Sunday, 5 January 2014

Linda Ikeji's 'Rags to Riches' Story

Everybody got a story to tell, and it is not always all rosy in the beginning. There is a reason why diamonds are found in dirt. Once in a while when I use a cyber cafe, and a new blogger sees the stats of my rap blog, they start asking me series of questions that continue for days I am always ready to answer the questions, but the ones that put me off are the ones that want to start making money from the very first month they started blogging

Although I am no where near where I want to be in the blogging world, I know I have come a long a way. Since Linda Ikeji became a millionaire blogger, everybody and their momma's now own blogs, and feel they can start making money overnight. I remember reading an old Linda Ikeji blog from two years ago, where she said some time in 2010 she had gone to the ATM to get money, and found out she had only eight hundred naira in her account. She tried to withdraw five hundred naira, but the particular atm didn't dispense in five hundred naira notes, and she had to go home sad, with no money. And this was after four whole years of blogging...that should tell you something.

People need to learn that there is no shortcourt to success, and every rich man/woman out there has a story to tell. There is always some form of sacrifice...time sacrifice, delayed gratification, not living how everyone else your age is living and the rest. On the first day of the year, Linda put up a very inspiring Happy New Year message on her blog. I put a part of it below, followed by her full 'rags to riches' story...

"On my 30th birthday in 2010, I had nothing. Absolutely no dime to my name. I was so depressed. I remember laying in my bed crying and asking God why? I've been working hard since I was 17, how come 13 years later I'm still in this position? Am I not worthy of your blessings? Why are you letting people mock me, feel sorry for me, disrespect me and tell me I won't amount to nothing?"

And below is her 'rags to riches' story...put together by Ventures Africa.

Linda Ikeji, a native of Nkwerre in Imo State, Nigeria, was born in 1980 to a struggling family, the second of seven children. From as early as 10 years old, Linda was writing. The fiction she penned down were praised by her friends and family and over time she cultivated a passion for news. Unlike many teenagers her age, Linda loved watching newscasters and interviews and by the time the opportunity presented to attend university in Lagos, her course choice was decided: Mass Communication. She was admitted to study English in university to her disappointment, but she decided to make the best of it. To support herself and her family through school, Linda began working at the age of 17, doing everything from waitressing and ushering to modelling and bartending, none of which paid a lot in the late 90s. She recalls, “I’d leave lectures, go to a hotel and sell beer from 1pm till 10pm. I did this for a few months. It wasn’t easy but I had to survive”. Linda worked hard, she was determined to succeed and become a journalist, her lifelong dream. In her second year of university however, she experienced a defining moment where she made a choice that would impact the rest of her life, particularly her decisions on avenues for earning money.

Being a beautiful model with growing popularity, Linda was approached by several wealthy men looking for sexual favours in exchange for money – a common practice in many higher institutions. These men offered quick access to the easy lifestyle that was so prized among university girls yet excluded many from poor backgrounds. For an aspiring career woman and entrepreneur, the quick money held deep appeal. Yet Linda had decided early on never to give her body in exchange for money so when the temptation came, hungry, desperate Linda, battling family pressures to send money, was able to resist. Following her experience with nearly compromising her values, she renewed her commitment to hard work and living with dignity no matter the circumstances.

After university she worked hard to break into the journalism trade, launching her media company, Blackdove Communications, a modelling agency and events management outfit. She also started what she describes in her first ever blog post as her “true passion”, her magazine called, FM & B. The first issue was released in 2006 and after discovering how capital-intensive and time-consuming magazine publishing was, only two more editions made it to print. Fortunately, in that same year, Bella Naija, another popular Nigerian blog, carried a story about Linda herself and for the first time, Linda began to see a new possibility to take her writing to the world. Blogging had all the charm: it was free except for the cost of an internet connection, easy to do and gave you access to millions of readers instantly. From that first Bella Naija blog post, she was sold.

7 years later, Linda Ikeji’s blog is averaging between than fifty and one hundred thousand visits every day from various countries. In fact, the blog has become a melting pot for Nigerians based at home and in the diaspora. Speaking about how others can turn something as unconventional as blogging into a multi-million naira business, Linda said “You have to love blogging. You can’t say I want to blog because I want to make money. It takes a stepping stone to get there. There are over a thousand blogs, but what will make people enjoy visiting your blog depends on the efforts you put into it. So, be passionate about it, be consistent, don’t blog once or twice in a week, blog everyday if you can, enjoy it, and love it.” Her advice is on par with the words of many success coaches and creative giants – love what you do and you will never have to work another day in your life.

Although Linda began her business as a hobby, did it for four years before making any money and had no set goals for it at the beginning, she’s making the most of every opportunity that comes her way. Her blog generates millions of naira annually from advertisements run by companies and Linda has gradually moved into a field she calls ‘motivational writing’. Speaking about her first book It Takes You, Linda said “I hope more than anything else that everyone who reads this book learns something from it. I hope it changes their perception of some things and more than anything else I hope it inspires them to go out there and make something of themselves”.

The money she earns has not only ended her family struggles but has brought her great influence in the entertainment industry and amongst young people. To her credit, her influence has been a force for change. By mobilising thousands of readers in her online community, Linda was able to lend a voice to Blessing Effiong, a young girl who had been detained for four years in prison without a trial. Four months after the story was reported on the blog, Blessing walked out of prison with her freedom, grateful to all her supporters including Linda Ikeji.

The story of Linda Ikeji, Nigeria’s most popular blogger, shows that you can create value, and therefore a business and influence, from whatever you’re passionate about; and even when controversy abounds, there are many opportunities to do good.

Whether you agree with her tactics and content or not, we have to hand it to Linda, she has entertained, engaged, inspired and provoked Nigerians for 7 years doing what she loves best. She has turned blogging into a lucrative business and shows no sign of stopping. (

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