How to make money online in Africa
Make money online in Africa: Compared to the rest of the world, Africa is very poorly represented on the internet. The African continent makes up 15 percent of the world’s population but contributes less than one percent of all the information and knowledge content online.
Original and creative African content is in short supply on the web and only a few smart Africans are trying to make money online by applying their passions, natural abilities and common knowledge.
This article lets you in on ALL the secrets of this under-explored goldmine and how you too can join the party!
Blogging is a huge business opportunity for Africans
While many people complain about unemployment, blogging is fast becoming a popular way for young and creative people around the world to make money online and achieve financial freedom.
Why wouldn’t anyone start a blog? It’s easier than a 9-to-5 job or running a business, it’s cheap to start and can make you some decent money… could you ever find a better deal?
Let’s consider some background before we delve into the heart of the interesting opportunities we will consider here.
According to the Internet World Statistics, there were less than 5 million Africans who had used the internet by December 2000. By June 2012, the number was over 160 million!
Despite how amazing this huge leap sounds, it only represents less than 20 percent of the total African population. There is still a lot of upside potential for the internet in Africa!
The internet presents a dream opportunity for African entrepreneurs to own and start a business. Compared to a physical business, an internet (online) business requires very little startup costs, has a global reach, provides a fair playing ground for merit, is amazingly flexible and never closes or goes to sleep!
Despite these unbelievable advantages, only one in every 10,000 Africans owns a website or blog, compared to a global average of 100 per 10,000 people. Wow!
While there are many ways to make money online, this article focuses on how you can use the power of the information, knowledge and experience you already have to make an income for yourself on the internet.
So, if you are passionate or knowledgeable about anything – gossip, sports, politics, animals or whatever – there is a very good chance that there are millions of people around the world searching the internet for information you may already have!
Let’s see how you can tap into this largely unexplored goldmine.
Note: The words ‘blog’ and ‘website’ are used interchangeably throughout this article. The way we see it, a blog refers to a website which has information that is updated frequently. To our mind, all blogs are websites, but not all websites are blogs.
What sort of blog should you start?
Information is the currency of the internet and smart entrepreneurs across the world have are using their knowledge, life experiences, passions and hobbies to make money on the internet by providing information that is valuable and relevant to millions of people across the world.
All of us have unique experiences from our lives, past or present jobs, successes and failures that other people around the world can learn from.
Every day, people flock to Google, Yahoo and Bing to search for all kinds of information – to learn, solve a problem or just to have fun.
Now, given the vast opportunities on the internet for African content providers, we shall examine a few of the major categories you should consider for a website or blog. Let’s take a look at the kinds of blogs you could start today!
(1) Social news and Gossip blogs
photo credit: bellanaija.com
People are crazy for social news and gossip. We’ve been like that for centuries and will remain so for as long as modern civilization continues.
We all love to know the latest gossip about a celebrity or politician in a recent personal or public scandal. And there is an endless supply of this kind of information – everyday there are rumours, divorces, cheating, controversies, embarrassments, successes, failures and many other events that make human society so interesting.
There are millions of people surfing the internet everyday for these types of information. We want the latest news, opinions or gossip on entertainment, fashion, lifestyle, sports and so on.
If you have a way of knowing these things before many people do, or just have a natural ability to transmit them (LOL), why not start a blog and make money from your ‘gossip’ hobby?
A few of my favorite African gossip blogs are Linda Ikeji’s and Bella Naija. You should follow these links to see how these Africans have transformed ordinary everyday gossip into amazing thousand-dollar businesses!
(2) News and opinion blogs
photo credit: saharareporters.com
Everyone has an opinion and we’re sure you have one too. Even if you don’t, opinions can’t be that hard to form in today’s world. Every day, there are uncountable events happening around us that form the basis for discussions, arguments, analysis, criticism and praise.
This is exactly how newspaper houses have made money for centuries. They sell you information you may already have but, with an interesting twist.
