Success is not your friend

It’s been over six months since I wrote anything here, and it’s been a pretty interesting six months. By interesting, I mean I was never bored … because I spent all my time pulling hair off my head. It’s a good thing I have so much of it, or I’d look a lot like Donald Trump.

The reason I’ve been so quiet is I fell into a slump. I had a bad depression, and when I started to recover, my business was failing. I didn’t get any new clients and I sabotaged the ones that I had. I was too depressed to work, so I canceled two clients. A third client used my work without paying for it, which was the last straw. I focused so much on what I’d lost that I lost what I had. It was sh*t scary. My business no longer seemed viable, so after a lot of soul searching and crying, I decided to kill my pride and get a job. It was the second-saddest decision I’ve ever had to make.

As I type, I’ve spent the last three months in a series of interviews with an advertising firm. I had four meetings and even met the MD, so I was pretty sure things were in the bag. I met met some of the staff and even saw the exact spot where my desk would be. I was getting a Mac laptop from the deal and everything! I built my castles in the air, started negotiations to move into a new flat, met with a broker at AAR, talked to some banks about a mortgage, and moved my baby girl to a new school. It was crazy, but I was feeling positive.

On Monday this week, I finally got the call. The job wasn’t going to come through. I spent the next 24 hours veering between torture and panic. I have just under 20 days to raise 50K and get a new job, and I don’t quite know where to start. It’s not the coolest place to be.

But as I dust out my CV and do some job trawling, a strange thing is happening. I’m being pushed back towards my dream gig. See, I had focused so much on the shiny new job that I’d forgotten what I already have. I’ve been freelancing for just over a year, and I have a list of satisfied clients. Every one of them praised my work, and when I sit back and think about it, nothing makes me happier than writing. It makes me wonder why I’m so quick to run away from it.

My logical side says I have a baby to look after and bills to pay. Lots of people that I know are moving back into employment, and others are getting disillusioned with the hustle. They were proud of me for dropping my ‘biashara mentality’ and hitting the tarmac. But I couldn’t help feeling like I was dying a little inside.

There are a million different ways to look at it, but here are the lessons that I’ve taken from this mess.

1. Success is not you friend

When I started freelancing, I did great. I was so scared that I didn’t bid for over a month, but when I finally did, I landed a gig within five minutes of bidding on GAF. I got four jobs the first time I did a bid on Elance. I felt like that was the norm. So when I went a month without a new job on Elance, I lost faith. I bid less and less, which meant my success rate dropped. In the end, I went four months without new work, so I gave up on Elance.

Luckily, my brother referred me to a job on oDesk, and it looked so good that I put all my efforts in it and ignored Elance completely. One month later, I had done 10,000/= worth of work for  client on oDesk. I also did 10,000/= worth of work for a client in Rwanda that I got through my work here on Like Chapaa. They both skipped with the money, and without the safety nets and accountability of Elance, I was screwed and depressed.

I decided I had failed as a freelancer and went job hunting. On the tarmac, my first phone call led to an interview, and that was followed by four more interviews and an average of two follow-up calls every week. Then that fell through. I was left feeling that if I could go this far in the interview process and fail, then there was no point trying at all.

My dad gave me a theory a few weeks ago. He said we had our first failures too late in life, so we hadn’t developed coping skills. I think he might be right. In both cases, if I had started with some minor failures, I might have been steeled enough to not give up. Success spoils you. It thins your skin. To be really good at what you do, you have to fall, fall again, then fall again and again and again. Falling down teaches you what you need to get up.

2. Sometimes, the answer isn’t what you think it is

When I left my job in Tanzania, I thought I was fed up with employment, and that I needed to work for myself. Technically, freelancing isn’t entrepreneurship. But it isn’t quite the rat race either, so it seemed like a decent idea. I freelanced for a year, and then I gave up and decided I need to go get a job. After one failed try, I felt terribly confused. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right.

