Another week, another Cape Town Blogger interview. This time it is Shannon McLaughlin from the Cape Town Surfers Webazine.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a self-taught web designer, currently living in Big Bay, Cape Town with an exceptionally beautiful view of the Atlantic ocean. I work from home and have recently started up a new blog interviewing local waveriders.How you first got involved in with blogging?
I’ve always been interested in working online, and the power of social media, I’ve been working with WordPress for about 5 years now, and finally decided to venture into the blogging side of it all, by combining two of my biggest loves – Cape Town and surfing!
What do you find most challenging about blogging about your topic?
It makes me want to go surfing more, and work less! It’s all very new to me, at the moment I’m concentrating on getting out 1 new interview every Monday, so I’d say that would probably be my biggest challenge to date, making sure all the content is ready and the interview looks good and is interesting enough for our readers to share.
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working on your blog?
Wow, in 2 weeks, I’ve had emails from so many interested surfers wanting to get involved. It’s really helped me get this thing off the ground knowing that there is definitely a readership out there who are interested in connecting with other like-minded people. I don’t want to do any name dropping just yet, but watch this space!
How would (someone) describe your blogging style?
This blog is really all about the people being interviewed. I want the tone of the interviews to really bring back the reason why we start surfing in the first place, and to bring back the stoke of the sport. It has kind of been lost with all the corporate-ness and advertising that’s been pumped into it lately – it can be a little intimidating at times, and I’m trying to steer away from that.
What do you do when you aren’t working on your blog?
I run a small design company – called Easy as Pie – http://easyaspie.co.za I’m not taking on anymore clients at the moment, but I still have a handful of clients who I’m looking after, so most of my extra time is spent on them.
What networking do you do that you feel helps your blogging business?
Well, being a surfer myself for the last 14 years, I’ve made a lot of friends, and contacts in the industry, so I’m really just using those contacts to help me spread the word. Facebook has been great for sharing the articles as well.
How do you keep coming up with material/content for your blog?
I try to interview people from different industries and different surfing groups – surfers can be quite clicky, eg: you’ve got the Kommetjie crowd, the Muizenberg crowd, the West Coast crowd, and within those groups, there are little mini groups. So I’m trying to make sure I include as many different surfers as possible, as well as branching out into bodyboarding, stand up paddleboarding, kitesurfing and really any other waveriding sports.
Where do you go for news and information online?
Twitter. If it’s not on twitter, I don’t pay attention really. I don’t really keep up to date with the latest news articles by going to the news websites, it just depresses me. I’d rather occupy my mind with more positive blogs.
Whats your strategy with your blog in general?
To be consistent and genuine, and not to sell out and become “just another surfing blog”…
What would you prioritize? Content? SEO? Traffic? Readers?
Content for sure. If you’ve got the content, you’ll get the readers. Second to that is SEO and traffic which will naturally follow if your articles are worth reading.
What’s the best thing a blogger can give to his readers?
Something inspirational, something that envokes a feeling.
What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself and your blog?
I really just started out following other surfers on twitter, and personally asking friends of mine to share my content. Also focusing on email subscribers, so that I can make sure they don’t miss any future interviews and that they don’t forget about us in the future.
What was the most challenging moment in your blog content development process and why?
Haha, that’s easy – deciding on the theme to use. It’s always much easier designing for someone else, but when it comes to your own website, analysis paralysis comes into play! Eventually I chose to stick with a really clean and simple theme from woothemes.
Everyone has a favorite/least favorite post. Name yours and why?
Hmmm, I can’t say I have a least favourite one just yet, but I’d say my favourite one so far is – http://capetownsurfers.co.za/meet-josh-salie/ He pulled in over 100 shares on facebook within the day, and I really think it’s because his interview is just so genuine. He’s so stoked on life and surfing has really helped shape him into the person he is today, and he is just so grateful for it. Really makes me happy to promote his positiveness to life!
What is the ultimate Goal for a blogger in your opinion?
To be able to achieve the freedom of blogging for a living!
Which one plugin would you suggest all bloggers to have?
http://optinskin.com/ it’s so simple to setup and allows you to split test email sign up forms. I’ve used it on numerous client websites and it’s proved invaluable.
Name some of the bloggers whom you look up to and why?
My friend Rob Hope runs this site – http://mmminimal.com/ which I love, the content is always unique and not stuff that I’ve seen shared a hundred times before. I also really enjoy Vicki Sleet’s http://www.iwantthat.co.za/
If someone was interested in blogging, what would be a few things you would suggest?
Don’t procrastinate. Just start. Or you’ll never start. Get used to the sound of your own voice, because you’re going to be doing a lot of talking to yourself, but that’s great, it gets your creativity flowing. And WORDPRESS. Seriously. It is the way, the truth and the life.
A big thank you from Cape Town Active to Shannon for this interview. Please check out her blog http://capetownsurfers.co.za.
If you want to participate, please visit our Cape Town Blogger Interview page.