How to start a county news blog in Kenya

As part of the how to start a blog in Kenya series, we’ll look at how to start a county news blog in this post today.

Kenya has 47 counties – devolved governments separate from the national government – with a lot of activities in each of them.

Meaning you can start a blog targeting any of the counties – and find lots of news stories to share with the residents of the county you choose to focus on.

The counties include Lamu, Nairobi, Kisumu, Garissa, Nyandarua, Samburu, Nyamira, Migori, Kirinyaga, Kisii, Mombasa, Uasin Gishu, Meru, Turkana, Homa Bay, Kwale, Kilifi, Kajiado, Tana River, Nyeri, Taita-Taveta, Makueni, West Pokot, Kakamega, Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Busia, Kitui, Murang’a, Trans-Nzoia, Nandi, Laikipia, Nakuru, Narok, Kericho, Embu, Bomet, Vihiga, Bungoma, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Siaya, Kiambu, Machakos, Wajir, Tharaka-Nithi and Baringo.

So, here are some things to consider if you want to start a county blog.

Do you want to start a blog covering news and commentaries from all counties in Kenya or just one?

For anyone who wants to take on this venture, it is important to be sure about the locations (counties) you want to write about on your blog.

There is a lot happening every day in each and every country. Meaning that the more counties you cover, the more labour (and other resources) you’ll need for original reporting, reviews, news commentaries, profiles of leaders and more.

You can start your blog covering events taking place in the county you currently reside in.

As you get in the flow publishing more posts and your blog getting noticed, you can choose to start casting your eyes farther. To also publish articles on events taking place in neighbouring counties.

If you don’t want to mix things, you can register a different domain name and have another blog dedicated to the events taking place in any other county you decide to cover.

Be realistic about how much energy you’ll need daily to produce enough articles covering the locations you set your eyes on.

Don’t take too much hay on your fork.

The best thing you can do is just to blog about one county at the beginning. Just like business ideas, if you have more than one, start with a single idea.

Start with one county. Or even a single location in your county.

Over many months you’ll be able to figure out if expanding and casting your nets wider is the best move.

What can you learn from other popular websites and blogs targeting counties in Kenya?

There are some county blogs that pay for content, for example Kenya Shillings 100 to 500 for an article with a minimum word count of 200 words.

READ  8 types of popular blogs in Kenya: general and niche focused

This way they can afford to have a lean staff and still have lots of content published on their site for their readers every week.

These sites usually solicit content from their readers and pay for original reporting, news commentaries and opinion pieces.

Then there are sites that allow others to write for them in exchange for exposure. No money exchanges hands in these cases. But still they land some great content from their readers. Call it user generated content or citizen journalism, but some websites get great content from their readers.

Even online versions of the big daily newspapers in Kenya have sections on their websites where users can submit their own content for consideration and eventual publication (as long as the submitted content meets the criteria and editorial standards set up by these sites).

Then there are some county blogs with one or two writers. Most if these blogs just publish content on one or two counties. This is likely the path you’ll take as you start your own site.

It is a smart move. Starting with one county – and growing slowly over months and years – funnelling traffic back to your blog using Facebook advertising and growing organic traffic from search engines with every new article you publish on your blog.

It will take time – and a lot of content promotion – to grow your county news blog. Most of these sites take time to become popular – and widely read.

You therefore have to, like the owners of these sites, take a long term view when you start your own news site. If you are not in it for the long haul, you’ll be just wasting your time.

If you want things to move quickly, to become popular quickly, to get tens or hundreds of unique visitors (and millions of pageviews per month) per day without a budget (i.e. money to spend on ads online and offline), spare yourself the headache and rethink your plan or move to something else.

There are after all a lot of online ventures you can start and profit from.

At the onset it’s good to focus your blog and news on one county.

Apart from the news, commentaries and other opinion pieces you publish, you can also like some of these blogs do, publish articles on lifestyle, sports, relationships and tips to help your readers develop themselves into better persons.

You can also publish reviews of products and services – to bring in more revenue and profits to run your operations – instead of entirely depending on money from ad networks like Google Adsense and Media.net.

Why start a county blog?

People living in the various counties need resources where they can learn more about what’s happening in their counties.

