By: Temitayo Famutumi
Some 15 years ago, making money online was largely synonymous with advance fee fraud, popularly called yahoo yahoo in Nigeria. That was when the Internet revolution was just taking shape in the country, which was also just getting off the hook of military juntas that thrived on trampling on freedom of information.
While many people could not yet appreciate what the Internet and accompanying social media trends stood for, most of the few that first caught the bug exploited it to dupe unsuspecting folks, especially foreigners. Indeed, that is the time the notorious and ever-recurring letter in which an online conman (or woman), who claims he is stranded in some foreign country or has problems accessing a huge fund, was first composed. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since, but some people have also proved that Nigerians too know how to make the best of the social media.
It does not matter if some of them got online by accident. The fact is that from their different professional and accademic backgrounds, they have entrenched themselves, deploying the digital phenomenon to various businesses. Whether it is an Anderson Uvie-Emegbo that has abandoned medicine for online entrepreneurship, or nairaland founder, Seun Osewa, who was pushed out of the university by an accident, the guys got to the Internet ‘on time’, and have practically become landlords, making good money in transparent ways.
Curiously, more than half of those our correspondent contacted for an interview were not forthcoming. While some, including Linda Ikeji of the lindaikejiblog fame, repeatedly declined to grant the correspondent audience, Bellanaija founder, Uche Pedro, appeared too shy to talk about herself and business – despite the fact that they are often eager to sell other people to the world.
She is popularly, called Bella Naija but her name is Uche Pedro (formerly Eze). She appears to be the most influential blogger in the country, with even most of her other successful counterparts attributing their in-road into the world of blogging to their visit to bellanaija.com.
For instance, in an interview, ace blogger, Ladun Liadi, says she drew her inspiration to become a blogger from Bella Naija.
Liadi says, “One day, I was with my friend who is a radio presenter and he said, ‘Ladun, why don’t you start a blog? You have so many things going on for you.’ I didn’t really want to, because I felt owning a blog was personal (as it was meant to be about the person’s daily activities) and not meant for reporting. But he told me I was wrong and gave me a blog address to check out. It was Bella Naija. And that was how I started my own blog too.”
Also, celebrated blogger, Linda Ikeji, in an interview published on bellanaija.com, also explains that she discovered what was called blogging after visiting bellanaija.com.
Bellanaija.com, which was formally hosted on blogspot.com as bellanaija.blogspot.com, started off as a small entertainment and pop culture portal. Publishing Nigerian celebrity, fashion and lifestyle news, the blog has grown to attract over one million hit per month across the continent.
Apart from fetching Pedro cool cash, her blog success has taken her to places. She has featured in many elite celebrity talk shows. One of such is the Oprah Winfrey Show, which is the highest-rated talk show in American television history.
In an interview she granted to Cable News Network’s Isha Sesay in Nigeria, Pedro, who studied in a Canadian University, said she started blogging after being bored while on a two-week holiday in Nigeria.
“In 2006 when I just graduated from the university. I had two weeks off before starting my first job. I had always loved Nigeria and Africa but I was just bored. But I realised the fashion and entertainment industries were more vibrant and more people were involved in politics, business and it was so encouraging.
“I was like: Let me just start something that will sort of represent these and it has grown in leaps and bounds since then.”
Interestingly, Seun Osewa, the brain behind popular online forum, nairaland, is, conventionally speaking, a drop-out. After spending three years at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, where he was studying Electrical Electronics, he, according to him, decided to go the way of super rich Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, the world’s largest personal-computer software company. He also knows the history of founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg; and Steve Jobs – the late co-founder of Apple Inc., who also dropped out of school at one time or the other.
In an online interview with our correspondent, Osewa, however, responded to just two out of the questions asked him.
He notes, “I studied Electronics & Electrical Engineering at OAU with good grades for five semesters. But then I had a little injury, which eventually caused me to crash out. I’m a 30-year-old Yoruba man raised in a small town in Ogun State. I started Nairaland eight years and some days ago.”
Asked to speak on what injury he sustained and how he had taken other educational opportunities after “crashing out,” Osewa said, “ Well, it’s personal. Thanks for the understanding.” Subsequent reminders sent by e-mail for him to answer the other questions were not replied.
Nairaland, which claims to have over one million registered users, and over 35 million page views monthly, was last month ranked the most visited website in Africa by alexa.com, a US-based firm that provides web traffic data.
