10 things that I learned about being a Mommy blogger in South Africa

mommy blogger

I’ve been a mommy blogger in South Africa for the past 5 years and now… it’s time I tell you about my journey and where I am going.

This is a bittersweet post for me because there’s so much baggage that I have been carrying around for the last couple of years that I finally want to spill but I don’t think that I can get to it all in one post.

Let’s rewind to the beginning of my blogging career:

When I first started blogging 5 and a half years ago, I had no idea that “blogging” was a big thing in South Africa. I didn’t know that you were classified by the content you shared, and I didn’t know that you could work with big brands until 6 months into my blogging journey when brands started to engage with me on social media.

Honestly, I became a mommy blogger by accident. I am sure that you have heard that sentence before but many of us bloggers started out this way. My idea for starting You, Baby and I was to create a website that would allow moms to connect with each other and eventually set up small meetups across the country. The weird thing is, I am still doing that… Just a bit differently.

mommy blogger

I have no experience in writing. I didn’t study Journalism or Public relations – I studied event planning part time because my mom couldn’t afford to send me to university, but I always had a passion for writing and connecting people. If you look at my first few posts, you will see how atrocious my writing was. But I did get better with every new post I wrote and before I knew it, I was onto something big…

How I built my following:

I created a post that did extremely well on Pinterest and Facebook that helped me build my audience, but I also put a little money behind advertising on Facebook to grow my page. And that is when everything began… I won the Kids Emporium mommy bloggers competition and after that, all eyes were on me (I’m writing this and hoping I’m not sounding like I have a big head). I then discovered that there was an industry here for bloggers, but I also quickly grasped that not everyone has the best intentions for you in the industry even though they claim to. The blogging community in South Africa is the worst that I’ve come across. It’s fake, brutal, competitive and lonely.

mommy blogger

I had those subtweets too… where other bloggers questioned how I grew so quickly? They knew they couldn’t say much because it was real followers who engaged. I never bothered getting involved in the drama and focused on what I was building even though I had no clue where this “blog” was going. My blog has been doing well in AFRICA, USA and the UK. The audience that I have built came organically, through FB adverts (I’ve been lucky to have received a huge amount of advert credits from Facebook through a startup program in the USA), Pinterest and Webfluential – who used my page to boost campaigns that I worked on.

Currently, having a huge amount of followers doesn’t matter anymore… But you already know this.

Remember, social media is just a tool to help you promote what you are doing or building, don’t make it your main focus because when it changes again, all your hard work will have seemed to be in vain.

The awards:

You, Baby and I blog has won several awards over the past 5 years including best parenting blog in South Africa and Africa but each time I won an award, I felt disappointed.

Why? Because no one really celebrated my win or even acknowledged it. Not in the way that it was done for other bloggers… I was always the odd one out, never part of the cliques. You know, like the outsider looking in, craving to join the party.

Now the big question many people asked me is; why try to win all these awards? They are silly right? Well, not if you are building something bigger…

Moving on:

About 2-years-ago I decided that I don’t want to be known just as a mommy blogger anymore. I wanted to be an Entrepreneur.

mommy blogger

I’ve been lucky to have an engaging audience who is part of my tribe. They have been my biggest support and I wanted to give something back to them. I saw an opportunity in the market and I grabbed it.

I started working on MomSays – which quickly became a startup from an idea that I had while visiting New York. MomSays required funding and to get funding, I had to prove that my idea works and that You, Baby and I was onto something big. The awards helped build my reputation in the industry and that got the investors’ attention.

10 things I learned about being a Mommy blogger in South Africa:

