Want to turn your blog into a business? Lelo Boyana has great tips


Lelo Boyana turned her love of celebrity news into one South Africa’s leading celebrity and entertainment news blogs. Eight years after she launched www.justcurious.co.za, the site now has more 60 000 monthly online users. Last year, she turned her  attention to women’s interest with Chica Africa. One of the speakers at the Facebook Youth Enterprise Day, she shares some important lessons she’s learnt while cutting her teeth in digital media.

Offer a unique point of view

Create a unique voice and stand by it. Lelo first taste of the South African blogosphere was around 2007 when she became a TVSA contributor. Calling herself Brown Shuga, her bold and witty comments about TV shows earned her an online following that she took to her personal blog, Shuga’s Blogiwood. Just Curious went live at the end of 2009. “You’ve got to stand out from everyone else in cyberspace. Have a point of view and don’t be meek about it. Really think through your unique angle before you start,” she says.

Be funny and fierce but don’t aim to offend

“Even though Just Curious publishes celebrity gossip, we never ridicule people. Think about how you’d feel if someone discussed you in the same way. Is it worth it? Sometimes the answer will be ‘Yes, this is in good fun.’ Other times you’ll know it’s not worth humiliating someone and you should let it go.

Know your bottom lines

If you want to upgrade your blogging hobby into a business, then treat it like one. This means taking the time to think through your business model and drawing up a plan. “Back then the industry wasn’t as developed as it is now. When we were starting out we had no idea what to charge for a banner ad or a blog post, and we were often asked to work for free. Now it’s commonplace for brands to partner with online influencers and sponsor content.” The Just Curious team researched their revenue options, including Google ads and other advertisers. Dealing with collaborators who asked her to work for free also taught Lelo negotiation skills. “Once you’ve decided on your bottom lines, stick to them.”

Consistency + attention to detail = credibility

Lelo launched Chica Africa at the beginning of 2016. Chica hosts articles and content aimed at young women. Her Just Curious readers have kept up with her through social media, and now read Chica. Why? Because she’s a credible brand that people want to follow. That’s why social media and word-of-mouth have been her main marketing channels for the new title. Lelo also learnt that paying attention to details like spelling errors and fact checking made her work more credible. “Be patient. It takes time to build up quality content that your target audience can trust. I did this by being authentic and writing what I know.”

Master Multimedia

Long term fans of Brown Shuga know that before launching Just Curious, Lelo presented a slot called TV with Lelo on SABC 1’s Real Goboza. She also penned columns for City Press newspaper. She believes that for a blog to get attention and hold it, you must not underestimate the power of videos and multimedia. “Online videos are a rapidly growing medium that no site should neglect.”