April 14, 2024
How I Built a 6-Figure Blogging Business and You Can Too (From Kenya)

As we delve into Jane’s story, we uncover the secrets behind her remarkable success and gain valuable insights into how to start a blog in Kenya and turn it into a lucrative venture.

From navigating the challenges of limited internet access to leveraging local cultural nuances, Jane’s experience offers practical advice that transcends geographical boundaries.

Whether you’re passionate about lifestyle, travel, fashion or any other niche, this article will equip you with actionable steps to kickstart your own blogging journey from Kenya or any other corner of the globe.

So buckle up and get ready to discover the untapped potential of blogging in Africa!

Key Takeaways

Here are some key takeaways on how to start a successful blog in Kenya:

  • When selecting a blogging platform, consider WordPress to be the best choice for flexibility, customization, and professional options long term. Specifically, self-hosted WordPress.org lets you fully own and control your blog compared to the limits of a hosted platform like WordPress.com.
  • Find a reliable Kenyan hosting provider for optimal WordPress site speed and uptime. Truehost Web Hosting tends to be top-rated.
  • Choose a custom domain name that enhances your brand – like KenyaTravelTips.co.ke. Registering it for at least 2 years provides stability.
  • Carefully install WordPress on your hosting account via automated tools or manual FTP along with configuring key settings. Select an attractive, responsive theme and essential plugins too.
  • Publishing search-friendly niche content regularly helps build an audience that returns and grows over time through SEO and promotions.
  • Finally, implement diverse monetization streams like Google AdSense, affiliate marketing and selling your own digital products to have a sustainable blogging business. The Kenya blogosphere has proven very lucrative!

#1. Choose a blogging platform

When starting a blog in Kenya, the very first decision you need to make is which blogging platform to use. There are quite a few options to consider, each with their own pros and cons. Some top platforms for blogging in Kenya include:

WordPress – WordPress is likely the most popular blogging platform globally, as well as in Kenya. The open source software is easy to use, deeply customizable, has thousands of themes and plugins available, and can be self-hosted fairly affordably. It does however require a bit more technical know-how than some other options. There are two main WordPress options:

  • WordPress.com – The free hosted option run by Automattic with limitations but easy setup.
  • WordPress.org – Self-hosted on your own web hosting server. Offers more control and customization. This is what most established blogs run on.

Blogger – This free blogging platform is owned by Google and very simple to set up. It has the benefit of built-in integration with Google services. But customization is limited and its best for more casual hobby blogs.

Medium – Medium has become hugely popular, mainly for its beautiful minimalist reading experience. But the platform is focused more on stories and ideas than personal blogs. And the lack of ability to control design and custom branding make it less than ideal for individual bloggers.

A few other options like Wix or Tumblr have their niche uses as well. But WordPress tends to be the favorite in Kenya for those serious about blogging. The open source freedom, vast community, powerful features, customization and affordable costs make WordPress hard to beat.

WordPress.com or WordPress.org

If you do decide to go the WordPress route for creating a blog in Kenya, you’ll next have to decide whether to go with WordPress.com or WordPress.org.

WordPress.com

This free hosted option run by Automattic (the company behind WordPress) allows you to get a blog up and running extremely quickly. Within minutes you can sign up for an account, select one of their free themes, and make your first blog post.

The major advantages of using WordPress.com include:

  • No technical knowledge required – They handle all the hosting, security, updates etc behind the scenes allowing you to just focus on creating content.
  • Free basic plan available – You can launch a site without spending anything upfront.
  • Great support resources – Detailed documentation and support to help you.

However, WordPress.com does come with some major limitations:

  • Limited customization & control – You are largely limited to picking a theme they provide and tweaking minor style details. No coding your own themes/plugins here.
  • Added fees for upgrades – To unlock features like custom domains, monetization abilities and custom CSS, you need to upgrade to a paid subscription plan which starts at $5/month.
  • Can’t migrate away easily – Once your site grows on WordPress.com, it can be tough to switch over to self-hosted WordPress.org down the road if needed. You may lose your branding, URLs, traffic etc.
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So WordPress.com is fantastic for launching a simple free blog quickly. But for anything more advanced, most Kenyan bloggers opt for…

WordPress.org

This self-hosted version of WordPress is what runs the millions of serious blogs and websites around the world built on WordPress. The key defining aspect of WordPress.org is that you are responsible for the managing server environment that hosts your WordPress site files.

The main pros of self-hosting WordPress include:

  • Full control & customization – Host your site exactly how you want, code your own themes/plugins, optimize performance etc.
  • Own your platform & data – No vendor lock-in. Because you own the site files, migrating is much easier if needed.
  • Monetization flexibility – No restrictions on which ads or payment methods you can use.

However, with the power comes more responsibility:

  • Technical skills required – From server management to security updates. If you’re non-technical, this can be challenging.
  • Manual upgrades & security – Unlike WordPress.com handling this for you, you’ll need to keep plugins/themes updated and monitor security with WordPress.org.
  • Hosting costs – Need to pay for reliable hosting, a domain etc from a provider like Safaricom Web Hosting.

