Have you ever sat in front of your computer or mobile phone and wonder how the heck you are going to turn a petty art such as writing into a source of livelihood?
You have read stories of successful writers who sold thousands of eBooks, short reports, information products, online training etc; Bloggers who have turned their blogs into a steady flow of income; writers who published on Kindle and sold truckload of eBooks.
And you are wondering, how and when on earth am I going to tell my own story?
You struggle to write a few words everyday but with each passing day, your spirit goes fainter and fainter.
Not because you are not passionate enough about writing, but because you have put in so much effort in the past, with nothing to show for it.
Now you are wondering, is it really worth it? Can I eventually make a living writing or blogging? Or is this whole thing going to blow in my face and be a waste of time?
You are not alone
Today, as you read on, hear that calm still voice whisper into your ears saying, “Yes. I can.”
About six years ago, I had no idea what I would do with my life.
I had just finished my NYSC, the job wasn’t forth coming.
I had vowed to never apply for a job again after disappointments and dissatisfaction. And filled my days with continuous attempts to make something work. I hoped one day, one circumstance will lead to another and I will stumble on a breakthrough that will eventually console my days of labor.
But George Brenard Shaw was right when he said, “I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”
It was not until I deliberately decided to make the most of what I had, that my life began to take form.
I’ve been writing online since 2008 but I fully gave my heart to writing towards the end of 2009. I had to write on tight schedule and on empty pocket.
Believe me, there are few things as torture-some as writing on empty stomach.
But you’ve got to really love what you are doing to keep at it.
The result was a venture that emerged out of nothing to millions of naira in annual revenue.
Looking back through those days of starting out, I can easily spot out mistakes that had cost me time and resources. Things that if done otherwise would have brought more rewarding results.
I can also see what had helped me to a large extent to achieve my goals.
Before I go on, let me first of all crucify some myths you might have about building a business by creating and sharing content online.
Myth 1: There are too many people doing this already
Oh really? Too many people are already doing it? So you don’t want to saturate an already crowded market? Smart you.
Let me ask you a question; how many medical doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants and architects do we have in the country? How many are graduated every year to join the already crowded labor market?
With this population, why haven’t we stopped teaching people these fields in school?
If a kid demonstrates the proficiency of a legal practitioner growing up, would she be smart to do way with the idea of studying law on the premise that there are already too many Lawyers in the country?
The internet may be crowded but here is the good news, people still have problems to deal with. And they are still looking for solutions.
You don’t have to go in and do what everyone else is doing like we were taught in school. You do have to have to be different and connect with a niche of people with a common interest who are being under-served.
And yes, you can still find a starving crowd.
Myth 2: I don’t have the credentials
First of all, I am not a career counselor. I’m not an international education agent. Neither am I a scholarship consultant or whatever. (I’ve been referred with different titles over the course of my career online) Yet I have had people take advice from me that helped them in big ways.
I have written and published books that have been read by 10,000s of people and run a platform with over 200,000 regular readers.
Why are you letting yourself down? What is keeping you from taking action?
No credentials? Oh come off it.
Let me ask you, “When you finally get the ‘credentials’ what next?”
Let me tell you what next, you will need even more credentials. That’s just how the circle continuous.
Don’t get me wrong. For some fields, you need certified credentials like Doctors, lawyers and such professional fields.
But you don’t need a credential to start making a living from what you love doing. Want to know why the credential excuse is a myth? Here’s a post that explains why – it looks into the story of David and Goliath
Get off that self-limiting barrier you’ve self imposed and let’s get moving. Because movement, my friend, is better than meditation.
Myth 3: I don’t have time
There we go again. Well, if you don’t have time, no problem. Forget about it.
Yes? What do you want me to say? You want me to fly down to your apartment and walk around with you like your guardian avatar, examining your all so busy life and then figuring out how you spend too much time on TV, how you gist away time and all that stuff?
I’m no wish-granting Ginee from the Lamp.
If you can’t find 5 hours a week to work on creating a business that lets you share your passion with the world, and generates income for years and years to come…then maybe it’s not important enough to you. That’s fine. Acknowledge it and let’s move on.
Myth 4: I have too many interests and no skill anyone will be willing to pay for.
I admit, this was and is still a problem I have to deal with. Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice; if I should had focused on this idea and not the other. It does happen to most of us; in other words, you are in good company.
So how do you drill it down to what to focus on; the one that you do care about and has the potential to bring in money?
Interestingly, you can test your ideas with little investment to see if it will be profitable before even starting the business.
Recently I sold a business course online, but I had already tested the interest level several months earlier before realizing the course to the public. Lots of phone calls proved that this is something people will be willing to pay for.
So I went ahead and launched the course.
I have made the mistake of not testing the viability before starting some business and it proved to be a failure in most cases.
So the solution to too many interest and no one willing to pay, is to test. It may surprise you to find out what people are willing to pay for.
What other Myths do you believe about making a living from your passion for writing and sharing knowledge?
Kindly share in the comment section below.
Let’s move on to the lessons you can apply to turn your passion for writing into a multi-million naira business.
