Starting Your Own Business [Interview]

For the readers that don’t know, Crystal is the one and only “3CB”, a popular blogger and prolific writer. She is the brains behind ThreeCeeBee, a mother, and a rock lover. Crystal recently quit a well paying job to start her own biashara as a freelance writer. Today she’s going to share with us her story, thus far, as a freelancer.

Q. You’re quite an achiever, tell us about you
I’m a Jack – or rather a Jane of many trades; not all, but many. I sometimes think this is a disadvantage because the world is prefers ‘specialists’ and can get sceptical if you dabble in too many different areas. But it’s also a fall-back because it gives me many different avenues to pursue. I worked at Oxford University Press Tanzania from 2006 to 2009. I was based In Dar es Salaam and edited textbooks in both English and Swahili. Before that, I interned at Kwani Trust for a few weeks. Academically, I’ve studied literature, music, media and creative writing … and it always helps to mention that I’m a PBerian.

Writing was a hobby for me, a form of expression – therapy even – a vent for the pressures from work. I had a radio play produced and aired on BBC World Service in 2007. My first novel, Against the gods, was published in August 2008 and is selling on Amazon. I’ve written several short stories and a lot of poetry, one of which was published in Green Piece QCS.

I’ve been blogging since 2007, and that’s my first love in terms of writing – mostly because it’s really, really easy. Plus I have a column called Crystal Dings in The Lily Review, which is an online e-zine for women, and I do some writing on my publisher’s website. I also have a beautiful little girl that I’m doing my best to raise.

Q. How did you start?
I have always enjoyed reading, and I wrote good compositions in school, but I started writing seriously in Standard 6 or 7 when my English teacher, Ms Simbi Muniafu, gave us a poetry assignment and it was so fun that I couldn’t stop doing it. I started to write a little fiction too; I had this little exercise book where I wrote out my romantic fantasies with a red pen – I was furious when someone stole it from my desk, and I’d still like to get it back.

In my high school, everyone was writing novels, so I didn’t bother. But then a friend, Nora, said ‘I look like writing a book’ so I started working on one. That’s what eventually became Against the gods. It was never intended for publishing, it was simply an narration of my daydreams. Years later I heard about an annual playwriting competition on BBC Radio so I tried out. My first entry, Showcase, was a religious satire that I had a lot of fun writing. It got a commendation. The next year, I wrote a play called The Game Plan. It won joint third prize and was aired on BBC. The team included Jenny Horrocks and Hugo Boothby from BBC, as well as Packson Ngugi, Nini Wacera, Kariz [Metro TV] and Keith Pearson. I met them during the recording in Karen, and it was lots of fun. Winning that prize gave me confidence in my writing, and convinced me that I could actually go somewhere with it.

I found Like Chapaa through Twitter a few months back, and it looked interesting, though it seemed like some theoretical model that would never work in Kenya. I started talking to Kelvin and Nickel Pro helped me set up a website and define my services. I had a lot of contacts that I had taken for granted – to me they were just interesting people that I had worked with in the past. So when I got back to Kenya, I sent a text to everyone I knew announcing that I was back home, and many of them set up meetings with me, including my former bosses. That’s how I got my first clients.

Q. What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
Fear. That was really the biggest thing. I was afraid I wouldn’t make it, and I had no clue where to start. I’m not really sure how – or even if – I overcame it. I still have panic attacks and moments of doubt. Fortunately, my previous job required that I give three months notice, so by the time I started getting cold feet, a month had gone and I couldn’t rescind my resignation. The next time I got really scared, I already moved into a new house and bought a fridge and a DVD, so there was really no turning back.

My friends helped. They’d look at my CV and the things that I had done and ask me why I was so afraid. And once I started working with Like Chapaa, they made it seem possible, which kept me going. Once the website was up, it seemed less like a dream, and I felt like I could actually do this. And my first clients showed a lot of confidence in my skills, so that quashed some of the fear.

