Blogger Linda Ikeji speaks extensively to Bella Naija

The following interview was conducted and posted by Adeola Adeyemo for Bella Naija. Enjoy!!!

When you add dedication to passion with a little mix of good fortune you’re most likely to have a success story. Linda Ikeji started blogging in 2007 to share things that she was interested in with her readers.. Five years  later, www.lindaikeji.blogspot.com has grown to be one of the most visited sites in the country. As a regular source for news, entertainment, celebrity gist, gossip and many more, her blog continues to attract thousands of visitors daily. In this exclusive interview with Adeola Adeyemo, Linda shares her journey into the world of blogging and what makes her stand out.

There aren’t many people as open minded and down to earth as Linda Ikeji. Any frequent visitor of her blog would know that. She has very little to hide and she is not the least bit pretentious . With Linda, what you see is what you get and a frequent visitor of  her blog knows that she is single and searching. Dedicated “LIB Readers” know that she makes an enviable income from her blog and saved money to buy her dream car- a 2008 Toyota Camry in four months.

This openness about her coupled with her clever and quick way of bringing people news, information, jokes, pictures and many more from around the world on her blog has earned her the reputation as one of Nigeria’s favorite bloggers. Her blog gets over 50,000 visits daily and is a hotspot for online advertisers and people wishing to attract web traffic to their websites or blogs. Comments  on Linda’s blog can be revealing,  interesting and more controversial than the post itself. As one reader wrote “I visit this blog everyday just to read comments”

How did you discover blogging?
When I was much younger, I wanted to be a journalist. That was my dream. When I was about 10 years old, I was already writing. I wrote a few fiction stories in my notebooks and I gave a few people and they read and they thought I was a good writer. I used to really enjoy watching newscasters, people doing interviews, I used to look up to them so when I was about to go into the University, I put in for Mass Communication but I didn’t get that course, I got English. So when I finished school, and I had become a model and people knew me as a model, it was very difficult for me to go back to back to being a journalist so I just moved on from there. But then I discovered blogging in 2006. Incidentally, it was throughwww.bellanaija.blogspot.com. That was the first time I ever saw a blog. I didn’t know what blogging was before then, I had never heard about it until somebody referred me to Bella’s site to go and see something she wrote about me, so I went there, I saw the story, I saw the comments and I liked what I saw.

What was the blog post about?
I can’t remember but it was something about me as a Nigerian based model.

So what really inspired you to start your own blog?
From then, I started reading her blog and one day I said to myself, I can actually live my dream, put stories together, tell people what is going on, so I created the blog that year. I created the blog in 2006 but I really started blogging early 2007.

What University did you attend and what did you do after graduating?
University of Lagos. After graduating in 2004, I started my own company, Blackdove Communications. It’s a modeling agency and event management company. I started modeling in 1998 and I quit in 2005. But in 2004, after I finished university I started my own company but I stayed within my comfort zone which was modeling so instead of being in front of the camera. I went behind the camera by running an agency, recruiting models, training models, getting jobs for models. I still have the modeling agency but I am not running it anymore.

There weren’t so many Nigerians on the internet in 2007 then as they are now. What was the traffic on your blog like then? 
You’re right, but I still enjoyed it. I was getting like 200 visits a day and for me then, it was a big deal, honestly. Now I’m getting like 50,000 visits a day from up to 180 countries.

What do you think is responsible for this traffic?
I don’t know, I guess people just love what I do. And I’ve done some really controversial posts that gets people’s attention.

What has kept you going all these years?
The passion and the love I have for blogging, I really enjoy it. I enjoy writing stories and getting feedback, getting people to react to it. I was really passionate about it so I kept doing it.

When was the first time you made money from your blog?
2011 actually. It took me four years to start making money from blogging. I never even thought that I would make money from blogging. I didn’t start blogging with the mindset that one day I would make money from it. I didn’t even think that was a possibility, it never even crossed my mind. I didn’t say to myself that OK let me blog now and maybe in five years time, I will make money from it. I never imagined that it would ever happen. Infact, in 2008, 2009, I was putting free ads on my blog, I was telling my blog readers, please give me your ads and I will put them for free. But then in 2010, people started asking me for my advert rates and I was like ‘really?’ I didn’t even know what it was until I now asked a few people and they gave me their own advert rates so that is how it started.

How often do you blog? 
I blog every day. If I miss blogging that means something happened to me or maybe my laptop crashed but I try as much as possible to blog every day. I spend some hours daily on the internet.

Where do you source for news?
All sorts of places. I can’t tell you.

You’ve been on blogspot.com for quite some time. Why haven’t you moved to lindaikeji.com? 
Because my dotcom is not available. The domain name has been taken by some guy and I am not interested in buying it because he is telling me to pay thousands of dollars for it and I see no reason why I should do that.