The mainstream news sites in Kenya put more emphasis in covering everything happening in Kenya worthy of their attention. Which means that sometimes they don’t spend more resources on one particular place. Meaning that there is a lot happening in these places that don’t get featured on these mainstream sites.

READ  An interview with Kenya's Harriet Ocharo of SavvyKenya.com on starting a blog, getting more traffic and making money blogging

You can see the truth in this if you watch vernacular TV stations in Kenya (or listen to vernacular FM radio stations).

Your county blog can go deeper. Write more about what’s happening in your county. Put more resources in place to get original reporting on things that might not otherwise even be considered newsworthy by the major newspapers and news sites.

As counties grow, more and more people (residents and people from other counties) will be interested in what’s happening in the town, cities and villages in your county.

And your county blog will help them learn more (about your county) and make better decisions. Decisions to invest in your county. To move to your county. To buy property in your county. To help development projects in your county. To trade with farmers and other business owners in your county.

Your site can become a great resource – where people come to learn – from you, from people you feature in your stories and from each other – in the comments section.

Your site can be a place where people come to share their ideas, knowledge, opinions and feedback. Which is a great way to bring people together, to promote culture, champion family values, Kenya’s Vision 2030 and more.

Your site can facilitate trade between people living in and outside your county. How? You can set a marketplace, an online shop or classifieds section on your site where people can sell and buy items – from common fast moving consumer goods, property like land, vehicles, farm produce, machinery, electronics, services and more.

What can you cover in the blog posts you publish apart from the news stories you feature on your site?

  • Interviews. There are many leaders and professionals from the county you are hailing from. Most of them have great things to share – and are willing to accept interview requests. Your work is to approach them. To learn more about them. To send them your questions and get back detailed responses to publish on your blog.
  • County assembly news. You can interview your governor, Members of County Assemblies and publish articles based on whatever is brewing in your county. Debunk controversies. Publish posts on new legislation. Publish posts on battles between MCAs and other officials working in your county – and even stories on a few things the public doesn’t understand well.
  • Business tips. You can get the tips by interviewing and writing profiles of business owners and entrepreneurs from your county. These tips are great for owners of small businesses, youths who want to venture in agribusiness or select courses at university that they can use to help the residents of your county – before and after graduation.
  • Contributions from local residents. Invite people to write articles for you and publish them on your site. Interview some on current events and publish their views on your blog either as several answers from different people (to one question) in one blog post or series of posts. Interview the doctors, the nurses, the court clerks, auditors, police officers, hawkers, hoteliers, teachers, professors, drivers, motorbike riders, musicians, priests, writers, vendors in your county…even your neighbours.
  • Write about tourism spots in your county and what makes them delightful. Writing in-depth reviews of these places is a good way to start. You can also do joint ventures with hotels and businesses in these places and get coupon codes / discounts for your readers so they can visit these places without breaking the bank. The owners of the hotels / businesses will appreciate the publicity and your blog visitors will appreciate you going an extra mile to make it possible for them to visit these spots at a discount.
  • Write about projects in the county initiated by the county government, local and foreign investors, charities, NGOs and foundations. Write about the advantages and disadvantages of such projects. Whether the people undertaking them are following the law. Also mention how they impact the county residents and how the residents can take advantage of such projects.
  • Write posts that touch on the accountability of county leaders. Show your fellow residents how the money allocated to your county government from the treasury is being used.
READ  Online newspaper: How to start a news blog in Kenya

There is a lot to write about.

Consistency is the key here.

You’ll have more ideas every day for new posts.

Keep writing and publish at least 2 to 3 articles a day – or even more posts if you intend to write more short articles than you do long-form content.

Apart from the ideas above, also make sure to check the post How to start a news blog in Kenya for more ideas on things you can cover on your blog.

Have a mixture of news articles and evergreen content that accrue in value.

Register a domain for your blog, get web hosting and start blogging

When ready, it is time to come up with a name for your county news blog, register a .co.ke or .com domain, get web hosting for your WordPress blog and start publishing new articles.

I’ve written many posts on how to do this before, so I’m not going to repeat the same here. Check this article on domain registration (extensions and costs involved), this article on web hosting costs and finally this article on how Prifad.com can help you with the process of domain registration and web hosting.

If you have any question you’d like to ask me, share it in the comments section below.

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