Another challenge was defining my services and rates. I knew that I wanted to write, and that I was good at editorial work, but beyond that I was clueless. Kelvin from Like Chapaa chatted with me on the importance of stating exactly what it is that I do, so I sat down and broke down my skill set and we guesstimated how much it should cost. I also sat with my former boss – my first client – and he asked me what I would charge him. I was shy at first, but he insisted I give him a ballpark figure, which he agreed to, and from that I was able to set my rates. I’ve only been at it for a month, so I’m still working out the kinks, but it’s a lot of fun so far.

I went to Sheria House to register a business name and realised that my brand, 3CB, would not work as a name because they don’t accept initials. Plus, I would have to add another word like media or publishing or something at the end of the 3CB, so I had to brainstorm for a while. I’m still working on that, because a business name is something you’ll be stuck with forever and you don’t want something that will make clients giggle and dismiss you. You want to look professional.

Q. What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in Kenya?
I’ve only just started out, so I don’t know much about that yet. For me, I still say the biggest thing is being afraid. Everyone looks at you like you’re insane, and a lot of times you wonder about it yourself. I often ask myself whether I shouldn’t just get a real job and stop daydreaming, especially when the bills are due and the clients aren’t paying on time. But I’m happier than I’ve ever been at my desk job. I enjoy the space to set up meetings at my convenience and still have time for myself and for my family. It’s fun juggling my different projects and taking a nap when I really need it. I feel fulfilled, like I’m doing what I want for a change, and it’s such a high being paid to do what I love. It’s a pretty good feeling to be home when my daughter gets off school – something that I could never manage with a regular 9-to-5, and it’s so freeing to finally get out of the rat-race. Some of the challenges I expect to face are tax issues, accountability and keeping my books in order, but I’ll deal with that when it gets here.

Q. What was critical to your success?
Work ethic. In business, contacts are everything, but beyond the networking and the phone numbers and the diaries, the key is your attitude to what you do. My first clients were former bosses and colleagues who sought me out and gave me tasks because they believed in me – often more than I believed in myself! They were people I had worked with in the past and built relationships with. They had seen me relaxed and seen me under pressure, and they had seen that I can perform. They liked my work and recommended me to others based on business relationships that had sometimes lasted for as little as two weeks. That’s much more powerful than any form of advertising or pimping. To be successful, do your work and do it well – that’s all there is to it because when you put your all into what you do, people will notice, and they will pay.

Timing plays a role too. I always knew what I wanted to do; I had a rough idea that I wanted to write and be paid. But starting my business was all about timing. Things fell into place cosmically in the last six months in a way that had very little to do with me. The landscape in Tanzania changed, my homesickness grew beyond bearing, my spiritual outlook shifted, my baby said she wants to come home … it was simply the right time for me to take this step, and I’m very glad I did.

Diversify. Writing is my primary passion, but editing is the main source of income for my business at the moment. Find a related skill or service that can pay the bills even as you work at your primary area of concentration. Always have a tangent.

And, of course, you have to believe that you can make it.

Q. What about the competition and marketing, do you need to advertise, print flyers participate to conferences or is it mostly word of mouth?
I’m only just starting out, so right now my business is based on past associations. It’s a good place to start but I believe I will need an active marketting campaign to build my business. I don’t know if flyers would be particularly effective. I think the best system for me right now would be networking in various forums and making my work more visible, both on and offline. I’m still figuring out the best way to do that.

Q. Do you think that in order to “make it big” online you have to live in a Western country? Or does Kenya offer more or less the same opportunities?
I love my home, and I intend to succeed here because there’s nowhere else in the world that I’d rather live. And since I launched my writing career online, then that’s the most logical place to start. Blogging is practically free, you get instant feedback, and you build a network through other bloggers and readers. I know you can make it much bigger in the West, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it here. In any case, you have to start somewhere, and you don’t know until you try.

