All4Women Entrepreneurs is a monthly feature where we put the spotlight on amazing female entrepreneurs starting businesses in South Africa. This month we spoke to Shanèy Vijendranath (who started two online businesses) to find out how to turn your hobby blog into a successful business.
The starting point for many bloggers is the same: ‘I started blogging by accident’, but it is their journey that separates the hobby bloggers from career bloggers.
Shanèy Vijendranath is not your average blogger: she made it onto Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30 list, her blog You Baby and I was recognised as Africa’s most influential blog and South Africa’s best parenting blog. Shanèy has also been able to use her blog as a springboard for other business ventures, including a website called MomSays, which offers South African moms a place to find reviews on baby products by South African mothers.
Although all her accomplishments make Shanèy a professional blogger of the highest order, she achieved all of this without a formal qualification and is now an expert in her field. Here’s Shanèy’s advice on how to make money from your blog.
Choose a topic and your content carefully
Shanèy shares that choosing a topic to blog about can be tricky. You need to choose something people will want to know about consistently, you need to choose something you can create quality content about consistently and you need to choose something you are knowledgeable about.
Her blog was initially on motherhood and the trials of being a new mom. As a new mom at the time, Shanèy was instantly very comfortable with this topic.
“Becoming a mom is difficult and it’s rare to get help from other moms who are so busy struggling with their own journeys. When I started blogging, I was looking to share my experiences with other moms and exchange advice,” says Shanèy. At the time, she didn’t realise just how much of a gap in the market she was filling with You, Baby and I, and then later Mom Says.
“Moms want advice they can trust, authentic product reviews from other moms who have similar needs to them and most importantly, they want reviews from South African moms, because while there are review sites for baby products out there, we didn’t have one specifically for South African moms. There was a definite need, and Mom Says was born from that need,” she explains.
Take up any opportunity to learn
Throughout her travels and interactions with fellow bloggers and people in different fields of work, Shanèy never misses the opportunity to learn and adapt.
“Looking back on how I used to write my blog before, I almost cringe. As I got more into blogging, read more blogs and realised that this was more than just a hobby, I changed my writing style and improved certain aspects of the blog,” says Shanèy.
With no previous writing experience and no related qualifications, Shanèy credits being observant and open to learning for her continuous development. From attending workshops to reading and researching anything that could relate to her field, she has truly become an expert blogger and parenting writer.
Build your brand and personal profile
While some businesses are defined by their products, in the world of blogging, your brand and your personality can make or break your business.
Shanèy’s philosophy is authenticity. From her blog to her personal social media accounts, she is careful to convey the same message – which she says is easier if you leave pretences behind.
“People can become mean, spiteful and vindictive in the blogging world. They share these messages on their blogs and social media platforms too. I make it a point not to stoop to that level and always keep my content honest, authentic and relevant. This way my readers get exactly what they came for and prospective businesses know what to expect from me and my platforms,” she advises.
Read more of the stories in our All4Women Entrepreneurs series:
- The Lazy Makoti’s guide to finding your spot in the market
- 3 things small business owners should look for in an employee
- How Liz Senior built a 65-franchise business from her backyard
- 5 things to consider when turning your small business into a franchise
- How Ubuntu Baba’s Shannon McLaughlin took on big business and won
- 5 secrets to becoming a successful mom-preneur from Ubuntu Baba’s founder
- How Mbali Nwoko started farming without funding
- Mbali Nwoko busts 3 myths about starting a farming business