A guide to blogging in South Africa

A guide to blogging in South Africa

This is a step by step guide to blogging in South Africa. A lot of people are looking for ways to make money online and blogging is one of the best ways to do so. Blogging can be tricky and challenging and you can waste a lot of time if you do it wrong. In this article we will learn how to setup a blog from scratch and also learn how to make money with it.

It takes a really long time before you start seeing returns on investment on a blog. It takes between 8 and 14 months in most cases to start seeing some tangible income. This is because a blog gets most of its traffic from Google, its not really a wise idea to pay for traffic for a blog by running ads. Your best bet is organic traffic, especially if you want to generate passive income. This is where a lot of people make a mistake, you should write articles that Google will deem worthy to rank and display in search results. A lot of people fail at this but worry not, you have me.

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How to start a blog in South Africa

Get Hosting

Every website needs to have a domain and hosting, the domain is your web address (MySouthAfrica.co.za). You can’t host a commercial website on your personal computer so it needs to be hosted by someone. This is because your personal computer will overheat, get hacked easily or your website will be down each time you close your PC. We need to host the website on a server that will always run 24/7 and be accessible to anyone across the world.

There are many hosting providers in South Africa, you will pay between R40 and R60 per month for hosting on many hosting providers. If you want to get hosting for your website then contact me, I will quickly set it up for you, charging only R40 per month. You can’t get hosting without a domain so the first thing would be to buy a domain name, which is anywhere between R70 and R90 ( .co.za). You will get a domain from your hosting providers.

Build a website | Blog

You can build your own blog, it will cost R0, after getting your domain and hosting. The most popular platform to host any blog is currently WordPress. It will take about a day or two at most to properly setup your blog and configure it. If you are to do this by yourself then I advise watching a YouTube tutorial on how to setup a blog, most of them are around 2 hours long. This is something you can do by yourself but if you don’t want to then you can hire a web designer to do it for you. Web designers will charge you between R1 000 and R1 700 in South Africa. I would heavily recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin (watch a tutorial).

After this you will have a fully functional blog, but you are still a long way from making any money from it.

Blogging in South Africa – the right way

There are people who blog the right way then there are people who blog the wrong way. The main purpose of a blog is to provide information. This information is provided to the visitors and subscribers. In order to win at the blogging game, you need to provide highly valuable information, this is information that people need. You are still reading this piece of content because you are getting value from it. No one will really follow a blog about your personal life, that may work on Instagram and YouTube but not on a website. These are some of the guidelines to follow if you want to be successful.

1) Pick a niche

You can’t blog about everything in the world, you have to be specific, choose a specific field and produce the best content for that field. You can blog about green tea, weight loss, marijuana, insurance, accounting, gardening, entertainment, fashion, everything you can possibly think of. You can also make hobby-based blogs, they usually get a lot of following, these are blogs that are based on hobbies like camping, fishing, horse-riding.

Basically, if you have any information about any particular hobby or niche then go for it. Please don’t blog about recipes, weight loss or personal finance, those are highly competitive niches and you will get crushed. This is because there are already millions of websites that are already in that space and they have established themselves as the authority, this means that Google favours them and it will be almost impossible to rank for it.

Don’t get into niches like medicine, this is because someone’s life is at stake and Google won’t trust you with that type of content. The niche that you pick must be something that you have some knowledge on. It can literally be anything, as long as people are interested in it. Will someone type this question into Google? That’s what your are supposed to think about.

2) Make search analysis

A lot of webmasters use keyword research tools like Ahrefs, we don’t recommend using keyword research tools. The main aim of these tools is to inform you about the number of searches a keyword gets, for example this article is targeting the keyword “blogging in South Africa”. This means that we want this article to appear within the first page of Google when someone searches for that term.

A keyword research tool will tell you how many searches a keyword like “blogging in South Africa” gets in a month. That way you will know which keywords to target when producing content for your blog, that way you will be able to estimate the traffic for your website. The problem with this is that keyword research tools are wrong most of the time, they don’t have access to that type of data. They don’t know exactly how many people search for a certain query or keyword; they are guessing at best.

This is because I would sometimes make a research about a certain keyword on keyword research tools and they said the keyword doesn’t receive any searches in a month. I would continue to write an article targeting that keyword then boom I get hundreds of visitors per month for that term.

