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How to Become a Successful Freelance Writer by Emulating Bella Naija and Linda Ikeji By Suhaib Mohammed

Every jobless Nigerian wants to create a successful business. The question is how will that be possible?

We have seen many success stories in Nigeria – from Aliko Dangote’s Dangote Group to Mike Adenuga’s Globacom to Jim Ovia’s Zenith Bank – but most of these stories are not much celebrated by the majority of the Nigerian masses because of the massive amount of capital injected in the businesses.

Recently, smart Nigerians begin to go into small home businesses powered by the Internet. Uche Eze – famously known as Bella Naija – and Linda Ikeji are some of the Nigerian success stories that started from the scratch and reach the top of the ladder.

These entrepreneurs started small and without delay, and didn’t wait for some stakeholders to invest in their startups. It’s worthy for aspiring Internet entrepreneurs to look at their stories, learn how they made it, and emulate them to achieve the same.

Bella Naija

Shortly after her graduation from the Richard Ivey School of Business in Western Ontario in 2006, the high-spirited Uche secured her first job…

Two weeks before commencing the job, she decided to start doing something to fill the “bored” moment she had. Uche has been passionate about fashion, and noticed that the niche was trending in Nigeria.

“I would come back every holiday [to Nigeria], and each time I came back, I saw how everything had grown,” the smart Uche told Ishay Sesay during her interview with CNN in 2010. “… The entertainment [industry] was vibrant, and I decided to start something that represents that.”

Immediately, Uche launched her blog and started posting scanned magazine content under a hiding identity. When her traffic grew to over a million visitors per month, she decided to reveal herself.

And in July of 2006, she showed up under the name bellanaija.blogspot.com. Today, she’s bellanaija.com – a multimillion naira media company based in Lagos.

Linda Ikeji

Linda Ikeji hails from a “struggling” home in Imo State. She’s the second among the seven siblings of her family.

At the age of seventeen, the not-so-young Linda began to labor in the city of Lagos, working different kinds of jobs – such as ushering, bartending, and modelling – to help herself and her family.

“I would leave lectures, go to a hotel and sell beer from 1 pm till 10 pm…,” Linda recalled. “It wasn’t easy, but I had to survive.”

Shortly after her graduation from the university, Linda’s first start-up attempt was on journalism, a career she struggled so hard to jump-start. Afterward, she launched her modelling agency under the name Blackdove Communication.

Later, Linda delves into print media and founded FM & B – a magazine she called “her true passion” in her first blog post in 2006. But that magazine was short-lived after a successful release of two issues.

In that same year, following a blog post about her story on Bellanaija, Linda launched her own blog out of her love of beauty and fashion. She’s rich and famous, and she’s one of the amazing success stories in Nigeria.

The Entrepreneurial Mindset

By committing to changing their lives, notwithstanding the challenges involve in crossing the thresholds in their broken country, these great women succeeded in realizing their dreams based on the entrepreneurial approach they used. Let’s look at what they are:

1. Needs

Both Uche and Linda had needs. Uche was bored… unsatisfied with her condition, and needed to do something to change that. Linda, on the other hand, had bigger needs: she wants to cover her school’s expenses and help her poor family.

2. Coming with solution to satisfy the needs

Rather than waiting for miracles to happen, or an angel investor to pour in millions into their start-ups, these smart entrepreneurs came up with solution to satisfy their needs.

3. Resisting the difficulties

Despite the condition of the country, especially the broken infrastructure and insecurity, the women set forth their journey of hard work to achieving their dreams.

4. Tapping opportunities as they come

They tapped into the little opportunities they had in their midst (the Internet), packaged their natural endowment (their passion), and created a business out of it (their entertainment blogs).

5. Satisfying the needs

This is the stage that every entrepreneur wants to reach. But the truth is you have to work hard to get to this point. Bella and Linda will not become what they are if they had not kick-started their ideas seven years ago, and work hard to grow it.

Their mindset embodied many of the basic elements of successful freelance writers. It was beneficial. It was educational. It was about creativity, not a big business investment.

