Founder, The Cocoa Diaries
Penned by London based journalist Keysha Davis, The Cocoa Diaries blog spotlights entertainment and pop culture from a Black British perspective. Founded in March 2008, The Cocoa Diaries shares thoughtful insights on music, fashion, books, TV and more.
As part of our spotlight on Black British Bloggers, Keysha Davis shares her tips on blogging; new media versus old media; and her goal to build the premier online lifestyle blog-o-zine for black women in Europe.
Why did you decide to start The Cocoa Diaries?
I caught the blog bug in 2005 when I was on maternity leave and at home with my son. Having so much spare time on my hands, I’d constantly browse the net to pass time and preserve my sanity after being cooped up for hours on end with no adult company.
Soon enough I stumbled upon some great blogs such as The YBF (which is now practically a household name in blogging terms) as well as Shake Your Beauty by Tia Williams. Inspired by the work of these talented bloggers, I made a couple attempts to write one myself but would inevitably run out of steam after a couple of weeks.
For some reason The Cocoa Diaries has stuck. I’ve had a few notable periods of absence, but I’m passionate about the little corner I’ve created on the internet, and intend to make it grow to its full potential.
What was your career path prior to starting The Cocoa Diaries?
I’m a communications graduate with experience in PR, marketing and journalism. I was the features and entertainment editor at Pride magazine for the last four years, but left in April to go freelance.
Based on your experience, how does new media compare to traditional media?
The most notable difference is the lack of rules inherent in new media. Being a relatively new entity I love the fact that there is an absence of the fixed structures found in traditional media. It’s an even playing field.
Anyone can be a winner in this new world; all that is required is a trusty laptop/computer and the tenacity, passion and dedication to make your idea happen.
I often get asked about breaking into the media by young people who are quite concerned about the future of the traditional outlets like print media due to all the speculation about it being a dying entity. But there has never been a more exciting time to work in this industry.
Who knows where the future lies? In ten years time will blogs like Perez Hilton, The YBF, Bossip grow into huge conglomerates akin to traditional media, or will they continue to be independently run boutique organisations? Only time will tell.
What has been your favourite feature or interview to date?
My favourite interview was with British chat-show host Trisha Goddard. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge fan of her show so was quite indifferent about interviewing her. But after spending time in her company I gained a bit of an insight into her off camera persona.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she’s frank, funny, and incredibly strong. Despite what Trisha has been through (breast cancer, depression a nervous breakdown) she doesn’t view her resilience and robust nature as anything particularly extraordinary (although I‘d tend to disagree). I found her stoic nature incredibly endearing and refreshing.
What, or who, inspires and motivates you?
I’m inspired and motivated by anyone who profits from their passion. From the independent blogger typing away and barely scraping by in terms of financial rewards to the likes of Oprah and Lisa Price (the founder and creator of The Carol’s Daughter hair brand) who run huge multinational organisations/ brands.
Aside from your own of course, which blogs do you have bookmarked?
I religiously check out the following:
• The Musings of Ondo Lady – for the latest happenings in popular culture, Ronke always appears to have her finger on the pulse – www.themusingsofondolady.blogspot.com
• Harlem Loves – One of the best looking blogs on blogosphere, Harlem’s sparkling prose exudes positive, feel good vibes – www.harlemloves.com
• Mad News – Janice never fails to have me bending over in stitches with her honest, no nonsense approach to the crazier news stories occurring on the home front and abroad –www.madnews.wordpress.com
• I Miss The Old School – run by journalist/blogger Adenike, this site offers a heart warming, nostalgic trip down memory lane reminiscing over music, films, TV shows from the 80s and 90s – www.imisstheoldschool.com
What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting a company blog for their business?
I would say research your target audience thoroughly (although you probably would’ve done so before launching your blog) and speak to your audience in a manner that is relaxed and without the usual formalities associated with business.
Take your reader/consumer behind the scenes of your business or organisation so they can get a bird’s eye view of all the little things that go on behind closed doors.
A lot of companies may take the view that being too informal with their audience may translate as being unprofessional. But on the contrary, with social media becoming such a dominant force in the way we communicate, I believe it adds value.
When you’re presented with a more humanised version of an organisation I think you’re much more likely to want to endorse and support them.
Who are the entrepreneurs you admire most?
As mentioned before I admire entrepreneurs who are motivated by their passion. I tend to be more inspired by female businesswomen too; I guess that has more to do with me finding them more relatable.
Oprah is an obvious choice, but I also admire women like Kanya King, Tyra Banks (behind the over the top excitable nature lies a formidable businesswoman), Lynne Franks, Karen Brady and Debra Lee (CEO of BET).
I’m also really excited by the next generation of female entrepreneurs such as Jessica Huie from Colorblind Cards, Natasha Faith and Semhal Zemikael from La Diosa and Jennifer Ogole CEO of Bang Radio.
What are your future goals for The Cocoa Diaries?
I’d like to see The Cocoa Diaries evolve into the number 1 online lifestyle blog-o-zine for black women in Europe. My aim is to grow slowly but positively, incorporating some of the elements you’d find in a traditional print magazine such as features and various sections, but maintaining that intimate, personable feel that is synonymous with blogs.
In addition to running The Cocoa Diaries, Keysha Davis is a freelance writer and corporate copywriter, helping business owners to promote their company through engaging, coherent and vibrant copy. If you are interested in discussing your business needs you can contact Keysha directly via email – firstname.lastname@example.org
This feature interview is part of a series of spotlights on Black British female bloggers by Octavia Goredema, founder of the Twenty Ten Club.
If you have a question or feedback please feel free to post a comment below.