Since you started blogging, many people have been inspired to start their own blogs. Do you feel intimidated by the competition? 
I think competition is healthy. I’ve been there longer than most of them and fortunately for me, I’m on top of all of them so I don’t feel like I’m competing with anybody. There is enough space for anybody on top. I welcome any blogger that wants to come on board, I try to help as many people as I can. I have a blog list where people go from my blog to other blogs.
How old are you? 
31

Any regular reader of your blog would know some things about you which most people would call personal. As one of them, I know you are single and searching. Why do you share such personal details with your readers?
Everybody knows I’m single. I’m always saying it, I’m desperate.

Don’t you think that is too personal to share on a blog where millions of people across the world can read?
I have absolutely no problem with sharing my personal life with people, that is how I am. I don’t have any apologies for that. People are shocked by it but that is who I am. I can’t explain it. It’s just that if there is something going on with me, I don’t mind sharing. There are some things I don’t share, and some things I don’t mind sharing. If others have a problem with it, I don’t have a problem with it.

The issue of female genital mutilation is something you’ve shared with your readers and some may feel it’s a bit too personal to be out there. Why did you do share it?
That is not private, that is something I can share with anybody. It’s like saying if you were raped then keep quiet. A lot of women would keep quiet but I won’t keep quiet, that is how I am. I don’t know how to keep such things to myself, I have to say it. I feel like you have one life to live, why would you go to your grave with all those kind of information.

When were you circumcised? 
I don’t know. I was circumcised as a baby that is all.

Don’t you think making such information public would turn off your prospective suitors?
Who cares. If it turns them off then they are not the people meant for me. The person that is meant for me would be turned on by it.

Can you date someone younger than you?
No, never.

How about someone who doesn’t earn as much money as you? 
Yes I can. How many young men make the kind of money I make? If I’m waiting for somebody who earns more than I earn, I might probably be doing it for a while. There are a lot of guys who earn more than I earn but if I meet someone who earns less than myself, that is fine, as long as he has his own money. But not like a jobless guy, no, that will not happen.

How much do you earn monthly?
(Laughs) More money than I thought was possible.

Do you ever think you will one day get bored or tired of blogging? 
I love blogging too much to be tired of it. A lot of people are trying to start blogging and I tell them, I hope you are starting it for the right reasons, because if you are starting it for the wrong reasons, you are going to get bored and tired, and you’re going to move on. If you do it because you love it, you’d stay there for a while but if you do it because you want to make money, after a while, you’d want to move on.

Do you run the blog alone or do you have other people on your team? 
Right now, I’m doing it solo, but eventually I’m going to get people to help out. Maybe it’s because I’m single and I don’t have that much responsibilities. Probably when I get married and have kids, other things would take my time so I’d need people to work with me then but now I’m enjoying doing it solo.

You have this ability to turn almost anything into news. For instance, how does a celebrity buying a new car become gist?
I put it as a post, and it comes back with over 50 comments, so how is it not gist? I do it deliberately because I know that buying a car is not that a big deal, but if I put it, it becomes gist.

Why do you get really naughty, like putting up a post that links to some pictures and you say ‘for guys only’?
My blog is a fun blog. I do all kinds of things. I tell people, if you find it offensive, don’t come. I know that I have a lot of male readers and I’m a very mischievous, naughty person. So it’s just for fun. Some people take it too seriously and I really don’t care about such people.

What else do you do apart from blogging?
Nothing else for now. Blogging takes care of me.

Blogging must have opened a lot of doors for you right?
Definitely. Blogging got me a visa to America, I just showed them my blog and they looked at it and gave me a visa. Blogging has given me more money than I thought I could ever make. Blogging has given me friends, most of my friends I met through blogging, people I’ve met from far and wide. Blogging has given me access to red carpet events. Before they would not even send me but now everybody wants me to come to their events, half of them I don’t go. It has opened so many doors, I can’t even explain it.

What do people like to read online?
Mostly gossip. Serious news and gossip

But what is one sure to find when he or she visits your blog?
Gist and gossip

You have earned quite a reputation among some celebrities, especially female actresses and a lot of them don’t like associating with your blog because they feel you slander them quite often.
It is not true. I respect actresses, most of them. I am mischevious and naughty, but I don’t go on my blog and start insulting everybody. I don’t insult people, except maybe people in government and I have no apologies to those ones. But I’ve never gone on my blog to insult Rukky Sanda or Genevieve or anybody. It might be that people say negative things about them so invariably they feel that I’m the one instigating it. Personally, I’ve never insulted any actress on my blog. I just write a gist or put a picture and people start insulting them. You can’t blame me for that.

But they get offended by this…
They should try not to take it too seriously because first and foremost, these people are anonymous people, so anonymous shouldn’t bother you. If somebody you know comes and insults you, that is different, but these anonymous people are having fun most of the time. Some of them don’t mean what they say, it’s just fun.

What has been the most gratifying response you’ve gotten from a reader of your blog?
I have something called ‘Dear LIB readers’, and I have ‘Question of the day’ where I put up sensitive issues. I’ve gotten quite a number of mails from people saying what I wrote and the comments they read changed their lives; that they were going through similar issues and when they read the comments, they were able to get some advice.

What future plans do you have for your blog?
I’m looking for ways to take it to the next level, I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do but I plan to take it to the next level.

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Seyi was an author at www.gistus.com.
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