Here’s How To Start Making Money
I can begin and end this with one sentence from my own experience, and that would be: Write books and sell them and voila! You’re making money!
The above is the kind of advice you’ll get from people out there who want to tell you how you can become a writer who makes money off selling books. What they’ll never share with you is how to get on the journey in the first place.
Well, I’m here and I’ll do just that. But first, let me tell you my own story. Make sure you read through. Your journey must not be like mine, but you can glean a thing or two from what I’ll share.
So, I started blogging in 2011, after writing for six years. I opened several blogs on different free blogging platforms, but I finally settled for WordPress, after using blog.uk for a while. Together with a friend, I shared stories on that blog. I didn’t have a huge platform, but I knew I could grow it via social media, which was not as massive as it is today. So I’d share links to my stories and ask my friends here to read, share and comment. And some of them who believed in me did just that. Through them, I began growing.
But I knew it was not enough. I needed a larger audience. Ergo, after blogging for more than a year, I began sending emails to big blogs and websites like Lindaikeji, Bellanaija, some of the popular dailies and also 360nobs.com. I think it took about three or four months before 360nobs responded to me. They asked for a fresh story, not one I had previously written. So, for them (and for me) I started out the series To Tame A Virgin. It was published on their platform every Saturday and it was a hit. So much so that they used it sometimes for Facebook ads.
But I knew it was not enough. I started learning how to write articles. Stuff like ‘How To Know Your Man is Cheating’ etc. They were the thing back then. I followed the trend and improved on my writing by reading articles on popular foreign and local blogs. 360nobs was so impressed with my work then that they started giving me some change for my internet usage. Mind you, I wasn’t working. I had a child with special needs that needed me. Getting a nine-to-five was out of the question, so all I did was sit at home and write. Getting that money from 360nobs was like the best thing ever.
But I knew it was not enough. I started writing for manswersonline.com. It was a lifestyle magazine for men, but I was a woman. I had to stalk established men’s magazines to learn how to write for a predominantly male audience. It was a hit. People loved my articles there. For manswersonline, I also started another series His Little Black Book. Meanwhile, my blog was growing from the massive traffic I was receiving from 360nobs. I also did not relent in my own marketing campaign. I was active on Twitter, telling people to Read, Retweet and Comment. The response was amazing, and this was because every Saturday, I came through for them with my stories.
But I knew it was not enough. I knew I had something that people wanted and enjoyed. It was time to make money out of it. Luckily for me, 360nobs needed an editor at that time. They felt I was a good fit for the role, and that was how I was bumped from their least-paid writer to the one who was in charge of other writers. It was a tasking role, I won’t lie. I was under pressure to ensure that the traffic on the site was above two million a month. We’re talking about mostly unique views. We’re also talking about making our visitors stay on the site for a healthy stretch of time, because it brought ads that paid all of us. This meant we had to have content that would keep our readers engaged. Being an editor under such conditions wasn’t easy. I had to work my ass to the bone. I became an insomniac by force, working nonstop, reading nonstop, researching nonstop. We had followers from all over the world. Sometimes popular dailies in the US and UK reblogged our articles. I had people writing me from outside the shores of Nigeria and some even offering money so that I could help them with their relationship problems, just because I wrote about relationships. I never took anything from them, though. I wonder why.
But I knew it was not enough. I had started making money. Was there a way I could make the money myself and not rely on being paid by someone alone? I began to concentrate on my writing once more. My blog had suffered because of my work. Now that I understood my role as an editor properly, I could schedule my time to fit my personal interests in. But life happened. I got pregnant and sick, quit my job and fell into the worst depression I ever had. Writing was difficult, as was living. I pulled through, though, and had my son, barely escaping death. My verve returned and I started writing again.
But I knew it was not enough. I knew it was time to publish. In December 2015, I stuck out my leg and dipped into the pool of publishing. My book Fish Brain Madhouse went up on Okadabooks for sale. It was the fourth book in a serial. The others were already there for free. I was scared and excited that night. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if it would sell. I went to sleep, exhausted. By afternoon the next day, emails were dropping in like crazy. People who couldn’t buy on Okadabooks for one reason or the other, were asking for PDF copies. I was shook. I had at least twenty emails waiting. On Okadabooks, over fifteen copies were already sold!
