Someone once said that having a startup is hard. The truth about startups is that they are unstable and that your ability to maintain them will greatly influence whether they succeed or not. This article will take you through the ups and downs of starting and running a blog in Kenya.
This is a common article in almost all blogs. All bloggers have the same startup story and it’s not a pleasing one. It’s better for you that you are reading this so as to get first hand information on what it takes to run a successful blog. Notice that I have used synonyms and paraphrases of my title to try and improve my SEO. More on this later in the article. Without any further ado, let’s dive in.
The blogging idea
I started thinking of investing before finishing campus for a long time in 2021. Back then, I was a freelancer in several platforms, some paying high others low. These platforms include; Opera News, Scooper News and Remotasks. This is how I made my first capital that would help me start my own blog.
Before thinking about blogging, I first wanted to invest in a PlayStation Lounge. I took some time to create a business plan and calculated the total amount required. It was Ksh.300,000. Honestly speaking, I don’t think any campus student at the time could raise such an amount without help or ending up in malicious deals.
At the time, I only had 10% of the amount needed for a PlayStation Lounge.Carson Osoro
I made a decision to invest in something else. That is when I met a blogger, who wanted to employ me and some of my friends as writers but made a mistake of showing us his monthly pay from Google AdSense. This motivated me to invest everything I had into blogging, in this case, Daily Hub.
Being a medical student, I had to make an investment that wouldn’t be time-consuming. Blogging seemed to be the perfect choice. Other investments such as having a liquor store or a gaming lounge would require my physical presence on order for business to run. On the other hand of blogging, my workshop is my notebook.
I had to involve my friends/classmates, who were also interested in the idea. Honestly, this didn’t pan out because the thought of investing in something that isn’t a guaranteed method of earning is quite risky. Over time, I realized that I was alone in this investment plan. Tough realization!
So what did this mean?
This meant that I had to take on this investment alone. 100% of the capital would be provided by me, and I would benefit from 100% of the profits. Bear the risks and enjoy the benefits.
How much capital to start a blog?
Enough about my personal starter experience. In this section, I will guide you through everything you need in terms of startup capital.
Starting a blog requires you to either know coding or invest your money in a website builder. You can choose among many different builders such as Weebly, Squarespace, Wix or WordPress.
At the start of my exploration, I had settled for Squarespace as I read some reviews online that it’s the best. However, I quickly changed my mind after realising that it would cost me over $600 to start and maintain the blog. I looked into Weebly but wasn’t impressed by their themes and finally, I resorted to WordPress, which satisfied all my needs.
This is crucial. You must understand what you want and how much you are willing to invest.
From my personal experience, I prefer wordpress.org as it is completely free. You have 100% freedom over all aspects in your blog. On the other hand, WordPress.com will cost you a $180 to set up. Here, the WordPress company managed your blog and leaves out a few options out for you to tweak. This is beneficial to those people who aren’t looking for much from the blog.
If you are starting a business in form of a blog, use WordPress.org. I cannot emphasize this enough.
Here is what you need;
1. Hosting from international companies such as Bluehost, Kinsta, or from Local companies such as truehost and webhost. Here you will need approximately $30 +/- 10 depending on your country. I presume you are Kenyan. This translates to Ksh.3500 per year.
2. Secondly, you need a domain. For instance, dailyhub.co.ke is an example of a domain. You have to do a domain Search so as to ascertain that your domain is available. Domain prices vary. Extensions such as .co.ke or .com go for about Ksh.800/$7 per year while others may cost up to $15. Price entirely depends on your extension.
You may incurr additional costs with your domain and hosting provider. More often than not, both services are offered at in same provider.
3. If you value aesthetics, you are probably going to want a beautiful theme for your site. In this case, you’ll need to visit Envato Markets sub-site called Theme Forest. There you will find a large bank of different themes. They vary in prices so you’ll have to buy what fits well with your pocket and satisfaction. You don’t want to be tired of a theme after a year or so.
You should maintain the theme’s design for as long as your website is up and running. This has something to do with branding. Imagine if you googled standardmedia.co.ke or the-star.co.ke only to find that it is green in color instead of the usual red and white or blue respectively. You don’t want to confuse your readers. Maintain a brand that your readers will get comfortable with for a long time.
Themes like this one used in Daily Hub cost $59 which at the time of writing this article, is equivalent to Ksh.6,967.90. You can choose to use a cheaper theme or a free theme. It’s your choice.
Setting and launching Daily Hub cost about Ksh.12,000/$110.00, including all transaction and service fees involved. Yours may be cheaper depending on the decision you make. In a nutshell, the minimum amount you should have is about $80 for blogging. It is expensive, but nothing is easy. You have to find a way of raising the sum.
Launching of Daily Hub
Daily Hub was launched on 13th April 2022, and I started by installing necessary plugins and themes for my site.
Customizing is a long process and you have to be patient. It took me almost a week to fully customize the site. The task was so difficult that I almost paid a freelancer on Fiverr to do the work for me. You see, I launched my site in wordpress.org, leaving everything to me. If I had launched through wordpress.com, most of the backend setup would have been done for me. I chose to save my money instead.
Plugins You Need For Your Site
You need several plugins for your site to function properly. Remember that too many plugins will slow down your site, increasing bounce-rate and you will not have sufficient traffic. Therefore, install only essential plugins. The rest will work against you.