When I finally got out of my head, got some good advice, and started to look at things critically, I decided it isn’t a black or white thing. It isn’t an either/or. I can work on my freelance and look for a job. Neither is exclusive. This wisdom seemed ridiculous to me. After all, I suck at multitasking, and we all know what happened to the hyena at the crossroads. Tarmacking is a full time job, and hustling is three. Plus, I have a baby to look after. I can’t possibly do it all – there’s just one me!

But here’s the thing. Suppose I don’t try to do it all. Suppose I try to give each bit 80%. I can be an 80% mum by getting my Little One to polish her own shoes, pack her own break, and clean up when she’s done playing. I can be an 80% tarmacker by doing one interview or application a day instead of spending the whole day working my CV. I can be an 80% hustler by spending 6 hours  day on freelance tasks. That way I don’t really have to multitask, and have my eggs in different baskets. When it comes to a point where I have to choose – like if I land a really good job – then I’ll deal with it.

3. Pat yourself on the back

You have to take time out to congratulate yourself. Last week, I saw a tweet by Harry Karanja aka @startupkenya that I really liked. It said:

If you wake up every morning, to hustle, day in day out without at least once grossly rewarding yourself, yours is a sad existence.

Yesterday, I was sitting around moping. Half the year is gone and I feel like I haven’t done anything. My project for the year was to get a 9 to 5, and six months later, I still don’t have one. But then my friend and mentor gave me this quote:

‘She who plants weeds cannot expect to harvest flowers.’

If I focus on all the stuff I haven’t done, there’s no way I’ll end up feeling fulfilled. If I was to look at it objectively, I would see that I’ve actually done a lot this year. I’ve made peace with myself emotionally. I’ve moved my baby to a better school which is much closer to home, so she can sleep more and is less grumpy. I’ve made connections that have opened lots of doors and continue to do so. I’ve discovered skills and abilities I didn’t know I had. I’ve dealt with Zuku and Safaricom Customer Care without killing anyone. They’re actually getting quite good by the way. I’ve become better friends with my mother. So while I may not have the job card that I wanted, in some ways, I’ve done a lot more.

4. Self enterprise is not fun

We all have this idea that when we quit our jobs and work for ourselves, it’s going to be an endless party. So when we end up feeling stressed and miserable, we feel we must be doing something wrong. We feel like we’ve made a mistake and wonder if it’s too late to go crawling back to the boss. At least, that’s how I felt late last year. Here’s an excerpt form an article I read last week It lists 100 Rules For Being An Entrepreneur.

Rule No. 1: It’s not fun.

I’m not going to explain why it’s not fun. These are rules. Not theories. I don’t need to prove them. But there’s a strong chance you can hate yourself throughout the process of being an entrepreneur. Keep sharp objects and pills away during your worst moments. If you are an entrepreneur and agree with me, please note this in the comments below.

Here’s another excerpt from an article I found yesterday, courtesy of Twitter. It’s from Epic Living, and it tells you when you should give up on your self-starting dream … and when you shouldn’t.

Picture this, you’re moving through life wondering where you fit in.  You’ve played many roles.  You’ve tried finding happiness in what everyone says you should be happy with.  But, alas, you’re still looking.  Every day you’re looking.

This is tough and lonely work.

If we’re honest, we’d admit that the purpose/mission has at one time or another whispered to us.  Trouble is we’re not a very honest culture.  The art of lying to oneself is very much the norm.  And so it goes, the whisper.  The proverbial, “this is what makes me come alive” or “I belong in this space.”  Do you listen or try to ignore?  So now you know.  It’s calling you and maybe you’re one of the few that listens.  Your first step out into the great unknown is a dip (thank you Seth Godin).  Maybe it’s skepticism, maybe it’s envy or maybe it’s flat out fear on your part.  Before long you begin to wonder what you’ve done and is it too late to turn back.  Turning back always has your number on speed-dial.

There is a reason Cortez burned the ships in the harbour.