Q. Where do you see yourself and your business (es) in the next 5 years?
Ironically, I want to keep my business small. I’m not a very ambitious person – I hardly even consider myself an entrepreneur as such. I’m just a girl pursuing my passion and making a lot of money doing it. I don’t really want to expand on a commercial scale, I just want to keep having fun and keep making money; this isn’t something I will retire from. Girls are expensive, and I have two to take care of, so of course I will keep looking for avenues to make more and more money to meet our needs. But I don’t want to go all conglomerate and lose touch. I want to reach people on a personal level and make a difference.

In five years time, I see myself doing the same thing that I’m doing now – working hard, having fun, building relationships, living my dream. I plan to diversify into TV and film writing, something I have only toyed with thus far, and I’d like to do some directing. I also want to get into radio, and I’d like to host my own rock show a few times a week. It would be fun to have regular columns in the big magazines and dailies; I have my eye on True Love and Eve, which I enjoy reading. I’d like my business to be big enough to buy me a house, but not so big that it takes over my life. I plan to buy my dream car in the next two years, and my dream house in the next five, but my business will always remain cosy, homely, and most importantly, mine.

Q. If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would believe in myself more. People have always told me that I’m talented, but I’ve wasted a lot of time battling low esteem and self doubt. I would cut myself some slack and just get on with it. I’d also take my brand a little more seriously. 3CB the blogger and the tweeter was all about fun and letting it all hang out, which can be a good thing, but I think some of my online acquaintances would have a hard time seeing me as anything more than a diva or a joker.

Q. What advice do you have for internet business entrepreneurs in Kenya?
Again, I’m just starting out and learning the ropes, so I’m not sure quite how to do things. The most obvious thing is get a good internet connection, and don’t be so afraid to expose yourself online. TMI can be dangerous, what with identity theft and things like that, but at the end of the day, business is about people so you have to let your prospective clients see you as a person, not just a generic avatar or robot. Remember though that everyone you meet online is a potential client, so be professional; friendly, open, genuine, but professional. Also, remember the offline factor. As much as you’re working online, you will actually have to leave your computer once in a while and meet real live people. You can’t do everything through g-talk and webcam.

That’s all for today readers. If you’d like to hear more from Crystal, please visit her website: or

Crystal is an amazing writer. Make sure you check out her work.

Ever Thought Of Building An Online Community? [Interview]

For the readers that don’t know, our interviewee today, Francis, is the founder of The Young Professionals Google Group, a java guru, and a successful internet entrepreneur. He sells e-books as well as advertisements on his Google group. Bwana Francis is also the chairman of the League of Young Professionals – a club in which I am a member.

Q. You’re quite an achiever, tell us about you
I am a software developer by profession and a social entrepreneur by choice. My passion is to see how we can tap the incredible power of web 2.0 technologies (specifically on communication and collaboration) to create great communities and then harness their power and influence to create capacity to solve problems, produce ideas and valued products. There are various tools and applications that individuals, groups, organizations and businesses use/ can use among them message boards, blogs, websites and web portals, mailing lists, news sites, SMS solutions, social sites like twitter and facebook etc

YP Google group is just one of such tool we are using to create a community of passionate young professionals who have a shared purpose of developing themselves and building a better Kenya.

To illustrate the enormous power of such technologies and the online communities around them, one needs to look at the role they played in the election of President Barrack Obama. Voters were reminded via SMS to go vote, could follow the updates of their candidate on Twitter & Facebook, huge amount of campaign money raised online as well as having vibrant discussion of issues on blogs, message boards and mailing lists. We do also have fortune 500 companies who have companies’ weblogs for their staff to blog about the personal life and their companies’ products. The ascendance of free and open source software can also be attributed to this.

Q. How did it start?
It started when I was doing my BSC in computer science. I become passionate about programming by seeing it is possible to create applications which can be used to solve a real problem. Once I got into web technologies, through curiosity and experimentation I looked at the available tools that could be used to achieve the goal, and a Google group and facebook group were the entry points. With time, I and the team I work with, shall be churning out a more integrated platform of all the technology to build great web portal

Q. What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
Most of the challenges were intrinsic (within), and I mean the prejudices and bias that the environment taught me as I grew up. Mostly everyone believes after campus you should be employed and not to experiment with ideas and risk. To overcome such I had to unlearn what I have been taught so that I could absorb new ideas and perceptions.

