Linda Ikeji is raking in millions as a blogger. Next up: to create the Netflix of Africa.
When Linda Ikeji started her eponymous blog over a decade ago, she didn’t know anything about blogging or that one day she would be making millions online.
“When I was growing up, blogging was never the plan, I wanted to be a TV journalist, a presenter or producer,” Ikeji says to FORBES AFRICA.
Since then, Ikeji has learned so much, not only about writing engaging content, but also monetizing her talent.
She lives in a $2 million mansion in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Lagos, drives a $300,000 Bentley Mulsanne and most importantly, does exactly what she wants. And that includes creating her own social network, Linda Ikeji Social (LIS), a one-stop shop for everything people need when they go online.
“Instagram pays you more when you are a celebrity but our community was more for the everyday people. LIS was a small community for everybody. It is not just a social network but a combination of blogging with a social network in one package.”
The site attracted some 200,000 subscribers in the first week of launch and is currently undergoing an upgrade. She was inspired to start the network after she met fans who said they only visited two sites, the Linda Ikeji blog and Facebook. And she is not wrong in believing their claims.
This year, Google ranked Ikeji one of the most searched personalities in the last decade, in Africa’s most populous economy. Ikeji has managed to reinvent herself over the years, establishing a brand as a successful businesswoman making telephone-digit figures per month blogging.
Blogs make money by selling ads. Each website gets paid on the number of ad impressions you get depending on the number of page views. To get more page views, you need content that will attract more clicks. And this is the arena Ikeji has managed to dominate for years. Ikeji knows her audience’s appetite. And this year, she is serving them a new menu of scandal, drama and even more controversy via her latest venture, a subscription video on demand (SVOD) platform, called Linda Ikeji TV.
She says she has invested about $2 million of her own money into the platform she hopes will be the Netflix of Africa.
But only if she is able to retain the high volume of paying subscribers. To do this, she needs a high volume of content which in turn means huge capital investment.
For the last quarter of 2018 alone, Netflix said its free cash flow deficit swelled to $1.32 billion, compared with the deficit of $524 million in 2017. That accounted for about $3 billion in cash burn for all of 2018.
“Since the platform [LIS] was launched in June 2018, 162,000 people have passed through it and out of that 80,000 paid a N1,000 ($3) one-month subscription but not all of them renewed and we were not able to retain them. That was 100% our fault. We were not updating the site with new content because I had spent so much money creating the content we put on the site,” Ikeji says.
“Netflix puts about four new shows a day on their platform but we couldn’t keep up with that and by the third month, subscribers wanted something new and if there is nothing new, you will stop paying. So, this is very capital-intensive and we did research and realized in order to retain your subscribers, you have to give them new content every day.”
Lesson learned, Ikeji is now on full throttle.
The platform is also going through a site redesign and is launching in London in July and United States in August with new, original and licensed content as well. Her plan is to diversify her revenue stream by creating Nollywood movies for cinema release and reinvesting the proceeds back into her platform as well as looking for investors to scale the SVOD site.
But in the meantime, Ikeji is sticking to the content that has made her blog one of the most visited on the continent.
The hit show on the platform is Oyinbo Wives of Lagos, a reality TV series following the lives of women married to white men in Lagos.
“Some of the wives are friends but they fight and argue and then come back together. We are going to be doing a lot more ratchet reality shows.
“We call them ratchet but they are very different and engaging and that’s what we know our audience wants,” says one of Nigeria’s most successful digital entrepreneurs