World Wide Creative is fortunate to have Louis Janse van Rensburg on their team. Manager of the Johannesburg branch, Louis is highly passionate about the entrepreneurial cause. He has been involved with many successful online projects including Virgin Mobile, The Thabo Mbeki Foundation, Honda South Africa and Exclusive Books. Louis has also been involved with numerous bloggers such as Jay Naidoo. Heavy Chef got the chance to hear what he has learnt from working closely with successful bloggers.
Hi Louis. There is such a variety of blogging platforms. Are different platforms more appropriate than others, depending on your goal?
To answer that question I will point out the main players in the blogging industry. There is Blogger which is a Google product. Wordpress has a very loyal following, and is a very relevant platform. It has done very well as a back end for content-heavy websites like magazines and newspapers . In recent years we have seen the rise of email-to-post websites like Tumblr and Posterous. These have come to the forefront because of their fast posting abilities. Posterous and Tumblr are more for lifestyle blogging, while Wordpress works for content heavy blogging. Blogger is the middle ground between Wordpress and Tumblr.
How can one ensure that their blog stands out amongst all the others?
Well it is really difficult because there is so much competition. As a blogger you’re also competing with social networks and other blogs. It has become increasingly difficult and some people have taken extreme routes which are not sustainable . There is no quick way to build a reputation. My advice is write on a frequent basis and create quality content. If you want to launch a blog for a quick win then it is not the right platform for you. Take Seth Godin’s blog for example. Godin is a prominent marketing guy and his blog does really well. It has become a place where people can comment and interact. He didn’t set up his blog yesterday; through time he has delivered an innovative way of writing. He started as a writer, and his blog became a natural extension of that. A blog should be an extension of your brand and not the centre of it.
A local example is South African blog KEO which is very popular. It is run by a Rugby journalist and was started a number of years ago. This blog exposed the Rugby Kamp Staaldraad in 2001 and 2002. From this, he wrote a book which got a lot of attention and this attention led to a successful blog and a loyal community. It is one of South Africa’s most successful blogs with about 120 comments on each article. This blog picked up on something and went with it. The message is, creating a successful blog is a long process and requires a lot of hard work.
What about creating a general blog versus a niche blog?
Specialized blogs will always do better. A blog has to speak to certain people and say loud and clear what it stands for. A blogger needs to focus on a specific category.
Would it make sense to make your blog search engine friendly?
Yes it definitely makes a difference. All roads lead to Google, so focus your content on topics that people would want to read. You can also do off-site work like utilizing Twitter, Facebook as well as other blogs. If you want to get into the dark arts of blog marketing you would need to speak to an SEO guru, but on a basic level make sure your blog appears on Google and that you have links to other blogs.
Any other words of advice for keen bloggers?
Blogging gives a massive opportunity to set up a profile online. There is nothing more powerful than the written, or typed, word. I would advise students and graduates to set up a blog as a way to create your own portfolio and start building a brand. When you apply for jobs, people research you before they meet you and a prospective employer will Google you. Telling people to look at your blog is a compelling argument to prospective employers these days.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Louis. We look forward to many hours of productive and successful blogging in the future. Follow Louis on Twitter here.