Secondly, IT is a field that requires specialized technical expertise some of which is rarely taught in schools. For example, to build my programming skills I had to proactively learn the java programming language for over four years through self study.

Q. What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in Kenya?
There are two sets of challenges, one uniquely specific to internet industry and secondly the challenges of any business startup or initiative.

With regard to 1st, the % of Kenyans who have access and use internet regularly is around 8.6% of the total population as compared to countries like USA who have above 46% usage. So a large percentage of the population doesn’t access any product, service or platform that is internet based.

With regard to the 2nd, among the top challenges I can pinpoint that cuts across all industries in Kenyan context are firstly getting funds to finance your venture, secondly fierce competition from established and large global companies and thirdly building a successful business requires a large investment of your time and needs patience and commitment

Q. What was critical to your success?
It’s hard to single out one or a few since I believe it’s a whole set of skills which I could call the winning combination, but they generally fall in 3 domains.

  1. My ability and the passion to learn. Generally I buy & read at least 2 books (mostly on business & management) a month.
  2. Technical expertise. My programming skills are very good and I never cease to try to become even more qualified. I am always sharpening my saw, learning new skills and craft I need to get something done, being more competent either in programming or any other roles
  3. Emotional Intelligence. Mastered myself, can manage myself and my relationship with others. Can easily understand my emotions and the behavior of others.

All the three orchestrated together, I can say they are what is critical to my success.

Q. What about the competition and marketing, do you need to advertise, print flyers participate to conferences or is it mostly word of mouth?
Mostly through word of mouth and email marketing.

Q. Do you think that in order to “make it big” online you have to live in a Western country? Or does Kenya offer more or less the same opportunities?
Definitely that is a myth. Making money online is possible since I am making quite a lumpsome. You just need to have the right product, well priced and packaged and target the right audience.

Q. Where do you see yourself and your business (es) in the next 5 years?
I believe we shall have built the required competences and products to provide communication & collaboration solutions, be it to political parties, large organizations, community groups, NGOs, Small and Medium Enterprises and well as having flagship enterprise applications for mass usage.

Q. If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Not really, same direction but different routes. With experience I have come to know which works and which doesn’t work. Definitely I would avoid the latter, while only keeping the former.

Q. What advice do you have for internet business entrepreneurs in Kenya?
I will quote Charlotte Bunch who once said “We do not need, and indeed never will have all the answers before we act…… It is often through taking action that we can discover some of them.” Lets not be afraid to try and fail, it’s through trying, failing, having false head starts that we can only make great reaps ahead.

That’s all for today readers. If you’d like to hear more of Francis, please join the YP Google group and The League of Young Professionals. You can also reach him at the following:

Email – francis.mwangi.chege[at]
Alt – francis.mwangi.chege[at]
Phone +254 721 663 208
On Twitter –
On Facebook –

PS Francis has a very good deal on a package of 800+ ebooks.

Do You Also Want To Be A Successful Freelancer? [Interview]

For the readers that don’t know, our interviewee today is an accomplished freelancer from right here in Kenya! She’s one of the most successful local freelancers I have heard of, having won a one year government tender to offer writing and editorial services for a regulatory state corporation recently. Imagine that! Our interviewee pens her thoughts at: You can also find her on her website:

Q. You’re quite an achiever, tell us about you.

Thank you for having me here. I am writer, blogger, editor and proofreader. I found my passion in writing about a year ago and decided to pursue it, at first on a part time basis before taking it up full time at the beginning of the year.

Q. How did you start?

I started freelancing by chance. I had been working in corporate Kenya since leaving collage and my last FT job was in the banking sector. Upon leaving the bank and back into the overcrowded job market, I was searching for a job when I chanced upon an online magazine (; I still write for them) searching for contributors/freelancers for their business magazine. With little knowledge about online writing but a salient passion and determination for writing, I put forward my application and like they say, the rest is history.

