenty of premade publishing calendars on the internet, so there is no reason to skip this step.
Monetize your blog
When you have accomplished all the previous steps, and your blog invites thousands of users per month, only then should you monetize it. There are a lot of channels you can use to generate money from your blog. The most basic one is by displaying advertisements. Some of the best Ad Networks you should thrive to be a part of are Mediavine, Google Adsense, Media.net, PropellerAds, Infolinks, and more.
Affiliate marketing is another money-making avenue. In this method, you will urge your readers to use your affiliate links to buy something from a website. If your readers do so, you take a commission for each successful sale.
There are a lot more ways to create money through blogging. These are the most common ones.
EXPERT TIP: When starting, do not focus on monetization yet and continue publishing new articles. But having an idea of what your marketing strategy will be is still ideal.
ANOTHER EXPERT TIP: Work on your articles and blogs for at least six (6) months religiously before monetizing.
Most people say that it is better to act immediately. In some sense, this statement is true. However, if you lack the tact in doing so, your blogging journey may begin on a rocky start. Therefore, it is better to make some preparations before jumping into this adventure.
I leave you with one quote that applies to this article: