To Blog Or Not To Blog: Owning Your Narrative
I was a speaker at the 4th edition of the 2019 Harare WordCamp and this was my presentation.
I am digital firestarter. Which is my fancy way of saying I write stories on the internet imagining people gathered around their devices as they would around a fire.
I still find it funny that if it was a life or death situation and someone shouted;
“….quick it’s an emergency somebody call a blogger….”
I would probably be looking around trying to find a blogger who would be brave enough to step forward until someone nudged me like; “Dude, you are a blogger!….”
I have a blog that’s been running for six years and to date has 500+ posts, so yes I am a blogger, and I am not just a blogger, you could call me an uncle of bloggers, as I actively engage in building a community of bloggers.
When I am not figuring out what to write next on my blog, I am trying to find ways to improve the African Blogging Community, via Afrobloggers a platform that promotes the blogging culture to change narratives, start conversations and learn from our shared experiences.
To blog or not to blog, that is not even a question most of you probably dabble in various forms of blogging and some of you without even realising it.
You are on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Medium, Tumblr, some podcast channel, and even your Whatsapp status.
The popular yet limited opinion about a blog is that it seems to be an online diary, but it’s so much more than that, for some of us, it’s a way of life. A website is a conversation and blogging means community, to be a blogger is to commune with this community.
An unrestrictive definition of blogging is that it’s the online update of media on a digital platform
Why Should You Do It
- Do not die with an untold story
Have you ever watched the news, the breaking news and all that and asked yourself who decides whats news. Wordcamp for instance they wont make breaking news, I wont turn on the tv watch the main news bulletin and get an update on how the Harare WordPress community is having its 4th WordCamp.
The 2019 Harare Wordcamp might not be on the news but it is on my blog, and if you missed it you can click on the button below to get a quick highlight on what took place.
Now, imagine; imagine if everyone who was there wrote about it, blogged about it, vlogged about it tweeted about it, instagrammed it, facebooked it, pinned it, and posted it; used their online presence how many more people would be waiting to not miss out on the next event; some people aren’t a part of things simply because they just haven’t heard about it.
I know people who have attended wordcamps and wordpress meetups because they read about it from posts I wrote…
Have you ever searched for something on the internet, code, a recipe, a book review, where to get a zupco bus Wordcamp, and could not find it and wondered why doesn’t someone post about this?
Have you ever wished someone could write a detailed solution to a problem or someone who cracked a particular challenge posted how they managed to do it?. One thing I like about the tech community is how you can find almost anything about anything and possible solutions but what about the other less tech subjects. Your phone is acting up someone has a phone just like yours and has had a problem just like yours and they either solved it or will tell you how the best thing you can do is to take that phone put in a drawer and forget about it…
Do you have an idea, skills to teach or burning issue that you want out there, but you probably have no access to the people who you could make a difference with so you just remain forever silent instead?….
Then this is exactly why you should be considering the digital world, with the world a click away
The are 76.5 million sites running on WordPress thats 35% of the internet and ½ of those are on WordPress.com, 500 websites are created everyday; that seems like a whole lot but the world has a population of 7.7 billion people and none of them are you neither can they tell your story.
There is someone out there waiting to hear exactly what you have to say it may even be you…
Blogging is also a cool way of handling your SEO Search Engine Optimisation and managing your brand, and digital marketing campaign
I did not even know I was dabbling in Search Engine Optimisation until I attended my first WordCamp and a particular presentation by Trust Nhokovedzo on SEO had me paying attention. SEO means optimising your site so search engines can find you. Do you ever Google yourself???? Now if you search Uncle of bloggers, guess who you will find….
I write about the beauty and chaos of the place I call home and celebrate the magic and mystery in my ancestry. If you search Something Mysterious, Something Mythical, something majestic you will find Something I wrote.
Certain titles are most likely to be searched for, titles suchs as
- How To.. How to do this how to do that,
- Lists.. like top 5 something 5 ways to boost.
There are even softwares you can use to help you come up with titles, though I haven’t used any of those, personally coming up with a title is the hardest thing part of creating a blog piece.
Most importantly remember to use specific tags in your posts not only does this help keep your content organized if you are hosted on WordPress your content will be visible on the reader although you should not exceed 15 tags to a post else your site will be blacklisted.
The internet crawl bots that index the internet though blind they can read. When I upload images I always make sure they are named correctly and not just those default meaningless numbers image125.jpg or 2019screenshot.png Also remember to fill in alt tags, this is not just good seo practise, but this is also the text that appears if the image does not load and this is the text that screen readers read and keeps your content friendly for the visually impaired community.
