Every week, Zikoko seeks to understand how people move the Naira in and out of their lives. Some stories will be struggle-ish, others will be bougie. All the time, it’ll be revealing.
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Before November 2020, the most money the 27-year-old on this week’s #NairaLife had made was ₦100k from a scholarship. Then she found affiliate marketing and made ₦2m in a year. Today, she makes ₦160k as a lawyer but knows she’s going back to marketing.
Helping my mum sell food at one of her shops. She’s a civil servant, but she took on side hustles — making food, pastries and beads — to support the family when my dad, who was also a civil servant, quit his job to venture into business. Things didn’t work out for him.
My mum was able to carry the burden of taking care of her four children well. We didn’t lack food, clothing or good education. Sometimes, she’d buy clothes for us and say it was our dad who bought them, just to keep things looking good in the family. She was so graceful at it that I knew I had to make my own money too. I even tried to start in JSS 3.
During the holiday after junior WAEC, I asked a neighbour who was a baker to teach me how to bake, and she was excited to. But my dad said no. My parents are big on their children staying home to read rather than doing business.
When I was in SS 3, I made jewellery with my mum’s beads and sold them to friends and neighbours for ₦500 each. That didn’t last long because I went to university in a different state, far away from Lagos.
Law. It would’ve been food and nutrition, but my dad’s late brother was a lawyer. He wanted one of his children to study law as a way to remember him. I got into uni in 2013, but because of ASUU strikes, I had to return home for over a year. In 2015, when I resumed my first year again, I applied and won two scholarships. One was an essay competition, and for the other, I had to write an academic paper and defend it in front of a panel of judges.
I won ₦200k in total and used some of the money to start a business.
I bought hair straighteners and helped people stretch their hair. I didn’t have the skill. I just thought it could be good business since I was in a girl’s hostel. I printed “Stretch your hair here” and pasted it on my door.
Between ₦300 and ₦500. Because I wasn’t good at it, I could spend as long as one hour per person. In 200 level, I stopped and started baking cakes instead. My mum was a baker, and I had a roommate who baked as well, so I used the combined knowledge to bake small cakes for friends and people from fellowship with a stove in the hostel. On some weeks, I made just enough profit to survive on my own. Most other weeks, I survived by asking my parents and aunts and uncles for money.
During strikes, I wouldn’t travel back to Lagos because I didn’t want my parents to keep me home doing nothing. My aunt, who lived in the same state my uni was located, connected me with some families who needed a home lesson teacher for their children. They were three families with a total of 10 children, and I charged between ₦1k and ₦2k per child. So I was doing over ₦10k a month during strikes.
Towards the end of uni, when I went home during a strike, I worked as a teacher in a small school. They paid ₦12k, but I left because it was too far from my house. After that, I worked as a receptionist at a lab. They paid me ₦10k for a month.
Those were the things I did to make extra money during university. I graduated in 2019.
I got an internship at a small law firm in Abuja. My older brother lived there, so I moved in with him. For three months, I wasn’t paid a consistent salary. It was always between ₦5k and ₦10k. And my manager kept making passes at me even though I told him to stop. I stopped going there the day he took my hand and put it on his crotch to feel his penis. I told them my dad needed me back in Lagos.
Yes. But then I had an issue with my brother’s wife. I’m not a heavy eater, and she took that to mean I didn’t want to eat her food.Also, they had a maid who woke up by 4:30 a.m. to clean the entire house. During the day, I did dishes, ran errands, cooked and helped prepare the kids for school. So tell me why she had a problem with the fact that I wasn’t waking up as early as the maid to do chores.
I worked as a teacher till December. This one paid ₦20k. I also properly learnt how to bake, finally. I paid a baker friend of mine just ₦30k, and she taught me how to make and decorate cakes professionally.
In 2020, I finally went to law school, but I could only stay there for a month before COVID chased us home. Then I decided to start a cake making business.
I was making good cakes, and my friends patronised and recommended me. The problem was I lived in a remote part of Lagos, so it was difficult to find dispatch riders. When they eventually came, they’d still run other deliveries before delivering my cakes late, and many times, smashed up. I didn’t make profit, and I was leaving a bad impression.
