1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
First of all I would like to thank you very much for featuring me on your blog
My name is Mbole Ekaney and I am a Cameroonian Fashion blogger who currently lives in the United States. I am the Creator of ‘THE HOTJEM’, a Fashion & Lifestyle blog. ‘THE HOTJEM’ provides a glimpse into my personal style/life and interests with respect to fashion and even entertainment.
2. How you first got involved in with blogging?
Most people don’t know this but I wrote my very first blog entry almost 4 years ago. However, my first encounter with blogs in general goes back to I think early or mid-2007 and back then after reading a few blogs, I knew almost immediately this would be something I would like to pursue someday as I love to write things down to express myself and love to tell a story and blogging to me is almost like telling a story or providing information – depending on how you look at it.
3. What do you find most challenging about blogging about your topic?
To me the most challenging thing about blogging in general is coming up with new ideas and ways to keep your readers engaged, excited and wanting to come back for more.
4. Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working on your blog?
Blogging has allowed me to meet some very interesting people who are passionate about blogging and self-expression. It has also allowed me to connect with business owners and entrepreneurs, some major companies, new talents such as up and coming fashion designers and musicians (from Cameroon and from other African countries and outside of Africa). It has allowed me to interact with magazine owners and several fashion boutique owners which I love! Blogging has basically allowed me the opportunity to create an amazing network of business-minded people and companies who understand the importance and potential that blogging could bring to their businesses and to society in general.
5. How would (someone) describe your blogging style?
Wow that is a really good question! I honestly don’t know hahaha. I am a bit spontaneous and still finding MY style but a person might describe my blogging style as ‘versatile’, ‘down to earth’, ‘catchy’ and ‘interesting’!
6. What do you do when you aren’t working on your blog?
Outside of blogging, I work in the Pharmaceutical industry. When I am not working and blogging there is always something to do! I love traveling to meet family, going to bookstores, shopping, going to New York City as you can do almost anything there and of course playing with my dog (Bentley New Yorkie). I also love a good movie or just simply staying home and watching TV or reading a book. Even in my spare time, I always try to network with people even when doing leisurely activities!
7. Are you a full time blogger? How did you get into blogging and why?
No I am not a full time blogger (although it sometimes feels that way)! I got into blogging on my own as way to express my personal style and the things I liked. My initial idea was to only occasionally post pictures of outfits I wore on any given day and to share it with friends and family as a fun pass time. At the same time I also enjoyed putting together collages of pictures on what to wear and some fashion trends and thought it might be helpful to some. You would be surprised how many women have questions on how to match things together to create that perfect outfit. I know I have so I thought this could be helpful to them!
Lastly, I have always been passionate about discovering, showcasing and promoting Africans in a positive way like African fashion designers, African Art, African stylist, African boutique/online store owners etc. by highlighting their work as I feel they are greatly underrepresented in general and thought it would be great to also blog about this. This led to the creation of ‘STREET @FRICANA’ (aka Africana) which was recently added to THE HOTJEM blog on September 2014.
8. What networking do you do that you feel helps your blogging business?
I utilize various social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more to make my blog visible and I participate in several bloggers forums and groups (both online and in person). I also interact with other fashion and non-fashion bloggers and I attend a good number of networking meet-ups where I talk about my blog.
9. How do you keep coming up with material/content for your blog? Many people struggle with coming up with different articles/posts and they only have one blog.
It is not always easy coming up with new material and/or content on a regular basis as I find myself constantly thinking of new topics to blog about to keep it exciting and interesting. However, since THE HOTJEM blog is not only about my personal style but also provides some information on fashion tips and trends, beauty, a bit of entertainment and other topics that I really enjoy, it allows me to think out of the box and gives me that flexibility to blog about various topics without losing the main focus of THE HOTJEM blog which is about ‘fashion’ and ‘style’. I also get inspiration from reading other blogs, magazines, watching TV and even by talking to people as an idea might pop up at any given time.
10. What’s your strategy with your blog in general?
My strategy is to come up with informative topics/content that will spark people’s interest and keep them coming back for more. This way my readers become regulars and would engage more and to increase my traffic flow.
11. Do you think page rank plays a vital role in a blog’s life?
Absolutely! A high page rank is sort of an indication of your blog’s presence or authority on the web. The higher your page rank, the better it will perform in organic search results and will result in more people visiting your page. Also the higher you’re page ranks the higher the chances of securing business opportunities such as partnerships, advertisements to name a few and this can turn your blog into a money-making potential.
12. What would you prioritize? Content? SEO? Traffic? Readers?
I would prioritize Content first as you need very good and regularly updated content to attract readers which in turn would drive traffic. SEO is also very important throughout a blogs lifespan.