Q. What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

The people over at tujuane were very supportive, understanding and offered the much needed help. However, the reality of working as a freelancer hit me so hard that it took me a while to adjust. Without a regular work schedule, daily commuting and no boss to answer to, at first it seemed like an easy thing to do, but it took an enormous amount of determination and self-discipline on my part to make it work.

I was also battling with the idea of telling people that I freelance which I must say is somewhat new here in Kenya. (Interestingly, saying you freelance is coded to suggest that one has no regular FT job hence searching). But after much thought, I realized what I did/do is no different than what people with a 9-5 do, just that I work from a home office with my own set of rules, structures and schedules and a very demanding boss-me. This has helped me greatly.

Q. What are the challenges of being a freelancer in Kenya?

Getting people to understand that being a freelancer is not about lazing around the house in your pyjamas and a bowl of pop-corn seated in front of the TV, while others are busy working out there. It’s still difficult to explain to people that I work from my home office, at times working 10-12 hours a day.

There is also the notion that one is not a professional or cannot deliver to par as those working in an office setting.

Finding clients has been an uphill task as Kenyans have been socialized to believe a 9-5 or operating an office outside your house is how one should be making a living. But, I must say this perception is changing, thanks in part to technology that has made it easier and fast to communicate with one’s clients anywhere in Kenya and/or the world.

Q. What was critical to your success?

Having a vision and believing in my abilities. I have also continuously sought to improve my skills by reading widely and attending workshops that can impart the necessary skills needed to be successful.

I am also a risk taker as I believe one can only know the extent of their abilities by taking wise and well calculated chances. Toss in a bit of luck, passion and drive; and you have a winning formula.

I do not view my freelancing as a hobby but as a business, thus putting in place the necessary business structures to support it.

Q. What about the competition and marketing? Do you need to advertise, print flyers participate in conferences or is it mostly through word of mouth?

I can say most of my clients are through word of mouth, networking, knocking on people’s doors and contacts I make at conferences. Having a presence online (blog) has greatly contributed to my marketing efforts. My business card acts as my marketing tool by clearly stating what I do and how I do it.

As for competition, I do not worry about it as the market is large enough for any one person, let alone a multitude, to fully exhaust it. It also depends with one’s line of work, how specialised, demand and market forces.

Q. Do you think that in order to “make it big” online you have to live in a Western country? Or does Kenya offer more or less the same opportunities?

I do believe, as long as you have high speed internet, patience, persistence and good judgment when it comes to making a living online, it does not really matter where you work from. I personally started writing online and still do, before sourcing for clients’ offline.

Q. Where do you see yourself and your business(es) in the next 5 years?

When I made the decision to freelance full time, I ensured to put in place a strategy that will chart my path to accomplishing my goals and vision such as working with a large corporation or even the government-but in the distant future, say, in three years time. But, this came sooner than expected and have had to make adjustments to my plans for bigger things. In the next five years, I hope to have made significant strides by having a freelance agency where businesses, government and NGOs can come to and source for highly skilled freelance professionally for their projects here in Kenya.

Q. If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

To be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing as I have learned so much during my short stint as a freelancer and still do. The only thing I would say… why didn’t I start this sooner!

Q. What advice do you have for internet business entrepreneurs in Kenya?

Just choose an internet service provider that charges for unlimited usage on a monthly basis. This will save you the first headache of working online/remotely without running a huge bill on internet usage. Trust me on this!

Have a contingency plan just incase things do not go as planned e.g. the current power rationing or how to meet your deadlines and other obligations when you are under the weather.

Last but not least, there are so many scams out there and one has to be very careful when venturing into internet business. Google is there to help you filter companies/individuals that want to make you a statistic of scammed individuals online. Just search for companies that you feel are not genuine or suspicious. You maybe surprised what comes of it.

For aspiring freelancers, one thing that needs to be clarified and understood is that not everyone can/should freelance let alone do it successfully. It takes guts, passion, determination and vision, and of course, an entrepreneurial spirit to make it.

Good luck and all the best.