If you’re willing to invest a bit more for immense flexibility and creative freedom down the road, in most cases WordPress.org is preferable for ambitious Kenyan bloggers. But be ready to learn and implement best practices around hosting, securing and maintaining a self-hosted WordPress site.

2. Get your domain and hosting

Once you decide to go with self-hosted WordPress for your Kenyan blog, the next step is finding a suitable local hosting provider and registering your own custom domain name. This all happens even before you install the WordPress software itself.

Choosing a Reliable Kenyan Hosting Provider

Since your WordPress site will rely on servers rented from a web host, it’s crucial to select a reliable Kenyan hosting company. Key factors to evaluate include:

Uptime & Reliability

  • Look for an uptime record greater than 99%. That means their servers are running and accessible by visitors to your site 99%+ of the time. Less than that can negatively impact traffic and site performance.
  • Check reviews to confirm other customers have had positive experiences with server reliability from the host.

Speed & Performance

  • A quality host will have high-performance infrastructure so pages load quickly for site visitors.
  • Make sure they offer CDNs, SSD storage, and caching capabilities to optimize WordPress site speed.

WordPress Expertise

  • Find a host well-versed in supporting WordPress sites, not just generic web hosting. This includes optimized server stacks, auto WordPress installers, managed WP options etc.
  • Safety measures like automatic WordPress core updates are also important.

Support & Documentation

  • Even with the best systems, issues inevitably come up. Prioritize hosts with 24/7 expert support and an extensive knowledge base/docs to self-serve answers.

Affordable Pricing

  • Entry-level shared hosting plans start around 500-1500 KES/month from well-rated Kenyan companies. Make sure to account for any hidden fees too.
  • Pay annually for the best rates.

Some of the most reliable hosting providers in Kenya worth considering include:

  • Safaricom Web Hosting
  • KenyaWeb Hosting
  • NestHaven Africa Hosting
  • WHMCS Hosting

I suggest comparing 3-5 top-rated local hosts across the above criteria before selecting one to entrust with your WordPress site.

Registering a Custom Domain Name

A domain name or URL represents the public address your site visitors will type in to access your blog.

While most reputable Kenyan hosts offer domain registration, you can also buy domains independently from registrars like Truehost.co.ke:

  • .ke domain – Specific to Kenya, like myblog.co.ke. Costs around 1,000-2,000 KES per year.
  • .com domain – Most popular globally, like mygreatblog.com. Around 3,000 KES/year.
  • Exact match domain – Contains your primary keyword like KenyaTravelBlog.com. Highly SEO-friendly.
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Ideally, register your domain for at least 2 years initially.

Once purchased, you’ll point your domain to use the hosting server’s Nameservers so traffic gets routed properly to your hosted WordPress site.

Choosing a good brandable, easy-to-remember and clever domain name can go a long way in boosting your blog’s long term growth and success.

3. Design your blog

With hosting and a domain name set up, now you get to the actual process of installing WordPress to create your blog in Kenya.

Thankfully most top Kenyan hosting companies make this easy by offering 1-click automated WordPress installers from the customer dashboard. But you can also install WordPress manually by FTP if needed.

The broad steps are:

1. Create Database

  • The relational MySQL database will store all your blog data from posts/pages to settings.
  • Your host provides credentials to access the database like hostname, username, password etc.

2. Download WordPress

  • From WordPress.org get latest WordPress core files.
  • Upload the /wordpress folder via FTP into your hosting account’s public_html or www root dir.

3. Run Installer

Access your domain with /wordpress added to URL:

yourdomain.com/wordpress 

The WordPress installer will now launch to configure everything:

  • Site title & admin account
  • Database credentials
  • Table prefix
  • Site URL

4. Login & Setup

You’ll then be able to access the WordPress admin dashboard to begin setting everything up!

Key things you’ll want to do now includes:

Select a Theme

  • Themes control visual design like layout, colors etc.
  • Tons of free/paid WordPress themes available. Shopify and Astra are popular.
  • Pick one aligned to your brand and site goals.

Install Plugins

Plugins add extra features from SEO to security. Some essentials:

  • Yoast SEO
  • caching like WP Rocket
  • contact form like WPForms
  • security scanner like WordFence

Create Logo & Favicon

  • Unique logo visually brands your blog. Can be made easily on Canva.
  • Favicon is the tiny icon beside page titles.

Set Up Pages

Initial pages to have:

  • Home
  • About
  • Contact
  • Legal policies/disclosures

Submit Sitemaps

  • XML sitemaps help search engines index your site.
  • Generate sitemap using Yoast SEO plugin.
  • Submit it to Google Search Console.

This covers getting WordPress installed and configured with the key elements to launch for an audience. You can iteratively add advanced features later.

BUT!

You don’t actually have to do all this. I know its scary, but you can ask the web hosting company to do all the techy stuff for you.

Reach out to Truehost.co.ke and they’ll be more than happy to help.

5. Write compelling content & drive traffic

Now that your self-hosted Kenyan WordPress blog is installed and configured, the fun part begins – creating compelling content!

