By: Sandy Nene
There are many South African bloggers who have built a great name for themselves, with a great following and intriguing blog posts. I thought I should chat to some of the country’s most respected bloggers. Of course your blog can’t be ranking high on google if you’ve only been blogging for a few months, it takes courage and hard work for you and your blog to be recognised and if blogging is your true calling – you’ll overcome tears, disappointments and many other challenges that come along with being a blogger.
How often do you update your blog?
Cath Jenkin: Completely depends on time available to me after work is done, and whether inspiration has struck.
Jared Orlin: When I started gossipguy.co.za in 2009, I aimed to blog daily. These days, my day job and paid-for blogging keep me pretty busy, so it varies from week to week. Ideally, three times a week is a good effort.
Anja van der Spuy: I am actually the laziest person in the world. I mean, I would honestly drive to the bathroom if I could. Yet, somehow, I am very strict on myself when it comes to blogging. I try to have at least three blog posts up every week, even if it means that I have to cut my Sunday naps short to write.
Brett Robson: With my busy work schedule I have been updating my blog about twice a week. The sad thing is it’s not because I don’t have content – I still have outfits I shot in Dubai from September! But so much has happened since then that I had to prioritize what I posted.
Kirsty Bisset: The short answer to that question is ‘not regularly enough’. I try for three times a week. Starting my blog stemmed from a passion for writing, and I love sharing rad content, but sometimes that whole work thing gets in the way… So rude!
Which blogs do you love visiting?
Jared Orlin: Mostly showbiz and entertainment blogs. Keeping up with what’s going on in the realm I write/dabble in.
Anja van der Spuy: You guys know I love Fashion By Brett Robson, because she’s an amazing person and her blog reflects it. I also love Keiko Lynn’s beautiful blog. Aside from fashion bloggers, I also love Courage The Cowardly blog – she blogs about overcoming her fears, and it’s funny and beautiful at the same time! Oh, and I know she’s not a blogger, but I LOVE Jenna Marbles‘ vlog. She’s just as much of a weirdo as me!
Kirsty Bisset: I visit a variety of blogs with a variety of themes on a regular basis, but I particularly enjoy Cape Town based blog, Life Is Savage as well as Buzzfeed, Mashable, Beauty South Africa, and Vogue blogs from around the world. Also, anything that mentions Patron.
Why did you decide to start a blog?
Cath Jenkin: I decided to start 8 years ago to chronicle life for my daughter.
Jared Orlin: I previously had a travel blog while teaching English in Taiwan, so that was about keeping in touch with family back home. This was pre-Facebook and Twitter – yes, such a time existed! Gossipguy.co.za was inspired by the movie Julie/Julia, but also by a desire to kind of “re-brand” myself. I’m a professional journalist and editor, and the idea behind the blog is to add a different element to what I do.
Anja van der Spuy: I actually started my first blog while I studied at The Red & Yellow School of Advertising. Initially it was part of an assignment, but I fell in love with it! My first blog was called Pigeons & Statues, and it was basically a platform where I reviewed advertisements. The name was based on the famous quote, “Accept that some days you’re the pigeon, and sometimes you’re the statue.”
Brett Robson: I decided to blog because I was recently unemployed at the time & I didn’t want to be bored. I wanted to still be able to express my creativity.
Kirsty Bisset: Well, how else am I meant to get paid in booze and beauty products? Nah, seriously, I enjoy writing and making people laugh. I am by no stretch of the imagination a brilliant writer or a comedian, but if I can inform at least one person or turn their frown upside down, I’ve won.
What has blogging taught you?
Cath Jenkin: That it’s okay to be human, and it’s even greater to know that there are more humans, just like you.
Jared Orlin: How to write humorously, how to market yourself and that people can be brands too.
Anja van der Spuy: That people love honesty. Nobody is interested in reading something somebody told you to write. I once wrote a blog post about how awkward my first day at my new job was – describing every excruciating detail. From having toilet paper stuck to my shoe, to sitting next to a mini fridge that smelled like death personified. People LOVED that post. They loved reading about my embarrassment and telling me stories about their own awkward experiences. They didn’t want to read a fake version of how amazing it was. It’s important to keep it real!
Brett Robson: Blogging has taught me about priorities. Balancing my career as a designer/merchandiser as well as being on top of my blog isn’t the easiest thing. My job affords me international travel as well as a steady income – if I start to neglect that for my blog then I’m basically shooting myself in the foot. But at the same time I can’t not blog. Its about balance. I also prioritize what events I attend. I cannot be seen EVERYWHERE, supporting every brand who sends me an invite. I want my readers to know that if they see me at an event, or if I associate myself with a specific brand, it is because i believe in that brand, & not just because they sent me an invite & I’m trying to be a socialite – which I’m not.
Kirsty Bisset: It has taught me that boobs get hits (sorry, I had to…) Blogging has further instilled in me that it’s not about you, but your audience. Having an ego or a self-centred agenda won’t get you very far at all, so focus on the value that you can add to your readers. The rest will follow.
What challenges are bloggers likely to face and how do you personally deal with these challenges?
Cath Jenkin: When you start to feel like this is a competition, remember that you’re only competing with yourself. Moreover, every blogger has value and an interesting perspective on life at large. Appreciate that, for diversity is what makes life interesting!
Jared Orlin: Time. It’s often difficult to find the time and energy to blog. Like being a professional novelist, I think you need to schedule time to blog. If you’re tired after a hectic day at work, you’re not likely to want to come home and blog interesting/funny stuff.
Anja van der Spuy: Blogging is like high school. Everyone is constantly fighting to be the most popular and to attend the coolest parties. I am definitely not the coolest person in blogging high school – I wear Ackermans and Jet clothes (both awesome brands!), I often blog about my most embarrassing moments and I’m much happier to have a book in my hand than a glass of champagne. I know this is going to sound very Miss USA, but to me the most important part about blogging is to just stay true to myself. My readers know that I’m a total freak, and they don’t care because most of them are too. Love you, my art freaks!
Brett Robson: I think we are our biggest challenge. So many bloggers are mean about each other & treat blogging like a scene out of Mean Girls. They don’t seem to understand that there’s enough for everyone. The reality is that we don’t all like each other’s style, & you are entitled to have an opinion – but you don’t have to be hurtful about it. I try to be nice to everyone. If I don’t like your blog then I won’t visit it. But you won’t catch me bad mouthing other bloggers. We all put work into our blogs.
Kirsty Bisset: From early on, you have to realise that not everyone is going to like you / your content / your style of writing / your hair / your use of the word, ‘ubiquitous’. Truth be told, I am a bit of a people-pleaser, so this was a tough lesson to learn. You will face criticism from many people, but stay focused on why you started and don’t take yourself so seriously. You will also face challenges from a time perspective, so if it is something you want to do daily, ensure that you plan your content in advance, and dedicate a portion of your day to your blog.
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