Linda Ikeji is the famous blogger Nigerians don’t get tired of talking about. Presently, She is regarded as Nigeria’s Queen of blog and now she is revolutionizing blogging as she recently launched her ultramodern social media, Linda Ikeji Social. In this interview with Ifeoma Ononye, she speaks on why people believe she took money from Dasuki, her real age and top three qualities her would-be-husband must possess.
Can you tell us about Linda Ikeji Social (LIS)?
The unique platform Linda Ikeji Social represents a revolutionary innovation in not just news reporting but also in facilitating social interaction. LIS creates a virtual meeting place that combines the dissemination of news as well as enabling social connection and interaction.
LIS came up as a result of feedback from the blog that people need a platform where they can not only get breaking news, but express their positions on issues as it affects their world. They can also interact and connect with friends as well as get all other important information about products and services around the world. LIS is like online blog and facebook rolled into one.
News sharing is tied to what we do every day on social media. We all have a responsibility to share things we witness that we feel could bring about change in society.
It’s a platform where you can land the home page from anywhere you are navigating from, view notification and messages and also you can submit your story and get paid, as well as make money while networking. I encourage people to sign up on the platform. I dream of being the Oprah Winfrey of Africa.
How has the journey been so far, from when you were hustling for modeling jobs to becoming a social media mogul?
The journey has been amazing. I didn’t expect to be here today. When I started hustling back then for modeling jobs, the first thing I came across back then was blogging before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram became known and popular. To be honest, when I started my blogging in November 26, 2006, the last thing in my mind was that it is going to change my life as much as it has. It was just a place for me to be creative because I love to write. I didn’t think that five years from then that all these would happen. I didn’t envision that I was going to come this far. It has been an amazing journey and definitely something that I am grateful for. Everyone is on social media but not everyone can say that it has changed their lives so much. I am grateful to God for how far I have come with his help.
Back then, blogging was not that popular, what exactly attracted you to it?
At first, I didn’t know there was anything called blogging. I never heard of it back then. At the time I was a model and kind of people knew me. I was a little popular in my own way. So Bellanaija wrote about me and my friend in United Kingdom sent me the link to the story. So I went to read the story online and that was my first encounter with blogging. Before then, the only thing I do online was just to check my email and that was it. I read the comment and it was a beautiful experience for me. I went back to Bellanaija the next day to read other stories. I was going to Bella’s blog for four months and I discovered other blogs. I enjoyed the whole experience because I loved to write. That has always been my passion. While growing up I wanted to be a journalist. Then one day I told myself that I can as well start mine since I liked the blogs so much. It took three minutes to start a blog and that was how I started blogging.
Some may want to know at what point that Linda Ikeji blog started paying off?
When you are passionate about something, you put your all in it and that was what I did. I started blogging consistently and passionately until 2010. It never occurred to me that I have built a lot of followership in that time and brands were watching. By the end of 2010, I had thousands of people following me and I never knew it would translate to money. The first time a company approached me to pay to post something, I found it very strange. I didn’t know that people like Bellanaija and Sahara reporters were charging. I had to ask a friend to send me an advert rate. It was in January 2011 that I had my own advert rate and I started sending it out to people. By February, people started paying me and since then, it’s been great.
Between the time you started and when you started getting paid, was there a time you wanted to give up?
Yes there were many times, I wanted to give up. I had bad times back then but the worst was in September 19, 2010. It was my 30th birthday. I was broke, I was angry because I have been done doing modeling in a long time. I was still struggling, I was still borrowing money, I was depressed because I felt like a failure. I will cry and cry but will still open my laptop and blog. I didn’t know that my breakthrough was at the corner and that God was leading me to it. After my 30th birthday, my life practically changed.
You have blogged a lot of news; positive, negative and controversial especially about artistes. For example Wizkid, what is your relationship with them?
I don’t want to talk about Wizkid. I have a cordial relationship with a lot of entertainers. I have had run-ins with a few of them but in recent times, I haven’t. It was when I was a bit carefree and careless with the stories I write. In a year now, I have not had any big issue with anybody.
How do you handle it when they threaten to sue you?
The only person I have threatened was wizkid. Their threat does not scare me because I believe I do more good for them than bad. And they acknowledge that. Some of them are my friends. Some of them have been to my house, some of them are on my WhatsApp chat. The negativity that comes with blogging is fine. I mean, it’s blogging, you write about people. Some people may take offense; some will react in different ways. I have been doing this for ten years and if by now I am not used to back lash, then I should get out of the business.
If you are asked what you make in a year, what will you say?
I cannot tell you what I make in a year.
Many are speculating that Linda is the richest blogger in Nigeria, how true is that?