  1. It’s easy to start a blog, anyone can become a blogger but it’s hard to build a name that brands want to be affiliated with. Trust me, sometimes it takes you years.
  2. Not everyone is your friend, people are always looking for an opportunity to tear you apart and destroy the name that you worked so hard to build.
  3. Many South African bloggers are FAKE. By this I mean, they start a blog for freebies, they buy followers to build their name quickly and then they gossip. A LOT. Does it help? NO! We see right through you.
  4. Blogging in South Africa can be a very lonely journey. Be prepared unless you might find a cool bunch of people like I did recently that don’t look at you as a competitor.
  5. Blogging is a competition in South Africa – some people may disagree with me here, but the truth is because the industry is so tiny, and brands have a limited budget. You are always seen as competition.
  6. Brands will PAY what you ask for if they see your blog is worth investing in.
  7. Don’t get carried away with freebies. As much as you want to say blogging is your passion and you will do things for free, it is now a job in South Africa. For many, this is their bread and butter. Start looking at it as the starting point of a business.
  8. There are good people in the industry, but they are hard to find. I finally have some blogger friends. YAY for me! 😀
  9. Build something bigger from your blog. The reason that I say this is because I do feel like the industry is going to change again especially since bloggers are giving other bloggers a bad reputation. It’s destroying the industry slowly. Brands are looking for something more. The next big thing. Blogging might even die out in the next 2 years or so.
  10.  You have to be strong and ready to fight. I used to be very fragile when I started but now, I am stronger than ever. I stand for what I believe in and fight for what I want. Yes… sometimes you have to push back and know your worth.
sogalboss
Women who support each other.

Blogging opens you up to an entire new world you never knew existed. I’ve received a lot of negative comments for posts I wrote, had women stalking me on social media and had websites steal my kids’ images but I survived and learned so many lessons that I can’t share in this one post.

Am I leaving the industry? Yes and No.

Yes, because You, Baby and I is about to change (the content). I’ve decided that I don’t want to write about baby products anymore, you can find content on baby products on MomSays. My writing has changed and my passion for what I want to write about has changed. And No because I will always write.

I want to talk more about life after kids, my travels and my entrepreneurship journey .

Being a mommy blogger doesn’t mean you have to only write about motherhood or baby products.

You, Baby and I will still be here but I’m not sure for how long. I’ve also decided to bring on contributors to make sure we have relevant content, so if you are keen on contributing, please email me.

I’m not just a mommy blogger anymore. I’m an Entrepreneur, a founder of a startup that is about to disrupt the industry that I built my reputation on. Crazy right?

mommy blogger

Writing this post gave me a lump in my throat but it also reminded me how lucky I’ve been.

So, I just want to say Thank you.

For always supporting me.

For always believing in me.

And for always pushing me.

I hope that you will be part of my next chapter. This isn’t the end. I’m not saying goodbye.

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Shan
Shan

Hi, I’m Shan. I’m a wife, mom to 3 kids and a businesswoman who works from home and gets very little sleep at night. My days are filled with dirty diapers and toddler tantrums, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. I am in the Forbes 30 under 30 list for Forbes Africa 2019 and just recently launched my start-up – MomSays.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

11 Comments

  1. Teri Row
    2019-05-11 / 08:28

    Awesome post! Loved it. 💗

  2. Adi
    2019-05-12 / 22:28

    All the very best for your new journey xx you’ve got all that it takes,Super Woman!!

    • Shan
      Author
      2019-05-29 / 17:05

      Thank you so much! I really appreciate it.

  3. 2019-05-13 / 19:08

    I’m reposting this because clearing cooking and typing don’t mix. As one of the first bloggers I ever followed, it thrills me to see what is unfolding for you. I couldn’t agree with your sentiments more and some of the spite in this community shocks me, BUT there are some real gems, and you are one them. Keep soaring my friend, I’ll be there cheering you on! xoxo

    • Shan
      Author
      2019-05-29 / 17:05

      Haha. THANK YOU! It means a lot to me.

  4. 2019-05-15 / 15:49

    You have really achieved something special and I admire it so much. I think it’s important to focus on the people that are supportive and I have a lot of experience of that. Thanks for your support and I look forward to seeing how you are going to grow.

    • Shan
      Author
      2019-05-29 / 17:05

      Thanks Heather for always being there.

    • Shan
      Author
      2019-05-29 / 17:06

      Thank you!

  5. 2019-06-14 / 12:43

    I loved this post so much hon. So much truth, and relatable in so many ways. Thanks for your honesty. The blogging “community” is fickle and can be unforgiving. But every once in awhile, you find some genuine people. Whatever you decide to do, know that you’ve inspired so many of us. Onwards and upwards!

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