The correct way – search analysis

Knowing how to do search analysis the right way will help a lot in your journey to blogging in South Africa. The best way to do search analysis is to type whatever query you think people might have into the Google search box. If people are indeed searching for that term on Google then Google will make an autocomplete for it. That shows that a lot of people are searching for it, if no autocomplete appears then you might want to leave it, there is not enough demand for that information.

A good example for this would be if you were looking to know how many people search for the term “Camping sites in Gauteng”. You would then produce an article answering that question, you can just type “Camping sites” then wait for Google to make suggestions. The top suggestions are the most searched terms, if “camping sites in Gauteng” does not appear in the suggestions then you can type “Camping sites in G” that should definitely show Gauteng, if it doesn’t autocomplete to your preferred search then there is low search volume for your keyword. 

3) Produce high quality content for your blog

After picking a niche and doing proper search analysis, the next step is to produce content. You should strive to produce the best content possible for whichever topic you write about. Go the extra mile, include all relevant information, that will boost you tremendously when blogging in South Africa. Google and other search engines love high quality content, there is no way you are not going to rank if you have produced the best content out there.

Producing high quality content is easier than you might think, this is because a lot of websites or blogs you will be competing with won’t produce quality content. That is because they are more focused on vanity metrics that are getting outdated, these include domain authority and word count, will be discussed in detail later. When producing content, you can either produce content that answers a specific question like “how to do this” or write content that gives information about a particular topic. If you are producing a response post (answering questions) then you must try to give the best answer possible for that question.

This post for example is not a response post, it’s giving information about a certain topic (pillar post). In general, a response post is less in words than a pillar post, for example a response post of this topic would have covered a question like “how to start a blog”. Which is something we have already answered but because this is a pillar post we get deeper into providing more valuable content. Don’t only answer questions that people might have but give them valuable information that they might not know. For example, many people don’t know how SARS operates and everything to do with tax returns, this is because there is no one really blogging about it, no one is giving us valuable information.

A response post can be anywhere between 600 words and 1 200 words. A pillar post has to be at the very least 2 000 words. Focus on producing high quality content and you will be rewarded.

4) Vanity metrics

A lot of SEO gurus will tell you about focusing on a lot of vanity metrics. These are just people who try their best to beat the Google algorithm to rank on the first page. These will include domain authority, off-page SEO, word count. Domain authority ranges from 0 – 100. You build a domain authority by getting other websites to link to you. These links are called backlinks, your domain authority will increase if you get a lot of links and quality links to your site.

Getting a link from “bob’s blog” won’t weigh the same as getting a link from Forbes. Websites with a high domain authority usually rank very high on Google and other search engines because they are considered to be trustworthy. You need hundreds of millions of backlinks to reach a score of 100 on domain authority. Search engines treat backlinks as citations and references, it’s like other websites are vouching for you. This is why websites like Amazon, Zando, and Takealot appear for almost every online shopping related query, it’s because they have a high domain authority. Amazon.com has a domain authority score of 96, Zando.co.za has a DA score of 60, and Takealot.com has a DA score of 78.

This is why these websites dominate search results for online shopping, Google doesn’t want to make a mistake of sending you to a shady online store where you will get scammed. The same goes for news, that’s why News24 pops up on every South African news related query. So is domain authority a vanity metric, not entirely. Google used to depend entirely on domain authority to rank search results but today they have over 200 deciding factors.

Domain authority is losing relevance with every Google algorithm update, that’s because big websites use domain authority to flaunt their power, they produce sub-standard content and still rank on the first page because of Domain Authority.

Content is king

It’s now possible to outrank a website with a huge domain authority by producing quality content. There is no reason why you should not rank in the first page with quality content. Your content will take longer to rank but when it finally does, it will rank high.

Some other vanity metrics include your social signals, word-count and keyword stuffing. We won’t cover those in this post.

5) Produce searchable content

Produce content that people are likely to search for on search engines. Don’t write personal content like, “I attended this seminar yesterday about this and that”, no one is searching for that. You are not answering anyone’s question. Produce content like “These are the things you should not forget when camping”, because it answers the question “what should you not forget when camping?”.

How many articles should you write?