The internet now makes it possible for anyone to own a newspaper house. You could focus on any interesting area (and we have lots of them in Africa). Politics, healthcare, technology, agriculture, business and sports are just a few parts of our daily lives that have a rich supply of daily news and opinions.
If you have a passion and basic knowledge in any area, you could consider starting a blog to cover that topic. If you remain creative and consistent enough with your content, you may soon become the next celebrated blog in that area!
(3) Guides, Tutorials and ‘How-to’ blogs
photo credit: allnigeriarecipes.com
More than 40 percent of people who come online want to learn how to do or make something. People want to learn a new skill – like how to operate a new device or appliance they just bought. Some others come online to learn how to cook or bake a new recipe, speak a foreign language, replace a bad bicycle part or how to use a new release of computer software.
Tips and tricks for everyday gadgets (like smartphones) are also very popular and interesting areas.
Free online resources like YouTube offer everyone the opportunity to provide video lessons and include them in their blogs. In addition to reading your lessons, people who visit your blog can also watch practical videos to help the learning process.
If you have skills in any area – it doesn’t matter how weird, simple or complex – there are lots of people on the internet who need to know how to do it too.
Are you very good with devices?
Can you repair a clock, bike or car?
Are you great at cooking local dishes and recipes?
Are you good with any computer programs?
Can you train a dog?
Do you know certain ‘secrets’ about attracting the opposite sex?
The possibilities are endless! There must be something you know or can do quite well. The best part is, you don’t even need to be an expert at it – just love doing it!
All Nigerian recipes is one of my favorites. It hasn’t got a great design, however, it’s a website that teaches how to cook all kinds of local Nigerian food, and includes videos, tips and tricks. What a great way to convert your hobby into a great website!
Learn Igbo now and Yoruba for Kids Abroad are great websites that teach two major Nigerian languages. Although some of the products come at a price, these websites are proof of how natural abilities (like languages) can be used to make money on the internet! Many foreigners would love to learn our tongues, but there are not enough opportunities on the internet!
We need to start creating stuff and putting them online. And fast!
(4) Review websites
photo credit: tripadvisor.com
It’s usually cheaper to learn from other people’s experiences, instead of yours. And people tend to use this tactic a lot.
When considering the purchase of a new gadget, using a new service (like restaurants or airlines), or trying to find a new apartment or hotel in a different part of town, referrals and recommendations from people who have actually bought the products or used the services you’re considering can be invaluable.
People love reviews especially when they are very sincere, trustworthy and unbiased.
Have you used a great (or terrible) product or service before?
Have you noticed any remarkable (or horrible) customer service in any major industry (like banks, hospitals, restaurants, hotels) in your country?
You may be ignoring a huge opportunity to write approving or disapproving articles that are bound to interest a lot of people on the internet!
Review websites that have won the trust of consumers tend to wield a lot of power. Affected businesses tend to follow these websites very closely to monitor customer reactions to their products and services.
A lot of consumers will also love to use review websites to vent their frustrations or admiration for products and services they have used. All you need to do, as the blog owner, is to preserve the trust of your audience by being the unbiased umpire.
A good example in this category is Tripadvisor.com, a website that provides accommodation reviews for African hotels in addition to restaurant reviews and travel tips. Afropop is another great website that provides reviews for African music albums.
We’re sure there are a lot of opportunities for Africans to run more review websites.
(5) Entertainment and Game websites
photo credit: irokotv.com
A large proportion of internet surfers are actively involved in recreational activities. Watching movies, playing games and interacting on social media have become the most popular activities on the internet nowadays.
Iroko TV, a movie content website focused on African movies (especially Nigerian and Ghanaian), is a major destination for Africans at home and abroad to entertain themselves with the latest movie releases. Battabox.com is a growing entertainment website from Nigeria featuring highly entertaining video content directly from the streets!
Entertainment definitely goes beyond movies and music. Online gaming is set to become the No.1 activity of internet users as bandwidth and internet speeds improve across Africa. Puzzles, Quizzes and other forms of gaming with an African twist should provide the unique and original content that would set your website apart.