People identify with them. Even if you don’t love them, you’ll tell yourself that being a Nigerian doesn’t mean that you cannot build an online business. If Uche and Linda can do it, you, too, can do it, right?

That’s effective Internet home-based business, and you don’t have to be a woman to do it right. You don’t even have to love fashion and entertainment to go into it. There are many online businesses you can do… One of the most lucrative ones is freelance writing.

But why would you go for freelance writing? Because the internet is driven by words…

Businesses have to fill their web pages with relevant information about their products. And with the recent Google Panda and Penguin updates, that means cheap, crappy content won’t do. Therefore, a professional writer is highly needed to craft valuable copies that attract traffic and generate sales.

With the rise of the blogosphere and social media marketing, people start to realize that content is the groundwork of all the effective online marketing. From the charm of building relationship with potential customers to Pay-Per-Click strategist to white papers to smart copywriting art – content is what works.

How to Develop Uche’s and Linda’s Mindset to Kick-Start Your Freelance Writing Business

Let’s analyse Uche’s and Linda’s mindset and see how you can incorporate them within the framework of what I called the 5 D’s of Freelance Writing Success.

1. Decide

You’re about to enter into the freelance writing business… but what is it all about? What do freelance writers do? What level of writing expertise do you need, how can you learn the art, and what tools do you need to start the business?

When you’ve got a clear picture of what the real business is, you’ve got a road map on how to go about it. More importantly, your motivations will begin to kick off.

This stage allows you to measure your capabilities in relation with the business model, and finally decide whether you’re a good match with the business or not.

2. Devote

You’ve digested and dissected the business venture already, and now you’re here – totally devoted to champion it.

This is where you’ll hone your writing skills (assuming you already have the passion for the craft) or devote to learning the art (if you don’t have the skills). You’ll begin to learn hard at this stage, and that means getting trusted learning resources from credible sources to get you through.

There will be challenges in form of critiques and rejection of your work in this stage. Don’t weaken down by negative feedback; instead, get motivated by them and commit more to learning the craft.

3. Dedicate

Dedication comes in when you invest heavily in the craft. This is where you begin to buy the necessary tools for your freelance writing business, such as a computer or a Blackberry, word processor and Internet connection to get started.

In the dedication stage, you’re preparing to package your service and put it into real action. In order words, you’re beginning to refine your writing style, find your writing voice, and chose a niche that suits you. Your writing is no longer your hobby in this phase; it’s your serious business.

4. Discharge

This stage marks the release of your product. In order words, you’re beginning to hit the marketplaces to offer your writing service. You’ll present yourself professionally in this phase by creating a comprehensive profile and crafting compelling writing portfolio.

Here, you’ll start to network with people and businesses in your industry. You also need to create a website or a business blog, at this stage, to maximize your chances of landing more writing gigs.

5. Do Well

The Doing well phase is a gift that results from your initial decision of starting the hard journey to helping yourself. In essence, you’ve not only satisfied your needs, but reach the level of contentment you never imagined.

That means you take yourself to the world of Bella Naija and Linda Ikeji through writing. It’s important to note that arriving at this stage doesn’t mean you should relax. Don’t stop learning. Don’t stop pitching for more jobs. Don’t slow down on your writing efforts because it’s easy to fall from grace.

Instead, be like Oprah. Diversify. Start blogging, become an author, or a digital media producer… you’ll be wealthy. And more than ever, you’ll be proud of your successful, happy life.

Over to you…

Any freelance writer in the house? Do you have other entrepreneurial mindset that you use to succeed in your career? Are you aspiring to start freelance writing business but don’t know how? Share your thoughts in the comments below:

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Suhaib Mohammed is a professional freelance writer. He’s the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Haibtext. Subscribe to his blog today and receive high impact articles on writing, everything you need to know about freelancing, and step-by-step guide on how to set-up your freelance writing business… for FREE. Connect with him on Twitter at Facebook, and Linkedln.

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