At this point, I knew I was on the right path. It wasn’t enough for me, but I was certain that this was what I was born to do. I had gotten a sense of contentment from that small success story that was yet unfolding. And that was how I began turning the series I shared on my blog into books. I’d share them to some extent and then publish the rest.
My book, The Fourth Finger was a hit, not just because of the content, but because of the massive marketing that pushed it out there, carried out by the Okdabooks team and myself. I knew I had a good story. It was important to get people to read it. I didn’t know the extent to which they would love it. I was shocked that they did, so much so that my followers defied my pleas not to nominate me for any awards, and went ahead to help me bag the Fiction Writer of the Year award at the Nigerian Writers’ Awards. The Fourth Finger was the only e-book nominated in that category.
I didn’t stop writing for blogs because I had become a bestseller and an award winner. I still kept a job as an editor and employed writers whom I helped train. Today, I make money off my books and writing articles that go for as much as ten thousand a piece. Note that I am yet to publish a hardcopy, but I get invited to help teach writers how to make money. I also get a lot of offers from Nollywood which I constantly turn down because they offer crap for hard work. But we have scriptwriters who have been in the business that make a hefty sum from their scripts and stories. However, there’s a lot more that needs to be done. We’ll keep climbing until everyone in the movie industry realizes that content is king.
So that’s my story, dear writer. There’s no magic that happens behind the scenes. No luck from the skies. Just a hard-working woman who put in her life and blood into her work. I have not even started exploring the possibilities. Blogging has gotten me this far. Social media has been instrumental to my success as an author. If you’re a writer here and you’re not using your space well to grow your customer base, then you’re wasting your time. You should have a blog as part of your resume, because employers (especially owners of huge websites) will always ask. They want to know if you have blogging experience. It makes you look professional and shows your skills. On there and on social media, that’s where your money lies.
You also need to understand how to convert that customer base into cash. Don’t just come here to share shoddily-written stories every time and expect to make a killing when you eventually publish a book. Package yourself as a serious-minded writer, market yourself, stay relevant in the writers’ community.
So below are my quick tips on how to grow your brand as a writer and make money.
>Make a conscious effort to make yourself a brand. It’s important. Your brand sells your work. It gives you influence. You want people to want to buy your work just because it’s you, for people to say that they know they can get quality stuff from you because you have gotten to that place where your name is synonymous with amazing writing.
>Own a blog. That’s your resume, where you say to people ‘hey, look! I’m a serious writer. You can find all my works here.’ Nobody has time to be going through your Facebook posts to find all you have written. So , make sure you have a place where they can easily hook up with what you have done.
>Be serious on the blog. I know I said it’s not the thing now, but two posts a week won’t hurt. Don’t let cobwebs accumulate there. People should be able to reach you there.
>Stay relevant on social media. Don’t use the space to throw shades and subs, unless it’s a way to grow your audience. Keep up with the latest trends and always have an interesting angle to what’s going on.
>Write for other blogs. I concluded a survey on my blog a short while ago, asking them how they got to know about me. The second highest vote after social media was through another blog. Clearly, I have left breadcrumbs on other sites that led and still lead back to my blog and my name. What this has done is grow my traffic and my brand.
>Package your art well. Make sure your work is edited. Ensure that your book covers are well-designed by a graphic artist.
>Market yourself unapologetically. There’s no shame in asking people to read and share your work. Also it’s not a waste when you spend to market yourself.
>And most importantly, understand that content is king. Write what people want to read. Write it well. Improve on your art. Research and read constantly. Expand your knowledge on literature. Go for master classes, seek the help of other writers. If you get this part right, the others will fall into place.
Dear writer, you really can make money off writing. You can also make a name for yourself. You just have to stay focused, work hard, work smart and remain consistent.
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