According to reports, the journey of Nairaland began in 2004, when Osewa started “mobilenigeria”, a forum to cover the emerging GSM industry at that time. However, it was transformed in March 2005 to what is now known as nairaland. Interestingly, in an interview granted to dipotepede.org, Osewa was quoted as saying that all the business projects he embarked on before Nairaland were failures, except the one (mobilenigeria) that became Nairaland.
He notes,, “My web hosting business failed after just three months because I ran out of money, while I couldn’t execute many other projects I researched due to shyness and lack of capital. My blogs and the mobile phone forum that preceded nairaland were successful but not profitable. However, it was on that foundation that nairaland was built.”
Dr. Anderson Uvie-Emegbo
Dr. Anderson Uvie-Emego is a graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State. He abandoned a medical job to pursue a career in digital technology. Today he is a household name in Africa not as a medical doctor but as a digital media expert.
Uvie-Emegbo now has multiple streams of income. Apart from earning what can be described as a descent income from his firm, Dymore Vision Consulting Ltd, where he is the managing director, he teaches post-graduate students as an Adjunct Faculty at the School of Media & Communication, Pan African University, Lagos and Strathmore Business School, Kenya.
“I teach, consult, implement and publish all things digital. I consult across Africa,” he says.
On how he abandoned medicine and surgery for the digital media, he says, “No matter how hard I tried to focus on medicine, I kept developing my skills in web strategy and project management. Eventually in 2007 after three years and five months of practice, it was clear that I had to make a career change. I formally left medical practice on June 28, 2007. It is a privilege to be doing what I do now. As a medical doctor, my role was to help people stay healthy. Similarly, as a digital media consultant, I enable individuals and organisations stay competitively healthy – creating sustainable, superior corporate performance, using a digital approach. In both situations, I start with the diagnosis and end with solutions that make all parties satisfied.”
Ex-model-turned blogger, Linda Ikeji, has no doubt joined the millionaire club. The 2004 English Language graduate of the University of Lagos confirmed her status as a successful blogger recently when she bought herself a 2011 model Infiniti FX 35 Sport Utility Vehicle, reportedly for N8m.
Announcing the purchase of the SUV on her blog, Ikeji says she had lost count of the businesses she had laid her hand on without success before blogging paid off.
She notes, “By this time two years ago, I didn’t have much but I never stopped believing in myself and I never stopped working hard. I can’t even begin to count how many businesses I put my hands into before one paid off – blogging!
“I told myself that I would make it in this life one day as my own woman and on my own terms, that no man will ever take away my dignity and I did it. So can you! Yes, you! You have the power! And with God on your side, you are unstoppable!”
She started modelling in 1998 and, in 2004, set up a modelling agency and event management company, Blackdove Communications. Ikeji, 32, quit modelling for blogging in 2007. The competition in the modelling industry, which has culminated in the proliferation of unregistered modelling agencies that go about recruiting pretty girls and getting them jobs without proper accreditation, might have propelled her to quit the field.
The former President of the Students’ Union of the University of Lagos, Omoyele Sowore, started Sahara Reporters in 2006 from his base in New York, United States.
In an interview with the Sun Newspaper, United Kingdom, he says he does not operate his news website with any expensive office furniture or high-end cum high-priced off-the-shelf devices. He explains that at some point he equipped his car with gadgets for-on-the go reporting but adds that he now operates a mobile office.
“With little more than a few cell phones, an Apple computer, and the wonders of the Internet, I can do what I have to do.
He did not study communication, but he says his experience as a student union leader, which made him a mass communicator of some sorts, spurred him to launch the online platform which enables people to report themselves.
Sowore, who now makes good money from the website especially through adverts, says he started out cheaply.
“When I started, it was very cheap. I was hosting Sahara Reporters at the rate of US$35 per month when I started. It didn’t cost me much to actually have an online presence.
“Talking transparently, we have been making money. There is what they call Google Adsense, which is the most democratic way of participating in advertising. When I started, I used to make 50 dollars every month. Over time, we began to make a lot more money because it is driven by traffic in usage and patronage of the website.”
In an online interview with our correspondent, Sowore stresses that what gives him fulfilment most is the fact that he Saharareporters identifies with the search for positive change in the society. He indirectly affirms that it has also been success in terms of financial rewards.