Let me be clear, sometimes you should give up.  I think we know when that is.  The time to give up is not when you’re being refined by the crucible of exhaustion and doubt.  And believe me, that’s when many do give up.  I’ve always believed that no one can truly play a part in changing the world until they have felt pain and loss.  By the way, that’s what everyone else has experienced.  And is experiencing in some way.  The audience is looking for someone who is unwavering in integrity and has a passion to solve the problems.

At this point, I’ve decided to distribute my eggs. I’m looking for new baskets, and I’m also putting some in the fridge, in the shelf, on the cupboard … and I’m even putting a few in the frying pan. Sometime soon, I may have to decide on one location for my basket, but in the meantime, I’m keeping my options open.

5. Dreams whisper, but they whisper loud

Quitting my job to follow my dream was probably the dumbest thing I ever did. But in many ways, it was also the smartest. I was happier last year than I’ve been in a while, and it was all going great until sh*t hit. When things got heavy, I assumed I was lost. But just because you fail doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong path. It could just mean you were near a puddle and some overlapper splashed you. Maybe you bought the wrong shoes for the journey, or you were plying Rhino Charge in a Vitz. Maybe you simply got distracted by a chicken trying to cross your road.

As I trawl the net looking for jobs to take me away from my dream, I keep finding neon signs that yell ‘Go Back’. I’m veering away from freelancing, but all indicators are pushing me home. So as much as I’m pounding the tarmac, I’m also taking a fresh look at my ‘side gig’. I’m keeping an open mind, looking for ways to develop, thickening my skin for rejection, and gathering champagne for success. I think that’s the biggest thing my failure has taught me, and it’s a pretty useful lesson. So don’t be so desperate to succeed. Sometimes, you learn more from falling to the ground than you do from staying on your feet.

Crystal Ading’ is a professional author, editor, rock lover and mother. Her work is available through

How to Succeed in Business in Kenya

“Our greatest weakness is giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

I had the priviledge of hearing Joanne Mwangi, whose company, Professional Marketing Services, was voted the best of the top 100 SMEs in East Africa. Joanne spoke at length about entrepreneurship and how to start/run your own business. Here’s some nuggets of information shared by her:

First, the most important thing about starting your own business is that you have to choose the right type of business to start. Your choice needs to be:

  1. Something that you are very, very good at
  2. Something that you love
  3. Something that can make you real money

Do not copy what others are doing. Joanne gave an example of the ‘phenomenon’ that a few years back it was it was almost a “fashion trend” for people to go to Dubai to buy things and come sell them in Kenya. Most people who did this did it only because they heard that it would make them a lot of money. Starting a business by trying to copy someone’s success is not a good idea.

Think Big. let your dream be as big as possible. if you think small, you will find that there’s an upper limit to the amount of success that you can enjoy.

Other pieces of advice:

  • Do not give up until you have been running your business for at least 18 months
  • Hire right
  • Take intelligent risks
  • Accept failure and move on
  • Never stop learning
  • If you help others, it almost always comes back. Therefore, share your experience and advice with others and train and mentor others if you can.
  • Pay yourself a salary. A real salary.
  • Pay your taxes!
  • Embrace God in everythign you do.

Will your business survive if something happens to you?

While we don’t like to think of it, there are always uncertainties in life that can come without warning. When these events occur, it is often very difficult to pay any attention to your business. Either you don’t have the time or it becomes the farthest thing from your mind.

When that does occur, will your business continue to run without you or is it completely dependent on you? If your answer is more of the former than the latter, it is more likely that you have already built or are on your way to building a successful Lazy Business.
Why is it Important?

The main reason is that you never know what’s going to happen to you from day to day.

  • You could have a family emergency that needs your complete attention
  • You could become injured or sick and not be able to work for a period of time
  • There could be some sort of catastrophe where you work or live and you won’t be able to get to work or do any work for several days

All of these things are completely out of your control and more often than, completely unpredictable on when they happen. You need to be prepared so that when they do happen, your business and your livelihood aren’t affected and you can focus on what needs your immediate attention.

An ancillary affect of being so prepared is that you can also be gone for no reason at all. You can take a week off of work at a moment’s notice or just not do any work for several days. Your business will still function without you to support that lifestyle. Now it may not continue to grow without your leadership and vision but that is a balance that you need to be comfortable with.

The important goal to focus on is that your business wouldn’t fall off the edge of a cliff with clients canceling their service or bills don’t get paid, etc.

What if You Freelance or the Main Cog in the Business?
If you are a freelancer, you have other problems. Freelancing is not a real business in the first place and you need to re-engineer what you do and how you work to make sure that you manage the business and are not the sole person responsible for service/product delivery.

What Needs to Be Done?
The short answer is . . . Everything!

Every business is different in what it sells and how it operates. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t common functions of every business – accounting, service/product delivery, marketing, sales, general management, etc.

The fact is that each of these areas should be broken down and detailed in a manual with all the functions that need to be completed. And all of those activities should be delegated to someone else to do. These are tasks that need to be completed on a regular basis like setting up new clients or paying bills on a weekly basis. You should not be doing anything that you can get someone else to do – outsource it.

But there are a few things you should have procedures in place for so that they can be run without you. This is also a good checklist for those who want to automate their business:

  • Who is going to handle the accounting and handle the reconciliation of all the expenses and income?
  • Who is going to bill the clients, receive the payments, and process the payments?
  • Who is going to pay the bills on time?
  • How are the taxes going to get paid and any forms or legal documents get filed?
  • Who is going to manage the marketing campaigns – set them up, monitor them, and measure them?
  • Who will the prospects call or e-mail if they have any questions or would like to place an order?
  • Who will take the orders and get the information to deliver the product or service?
  • Who will handle product/service delivery and make sure that the client is set-up and receives what they ordered?
  • Who will handle client support? They will probably have questions or concerns and they need someone to talk to.

While they might not all be completely automated so that they can get completed without any assistance or initiation from you, you should be able to easily hand them over to someone else to complete. These are all things that you need to automate today so that you don’t have to worry about them tomorrow. And you’ll notice that once you do have them handed off, you will be able to focus more time and energy on growing a successful business. . . or you can just play some golf instead.

8 Ways to Impress Your Boss While Doing Less

While we usually write about how to successfully grow your business, I know that a lot of people aren’t there yet. A lot of people are still working the 9-5, dreaming of being a Business Owner. While I worked for “the Man”, I still wanted to be “lazy” while being successful and get promoted. For the most part, these are some things that I did to be successful, while beginning on my road to being a Lazy Owner.

  1. Become Great Friends with Your Boss – While it doesn’t always seem fair, people naturally respond better to people that they like. If you establish a good relationship with your boss, they’re more likely to give you some leniency or provide a better review for you. Don’t brown nose – just treat them like an old friend.
  2. Know What Your Boss’ Boss Wants – In the end, you are only getting directions from your boss because they are getting directions from their boss. The sooner you understand what these are and what is motivating them, the sooner you can help meet those needs, and not worry about what you used to think was important.
  3. Focus on the Major Tasks – Once you know what your Boss’ Boss wants, focus on those tasks. Get them done right and get them down right away. Again, this is the most important stuff to your boss and they will look at you as being indispensable if you’re meeting their needs on time, all the time.
  4. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Too often, I would see people worried about the smallest details that didn’t make any difference. Don’t miss the obvious stuff but don’t spend hours worrying about formatting, etc. Focus on the important things – that’s what your boss will remember.
  5. Send E-mails Before You Go To Work and After You Go Home – You don’t have to actually log on and do any work but it shows dedication to your boss when they see e-mails at 7AM and 11PM. Just save an e-mail or two that you want to send or respond to one that doesn’t take much time.
  6. Volunteer for Everything – Initially, this is counter-intuitive but it can eventually reduce the amount of work you do. I also think it’s one of the best ways to impress your boss – shows that you can handle the multiple responsibilities of someone at a level above you.
  7. Get a Personal Assistant – So this might not be feasible if you work in a government or financial industry and it could be frowned upon by some employers, but if there are any repetitive tasks you have that can be outsourced, take advantage of the opportunity to impress your boss.
  8. Know Something Better than Anyone – Don’t become the jack-of-all-trades. Make sure that you’re the resident expert on at least one subject area. You don’t have to keep up on multiple domains but you become indispensable to your boss.

What do you think of these?

Getting a mortgage as a freelancer

When I first started writing for money, I had big dreams. I figured if I could earn Ksh 300,000 a month, I could easily get a mortgage. I’d pay Ksh 100,000 a month and own my dream house in under 10 years. It seemed really viable. But everyone I told about my plans either raised an eye-brow or pulled a face-palm. One guy actually laughed out loud – and no, I’m not referring to text abbreviations.

I didn’t know why people reacted that way until I walked into a bank and read a mortgage leaflet. They have an awful lot of requirements, and they’re tailored more to salaried workers. I figured it’s easier to save up ten million and buy the house in cash. But by the time I save ten million, my house will cost much more than that.

I was talking to a business mentor, and he gave me a three-step plan on how to buy my dream house in five years. It might even work too.

  1. Identify the house you want to buy, and find out how much it costs. I found this awesome penthouse in my neighbourhood for 7.5 million. I’m sure it’s gone by now, but I’m setting the bar at 10, which seems okay.
  2. Find a bank that has good mortgage rates and open an account there. I have accounts in three different banks. One account is just for my credit card, and the other is a non-ATM junior account, so I guess I just have one option. Their rates are rather scary.
  3. Create a relationship with the bank. When he said that, I freaked out. I can’t imagine a bank manager taking me seriously while I’m in jeans and purple hair. But he explained that I need to be known by the databank, not the management. My records need to show that I’m a good loan prospect. For that to happen, I need to deposit money in the bank regularly. A client who puts in Ksh 20,000 every month is more reliable than one who banks a million once a year. The 20K guy is more likely to get credit, and therefore, a mortgage.

As a freelancer, you get some payments in cash, or cheque, or even Mpesa. Organize your finances so that you bank a set amount every month, on roughly the same date. To the bank, this is almost a salary, and will go a long way in deciding if they’ll give you a loan or not. Does this theory work? Ask me in five years…

Crystal Ading’ is a professional author, editor, rock lover and mother. Her work is available through

When Your Business Fails, Repeatedly

I was reading a very, very interesting article on Hacker News on what to do when your new business just fails, and fails, and fails again. The initiator of the article is an entrepreneur whose products have not fared well. Below is a select few responses that he got. Business wisdom:

You seem to have been terribly misled. Only very rarely do products sell themselves. 99% of the time, the product is largely incidental to the sales process. Your idea doesn’t matter one jot, what matters is how well you can connect to customers and really sell to them.

Let me tell you about a fine English gentleman by the name of Joe Ades, now sadly no longer with us. Joe wore Savile Row suits and lived in a three-bedroomed apartment on Park Avenue. He spent most nights at the Café Pierre with his wife, sharing a bottle of his usual – Veuve Clicquot champagne. You might assume that Joe was a banker or an executive, but in fact Joe sold potato peelers on the street for $5 each, four for $20.

I urge you, I implore you, I beg you, stop what you’re doing and watch Joe in action:

That is what business looks like. Sometimes, once in a million, you luck upon a product so amazing the world beats a path to your door. For most of us, the best we can hope for is to be some chump with a thousand boxes of vegetable peelers. Anybody can sit out on the street with a box of peelers, but Joe sold them. Joe made his peelers sing, he made them seem like magic. He took a humble piece of stamped metal and created theatre. He did something so simple and strange and wonderful that people would buy a fistful of his peelers, just so they could tell their friends about this little Englishman they saw in Union Square.