I was fascinated by the legend of the mysterious Nyami Nyami, so I searched researched and wrote about something it… and one of my crazy conclusions was that maybe Nyami Nyami is shapeshifter and if you search for that reference…… where will you find it? On my blog
Who are you and what’s your story? Imagine if you paid more attention to writing it down on the imternet, you could position yourself closer to the change you want to see.
The Future Is DigitalTweet
Writing helps you focus, your thoughts and ideas, its almost impossible to think about something while writing something totally different.
If people cannot write well, they cannot think well and if they cannot think well others will do the thinking for them….. George OrwellTweet
WordPress.com VS WordPress.org
WordPress.com is the easier one for those trying to get a feel for what a blogging is like. Most of the housekeeping is handled for you and all you have to do write (although your customization options are limited when you are on the free plan.)
WordPress.org is an open-source platform where you selfhost your site and requires a bit more tech savviness but your sites are fully customisable and this is particularly suited for someone with a clear plan on what their site is about or for the more business oriented content producer.
What happens when you don’t pay hosting fees or when your hosting guy goes MIA with your site unavailable; this is definitely a possibility the are unscrupulous hosting operatives that suddenly disappeared taking all the content that was on it. Imagine if I was hosting with them I would lose six years of my history just like that. This is why you should keep back ups and work with reputable hosting solutions. And this is why we need people telling stories about their experiences with hosting companies if its good its good if it not call them out… shout out to Free WEB Hosting
I want immortality, what would happen when I died, who would ensure my site is still up and running I want my nyami nyami post on the internet forever who knows maybe future scholars will even be sifting through my posts trying to understand what our life was like. In the same way archaeologist used studied rock paintings
There’s this crazy vibe that I get that a blogger on WordPress.com is not as serious as one who self-hosts, when you tell someone your blog name and then it ends with WordPress.com and they look at you like oh you are one of those… or when you are trying to get a gig with a corporate or a celeb and they ask about your site.
Some of the best blogs that I have seen are on WordPress.com and so are some of my favourite bloggers infact WordPress.com has the best blogging community, theres 35 million blogs and a self-promoting reader which picks up tags on wordpress.com sites to this community.
I know people who have moved to self hosting and their inactive WordPres.com sites still getting way more traffic than their newer and improved and now they really need to put in the work in SEO and social media marketing
When someone asks me my blog address I always say its Becoming The Muse without finishing the rest of it because I know if you type that in you will find my blog … little trick for those who don’t want to mention the wordpress.com bit
My blog was started on WordPress.com and I opted to pay for a plan offered by WordPress than try and handle the whole migrate to self-host. Besides if you are super serious you can get a premium plan that lets you have full stack customizations as if you are on self hosting including uploading your own custom theme, but it’s a rather pricey plan.
So you have created your blog what next? Next I would recommend you join the Afrobloggers community we are trying to build links with African Bloggers we are each other’s community and who better to read your blog than another blogger and the peer to peer learning that comes from that, you would be surprised how our situations are different yet remarkably similar.
The thing about a blog, just like the only person who can tell you how to live your life is you, so is a blog; what work for one person might not work for you and the only way to figure it out is to make your mistakes and learn from them
I hope I have impressed on you that blogging has potential to be more than a hobby for some of us it’s a way of life, blogging is also not easy at all, It wont happen overnight lot of work goes into it, you probably scroll through people who seem to effortlessly churn out content, its not effortless, as it seems from dealing with loadshedding to crazy data prices, and well life. My Zimbabwean traffic has dropped if its hard to read imagine the challenge in uploading content.
I asked a question on how long its been since people last blogged and a large number of people felt attacked.
Have a content schedule but its easier said than done; starting a blog is easy but staying consistent, not so much, yet still I recommend everyone to start one, you will learn something about yourself it will give you a better appreciation for those who do
…and even if you are not going to start your own blog just yet, do take the time to read blogs, comment, recommend and to just generally encourage and support the people who share pieces of their very souls on the world wide web, its scary out there.
Why Do I do it…
I cant do magic, so I write….
PS and if you scrolled to the bottom hoping to get a quick recap here is my favourite summary of my presentation from a fellow attendee Rufaro Madamombe
- so that you dont die with your story untold because no one else can tell it
- to build a community
- to share knowledge
- to learn and think better