This post has been on my mind for a long time. I keep postponing it but today I think it would be appropriate to do something about it. What I am about to share with you is something people pay hard earned cash to get at seminars and lectures. I am not going to charge
First of all, I want to start by saying that if you think writing is a side job, something you do only during your free time, this will not work for you. Just kindly go on Facebook and Snapchat or elsewhere to while away time, that is after you share this post on social media to those who really need it.
People always come to me to ask me to tutor them on writing and blogging and how to make money from it but when I lay down details of what needs to be done, they walk away. This is not to shade or sub anyone but the other day when I put up a post for writers and people wanting to intern, a lot of people contacted me. For those wanting to intern, I gave them instructions: be based in Lagos (where I live), be ready to spare two days out of a week, make sure you have a functional laptop.
Would it surprise you to know that nobody turned up? I wonder which of the prerequisites was impossible to fulfill (this doesn’t include those outside Lagos). You want to learn how to write and blog but have no time to do so. How do you expect to make money out of it? Writing is not a sidechick or a one-night stand. You have to be married to it, for better or for worse. You can’t dip a leg in and keep another outside and expect it to pay at the end of the day. Kole werk!
So the big question here is: Can you make money off writing in Nigeria?
The big answer is: Yes!
Have a look at this
Would you believe it if I told you I sold more out of the Okadabooks apps…and that I am still selling?
Okay, so let me go straight to the matter. How did I get to this point?
I never started out writing romance. Trust me, I found it cheesy and unnecessarily gushy. I was the blood and gore type, evident in one of my first works The Immortals’ Code. But I did my research and discovered that the bulk of readers online love romance stories, and most of them were women. If I wanted that audience, I needed to hop on the train. But I still did not love cheesy romance and I wanted to get the guys too. So what did I do? I started crafting stories that had love themes with twists to them that both men and women could enjoy. I deviated a little from the happily-ever-afters to put sad-ever-afters in some of my love stories. The prince can have the girl but they don’t have to walk into the sunset. Somebody can die at any time. Your favorite character who is tall, dark and handsome may just be mentally retarded. And that, my dears, is real life, and makes for juicy reading. Give your audience what they want, add a twist and they’ll keep coming back. And this doesn’t mean you must write romance. No, diversify your content. Include what your market will like with what the muse pushes you into.
Still on content. How is your structure? Can you tap into your readers’ logic? Make them think? Put them in a place of conflict? Enter the psychology of your character so that the reader can be plunged deep inside the mind of this make-belief person? How do you carry your readers along?
2. Work Hard
This is the part most people don’t like. I don’t like it too. Hard work takes a lot out of me but hey, I have to eat. I can’t do a little sleep and a little slumber, not in these times. I work with writers regularly. The general problem I have with them is laziness. But for those who give me the best articles, they are never lazy.
Practice makes perfect, it is said. But how can you be on your way to perfection if you work only when you feel like?
Hard work, is also not just about putting in the hours; it’s about giving it your all. People always remember the work that is well-written. Research on what you want to write. Is your character suffering from ovarian cancer? Research on it. Is your antagonist going to murder someone with a knife? Research. You want to write that two people are kissing? Find out ways you can out two lips together, better ways to write it. Edit your work. Read it out loud. Ask a friend what they honestly think about the story. Drop it for a few hours, few days, come back and work on it again. Think of better ways to write your story. You can’t be perfect but you can make the effort.
3. Put Your Work Out There
Thank God for the internet. It serves as a marketing platform to see that your writing gets to your audience. Start on social media. Write something and tag friends. Ask for their opinion. Tell them to share. Never be ashamed to beg for tweets, retweets, shares and comments. Send your work to big blogs for free. 360nobs.com still takes series. I know Bellanaija also takes stories. You have The Naked Convos as well. Send not just to one but to many sites; a couple of them would like your work. I have gotten many followers from bigger platforms. There was a day 360nobs fans crashed this site with their traffic just because I redirected a post here. There are also some Facebook pages that take stories. I accept submissions too (but you have to have a good story).
It’s not enough to write. You have to write all the time. Every freaking day. Now that you have gotten people to read your work, they will come back for more. But what happens when they come back and they can’t find you? The last post they saw was two, three months ago? You think they would stick around?