Shortly after I stopped, a friend connected me with someone from Ghana who needed to do their school project. They knew I could write, and I knew I needed the money, so I took the job. In about a month, I was done, and the Ghanaian paid me ₦30k. I couldn’t believe it. To me, it was such good money. I started looking for more writing jobs. Someone told me about Fiverr but also discouraged me because Nigerians either didn’t get jobs or were paid poorly.
In the search for writing gigs, I stumbled on the post of a lawyer I followed on LinkedIn, who made money from affiliate marketing. When I reached out to her, she said I needed to learn how to write persuasively to be successful at it. Not the type of writing I did, but copywriting to evoke emotion. I also needed to learn about targeted ads, sales funnels, and all that marketing stuff. Affiliate merketing is promoting other people’s products to get a commission, and I needed to learn properly.
Yes. She sold me a course that taught me the fundamentals. It cost ₦40k. I didn’t have the money, but my ex-boyfriend did, and he gave it to me. As soon as I read the first part of the course and understood the basics, I decided to give affiliate marketing a try.
I started in November 2020. By the end of December, I’d made ₦500k.
It was like scales fell off my eyes. The internet suddenly felt bigger and filled with more opportunities than I could imagine.
For ₦10k, I signed up for an affiliate marketing website. On that website, there were all kinds of digital products — eBooks, courses, software, anything. The seller puts the price, description and commission for whoever sells the product. As someone signed up to the platform, if you select a product, you get a unique link, and when someone buys the product with your link, you get the commission.
The first product I sold was a course on how to japa to Canada. I created Twitter threads and put the link to the course at the end. It was ₦25k with a 50% commission. Over time, I added courses on how to pass IELTS, how to japa to the UK via school, and how to become a better copywriter. They each cost between ₦20k to ₦25k and had 50% commissions.
Very. I had to sound convincing. I even used templates from the course, and they worked like magic. The more I talked about travelling, the more followers I got on Twitter. So people saw me as an authority on matters of travelling and DM’d me for advice. Of course, after doing research to answer their questions, I redirected them to the course.
By February 2021, I returned to law school, and for the first time, I didn’t have to ask my parents for money. I even sent them money occasionally. They knew what I was doing for a living, so they were happy for me.
No o. By the time I stopped affiliate marketing in March , I’d made a total of ₦2m. Law school was stressful, so I couldn’t put in as much effort. I made ₦500k that first month because I put my all into it. I took it as a job, and everything was organic.
By June 2021, I had to do an internship in Lagos. It paid ₦30k. I was there for a month before moving to another company where they paid me ₦40k. They hired me as a trainee associate in September 2021 and increased my salary to ₦100k. I was doing my affiliate marketing the whole time, but not with as much energy as when I started. I needed to learn how to automate through ads. But I was either too tired or too busy to complete the course. I even tried hiring someone online who said she was an expert at ads. She took my money and never did the job. I just stopped because I wasn’t doing as well as I knew I could.
I want to learn the ropes at least. Someone told me I need to understand how law is practised in Nigeria, at least with my first few years after law school. After that, I can do what I want.
I stayed at my job but worked as a digital marketer for a colleague’s startup on the side. The startup outsourced human resource management, travel document processing and resume writing, and my job was to help maintain the online image of the company.
I did that for two months. I was paid ₦5k on the first and nothing on the second. I wasn’t doing the job for the money. It was just because I knew him and wanted to have digital marketing in my portfolio. But since we couldn’t even agree on a documented payment structure, I left.
Shortly after, I got my first law side gig, and I still get them today.
Some of the companies my firm works with reach out to me for stuff like company registration and filing annual returns. Whenever I get a job like that, I ask my colleagues how much I should charge. The first time I filed annual returns for a company, I was paid ₦160k. I got other legal jobs after — ₦60k here, ₦20k there.
About ₦200k. My firm increased my salary to ₦160k in August, and the other ₦40k comes from those law side gigs.
I stay with my married sister. I want to move out. An apartment will cost me about ₦500k for a year.
Maybe a year or two. I’m currently applying for scholarships to do a master’s in law abroad. If that happens, I can return to Nigeria and earn better.
I’m still reading books and taking courses. I’ll be back to it soon.
I like that I don’t have to call my parents to ask for money anymore. In fact, I give them money now. So I’ll put it at a 7 because I know there’s more ahead.
Actually, let’s put it at a 3. I’m on the way, but I’m nowhere near where I want to be financially. 7 is a stretch. It’s not like I’m making ₦1m a month.
Or maybe 5. Let’s do 5.
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