Select a target Market
I read a recent list of top 25 Nigerian Blogs and noticed that 80% of the blogs are entertainment and news platforms. Great for the bloggers.
Such information triggers most people to start a blog. But the problem is that most people, I’m sorry to say, are dumb.
If you go ahead and start a blog on entertainment or news because most of the popular blogs are in these niches, you are one of those dumb people.
To grow a business from writing/blogging in the crowded internet marketplace, you must find a way to stand out.
For instance, when I started a scholarship and contest platform, it was the first of its kind in Nigeria and second in Africa. At that time, the common niche everyone was going into was Job search. If it was not job, it was tech, make money or the “jack of all trades” niche.
I’m not a competitive person. So I naturally had to look for a way to do things a bit different. I wanted to start with a niche that will target a particular audience need. My choice turned out to be worth it when I started collecting four figure checks in Euro currency monthly.
Don’t start off your writing in a niche because it’s where most of the success stories come from. If you can’t bring something unique to the field, don’t bother. Your voice will not be heard anyway.
Action step: don’t just write about anything. Think of what you have interest in and choose to write for a group of people with similar interest.
Identify and feed a hungry crowd
The story was told of a group of passengers in an airplane, when the pilot announced that the plane was about to crash. Everyone was in pandemonium except one businessman.
He was busy selling parachutes to the paranoid passengers. At that point, he understood that the major thought in the mind of everyone in that airplane was safety; “how can we get out of here alive?” The parachute was obviously the solution to this crowd hungry for safety.
Whether this is a true story or not, the point is that if you want to grow a business that stands out, you must identify and feed a starving crowd.
People are not going to flock to your business simply because you opened shop. They are not going to buy your book simply because you wrote it. They are not going to read your blog because you think you have great content.
People will only patronize your work for one reason; if it solves an obvious need in their lives (in a unique way).
Forget about what you may know about writing. Everything boils down to this basic concept; identify and feed a hungry crowd. Zig Ziglar puts it this way, “You can get what you want in life, if you can help enough people get what they want.”
Embrace experience – Keep your academic qualification out of this
Turning your writing into a multi-million naira business has nothing to do with your academic qualification. Your experience will be more valuable to you and your readers than academic qualification.
As a writer, thrive to acquire as much experience as you can about your subject or industry. Demonstrate your knowledge based on experience. It is a crowded market quite alright but experience is still lacking. If you work on positioning yourself as a knowledgeable person in your field, you can easily stand out.
Don’t quit your day job yet
Contrary to the “quit your day job, be your own boss” gospel by many entrepreneurship advocate (I advocate entrepreneurship), don’t quit your job to start building a business in writing.
A friend of mine once described entrepreneurship as “the ability to work without money in your pocket without losing your sanity”.
When the going gets tough, you need such quality to get you going. But you don’t have to deliberately put yourself in tight situations.
I did build my business from scratch with no job, no salary and no income. And I must tell you, it’s not a fancy situation to find yourself in. There are moments you’ll feel like quitting; like throwing in the towel and giving up.
You do things that make you wonder if you still have your sanity intact.
You need cash flow to survive.
Unless your job takes so much from you that you cannot make progress as long as you remain there, don’t quit your job just yet. Keep your job, work on your writing, blogging business at the spare time. And when you can take care of your basic need from your writing business, you can quit your job if you want and focus on your business.
You don’t need a Business plan
Of every successful blogger/ content creator I’ve talked to, none ever admitted writing a business plan. Rather they maintain a flexible and adaptable approach. I once tried writing a business plan for my blog after the blog was already generating seven figures naira in annual income. It’s over two years now and I don’t think I have scanned through the plan more than two times.
Have a vision for your writing career. Set goals and make plans to achieve your goals one at a time.
Get out there and start doing. Test, hustle, fail, learn. Whatever you do, just quit planning and start doing.
You have to spend money to accelerate
Let me be blunt with you. Most broke writers are stingy; stingy to their readers; stingy to their fellow writers and worst of all stingy to themselves.
It may have worked in the past when the internet was less competitive, but if you must get deserved attention today, you must be ready to make your money work for you.
I read every single day, either on my android phone or laptop. I read books, listen to audio, watch videos some of which cost me as much as $300 (N48,000) to acquire.
I spend money to acquire fans and prospects through Facebook advertising. Sometimes I pay people to render services that I could do myself just to save time for something else.
If you are going to start a restaurant, a supermarket, retail or any traditional business, you will spend money to learn the trade, set up a location and start the business.
About three years ago, my sister had to pay almost N45,000 to learn to make hand bags with ropes. She had no job at the time but had to borrow money to acquire this skill.
Today, she has a job with an additional bag making business.
Serious people are willing to spend money to get what they want.
Why then does it become so difficult for most writers to spend money to grow their business?
If you are one of those writers who are not willing to spend money to move your business forward, I’m sorry to say, you’ll be stuck in your cubicle for a long time.
Your network is your net worth
The best things that happened to my business happened as a result of networking.
Many writers and bloggers stick to their laptop like a leech. Their writing career starts and ends on their blog. But it is not supposed to be so if you want to turn writing into a multi-million naira venture.