That’s all for today readers. If you’d like to read more, please visit:
Smurt Notes Editorial

How to Earn While Learning (in Kenya)

JJ people have set up a Java Development Centre in Nairobi, Kenya and are looking for people to join them to become professional software developers writing Java code for clients spread across Europe, Canada and North America.

They look to have a very sweet deal: basically, you sign up with them to receive FREE training in java.  After you complete introductory level training, they will pay you to learn with them following which they will then offer you a three year as a java developer working with their clients from Europe and North America.  Now, I don’t know about you but that does sound too good to be true.  

Guess what? It’s not too good to be true.  This is the real deal.  In my view it’s the quickest and easiest path to becoming a software developer (and get paid while doing it).  I have the good fortune to have a good friend currently in the JJ people program and he agreed to an interview.  So without much further ado, I bring to you, Paul.

How did you find JJ People?
I found the JJ people opportunity through the help of my big sister.  She saw the advertisement in the newspaper, and knowing how much I enjoy using computers, she suggested I sign up.  So she helped me draft a letter which I sent through email with my CV attached.

How easy was it to get in?
Getting in was easy, the hard part was waiting for my username and password.  I remember I waited for a month, calling the JJ people HR Manager everyday asking about my username and password.  After two weeks, I had lost hope of joining.  After four months, I finally got the email from JJ people and that same night, I finished the first module.

What is your experience like?
When I frist went to the office(situated at Augustana College Building – on your way to Karen along Ngong Road), I saw all these older people, very active at researching and coding.  I knew it had been some time since I did Java, but I always have preferred it over any other programming language. So that same day, I had to borrow a huge book on Java programming from a friend. Since I was coming to the office once a week, it took me two months to finish the second module(Java fundamentals) as I was studying Java all over again.  After finishing that module, it was easy street. 

At JJ people you meet all kinds of people.  Those who have had years of experience in Java, those who are starting out. T hose who are in it for the money (eventually most have quit midway module two).  At the main office, you get to meet those who have gone through the whole training and are know either Senior developers, Developers or trainees doing projects for the company.  The training has helped me think outside the box more when it comes to java. This is my 4th week at JJ people and what I’ve learnt, no university or college in Kenya can match.

Best moment so far?
I don’t think I have had a particular best moment at JJ people because everyday, walking into that office and sitting at my laptop is a good moment for me.  At JJ People, not everyone is the “serious type”.  You will find the IT Manager, Mr John Dickerson, talking to students and sometimes complaining out loud.  But with the friendly environment comes work.  You must work hard to achieve that 3 year contract you want with JJ People.

Worst moment so far?
Once when I was the only one caught on facebook (people are supposed to be working and not chatting. Yet half the room was on facebook).  Also another time when I was accused of copying someones idea. Sincerely, if the question read the same, they also gave the names of the methods to use………to me, it’s not copying, I simply learnt from the person’s idea.

Any advice for people looking to join?
If anyone wants to join, join. But I must warn you, join if you know what you want. If you have a passion for Java and you want to further develop it, join. There will be people greater at Java than you, but in the end its all about understanding because later on, you apply what you have learnt in previous tasks.

What do you hope to achieve at JJ people?
I joined JJ people because I wanted to learn.  That is my main reason after which is the pay.  But all in all, my dream job is working at EA(Electronic Arts) in Europe.  So my next part-time task is learning 3D programming and 3D animation.  I find a job to learn more than to earn. Most of the cases people quit jobs because of the pay and not because of the skills they acquire.

Enough said. Here’s the link to the JJ People website, click and go. Please leave a comment telling us what you think of this.

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The Secret to Internet Chatting

The following takes place between 5am and 6 am.

At exactly 5am I walk into the room. It isn’t very crowded but, as usual, there is already a heated debate amongst some of the regulars. I suppose a heated debate could also arise from my use of the word ‘walk’ at the beginning of this paragraph. It is complicated: some would say I teleported into the room; others would argue that it is not a room at all.

But let’s not get into that.

