14 Conclusions from WordCamp Kenya 2011 #WCKE

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The wordcamp Kenya 2001 Kenya was more than wonderful, great lessons learned, great food, great people in attendance.

As always, I observed and took notes. Here are my my conclusions:

-Blogging can be a business

The story of Moses Kemibaro, the first presenter at the Word camp is a clear testimony that blogging is not about idle kids or robots sitting behind the computers with nothing to do. Blogging offers a lot  in terms of giving the business connection to the bloggers. But again it is not just issue of writing bla bla blah online. It is about writing what you understand and interact with. If  you can only be good at blogging about technology if you love technology, believe in technology, interact with technology and use technology. If you have all that ingredient, blogging become easy, natural and come  in good taste to the readers.  The starting point should be  to pick a niche which matches your expertise. With that you would be amazed at the number of the business connections you can make through your blog…

-Be relevant and give value

You have heard all it before, content is the king . Without it forget about the nonsense of SEO, the beauty of the design, and brilliance of the coders. High ranking on the search engine is mostly based on the content, which should be focused and relevant. Based on my experience as a blogger, creating consistent great content is one of the hardest thing to do in this life and probably in the next one too. To quote Neil Tregillis from ICT Consultants who by the way blogged for the first time during the Word camp

Blogging isn’t just about sharing your opinion on what is hot and what is not or your reaction to the latest news, it’s about writing about something that you are passionate about, remaining consistent, mixing it up and most importantly being yourself and using your personality to make the blog shine.

-If Blog is a business then it needs to be marketed

Most people take their blogs for granted. Like it does not matter whether people know about it or not. If you are blogging for fun then there is nothing wrong with that. But if at the end you are planning to make it big in blogging or business   Then  you have to make an effort to market your blog. Use the all channels of marketing like email, social media, the traditional business cards and don’t forget to position it to be found somewhere on the search engines. Talking about social media, ensure that you have all the relevant social networking sharing tools. In other words make it easy for your readers to share your work with their friends and followers on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Whive, ….

-Proper Planning and timing is key to the success of any business.

One aspect of Kenyan tech space is the unpredictability and do it now mentality. People generally wake up and launch products and services over night without proper research, planning, and knowledge of the targeted market.  Most of the tech start-ups come up because of a given competition, without any tangible value preposition. For example if ICT Board is giving funding tomorrow,  then today people will flock Google, and restaurants on how to give the best and winning proposal. Once you color in your proposal with such great words like mHealth, MAgriculture, MAids and MCommunity, you are positioned to get the funding and then…………. I am not blaming anybody….just saying people should look beyond the “now funding”  and aim at the “future  funding”.  Famous Njeri Rionge, who once owned a piece of Wananchi online has made it  big because of proper planning and solid research.

-Think beyond money but think money first

Most of the time when people tell me that money is not the only thing that motivate them, i look at them and i am  like prove it. Whatever way you look at it, money is everything and somehow people tend to shy away  from saying it loud. You know, nobody want to come out as greedy . To be fair  I know most people want to save the world from its misery but the reality is you can never achieve that without having money. A fact which even pastors and the men in clothe found out and that is why giving to the church is the only part which  is well researched and presented. Make money first then save the world later.

-Betting on the Up coming Success stories.

Wordcamp was meant for bloggers, designers, web developers ,content managers and curious minds around wordpress…All were there and the signs that at least people were learning new things were there in plenty. We had two creative minds who blogged for the first time during the wordcamp.. They did it like pros..watch out for http://kuwakreative.wordpress.com/ by @John_Arum and http://www.ictconsultantskenya.com/ictcons/ict-blog/#.TsH6RWqkvlk  by Neil Tregillis . On the development side watch out for the new  local social networking site based on the two sentiments- “positive” and “negative’  www. crossopen.com which was unveiled at the event.