There’s no such thing as Writer’s Block.
If you encounter a Writer’s Block, climb over it, walk around it, write on it, do whatever, just get it out of the freaking way! Readers are like the unsatisfied addict who must get her fix at all cost. If her regular supplier is not there, she would look for another. Hence, you have to ensure that you are an addiction and you can only do this by always being there.
5. Work Smart
Getting paid from writing can be a tough journey. It does not come in a rush. To be honest, you could sweat for a long time before you see a dime. But do you know that writers hold the internet? Yup, we do. Every site that is out there is made visible by mostly words. You read the articles on them, don’t you? Who do you think wrote them? Writers like you. So, you can cut straight to the chase by earning some cash on the side before your novel comes out. For me, I learned how to be a blogger. After paying someone some ridiculous amount of money to open a website for me and he cheated me, I went online and learned it myself. I opened two paid blogs just to know the ropes, so when my first big editing job came, it was a huge bonus to know how to work WordPress technically. My bosses just literally left their site for me and I called most of the shots.
Become a content creator. Find out how to write articles and picticles. There’s always a website that needs writers. Do editing jobs. Learn how to write movie scripts and turn your stories into screenplay. You love gadgets? Try your hands on writing reviews. A couple of years ago, a colleague left a popular website to do some copy-writing and press releases for one of the big banks and he earns N250k monthly. I was there when he learned how to be a copywriter. Today, it is paying. There’s a whole lot you can do with words. Find the one that works for you, learn it, write it.
6. Open a Blog
Someone spoke to me the other day and said she was shocked that I had less than a thousand friends on Facebook. “What happened?” she asked, concerned, but also surprised at the number of die-hard followers on my blog. I told her that I keep my circle of friends small but my fanbase huge.
Facebook, like Twitter and Instagram, is a good platform to get followers but not the best place to keep them. Take Facebook, for instance, that can allow you almost write a whole book in just one status update. It does not, however, allow you have more than five thousand friends. You can, of course, have even more followers but what are you doing with them? Facebook is not your home. But a blog is yours. You know that whoever follows you there really likes your work. It takes out the social media friendship and brings you true fans and followers whose faces you can’t see but who are liking and commenting on your work because they like what you do and not just because you did the same with their posts on social media. Asides that, blogging keeps you focused. A post is not just a tweet or update.
A blog is a résumé for potential investors.
When people see that you have a blog where your work is found, they take you serious. Blogging hones your writing skills because of the editing choices that make you want to have your thoughts articulated neatly and in a literary manner. And also because of newsletter and social media update options, people can follow every update you put up. Besides, there’s that thing that comes with being on the list of favorite blogs someone follows.
7. Fall In Love With E-books
People come to me every day, asking why I don’t have a paperback yet. I used to roll my inner eyes to the question but I am quite used to it now. I understand that there’s a certain appeal that comes with having a paperback. To have people hold your book in their hands. To hold the book yourself. To have it be eligible for books that could win prestigious awards. To be mentioned as an authentic author (because for some reason people don’t think e-books are real books). I understand all of that and to be honest, I can’t wait to have my own hard copy.
On what platform are you reading this? A paperback magazine or online? Are you in a public place right now? Look around you. How many people are using a paperback novel to browse the internet? I hope you’re getting my drift. The new age is the digital age. There was a time stories were written on walls. Then they moved to stones. And then to scrolls. Then, paper and now, we’re in the digital age. See what I was able to accomplish on Okadabooks. So, if you’re stuck in the paperback era and think that the time you pass online is useless and you shouldn’t take it seriously until you publish that bestselling paper novel, then you are shortsighted. So many writers of our time fail in this regard. They publish hard copies, spend so much money and nobody buys them. We can’t all be Chimamanda Adichie, and you know, if you have sent your work to publishing houses like I have, that it is not beans to get the big names to publish you. But this is not to say that paperbacks are done for. They aren’t. But one day, they will become a thing of the past. It’s best you hop on the train before you become a relic.
8. Write That Book
My real bucks came with writing E-books. After all the hard work and freebies, I started selling my stories and today, I can sit down and make a living off writing. But remember that before you get to this point, you have to build that audience, you have to hone that writing skill, you have to be in possession of salable content.
Sally Kenneth Dadzie tweets from @moskedapages