My guest ‘walks’ in. Just in time. I immediately launch a private conversation with her. Folks meet Smelly cat

Hey. How are you doing?
Hello. I’m fine and I hope you are too. Sorry, I’m a bit late.

Smelly Cat: That is interesting name. How did you get it?

Yeah its good, isn’t it? It’s actually my childhood nickname. I don’t really want to get into how I got it. Anyhoo, it serves its purpose quite well. When you are in a room such as this one, it helps if you have a good unique nick name – otherwise known as a handle.

Tell us about yourself

Well, I’m young and I love life. You really have to be more specific if you want more out of me.

What do you do for a living?

I’m a chat room regulator

A what?

LOL. Right, I……get paid to spend all the day in the chat rooms, like this one, and ensure that the public discussions don’t get indecent, abusive or otherwise inappropriate.


Yeah. It gets me by. The really cool thing is that I can work from home, or anywhere else.

So what is internet chat?

Internet chat is a way of communicating instantly over the internet. I like to call it TOIP.

Text over internet protocol? That doesn’t exist, does it?

No. It only exists in my mind. But you never can be too sure, what with the pace of technology nowadays. I call it TOIP because it is like an actual conversation but one in which you don’t speak but type whoever you want to say.

How does one get to experience ‘TOIP’

There are two ways of chatting on the internet:

1 You can chat via websites that have chat rooms like talkcity or mashada. Basically, you register with the website and you can then enter the chat room(s) on that site. There, you’ll find people having a public discussion that everyone ‘hear.’ You may take part in that discussion or start a private conversation with anyone.

2 You can also chat through instant messaging (IM) software (usually available for free) such as yahoo IM, MSN IM, AOL IM etc. When chatting through such software, you log in to the messenger and chat with any contacts you have.

How do get these contacts?

Contacts are actually your friends. Every messenger has an option that lets you invite contacts, so that you can chat to them whenever you’re both logged into the IM software.

What about IRC?

IRC is an open protocol for chat/instant messaging. Some people say it’s the original mode of internet chat. It works a lot like IM software. You download some software, like mIRC, and log in. It then connects you to number of IRC services or channels and you can chat. Incidentally, IRC is mostly used by adults, for their type of discussions.

Speaking of adults, are chat rooms as dangerous as depicted on CNN or Sky news?

You cannot say that chat rooms are any dangerous than walking down the street, or having a drink at the local. You just have to be careful.


The problem is that a lot of people invite problems by not practicing safe chat. You see, young people make friends really easily and they can’t help but trust (to some extent) these friends. What they don’t understand is that not everyone you chat to is honest.

How do you practice safe chat?

Never use or reveal your real name in a chat room. Use a nick name- and not one that reveals your gender or attracts bad attention e.g sexy beast.
Be careful who you trust. The person you are talking to may just as well be 20 years older than he says he is.
Think before you reveal anything personal or answer private questions .
Get away from unpleasant situations by blocking the offending user, logging out, or even re-logging in using a different name.
Meeting people (in real life) that you first me online can be dangerous. Always tell an adult about such meetings and arrange the meeting to be in a public place and go to the meeting with one or a couple of your friends.

Can parents do anything to protect their kids?

1.Adults should talk frequently to young people about their chat experience and recommend safe chat rooms to them. (An example of a regulated chat room is gridclub)

2. You may also block chatting using special software – you may also ask your ISP for help on this.
In the spirit of freedom I have to say that there are ways to get around chat-blocking, such as by using websites like meebo or e-buddy.

What does chat mean to you?

Internet chat is beautiful technology. Just take us as an example: you’re interviewing me in a chat room! That just speaks for it itself.

Any last words?

Chatting is a wonderful way to meet people and have lots of fun online – with anonymous flirting and what not! It may also pay your bills, like it does mine. For people with websites, a chat room may drive some decent traffic your way. It is also emerging as an excellent (and cheap) way of offering customer care on websites, especially for companies that provide online services.

Think about it.

Now to burst some jargon:
LOI – Laugh out loud; used to indicate laughter when chatting
MSN – Microsoft Network
America online
IRC –Internet relay chat