13. What’s the best thing a blogger can give to his/her readers?
Good quality, relevant, creative and consistent information is something all bloggers should be able to deliver to their readers.
14. A lot of people are interested in blogging for the money earning potential. What are some tips for people interesting in making money from blogging? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?
This is a question that many bloggers ask themselves when they start. I cannot stress enough that when you get into blogging you should do so because you enjoy it or have a passion for it. You should not start a blog only to make money or you will be very disappointed.
Some tips I would provide for bloggers who want to monetize their blogs are;
*Providing great content can drive large numbers of visitors (traffic) to your blog and then you can think of monetizing it.
*Research popular keywords to use throughout your blog so that your blog can get to the top or high up in search engines which will bring traffic and utilize different social media platforms
*Also know what options there are out there such as utilizing affiliate links, Google AdSense ads, sponsored posts etc. and use only those that fit well into your blog.
*Set realistic goals and expectations and remember that not many bloggers will get rich from blogging and even if they do make a substantial amount of money, it entails a lot of hard work and a good business plan.
15. What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself and your blog?
My strategy has been to utilize various forms of social media as I previously mentioned, networking, collaborating with other bloggers and PR people who have been very helpful in promoting my blog and just posting my blog links on my personal FB Profile page for my friends to see when given the opportunity. You would be surprised what word of mouth can do. I try my best to be consistent with my blog posts and to tweak my content so that my readers aren’t bored.
16. What was the most challenging moment in your blog content development process and why?
The most challenging moment I’ve encountered and still do occasionally is finding ways to provide consistency in the delivery of my blog content and coming up with a perfect (or close to perfect) content theme and blog style to go with my vision.
17. Everyone has a favorite/least favorite post. Name yours and why?
WOW! I love all my posts hahaha and don’t necessarily have a favorite one. I guess I could say that my favorite post is the “Breezy, Hot South Africa – Red Pants and Blue Dyed Top” post because this was my first outfit post for THE HOTJEM blog and it was taken in South Africa where I had a magical experience and a fun time doing it with my family there. So it brings back great memories of my trip.
What is my least favorite post? The “Pretty in Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month” post because I didn’t like the quality of the pictures due to the poor lighting. I used my iPad to take the pictures (in New York City) and needed to do the post before the end of October since my photographer was not around and it was already October 30th. However, it was for a good cause to raise Breast Cancer awareness.
18. What’s your take on sponsored reviews?
I am fine with sponsored reviews as long as it is done honestly and correctly. I believe that if a blogger is going to do a sponsored review, they should always keep their readers in mind by not being biased and should only do reviews that reflect their honest opinion. Do not do it and/or do not give positive feedback or positive review only because you are getting paid for it or are receiving something free for it as over time your reviews will come across as not being genuine by your readers and you might start losing credibility as they might think your reviews are driven by what you will gain. If you can’t provide honest feedback or honest unbiased review of a sponsored review then don’t do it to begin with because credibility is everything in the blogging world!
19. Name some of the bloggers whom you look up to and why?
There are so many bloggers that I look up to as they have influenced me in one way or the other. Unfortunately I cannot list them all here. I admire Chiara Ferragni from The Blonde Salad as she has revolutionized the world of monetizing her Fashion Blog and taking it to much higher level than most! I also admire male style bloggers; Adam Gallagher and Paolo Savi! I believe it takes extra courage to put yourself out there as a man and to show people your style and/or love for fashion without having people judging you or labeling you as being too into yourself. Other favorites are Cameroonian fashion bloggers; Brenda Chuinkam as she loves African Prints/Ankara outfits and is a curvalicious young lady (as I like to call her) and Idyll Epangue as her blog is fun and I really like her new online shop called Shop Arts Becomes You. Another favorite is Immaculate Bites which is a food blog as she is detailed and takes perfect food pics and Yefon Mainsah’s I Rep Camer blog as she is one blogger who is proud to promote everything Cameroonian! But there are many blogs that I love too.
20. If someone was interested in blogging, what would be a few things you would suggest?
I would advise to first speak to someone who is already blogging (if they know anyone). If not, then you must first do your homework by doing some research on blogging basics. The internet has a plethora of information, so you can start from there. Learn about the important things associated with blogging such as choosing a domain or host domain and domain name, SEO ranking, creating good content to name a few and learn from other bloggers mistakes as many are not shy to share their initial experiences. Most importantly -be yourself. Only blog about what the things you love or have a passion for and not for the sake of it or you will quickly loose interest and will join the club of many others who started and fell off the bandwagon. Blogging takes a lot of work so you must really have a passion for what you do.
Please do not forget to check this amazing blogger at http://www.thehotjem.com
Copyright by Maureen Lermer 01. 2015