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Can Kenyan Society Support a Professional Blogosphere?

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An article earlier this week caused come ripples in the professional blogoshpere after the Wall Street Journal ran a piece which claimed that 452,000 Americans use blogging as their main source of income. Frederic Lardinois at ReadWriteWeb did a good job slapping down the most outrageous claims in the article, while Mike Masnick at TechDirt focused on the double standards at play in the WSJ and elsewhere where bloggers are castigated for not being “proper journalists” by, erm, non-journalists. ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse also go in on the act, offering his own and his readers experiences of how easy it is to make a living blogging.

Many other commentators flagged up the claims in the WSJ that a) there were more professional bloggers than computer programmers in the US, and that b) these bloggers were earning an average of  $75,000 each,  the general consensus being that perhaps the WSJ should have commissioned some independent research rather than relying on the patch evidence currently available. The overall impression I was left with, however, is that the Kenyan blogosphere faces its own challenges.

The Kenyan blogosphere is both international and local. The most popular blogs are written not just by those in the country but also in the diaspora. While it could be argued that this is the same for all blogs, the majority at least tend to stick with writing for one locale, from which they hope to earn their revenue. Kenyan bloggers, on the other hand, have to look in two directions: first to Kenya, and then to the rest of the diaspora, wherever they may be.

This presents a problem when looking for advertising. Although a blogger may be willing to gamble that their audience is primarily Kenyan, there’s also the question of where the audience is reading from. Should they sign up to an ad network that caters to a Western or Kenyan audience? They could sign up for both, sure, but would that make their blog pages seem incoherent? Then there’s also the question of which ad network is likely to generate the best revenue. No point signing up to something that does nothing, after all.

I’ve noticed quite a few Kenyan blogs running on the Blogger platform that take advantage of AdSense with no overhead, and there are also those who run Google ads on their own domains. At the same time, other Kenyan blogs run “local” (Kenyan based) ads, while others still seem to prefer the sponsored post option. Are they making any money from their blogs? I can’t say. What I do know is that there isn’t likely to be any real opportunity for Kenyans to earn money from blogging until there is an ad network that can takeadvantage of the dual-aspect market that Kenyan bloggers cater to.

[Image by EricaBiz]

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5 Comments

  1. kah karani says:

    I think the success of the bloggers in terms of income generation depends on the universality of the audience, and kenyan bloggers need to come up with content that suits that.

  2. I totally agree with kah karani. In as much as I blog, I try to make my content universal. Most of my twitter followers are abroad. Most of the Kenyan bloggers from my observation, do so for fun and not out to make money.
    The area where one can make enough mullah is in corporate blogging but its yet to pick up among our Kenyan businesses and corporates.

  3. Constantine says:

    It is possible to make money as a blogger in Kenya. But you have to follow the following rules. Or let me call them Constaś blogging rules;

    Your blog content must focus on US & Canada.
    Your readers must come from US & Canada
    Your readers must be 100% Americans (Yankees)
    Your traffic must come via search engines
    Dont write for Kenyans in diaspora,
    Dont write for Kenyan readers, leave that to Nation & Standard.
    Dont write about news or entertainment, these readers don’t click on Ads.

    That is how I found blogging success with adsense. My main blog is about my passion for marathon running, I started blogging in Aug 2007 on wordpress.com as a way to record my run as I trained for Nairobi Marathon. I then moved to my own domain in March 2008 , around this time a childhood friend told me about Google adsense. I first tried adsense on Sept 2008 & made 15$ with 7000 page views. In September 2009 my pages views were 22,300 & they earned me a descent US $ 211. At the end of that month I quit my day Job to focus 110% on my blogging. My thinking was, my mother retired as primary school teacher in 2008 and the highest she earned from the government was a monthly salary of USD200, If she could live on that so could I.

    To improve my earning am increasing the content on my running blog and launched two new blogs focusing in areas of high paying keywords. Am also exploring other monetization methods.

    The last 2 years have been a learning experience for me. The most valuable skill being SEO. The future is for those who can master the search engines.

    My parting shot, You are never to big to stop learning, keep learning.

    I hope this inspires others.

    Warmly Constantine

  4. Constantine , with a page rank of 4 and such a”light” website that is adsense optimized i believe you. The problem is waiing for the adsense cheques to mature takes another month. If like other countries we would be paid via Western Union.I would devote more time to blogging, now it just pays my small bills. Not a resource to live on!

  5. Constantine says:

    Chalo,
    Waiting for a month to have the check is a small price to pay. What matters is, they eventually pay.

    With the latest changes to euros, the checks will now be paid in Kshs. Am waiting to see how first it will be paid.

    Lets hope in the next list of countries that can be paid via western Union, google includes Kenya.

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