Look at the Fortune 500, tell me what you see. I see grocery stores, drugstores, oil companies, banks, a funny little concern that sells sugar water. I see a whole lot of hard work and very few great ideas.

Forget about striking it big with a great idea, it’s just as childish and naïve as imagining that the tape you’re recording in your garage is going to make you a rockstar. Get out there and talk to customers. Find out what they need, what annoys them, what excites them. Build the roughest, ugliest piece of crap that you can possibly call a product. If you’re not ashamed of it, you’ve spent too long on it. Try and sell it. Some people will say “I’m not buying that piece of crap, it doesn’t even do X”. If X isn’t stupid, implement X. Some people, bizarrely, will say “yes, I will buy your piece of crap”. It is then and only then that you are actually developing a product. Until you’ve got a customer, it’s just an expensive hobby. Paying customer number one is what makes it a product.

“Honestly, there are 2 types of folks who make it: the lucky ones, and the persistent ones. Its hard as hell (and heck I haven’t beaten it yet) but you have to ignore the burnout and be one of the persistent ones”

“Why are you paying so much attention to your “launch day”? It’s an entrepreneurial myth that there is a mighty “launch” that sets the tone of your business. When was Twitter “launched”? When was Carbonmade “launched”? When was Balsamiq “launched”? Or SquareSpace, MailChimp, or Fog Creek? Sure, they “launched”, but who cared?

You are building a business. It does not spring from your forehead like Athena, or get pooped out of your pet Nibbler like Dark Matter on Futurama. Listen to what everyone else here has to say. Sure, pick something with favorable long-tail SEO dynamics. Sure, pick something with a viral loop. Sure, build yourself a tribe.

But then, for god’s sake, pick something you can stick with, nurture, protect, and grow over the long run. That thing you don’t have, that keep calling “a fucking great idea”? Most of us call it “a winning lottery ticket”. Stop thinking about playing the lottery. Get back to work.”

“Hang in there man.

What’s touched upon in various ways in all the comments is that “PR” and “Media Coverage” is not the end all be all. In fact the successfully software startups I know STILL email individual potential customers on a daily basis.

I think one of the great myths of the internet is that you should just create a product, throw it up on the internet with some SEO and AdWords and the customers will come. Sure it might work for a few people, but by and large you are still growing a business. And you often grow a business one person at a time, hopefully later you can learn to scale sales.

Often what is missing from people’s MVP’s and business plans is how are you going to very specifically market to your target customers, and what the cost of customer acquisition is. If you can’t identify a way to find your target customer, you’re going to have a problem. Again, I don’t think general SEO and SEM is going to work.

Don’t give up on your idea, start emailing people. 50, 100 people a day. Convert them one at a time. If your business idea is not specifically just some sexy piece of technology, direct mail may work too (if you don’t also have to educate people on why they need your product.)

Journalist want to write about what’s hot, not about what is a potentially decent idea in a decent market. They want to talk about iphones, ipads, and facebook, and the latest jargon.

Anyways, start finding your target customers and email them. Don’t worry about email campaign tools and crazy stuff, just starting email or calling them one at a time. Building a web based software business doesn’t mean you can just skip sales.”

I would say this is some of the best advice that can be given to new entrepreneurs. You can read the rest of the article here.

How To Increase Your Site’s Visitors by 60%

Over the last two months or so, the number of people who visit Like Chapaa per day has increased by roughly 60%. This increase has resulted in more business for us and we are, naturally, incredibly happy at the fruits of our labor. Today, I wanted to share the things we did to make this increase a reality. (We hope that it is the things listed here that the actually resulted in our site-visitor surge but it may well have been caused by factors beyond our control).

How we increased our site’s visitor numbers
1. We invested in social media
We built a Twitter Application and a Facebook Application. This has resulted in increased numbers of people from those social networks coming to Like Chapaa. See, normally, people wanting to grow in social media just create quick profiles in Facebook and Twitter and start getting friends, etc. We realised we did not have that kind of time so we chose to build applications so as to automate things a little bit (everyone should do this!). This resulted in us being able to do some really cool things: for example, you can leave comments on this site using your Twitter/Facebook profile, among other things.