Consistently publishing quality content that resonates with your audience is how you organically grow an engaged readership over time.

Some tips for creating content that works:

Establish Your Niche & Expertise

  • While blogging on random topics can be fun, it’s best to focus your blog within a specific niche you’re knowledgeable and passionate about. This helps attract the right loyal audience.

Some popular blog niches in Kenya include:

  • Technology
  • Business & Entrepreneurship
  • Christianity & Religion
  • Politics
  • Travel & Hospitality
  • Food & Recipes
  • Parenting & Family
  • Fashion & Beauty
  • Health & Fitness

Consider your background, interests, and what you can uniquely contribute commentary on. Establish at least 3 related subtopics within your broader niche to dive deep on and establish expertise around.

Don’t overthink this step.

I know of a friend who started a simple blog to help Kenyans with tutorials and guides. You can check the blog at guides.co.ke.

It is simple and solves a problem.

You can do the same.

Create A Content Calendar

Strategically planning blog content across diverse relevant subtopics prevents you from just aimlessly writing on random thoughts that pop into your head daily.

Map out posts 2-3 months in advance:

  • Vary long form analysis posts with newsy quick takes.
  • Include multi-media beyond just text like images, graphics and even video or podcasts!
  • Experiment with different formats like tutorials vs product reviews vs interviews and gauge engagement.
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Optimize Content for SEO

Writing great content is useless if readers don’t find your blog! Use on-page SEO best practices:

  • Helpful meta titles & descriptions
  • Target keywords appropriately
  • Interlink internal content
  • Structure posts with headlines & paragraphs
  • Include media

This helps surface your articles in search and keeps readers engaged once they click in.

Promote Content Extensively

  • Share new posts across all your social media channels consistently.
  • Consider paid Facebook/Google ads for premium evergreen content to accelerate growth.
  • Guest post on relevant external sites to expand reach.
  • Actively participate in niche forums and groups by sharing content.

Great content is just the beginning. You have to amplify it as well.

By focusing your blog within a specific niche, planning an editorial calendar, optimizing posts for discoverability, then aggressively promoting on social channels…you set yourself up for exponential organic growth over time.

7. Monetization

Once your Kenyan blog is up and running with a stream of high quality niche content being published, you need to consider your monetization strategy.

Very few bloggers can sustain this effort long term without eventually earning revenue to at least cover their costs and time.

Here are some of the most popular ways Kenyan bloggers make money from their sites:

Google AdSense

This is likely the most common blog monetization method globally and in Kenya as well. The concept is simple:

  • You add the Google AdSense WordPress plugin to display highly targeted Google ads on your site.
  • Visitors click/view these ads.
  • Google pays you a share of the ad revenue.

Over 200 million sites use AdSense, including the likes of Reuters, McDonald’s, NBC etc so it’s a trusted program.

Pros are fast approval, global ad demand and a user-friendly dashboard. Just ensure ads blend with your design and content quality to maximize clicks. Popular placements include:

  • Sidebars
  • Header
  • Article footers
  • Between paragraphs

Affiliate Marketing

Signing up for affiliate programs allows you to promote relevant products/services and earn sales commissions.

For example, an electronics review site can link to Jumia product listings. If readers purchase via your link, you earn say 5% of the sale value from Jumia.

Top affiliate networks in Kenya include:

Transparently recommending genuinely helpful buys that align with your niche helps convert readers into buyers.

Sponsored Posts

You can charge brands directly to publish sponsored content on your blog alongside your regular posts.

Rates vary greatly based on your niche and audience size:

  • Smaller blogs ~ 5,000 KES per post
  • Medium blogs ~ 15,000 KES per post
  • Large corporate sites ~ 100,000+ KES

Ensure sponsored posts meet editorial standards so readers still find them useful. Clearly indicating as sponsored for transparency is important too.

Sell Your Own Digital Products

Once established as a trustworthy industry expert, creating value-adding digital products for your niche readers to purchase can be very lucrative:

Popular options include:

  • Online courses
  • Ebooks
  • Premium membership sites
  • Paid newsletters full of your best advice

Here are some additional options for monetizing a Kenyan blog:

Sell Branded Products

Creating a line of apparel, gear, accessories and other products featuring your blog’s brand name and logo is very popular with online audiences. For example:

  • Sell shirts
  • Vintage 254 logo T-shirts
  • KNITT crochet accessories

These complementary monetization streams can help diversify your income.

Donations / Reader Tips

Building a loyal audience with your blog often results in many readers wanting to show appreciation financially for the value they gain from your free content. Adding options for readers to donate or tip you a few dollars here and there adds up and offsets your costs and effort.

Host Paid Events

Some larger Kenyan bloggers and content creators are able to sell out in-person events like trainings, meetups and creative workshops. These added offerings build community and generate strong attendee fees.

I covered some of the major options along with Kenyan examples, but most importantly focus on your niche and audience to determine which paths allow you to do what you love while also covering costs. Done right, blogging can lead to a self-sustaining full-time career.

Read also: Web Hosting in Kenya: All You Need To Know

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