You should write about 30 to 40 articles for your blog, you should try to do this in the space of 3 months. That will give it enough time to mature and rank on Google and other search engines. You should also try to mix it up, write about 70% response post and 20% pillar posts. You can also produce a review-based content, making reviews of certain products, but in order to produce this type of content you should actually buy the product. Don’t read people’s reviews on Amazon then produce content based on that, you will have a hard time producing quality content.

If you feel like you have more articles to offer then go for it, write more than 100 articles if you can, that’s super difficult for a lot of people. Most people can barely make it past 10 articles. The more articles you write, the more money you will have. A website with 40 articles should realistically get around 40 000 pageviews a month at its height and will make anywhere between R10k and R30k per month. There are websites with 30 articles and are generating a million pageviews per month, there is no secret formula, at the very least your website should reach 40k pageviews with 30 articles.

How long will it take?

It will take anywhere between 8 and 10 months to start seeing some traffic on your blog. You will rank for some terms and get traffic within 3 months but at most times the traffic is not enough to give you substantial income. If you are in a highly competitive niche then you might have to wait for over a year, don’t get discouraged, that’s just how it goes.

You should see the first increase in your traffic at 3 months, another one at 6 months and another one at 10 months. An article will get to 100% of its traffic potential at around 14 months after it was written. You will likely make some money at 3 months after launch, but it’s something like R150, we call this pizza money.

how to make money from a blog in South Africa

The nice thing about a blog is that once it gets a lot of traffic then there is no limit to how much you can make from it. These are the most common ways people go about in monetizing their blogs in South Africa.

1) Ads

The most popular way to monetize a blog is by putting ads on it. There are multiple ad networks but the most popular one is Google AdSense; you can apply for Google AdSense when you get at least 3k people per month on traffic. This number won’t really make you a significant amount of money, you need at least 30 000 visitors a month to start earning serious money from AdSense. The type of niche you are in will also play a role, for example a blog post comparing insurance companies will generate more money than one talking about Somizi.

2) Affiliate marketing

Almost every major website uses affiliate marketing to boost its revenue. Affiliate marketing is basically promoting products or services for a brand or business then get paid each time someone buys as a result of your marketing efforts. Let’s say for example you an affiliate of Promta Web Services, their affiliate commission ranges from R180 to R900. Let’s suppose you get a monthly traffic of about 30 000 visitors, about 2% of those visitors will click on your link to PWS and about 10% of them will buy. That’s a range of R10 800 to R54 000.

3) Sponsored ads

Businesses will want to get in front of your audience and will be willing to pay big buck for it, sponsored ads pay more than Google ads.

4) Infographics

Infographics include extending yourself and offering that much more valuable content, an infographic for this post would be writing a short book including everything I have left out or making a video or pdf and sell it. To make an infographic about anything you need to have a huge audience first, this includes your traffic and email subscribers.

5) Services

You can sell your services to your audience, you might be a personal coach with a blog on personal development, you can conclude all your articles by offering your readers your services. This strategy is used by most businesses with a blog page. Another example of this would be a marketing agency writing a blog about digital marketing then offer to help you throughout the article.

Analyse the competition

When doing search analysis, you should pay attention to the search results that appear for your chosen keywords. This will help you know the level of competition you are up against. If all the results appearing in the first page are of super high quality then it’s better to avoid writing that article. It’s unlikely that you will dethrone them, quality includes the depth of the article, does it cover everything, is it relevant (answering the user’s question) if the answer is yes then that’s a high-quality article.

There are articles that rank for multiple adjacent terms even though they don’t answer them directly. If you find any of those questions within the top ten then you can write an article that directly answers the question. This article for example might rank for “how to analyse blog competition” but that’s not what it’s about. You can write an entire pillar post based on that alone and dethrone this article from search results because yours would be more relevant to the user query.

Most often the most high-quality articles are within the top 3, anything under than that is usually not high quality. For example, we at MySouthAfrica wanted to write an article titled “How to make money as a teen in South Africa”, the number one article ranking for this was “various ways for teens to make extra money in 2017”. That article might have answered the question but it is no longer relevant, it was for 2017, so this was a good opportunity to write a better article and we currently hold the snippet on Google for that.

Setting up a blog for a business

When setting up a blog for your business your main objective should be getting traffic and converting that traffic to your customers. A business website should aim for around 5k monthly visitors, that translates to around 100 clients per month. Research shows that businesses that blog make 60% more money on average than businesses that do not blog.


This was a complete guide on blogging in South Africa. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below

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