Here are the most essential plugins you should have in your wordpress backend.
- Akismet Anti-spam – This one blocks bots and spammers from accessing your site.
- Jetpack – This one is also an anti-spam plugin. It prevents brute force attacks and malicious logins from blacklisted IP addressing. This plugin and the former work well together.
- One SEO plugin – Yes. You need only one. Examples include Yoast SEO, Rank Math, All In One SEO and many others. Do your research and determine which will work best for you. I recommend Rank Math. A good SEO plugin will ensure that you have a good online presence. It will help you optimize your articles so that they are ranked well in search engine. This is the most important part of blogging, and deserves another article. However, you can read more about SEO here.
- AMP – Accelerated Mobile Pages. According to google Wikipedia; AMP is an open source HTML framework developed by the AMP Open Source Project. It was originally created by Google as a competitor to Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. AMP is optimized for mobile web browsing and intended to help webpages load faster. Download this plugin and set it up to reduce your pages load time, and bounce-rate at the same time.
- Elementor – This plugin is important otherwise your theme will not be able to run. Think of it like the bricks of any construction site.
- Post Views Counter – This is not really important but if you want your readers to see how many people have read your article, then you can install it.
- MailChimp – One good way of creating an audience is through mail. Anyone who signs up to your newsletters is genuinely interested in your content and will most likely follow an article link you send them by email. This plugin let’s you send newsletters to all your subscribers easily. It is efficient and time-saving.
- Envato Market – If you installed a theme from themeforest, you definitely need this plugin. You should download it from the Envato website. It will make updates easier for you.
- WP Mail SMTP – This plugin solves the issue of your emails landing in the spam folder of your subscribers’ mailbox. If you don’t solve the mailbox problem, your potential blog subscribers will never see your mail. Rarely do people check their spam box.
- WP-Optimize – This optimizes your site, increasing your page loading site. It caches your site for maximum productivity.
Chasing AdSense for almost 3 months
All bloggers have a goal of making money from their websites. AdSense is the first stop for all bloggers seeking to make some money.
The journey to getting approved by AdSense is really stressful, if you don’t know what to do to get accepted. Daily Hub got rejected six times before approval. Here I’ll share with you some few things you need to know so as to get approved as fast as possible.
Rules to follow so as to get approved by AdSense quickly
- You must read the google policies. This help you have a good understanding of what to do and what not to. Once you have this information, you can write without worrying about violating their policies. Big blogs such as Venas News have been banned from Google AdSense in the past for policy violations. You don’t want this for your site, as you will need to set up another blog.
- Have more than 15 articles in your blog. Have at least 2 articles with more than 2500 words and at least 4 with more than 1500 words. This is not a rule you will find in google AdSense policy pages. Consider it an unofficial rule. I did this and got approved in my 7th submission.
- Your site must be at least 2 weeks old. This can change. Research and find out for yourself. Some sites take more than 6 months to get approved.
- Use Images that don’t have copyright. You can use free image websites such as freepik.com for your images.
Meeting other bloggers
Meeting fellow bloggers spelt success to my AdSense approval. Without the insight of people with first hand experience, you will not know what mistakes you are making.
In the process of setting up Daily Hub, I met the owners of kenyanspress.com and afrinewske.com, who really advised me on how to optimise my site for AdSense approval, and how to boost my Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
These owners, names withheld, shared informative videos and articles that really opened my eyes to the blogging world.
Getting approved by AdSense
There isn’t much to say about getting approved by AdSense, apart from the experience being exhilarating. After following all instructions listed above, you have a 90% chance that you will get approved in the next 5 days after submitting your site.
Here is what the approval email looked like:
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- Creating Visually Appealing Images and Graphics for Your Website
- Top Businesses Thriving in Karatina Kenya
- Building Credibility & Trust Through Your Business Website
Sharing My links everywhere
Traffic is food for any blog. Traffic converts into money. Without traffic, you will not sustain your site. It is for this reason that you have to become a social media manager. You have to change and manage multiple social media platforms.
You’ll have to use social media to generate traffic before getting organic traffic from google. Organic traffic takes a lot of time. Be patient!
Learning about SEO.
If you have kept your attention to this point, you are obviously a blogger in the making.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is among the few important things one has to focus on to help his/her site appear high on google ranks. This is a topic that is so wide that I’ll attach a link to more information here. Feel free to leave us a comment if you think the resource is helpful.
To rank well on google, you need to optimize your articles with SEO plugin. According to several authors online, good SEO will determine the success of your site. Popular SEO plugins such as Yoast and Rank Math have been compared in the past and from my analysis, Rank Math is probably the best.
Why Rank Math?
This is because it includes a lot of features in its free package, features that would have otherwise been reserved for premium members in Yoast SEO plugin. An example of a feature is the use of multiple keywords. In Rank Math, you have the ability to set several different keywords while on Yoast, you simply cannot.
In choosing an SEO plugin, do a proper survey before settling on one. Yoast may work better for you, than it does on other sites.
Google Panda, Penguin and Humming Bird
Google has recently developed an algorithm that determines whether your article is good for readers or not. Their engineers designed it so as to pick the best content to be ranked as the top in search lists. There is a lot of information regarding this algorithm. Read more about it here.