The name Linda Ikeji represents controversies, from her age to sources of her wealth and originality of stories on her blog. In this interview with OLUSHOLA RICKETTS, she speaks on her life as an online entrepreneur, why she is unmarried, relationship with entertainers and her N500 million house in highbrow Banana Island in Lagos. Excerpts:
How much do you make in a year?
I cannot tell you what I make in a year. About being the richest blogger, I would probably agree to that. I talk to lots of clients and they tell me that when agencies bring their online advert plans, 98 per cent of them put my platform. That means 98 per cent of people who advertise online do so on my blog. They choose me and others, so I make a lot of money from my blog. In all modesty, I guess I make more money than most bloggers.
What lessons have you learnt from blogging experience?
It has taught me to be careful. We have people online who have indepth knowledge of the stories you put out. At times, I would write a story and from the comments, I would change things, because people who commented knew more about the subject. In their comments, they would tell you that it did not happen in the way you had painted it.
I have also learnt to verify my stories, because if people rely on your platform for information and you mess up a few times, they will no longer trust you anymore. And once they stop trusting you for information, they move to other credible platforms. When I am not sure of the story, I quote the source I got it from. Once I put up a story, I always wait for peoples’ reactions.
From the feedback you get, do you feel loved or hated?
It is a combination of both; I get a lot of hate and love. But I try as much as possible to hold on to the love and I do not pay attention to the hate. Because I know the hate is coming from a very different place.
When I trend and get to see some wild comments about me, I wonder why someone, who has not met me before, would say such things about me. I have developed a thick skin; I just look at it and laugh over it, because they do not know me. I understand the anger of the likes of Wizkid and Olamide, because I write about them. But if I had never written about you and you made a bad comment about me, it was coming from a place where it was not my fault. Maybe you were angry about your situation, maybe I reminded you of something that you wished you had and you did not.
I know that people are frustrated and depressed, because I had been there. Then, my anger was always towards successful people. I wondered if they had two heads. Whenever I said hurtful thing about them, it made me feel better.
So, I understand success comes with a lot of heat. If you ask them why they hate you, they cannot even tell you. But as long as you own and know yourself, it should not be an issue. I get a lot of love too, I get a lot of people who tell me that I inspire them. And those are the ones I pay attention too, because you have to be very careful. Negative people make more noise and if you are not careful, their noise could drown you.
Have you lost a valuable friendship because of a story?
No, I have not. I have lost people that did not agree with what I did. There is nothing valuable there. I have had issues with a few of entertainers, while I was a bit careless, but in recent times, I have not really had big clash with anyone. The only person I have threatened was Wizkid. I do more good to them than harm, and they acknowledge it. But the negativity that comes with blogging is fine. When you write about people, some take offence or react in different ways. I have been doing this for 10 years, so if I am not used to backlashing by now, I should get out of the business.
Are you controversial or misunderstood?
I do not go out of my way to look for controversies. I feel that I am misunderstood, because people forget that there is Linda, the blogger and Linda, the person.
Personally, if I am not a blogger, there are things I will not pay attention to, because I have things to do with my life. But because I am a blogger, I have to pay attention to many things. As a blogger, I provide a service for my readers and users. So, I have to go out of my way to look for gossips, exclusive stories, among others.
But personally, I do not mean harm or ill to anyone. I do not want anyone to cry or fail. At times, when I put out things, I feel bad too, but people think I enjoy all the negative comments. But those comments make the blog thrive. I see some comments and I think they are violent and hurtful. People say all kinds of things about me online, but it is the part of the business. I think I am misunderstood, which is fine. And controversy is not bad for my business; I need people to keep talking about me to remain relevant.
It seems you do not carry negative news about your friends?
Tell me the celebrities I have written negative stories about, except that Wizkid. To be honest, I try not to be friends with all celebrities, because it becomes hard to write about them when they are your friends.
If I should start writing negative things about people, I cannot be here talking to you. I would probably be hiding somewhere, because I get lots of bad stories. I would rather like them to hug me when they see me than threatening me. I make money from writing positive stories, so why should I concentrate on negative stories and put myself in tight positions. I would rather stick to what works for me.
Don’t you feel this is a bad time to expand your business?
I have been blogging for 10 years, I am bored and I want to do something else. I am 36, this is the time that I have the energy and passion to run this. Besides, I have over 30 people that work with me now.
I would be launching Linda Ikeji Music in a couple of days too, and I have like four people in the session. I have producers, camera men and other creative people around me. I feel people try to limit themselves, but I do not limit myself at all. I feel that there is nothing I cannot do, if I have the right people around me and I set my mind on it.
People always say when you are successful, men run away. But for me, it is a lie; that is when they chase you more. Unfortunately, I have not seen what I am looking for
How equipped are you to take care of salaries, maintenance among others?
Online media is still thriving, unlike the print media. When I started doing interviews for reporters, a lot them would tell me they have not been paid in months. But we do not have such issue here. October was the first month I have paid salaries to many people. It was strange to me, because I was not used to it, but that is part of expansion and growth. Normally, I would keep such money to myself alone, but now I have to share.
Are there investors at Linda Ikeji media?
I do not have investors, I am the sole owner of Linda Ikeji Social. I am investing 100 per cent in it.
How many hours do you sleep?
At night, I do probably like five hours. But when I get to the office, I sleep around 2pm to get refreshed before I continue to work.
Are you not getting proposals from men?
I am getting a lot. People always say when you are successful, men run away. But for me, it is a lie; that is when they chase you more. Unfortunately, I have not seen what I am looking for. I tell people that men are not scarce, but the types some of us are looking for are scarce. If I want to marry next year, I can.
I want a man that I can look up to, I want somebody that can inspire me. I want somebody who have had a kind of success in his own field, because I want to learn from him. I am inspired by the success of other people.
Don’t you feel your standards are too high?
When I was 30, my standards were extremely high, though I was not really looking out for a man. I was just focused on work; I have always been so ambitious and at a time I felt marriage and family would draw me back. It was recently I said it was time to think of it. Now, I have three qualities I want in a man. He must be successful, he must be a good man and he must be sexually active.
When will you regard as the happiest day of your life?
I am very happy without a husband. I was so happy the day I bought my house. I could not believe it, because I had lived in Mushin, Idi Oro, for 15 years. From there, we moved to Surulere, Lagos. When I was looking for a house, my sister told me I should go to Lekki. But I aim big; I believe that we only have one life to live. You could be walking out of here and that is it.
My dream was to have a luxurious house and since I could afford Banana Isalnd, I went for it. A lot of people thought it was crazy, but it was not to me. The day I bought my house was such an amazing day. I have had some really great days, to be honest.