• Ida Horner, founder of Ethnic Supplies (an online social enterprise that promotes independence for African women) and Africa on the Blog,
• Christine Searle from SA Venues, 2010 SA Best Travel Blog runner-up,
• Cindy Taylor, personal blogger at The Only Cin and group blogger at The BlaBla Blog, 2010 SA Best Group Blog finalist.
• Michelle Salater, president of Sūmèr LLC and creator of the Love Your Blog e-learning program, whose own blog Copy Doodle was recently listed #17 on Technorati’s 100 Best Small Business Blogs.
Denise Allen, a friend of Cindy’s, was at first tentative to post poetry on her blog, www.adeeyoyo.wordpress.com. Encouraged by readers, she was chosen by the Poetry Institute of Africa to be published in one of their summer 2010/2011 anthologies. On a larger scale, Neil Parischa’s humble blog (1000 Awesome Things) attracted widespread attention, spawning The Book of Awesome. Celebrating “the free, easy little joys that make life sweet”, it was published in April 2010, becoming an international bestseller within six months.
But what if there’s nothing worth saying? you may wonder. The good news is you’re not alone. Even Barack Obama, in the preface to the 2004 edition of his book Dreams from my Father, admits to hope and despair on its publication – “despair that I had failed to say anything worth saying”. Ida’s advice is direct. “If you don’t write it, you will never know. Just do it.”
If you’re feeling lost, Cindy (a professional writer) says that the creative challenges arising regularly on blogs offer great inspiration and writing structure. The act of blogging can also de-clutter your mind and open creative channels. This is something Ida experienced after attending a conference on sourcing ethically from Africa, which left her feeling low. Turning to her blog, she posted all the objections she had been unable to raise and sent a link to the organisers – an empowering exercise that left her free to move forward.
Bloggers don’t have to go it alone. There is the option to create or contribute to multi-author blogs. Many are moderated and some are limited to established freelancers, as Christine says of SA-Venues, but not all. Cindy is the resident food and wine fundi at The BlaBla Blog, a 2010 SA Best Group Blog finalist. Together with Africa on the Blog, BlaBla welcomes less experienced writers, particularly to expand specific categories. When choosing a direction, bear in mind that personal and group blogs are substantially different in terms of focus and content.
Cindy explains that group blogging requires a more journalistic take on topical issues, in contrast to the first-person account of life that’s typical of personal blogs. For example, her puppy’s flatulence may feature on The Only Cin, whereas the local government’s by-laws regarding dog-per-home quotas would be more appropriate for The BlaBla Blog. Ida adds that group blogging introduces diversity and alleviates individual pressure, while personal blogging can enhance your reputation. Whatever blows your hair back.
Either way, you’re virtually guaranteed to meet a fascinating array of people, as Ida, Christine and Cindy agree. Michelle adds – from her own and her clients’ experience – that you can dramatically expand your business exposure and attract exceptional media opportunities. Furthermore, in light of escalating travel costs and climate change concerns, blogging offers a viable alternative for engaging with people from other countries and cultures.
On the subject of the environment, ‘Blog tours’ are being substituted for traditional book tours, enabling authors to market online, through reviews and articles hosted by various blogs. This reduces their carbon footprint while expanding reader reach.
Broaden your perspective:
Despite isolated unpleasant incidents, all four women offer more compelling reasons to give blogging a go. Christine has evolved into an avid photographer, explored new places and gathered precious memories, all in the process of sourcing material. Cindy has tapped into a vibrant creative outlet that’s broader than traditional publishing. Ida’s blog, Ethnic Supplies, has attracted sales for her wild silk scarves and, following her blogging success and widespread demand, Michelle has launched her new Love Your Blog e-learning program.
A Women’s Day post that Ida wrote for Birds on the Blog resulted in a subsidy for two impoverished girls in Uganda. You guessed it: they are Perfect and Princess, whose education is sponsored by Africa on the Blog. One of the posts on this site describes The Kuyu Project, which teaches African high school students to use social media and other forms of technology to make a positive impact in their communities.
Imagine if such a project empowers the Ugandan twins to one day educate other children like themselves, through the medium of blogging. If so, it may certainly brighten their future, expand their circle of influence, add their voices to vital affairs and contribute to a better world. What’s not to love?
Please contribute your comments below and stay tuned for THE 5 P’S OF BLOGGING: TIPS TO GET STARTED (on Friday).