 

-Discovered true Success Stories

The big lesson i got from all the success stories revealed at the Wordcamp  is that you have to be consistent and focused on what you are doing. If you are a blogger, you have to be consistent on how you write, on how you present yourself, on how market your blog, on how you interact with the readers. In other words  have consistent presence online and offline. There are number of successful bloggers, designers, web developers and businessmen and women..whose success came out through the use of wordpress as a tool. It was great to listen to true success stories of Moses Kemibaro (blogger) www.moseskemibaro.com , Kelvin Jayanoris of the dukapress– It is a top locally developed ecommerce wordpress plugin with over 22k downloads so far. Then there are focused business minds like Njeri Rionge, who has been around for sometime and with visible footprints all over- Started as hair dresser, then went to sell things in Italy, moving from door to door, then came back to start Wananchi online  together with others.

-Know your audience and use the right tools to reach them.

According to CCK, 98% of Kenyans access internet through their mobile phones. If you are a blogger targeting Kenyans, developer targeting Kenyans or the techpreneur targeting Kenyans, then you should know that the best way to reach them is through their phones. Ensure that your website is well accessible through the phone.  The consensus from many speakers at the Wordcamp was that WPtouch is the WordPress Plugin that you must install to ensure 98% of Internet users in Kenya can access your site.

-The image of Kenya is shaped by her Global ambassadors

The internet made the world flat or a village as many would  like to call it. That means whatever you write behind your computer or  your phone is being seen or read by people all over the world. For example Someone from Argentina, who has no idea what Kenya is all about, if he/she want to know about Kenya,  the starting point would be to check what people are saying online about Kenya, “Blogs”, “Social Media” and “Online Newspapers”. With that bloggers and other online community  shape the mindset people have about Kenya …”tone down” else nobody would want to come to Kenya.

-Time is valuable even more than Money

The first day started late because people were late to assemble at the starting point in Nairobi. At the end we did not have enough time to enjoy the Naivasha camping. Some people had to slip away from the final session to go and swim with Hippos. But that is the fun side, some of the consultants in attendance talked of making money based on time. Njeri Rionge charges 225 dollars per hour for her work… Now that is some good cash to be made per hour in Kenyan context.

– Online communities and Politics

Kenya is a country at cross road with her political future. We moved from functioning democracy in 2002, yeah yote yawekana bila Moi to near collapse in 2007. What followed in early 2008 is unbelievable. Bonface Mwangi of Picha Mtaani  gave a presentation showing the picture documentation of what happened. Even after four years i find it hard to watch what happened in 2008 through videos or pictures…

But the big question is what can Kenyan online communities, including members of Bake and Powo do to shape up the future of Kenya, knowing that Kenyan Political system at the moment is full of crooks?And as individuals where do we stand in time of moral crisis called integrity, and believe me Kenya is in crisis at the moment.

In a bid to connect and establish beneficial personal relationships online, Kenyan politicians joined  social media en mass. It is not just abut joining but in their need to connect further, a number of social media practitioners have been hired or compromised as one participant of Word Camp put it.  So in one hand you are the tweeting and bashing angles of  twitter of  politicians and on the other hand you are the same person tweeting on their behalf through their  accounts or  fake account.

Then there is the issue of Politicians inviting the bloggers for a  meetup either to reach out to them or to use them to reach the wider Kenyan online Community. The question is what are the responsibilities of  bloggers  in this case. How are thy meant to cover such meetings, do they give praise or get out and start bashing the same Politician or just say nothing ? Where is the boundary?

As always debate about politics can go on and on..and no conclusive conclusion, so left to be concluded another day

-After Hard Work of listening entertainment usually come in handy.

The creative writers and talking about the poets in this case. Yes I love these guys, their command of the Queens’ Language is amazing, but the best part is when they take stage to perform. After hard work of trying to understand the speakers, the night can never start than having lovely entertainment by @Kenyanpoet and @Wamathai. Real lessons hidden behind the poems…

-Naivasha is awesome. Yes Naivasha Crayfish is great camping place. Just go there and see for yourself.

Kenyanpoet is a great photographer-find them here

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Kennedy Kachwanya
Lead Blogger at Kachwanya.com
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Kennedy Kachwanya is a technology blogger interested in mobile phones both smart and dumb, mobile apps, mobile money, social media, startups ecosystem and digital Savannah. New media must not forget the strength of old tech.
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