My laptop

When you think of the word “blog”, what comes to mind? For me, it’s an image of Amy Adams in the movie Julie & Julia, pouring her heart out into her laptop in between cooking the French recipes of her most admired chef, Julia Child. Or perhaps you think it’s someone who doesn’t really know what to do with their time, is at a bit of a loose end, who just writes random musings and posts them on the internet for fun.

But today I think the notion of blogs is changing. As more and more people consume content online, the need for physical magazines that you sit down and page through is diminishing. Instead, the same thrill of opening a nice glossy mag can be filled with visiting your favourite blog every day or perhaps every week. You can find out the latest fashion trends, cooking ideas or home décor tips on your favourite blogs. Or if those topics don’t really appeal to you, there are hundreds of other topics that people blog about, like gadgets and gizmos, the lore of writing, managing your finances – the list goes on and on.

As more people migrate from traditional media to online, we are feeling the repercussions, both internationally and in South Africa, more and more. In February I got to meet two local lasses who make their living from blogging – Lana Kenney, the woman behind LanaLouStyle, and Kathryn Rossiter of Becoming You. Held in Cape Town, the event was called Blog Boot Camp SA and was jam-packed with useful information about how to start blogging, from selecting a WordPress theme to monetising your blog. What I found amazing was how well attended the course was and how many other people are either blogging already or seriously considering wading in.

Blog Boot Camp SA

Some of the attendees at the February 2015 Blog Boot Camp SA. (Note the prominent goodie bag filled with amazing spoils!)

After the course, I contacted my graphic designer friend and asked her to make a few little nips and tucks to my website, like having a live Instagram feed at the bottom of some pages and including more about me in the footer. For those of you who visit my blog regularly, I hope you like the changes!

Something I’d really like to experiment with are photo-editing apps, recommended by someone I met on the course, and learning how to do collages, which always look so attractive. There is really is a lot to learn on the course – I think I need to go through my notes again to try to glean some more insights. One big “to do” item on my list is to set up a newsletter to draw more people to my website and let them know what’s been happening since they last visited.

Thuli Gogela LR

Thuli cooking up a storm in her Mzansi-style kitchen.

About a year ago, I met a local blogger at a Zonnebloem wine-tasting function called Thuli Gogela. I was amazed that a blogger could be taken so seriously that she was afforded the same attention as the editor of True Love magazine, who sat alongside her. Thuli really is making huge strides and recently I saw that she has been asked to craft new recipes for Nederberg. Her beautiful smiling face and Africanness shine forth whenever you visit her blog. When I chatted to her, she gave me this advice: Blog regularly. Put up lots of videos (people love videos!) and host other celebrities on your blog to generate more traffic.

This ties in with the advice of Kathryn Rossiter, who says you should aim to blog every week, slowly building up to every day. She has two children and has cast aside all her paid freelance work to focus solely on her blog this year. Becoming You is an interesting mix of inspiration for mothers, hints for pampering and parenting, and updates about exciting events. She says she always wanted to work for a women’s magazine and – without realising it – that’s exactly what she’s ended up doing.

For me, blogging is a chance to find my unique voice and comment on ideas that matter to me – whether it’s books, the articles I write, my observations as a mother, whatever takes my fancy. I’m enjoying “finding my way with words”, as the header on my website asserts. I hope you enjoy this journey as much as I do.