Twitter and Facebook combined now send us about 30% of the visitors to this website.

2. Continuous SEO
Our strong point, of course, is search engine optimisation and making sure everything that we do earns us favorably as far as SEO goes is a priority.

I must say we have done pretty well as far as this goes. For example, when you search for “make money in Kenya“, our website dominates the Google search results pages. Search engines, and Google in particular, send us 60+% of all the people who view our site.

If you are looking to grow your site, please do not forget Google. Social media may be sexy but you just cannot afford to ignore Google!

3. Uniqueness/Creativity
I do not know how to fully explain this. It seems that the Internet “rewards” you for uniqueness and creativity. Like Chapaa is, strictly speaking, a blog. You would not expect us to create or be involved in projects such as DukaPress, yet we are. The “side projects” have earned us both money, and countless new visitors to our websites. Two examples:

  1. Our involvement in DukaPress has “side-effects” that just never cease to amaze. We get hundreds of people who come to use by searching for “DukaPress” on Google or directly from
  2. Also of note is Biashara30. For a project that has largely failed, there are still lots of people who first come to Like Chapaa looking for information regarding Biashara30.

4. Getting Like Chapaa on other websites
Well, perhaps surprisingly, Like Chapaa is now listed at both Mashada and KenyaMoja. It seems that these two sites get quite a lot of traffic because they send us quite a lot of visitors. We were only recently listed on Mashada and that resulted in a visible bump in the number of people who come to Like Chapaa. Like Chapaa has also found its way onto Wazua, Kenya Unlimited, several Kenyan blogs and other smaller sites. The traffic that these nice websites send to us is significant!

I would not say that this is our doing because we did not ask anyone to include Like Chapaa on their sites. I would put it down to “if you create good and useful content, people will notice you”.

5. Email Marketing
Perhaps not many know this: Like Chapaa has a self-grown email marketing list of about 800 people. We do not send newsletters out often but all the articles published by Like Chapaa end up in the inboxes of our subscribers. Most of them always click back to Like Chapaa. This is a steady and stable source of website visitors for us.

The story of how we have grown Like Chapaa should inspire you. We have never ever spent any money to market this website and we started very quiety and, for months, got about seven visitors a day. But we persevered and, now, it is almost on autopilot – we just grow bigger. I put most of it down to luck and good fortune but here are some tips that may help you:

  1. The number one priority for your website should be your site’s content. Invest all your resources in this. It is what will distinguish you and win over your first few visitors. Always remember this: people already have favorite websites and things like Facebook which eat up their time – they do not want to visit your site unless you compel them to do so. Only your content can do this. Amazing content will make your site memorable and will make people want to talk about you, even include your site’s stuff on their sites. Do not mess this up.
  2. Social media is tricky. You typically need to invest a lot of time into it for it to pay off. However, we have proven it to be that you do not have to follow the grain (what others are doing) for it to work. My advice would be for you to pick your own social media strategy that will work to your strengths instead of just slapping on Twitter and Facebook like everyone else does. Also, 99% of Kenyan social media “gurus” are crap and are learning, just like you. Be hesitant to hire anyone.
  3. Search engine optimisation is easy if you know what you are doing and need not be expensive. But it is a very slow and gradual process. Do invest into it, heavily. It will pay off eventually.
  4. They say email is dying. We say that email is still the first place that Kenyans go online. If you can get your stuff inside people’s inboxes, you win.
  5. Lastly, keep in mind that there are billions of websites today. many of these websites are absolutely amazing. Therefore, the competition for website visitors is the stiffest kind of competition that has ever been known. It may not be enough to just create good content. You have to be creative and unique – do not just do what everyone else is doing; make your own mark on this Internet; think outside the box.

Good luck with building your site. 🙂

PS, Incase you do not know, you can hire us if you want help to grow your website.