My blog is one of the few online platforms with over 150,000 fans on Google+ because of a discussion session I attended, organized by Google. That was the outcome of reaching out beyond my blog.
I’ve been privileged to attend events by Google, Konga and Jumia where I’ve met other people in the field.
I also join clubs where I can network with people face to face. Although I’m not much of a social media networker but I also try to network with people via Facebook and Google+.
Whatever you do, do not limit your writing activity to your writing platform or even your screen. Go out and start building your network because it is what will determine your net worth in the near future.
One tip; don’t network for the sake of getting people to help you. Seek to help people first and it’ll come back to you.
Sales and marketing are the most important skills
I was lucky to be one of those people to build a business that generates hundreds of thousands of naira monthly without needing to sell anything directly to readers. As long as I keep adding content to the platform, money keeps rolling in.
But I got bored. It was not longer fun. If I had to start all over without this, I asked myself, how will I survive?
By the time I started another platform that require me to market and sell something to sustain it, I discovered how horrible I had become at marketing and selling. I had to start a new education in marketing and selling to put thing right.
I used what I learned to develop a new business that involved marketing and selling physical goods on the internet, and sold millions of naira worth of laptops within six months through Facebook alone. That is the power of marketing and selling.
The good thing about marketing and selling is that as you continue developing the skills in one business (you never fully develop) you can apply it to any other kind of business, whether in selling eBooks, training, courses or selling imported products.
If it doesn’t add value, start allover
Everything about turning your passion for writing into a multi-million naira business boils down to one thing, add value to the lives of people. I can almost vow that if you don’t care about adding value to the lives of people through your content you will NEVER succeed.
I say that with all confidence. If you have been building a blog or writing eBooks with the singular purpose of making money, I don’t care your excuse, quit right now. Because if you continue, you’ll only prolong your days of misery.
You primary focus should be to add value and improve the lives of people. The money follows when you get this part right. I know this is not the first time you have heard this advice; of adding value first. So you’ll normally want to discard it and keep chasing after the money.
Go ahead and do what you want. But I assure you that by the time you have grown two years older and nothing to show for it, you will be lucky to realize the truth and start all over.
Only that, by that time, you’d have been left behind.
I don’t want that to happen to you. Start thinking of adding value as your primary purpose as a writer and content creator. Because that is what those people who have built multi-million naira (even dollar) businesses do.
10. Try several things, keep what works, discard the rest
In the theory of evolution, species survive by the jungle rule; survival of the fittest. Let the strong survive while the weak perish. That is how you should treat your blogging or writing business. There is a common advice for writers to go everywhere the whistle is blown. You are as active on Facebook, twitter and linkedin as you are on Google+, Instagram and Pinterest.
You think that makes you a smart person?
It doesn’t. In fact, it makes you look horrible.
I grew my blog from zero to thousands of daily visits by mastering one medium at that time; search engine optimization.
I did not bother about getting a lot of free traffic from Facebook, or any other medium. I concentrated on getting search engine optimization right and it took care of every other part; email subscription, social media expansion and more money.
If there is one thing you have to learn from these lessons, learn that focus and concentrated effort is the key to success. Find out what marketing medium works best for you and devote your effort to getting the most from there. All other things shall be added unto you.
11. Diversify your income
The beauty of online business is that you can choose how you want to make money from your content. I have made money from my content through;
- Google Adsense Partnership Program
- Media.net (by Yahoo) partnership program
- Infolinks intext advertising
- Affiliate program
- Paid to post – I get paid to write and publish content on my blog
- Selling eBooks
- Offering different services
- Consulting and coaching
- Selling on Amazon Kindle
I’ve made money through these diverse methods on one blog. Of course this was not all at once. For instance, I no longer use Infolinks and Media.net. They were making money in hundreds of dollars per month, but I decided to remove them at different occasions to keep the site less commercialized.
Google Adsense has been my major source of income for a long time, until I started diversifying into other businesses like importation, selling courses etc. As far back as 2012, I made almost three million naira from Google Adsense alone.
One advice I will give you about Adsense is to not be satisfied with your result until you have tweaked things as much as needed. I doubled my Adsense earning within one week with the same amount of traffic by test and experimenting.
There you have it, 11 lessons to turn your passion and writing into multi-million naira business. Believe me, it’s easier on paper but it’s not that hard either.
If you begin to look at the entire process of getting there, it would look like mission impossible. I remember those days; each time I read a success story of a writer/blogger, my heart starts beating faster. I travel into my imaginary world as I envision the possibility of telling a success story some day.
It was until I decided to start taking it one step at a time that I began to get incremental results. Gradually, the pieces began to fit until I started getting my checks.
I encourage you to start doing something. Your passion for writing and sharing knowledge has the potential to give you that life you so desire, but you have to take action every day to make it work.
Every single day is an opportunity to bring you closer to that goal. Do something, write a blog post, create an eBook, teach something. Just keep doing and always remember that Movement is better than Meditation
Got questions or comments?
Submit in comment section below.