Kuluya is a strong mover in this area. It has a lot of very interesting, creative and engaging Afro-centric games. You should give it a try.
(6) Interest websites
photo credit: blackfabulousity.com
These websites are built around a central theme and usually provide a lot of information about a particular hobby, product, interest or event.
For example, you could start a blog about your experience living in a particular city. It could feature pictures of great parts of the city – the food, traffic, people, fashion and so on.
If you love and have a taste for African art or fashion, a blog dedicated to this topic would be a rich source of information for other art enthusiasts around the world. If you have a passion for gardening or hunting bush meat, we are sure a lot of people around the world would find that very interesting too! (don’t forget to add a lot of photos and videos to engage your audience).
If you love to take photographs, a photo blog would be a great idea. Your photo blog could include very lovely photo shots that are made up of places you’ve been and seen.
These are the kinds of creative and original African content that is poorly represented on the internet!
How to make money online in Africa, from your blog
There are frankly a lot of ways to make money from your blog. However, we shall only examine the broad categories here…
With your blog, you could sell ad space directly to advertisers or subscribe to any of the Pay-per-Click services such as the popular Google Adsense program.
Per-per-Click really means that if your blog visitors click an advert that interests them, you earn a fraction of the fees the advertiser paid to Google.
Most times, these adverts are related to the topic or theme of your blog which makes it very likely that your visitors will get curious and click. Advert income can be very huge if your blog has a lot of visitors who come by very often (high traffic).
Do not worry. It’s not all as complex as it sounds. We’ll teach you everything you need to get started. Just keep reading…
(b) Sell your own products
This is another great way to make money from your blog. If you have created a blog with very rich and useful information, it’s only natural that after a while, some of your visitors will demand a summary or detailed e-Book that has all the information they need in one place instead of always scanning through your blog.
In addition, you could sell special fast-track or advanced courses. For example, if your blog is about teaching a local or foreign language, you could offer a free 7-day course to catch the interest of your visitors and prove the value of your product. Visitors who want the full course would gladly buy from you if they like what they got in the free course!
The mistake most people make is that they focus the energy of their blog on selling products. Expectedly, this hardly ever works. You need to build a connection with your audience so that they can trust you and then buy from you. You should give free advice and offer help.
It’s all about reciprocity. If you help your blog visitors, they’ll surely be happy to buy whatever you’re selling because they trust you.
(c) Sell other people’s products – Become a Reseller or Affiliate
Let’s say you’ve started a blog that uses your experience in losing weight and keeping a fit body. You provide diet advice, fitness tips and encouragement for people who are having weight problems. There are lots of dieting and fitness products and businesses out there that would be interested in reaching the kind of people who visit your blog.
Apart from just advertising these products, an affiliate program allows you to earn a commission on any sale that is referred from your blog.
For example, if you review books on your blog, Amazon.com’s affiliate program would be a good one to join. When your blog visitors buy a book through your blog based on the reviews you made, you earn a healthy commission from Amazon.com; everybody wins!
However, you must be careful that the kind of products you promote are very good and do not damage the trust you have earned from your blog followers. As a basic rule, only promote products and services you have used. And if you haven’t used them, the honest reviews of people you know and trust should suffice.
Never betray the trust of your visitors for some dollars. It’s never worth it!
(d) Sell your services
So, your blog teaches people how to design websites, start a poultry farm, or bake a special kind of cake. You have very detailed tutorials on your blog including very clear and practical Youtube videos.
While all this basic information should be sufficient for your readers, some of them will want a more hands-on or private tutorial. Depending on what you’re teaching, you could set up private classes in person or over Skype and charge a consulting fee (could be per hour, per day, or just a flat fee).
You could take this a step forward if you constantly receive a large number of private requests. You could organise a live training, conference or workshop and have them pay to attend. Of course, tools like GoToWebinar allow you to do this over the internet.
Sometimes, many of us underestimate the value of the knowledge and skills we have and how badly others want to pay us to teach them.