About being the richest blogger in Nigeria, I will probably agree. Why I agree is because I talk with a lot of clients and advert agencies and they say that when they bring out an online plan for advertisers, 98% of them choose me. That means 98% of people who advertise online, advertise on my blog. They choose me and others. So I think in all honesty and modesty, I make more money than most. Not more than Punch and Vanguard but regular blogs.
In terms of your news reporting, what lessons have you learnt from your blogging experience?
It has thought me to be careful because as much as you think that you know, there are people who have in-depth knowledge of the story. Sometimes I put up a story and I read comments, from the comments, I go back to make some corrections because there are people who experienced it firsthand. I have also learnt that is important to verify your stories because basically if people rely on your site for information and you mess up a few times, they will not trust your news anymore and they go to other credible sites. And when they go, your advertisers go.
From the feedback you get, do you feel loved or hate?
It is a combination of both. I try as much as possible to hold onto the love and don’t pay attention to the hate. I have grown a thick skin to when people say vile things about me. I just laugh over it because they don’t know me. I mean if Wizkid and Olamide are tongue lashing me because of the story I wrote about them, I can understand that but if I have never written about you and you say vile things about me, I take it that the hate is coming from somewhere that is not my fault. Maybe you are angry about your situation or I remind you of something that you wish you had but you didn’t. I have been there. I have been in a situation where I was angry at people that are successful. I understand that success comes with a lot of hate. I pay more attention to people that say I inspire them.
Have you lost any valuable friendship because of what you do?
No, not really.
What about the time people said that you took money from Dasuki?
I didn’t make a big deal out of the Dasuki issue because it was overwhelming. A friend called me and told me to calm down. I mean, I bought a house on Banana Island for half a billion; people cannot wrap their mind around it. So they will assume you got it from somewhere else. Up until the news broke about Dasuki, I have never heard of him. I never dealt with anyone. I never collected money from anyone. The money I collected was PDP and APC for adverts. It was a few millions. I know that I am not guilty of anything, if not EFCC would have put me in their custody. So when I hear such stories, I can understand where they are coming from. They don’t understand how online blog can give me such money but those who deal online will tell you that I can afford to buy that house twice.
When you get married, what will happen to that house in Banana Island?
I will move to the man’s house. As long it is not a three bedroom flat in lekki. My parents will be there.
You are transforming from a blogger into a full media owner, don’t you think you are taking on quite too much, why not take it a little bit at a time?
I have been a blogger for ten years, I am bored, I want to do something else. I am 36, this is the time I have the energy and passion to run this. I delegate, I have staff now. I have over 30 people that work here so they are the ones running all of these. I don’t limit myself at all. I believe there is absolutely nothing I cannot do. I get like six hours a day. I sleep five hours in the night.
People believe you don’t write negative stories about your friends?
That is not true. If I write negative stories about people, I won’t be here talking. I will be hiding somewhere because I get a lot of stories. I would rather they take a picture with me when they see me than threaten me. I make money from writing positive stories so why should I concentrate on negative stories.
You released a video on your birthday talking about some personal stuff, what influenced that?
It’s now that I want to marry. I didn’t want to marry earlier. I just got emotional a bit and it was my birthday and I just wanted to get things off my chest. It was my birthday as I wished I was married.
But do you get proposals? Back then and now, how are the proposals coming?
I have always had proposals. People say when a woman is successful, men run away, it’s a lie. That is when they chase you the more but unfortunately, I have not seen what I am looking for. Men are not scarce. It is the type of men that I am looking for that is scarce. I want a man that I can look up to. I want someone that inspires me. I want a man that will push me to achieve more. I want someone who has achieved some success in his own career. Someone I can learn from. I am inspired by successful people. I can’t wait to meet someone like Tyler Perry.
So you cannot marry a poor guy?
No I cannot marry a poor man. He does not have to be overly rich but he must be successful in his own career. When I was 30, my standards were very high. I was so focused on work. I have been so ambitious. I was not focused on marriage and kids because I know that would draw me back. It is just recently that I told myself that ‘Linda, you are 36, four years to 40. What are you doing?’ At 30, I had a long list of how I want my would-be-husband to be. When I turned 35, I reviewed the list and not, there are only three options on the list. My top three: A good man; successful and a man that will not stifle me or stop me from what I am doing presently, because I cannot be stifled. A man that is carrying and sexy. He also must be good in the bedroom.
What about the part where people say that you are 46 and not 36 years old? Why do you feel comfortable to talk about your age unlike many women?
It is very simple to tell anyone’s age. I mean, once you tell me the year you finished secondary school, I can tell your age. I finished secondary school in 1997 from Lagos Anglican Girls Grammar school. I was 16 going on 17. If I am 46 then I finished secondary school in the 80’s. The following year 1998, I entered university of Lagos.