But for other people, especially young Nigerians, who may want to explore citizen journalism, he says, “Unemployed Nigerian graduates might be able to eke out a living through citizen journalism but I couldn’t tell them how. I could only advise people to pursue their dreams passionately. And most important is that they should be engaged in the pursuit of freedom for themselves and freedom for all. I think the larger question for Africans-employed, underemployed and unemployed is to determine, very quickly, how long they will continue to endure the unwarranted and brazen rape of the dignity of the African person by a tiny clique of corrupt and gluttonous but highly incompetent rogues disguised as leaders.”
Oladunni Liadi is the name behind the popular blog, ladunliadi.blogspot.com. Liadi, who hails from Ijebu-Mushin, Ogun State, abandoned Microbiology, which she studied at the University of Lagos for blogging.
Confirming the current fact that making money online is a reality, Liaidi says, “It (blogging) has been very profitable. My eyes are closed to any other business for now.”
She started out in the world of blogging in August 2010, after a friend spoke to her about the opportunities which abound in it. After visiting a handful of blogs being run by Nigerians then, Liadi says she decided to leverage her journalism instinct and ventured into blogging.
But while starting out she also faced the teething problems of low blog traffic, which new bloggers complain about. Her low blog traffic, which for some months, was further compounded by incessant outage, andpoor Internet connectivity. But she refused to give up on her new found profession.
She says, “At first, I didn’t know comments meant a thing. For the first few months I didn’t get comments and later on they started coming. But now, I get over 100,000 page views per day.
“Internet connectivity and electricity are still major problems. Internet connectivity is an issue for me. I have almost all the Internet modems you can think of, in case one doesn’t work, another will. While PHCN never ceases to disappoint one, the issue of electricity is minimal because there is an alternative which is fueling the generator.”
Liadi, who is in her 20s, says she operates from her home in Lagos or anywhere she finds herself and has a few people working with her on part time basis.
“For now, I don’t have anybody working for me on full time basis. But I have a few people who attend some events for me; I just pay them per event. I solely run the blog myself,” she explains, adding that blogging is fun.
“It has opened doors for me in a lot of ways. A lot of people now know Ladun Liadi, unlike before. I am even moving a step further to launch an online entertainment magazine covering all events and reporting all the latest news in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
Although a graduate of Economics from the University of Hull, Robert Ikhazobor has stamped his foot on the Internet world. He ventured into an Internet-driven business which deploys technology in recruitment, examination administration, identity management as well as scholarship and bursary management – with the establishment of Dragnet.
According to him, the firm he started some five years ago has taken him to 22 states of the federation where he has offered computer-based tests for firms and higher institutions of learning. Along the line, he has also developed several versions of his proprietary computer-based testing engine which he calls ‘The Face of Testing.’
He says, “The world has largely witnessed a sweeping revolution in the education sector but, sadly, we have been left behind. But we are offering a better alternative to the conventional Paper To Pen Testing method.”
Kunle Adeyeri is an online forex trader and trainer. The graduate of Microbiology from the University of Lagos started his firm, Kards Nigeria Limited, in 1996 after a stint at a computing firm between 1991 and 1995.
“I worked as a Senior Administrative Officer at a computer firm but in 1996, I started my own firm where I major in computer-based analysis. In 2007, I ventured into online forex trading. My job does not basically require many personnel but I have two employees on my pay roll,” Adeyeri says.
Olori Super Gal
Oluwatosin Ajibade’s active involvement with Facebook as a means of sharing information to her friends paid off in 2010. A friend who regularly benefits from the updates talked to her about blogging as a means of sharing those pieces of information to the larger populace while still making some money.
Ajibade, the blogger behind olorisupergal.com says, “I didn’t join any group to become a blogger. I remember I was in the habit of using my Facebook account to share information especially entertainment news.
“My friend saw what I used to do back then on Facebook and he introduced me to the bigger platform – blogging. Since then it has been fun. I never know blogging is another form of sharing one’s ideas and creativity. I started on my own after he (friend) introduced it to me in 2010. Then, I started blogging on February 8, 2010.
Ajibade, a graduate of Accounting from Lagos State University, says the path she took to blog success was bumpy as she experienced low blog traffic for a whole year. According to her, she was forced to visit several online portals to acquire knowledge about blogging.
Source: Punch ng