(e) Sell a membership or subscription
Apart from the free information in your blog, some of your visitors may be interested in paying for subscriptions to your weekly (or monthly) newsletters. In addition, you could have a private, reserved or VIP area of your blog that has premium content and can only be accessed by paid members.
However, the success of this strategy depends a lot on the enhanced value your blog followers will get from premium membership. Most times, if you give out a lot of free advice and materials and people love them, they are more willing to sign up for ‘extras’.
(f) Sell your blog
Yea, you read that right! It’s called flipping. For those of you who are knowing this for the very first time, there is a huge and unbelievable ‘second hand’ market for blogs and websites. My jaws totally dropped when I saw the dollar amounts most blogs are selling and have been sold for.
Have no doubt about it. A successful blog or website is like prime real estate. As long as it is making money day after day, there are thousands of investors out there who are jumping all over themselves and willing to pay top dollar to get their hands on it.
You don’t have to take our word for it. Go to Flippa.com and see for yourself what’s going on there. As at the time of writing this article, more than one hundred million dollars worth of websites and blogs have been sold on Flippa to date!
And why would anyone sell a blog? Exactly the same reason why people sell houses they bought and built over the years. Some people need an urgent buck. Many others use it as their own strategy – build a great and successful blog and then sell it! Not a bad strategy at all if you can handle the emotional attachments.
But first, you need to build a successful blog in order to sell it at a mouthwatering price. If you set your mind to it, it’s totally possible. Keep reading to find out how…
4 Key things you should consider before starting your blog
We could give you a long list of things you need to do or have before starting your blog but it’s best to stick to the basics. If you don’t fit these basics, there’s no need to bother about the detailed points…
You would need a lot of this to stand out from the crowd. Let’s face it, there are virtually hundreds of blogs existing for almost every idea you’re likely to come up with. Why would anyone visit your blog and not one of the others? Is your information richer in content and more presentable?
Is it more detailed or summarized? Is your blog layout and design more inviting and friendly to users? Are you more engaging with your visitors and more willing to answer their questions and solve their problems? What exactly will make you stand out?
One great tip you could use is to search for the blogs that are already offering the kind of information or service you’re considering. A simple search on Google, Bing or Yahoo Search would do.
Is there a lot of competition in that space?
Do the blogs do a good job of providing quality information?
What are your opinions as a visitor?
Can you do a better job?
Passion is very important because it will always show in the quality of your written content and the way you attend to your blog. Passion is the only thing that would keep you going in the long (or short) periods before your blog starts making any money.
It’s easy to see how many blogs fail in less than a year of starting because their passion was dead from the very start. Most people are drawn in by the promise of making money from a blog but lack the passion to keep them going.
This is why it’s VERY important that you build your blog around a topic, skill, knowledge area, ability or hobby you are interested in and passionate about. Passion, or a lack of it, is usually the fine line between your success and failure as a blogger.
Hardwork has become underrated because many people are still under the illusion that they can mint money through a blog. While this is true (yes, it is), it will only happen after you’ve put in all the required hardwork.
You must be willing to learn a lot (and I mean a lot), do a lot of research and roll up your sleeves to write and satisfy your audience. The competition out there is tough. To stay ahead, you should be ready to do the work that many others are unwilling (or too lazy) to do. Hardwork pays off… always!
And if you think working hard on your blog is too much hardwork (even in the face of the personal and financial satisfaction that’s possible), maybe you should really get a day job (or continue in the one you already have) and let’s compare notes in a couple of years. I’d love to say: I told you so!
Consistency is another big reason most people fail with blogs. At the beginning, you are really excited about starting something and the prospects of making money real soon. You tell your friends and family about your new blog (even though you have only five pages of content).
You stick to it for the next few months but can’t see any increase in your blog traffic. And then you stop writing for a while before you finally give up and focus on starting another blog or something else.
Trust me, very few things in life will test your patience and faith like starting a blog. To succeed in this business, you will need to keep focused. Try what works and stop what doesn’t.
Keep learning and improving your writing and technical skills until you hit the jackpot!
Until then, see you at the top!
To your success!