How to Get Great Blogging Clients…Even if You’re a Teenage Nigerian
Carol Tice | 69 Comments
Bamidele Onibalusi discusses how to land great blogging clients. Makealivingwriting.com

Bamidele Onibalusi

One of the most interesting success stories I’ve ever come across on the Internet is YoungPrePro, the website of Bamidele Onibalusi. He’s an 18-year-old blogger in Nigeria.

You read that right. Eighteen. Nigeria.

You think you’ve got problems finding good-paying blogging clients? Oni is just going into college and lives in a country with sporadic electricity, little infrastructure, and no PayPal access. The name of his country is synonymous with “scam,” yet he’s gotten blog clients to trust him and pay him real rates.

Now he makes over $5,000 a month from his online blogging, which where he lives is a small fortune. (He also has an Alexa ranking for his blog that makes this blog’s look like a tiny little nothing. Seriously. Check it out.)

I learned about him the way most people do — through his prolific guest posts on major blogs.

I’ve always wanted to find out more about how he became a successful paid blogger, and I recently cornered him (virtually) for a quick interview. Enjoy:

CT: How old were you when you got started blogging and how did you discover it? What are your main earning methods on your site?

BO: I first discovered blogging when I was 16, in late December 2009. I have always been interested in ways to make money without working for others from a very young age. The first article that introduced me to blogging was written by Steve Pavlina, and it helped me realize the importance of giving value first to an audience before expecting something in return. I started YoungPrePro four months later, in April 2010.

The main way my blog makes me money is by helping clients discover me. I haven’t really gone out to market myself to clients. They all come to me, thanks to my blog!

Here’s an analysis of the techniques I use to make money from my blog at the moment:

Freelancing: I’ve been writing and guest blogging online for a few years now, and I like to think I’ve learned a lot in the process. I currently have four blogging clients. I help two of them market their websites by helping them write guest posts that get published on other blogs and I help the other two as a regular paid contributor on their blogs. Most of these clients discovered me after reading my guest posts on top blogs, and the one that I contacted personally hired me because I included a link to one of my guest posts published on Problogger. Freelancing currently constitutes over 95% of my income from blogging.

Partnership: I did this for a while in 2011, and it is something I plan to do a lot more of in the future. I once partnered with an email list plugin developer and we sold a few copies of the product to my audience.

Affiliate Marketing: I promote a few products every once in a while and the results vary depending on the product I promote. Affiliate marketing is something I plan to invest a lot more effort into this year.

CT: How do you technically do this from your locale? How did you get your website up initially?

BO: This was the real challenge. It still surprises me how I was able to overcome it.

When I was just starting out, I didn’t have the money to afford quality internet service and I also didn’t have enough money to run a generator [to compensate for the] poor electricity service in my country. What I did was to partner with a café owner in my locale. I was even able to crack the network of some of my providers to get free access to the Internet, so I helped the café owner get free internet to offer to his customers, while I got a free pass to use an internet-enabled computer in the café whenever I want.

I didn’t know whether it was legal or not when I did it – I was a really determined 16-year-old-kid who spent 20 hours at a stretch learning to create my first website. I was determined to do anything to make my blog a success.

Things are better now. I now make money from my efforts and I’m able to run on a generator, and I can also pay my monthly Internet expenses. As to my equipment, I have two laptops, a mobile dongle, a headset and three cameras. I use my two laptops almost every day, mostly for my writing. I used free themes when I was just starting out, but I changed them a lot, and I now have two designers who help me with web and graphics design.

Infrastructure in Nigeria is still very bad, but it won’t stop me from achieving my dreams if I’m really determined.

CT: How did you get people to trust you and hire you as a paid blogger when you’re a teen from Nigeria? Also, how do you take payments since you can’t use Paypal?

BO: It surprises me myself, but I guess the truth will always prevail. When I wanted to start blogging, I knew the challenges that came with being a Nigerian online and I contemplated using a name that doesn’t make me seem Nigerian. As someone who had great visions for my blog that might eventually require me to be physically present with people, I decided to stick to who I am.

One thing that really helped me was borrowing the brand and reputation of successful bloggers online, by guest blogging. Even as a Nigerian, when most people see me on blogs like Problogger, DailyBlogTips, ReadWriteWeb and Business Insider, they will eventually want to know what I’m doing. My readers were able to trust me due to the value I provide in my articles, and also because they keep on seeing my work on some of the biggest blogs online.

I still can’t figure out why Paypal isn’t ready to support a country of 150 million people and millions of internet users… but I’ve been able to get help from clients and friends. Every client I work with respects me, as most of them came to me through my guest posts on big blogs. They want the same results I’m getting, so they are happy to pay directly to my bank account [also known as automatic bank transfer or ACH]. For the clients that don’t pay directly to my account, I ask them to send the money via Paypal to my other clients for me to receive, or to help me make some purchases online.

CT: How did you get started guest blogging on big sites? What was the first big guest post you had? How many guest posts have you done – any idea? Talk about what that has done for your own traffic.

BO: Guest blogging on big sites wasn’t easy at first, especially considering my background and my use of the English language when I was just starting out. I remember sending out a crap guest post to Copyblogger around two years ago when I was just getting started, which was rejected. I still look at that guest post today and laugh at myself for sending out such crap to a blog like Copyblogger.

My first big guest post was on Maxblogpress’s Maxblogger almost two years ago, and it sent me around 1,000 visitors when it first went live. I have also written for blogs like Problogger and DailyBlogTips, and I have gotten anything from around 300 – 1,500 visitors from my guest posts on most big blogs.

I can’t remember exactly how many guest posts I have written, but I’m sure I’ve written over 600 guest posts for my blog alone, around 300 of which I wrote in just 8 months. To say guest blogging has contributed to my blog will be an understatement — guest blogging is the foundation of my blog.

CT: Any guest-blogging tips for us? What do you think has made you so successful?

BO: Here are some of my top guest blogging tips.

Be determined: My first guest post for most big blogs was rejected, but I didn’t give up. I have published around six guest posts apiece on DailyBlogTips, Problogger, and MaxBlogpress, a guest post on ReadWriteWeb, a guest post on Business Insider, and a guest post on JohnChow.com. Most of these blogs rejected my first pitch, my use of English was poor when I tried submitting to them, but I didn’t give up. I was determined to get published, and I got what I wanted. My first idea now gets published on most of the above blogs because I took the advice of the editor to heart, I took some time to understand the audience, and I never took any rejection personally — and you will get a lot of rejections if you are to really succeed as a guest blogger.

Give your best: Look at the most recent guest posts on your favorite blogs, look at what they have in common that relates to the blog they are published on, and then use that to develop a unique post that relates to that blog.

Be smart: Most blogs will not send you any traffic, but that doesn’t mean you should stop guest blogging altogether. Guest blogging can be very good for SEO, and writing for blogs without traffic can benefit you on the long run if you know what you’re doing. I currently average 800 visitors from Google alone every day, and this was as a result of 31 guest posts I published in one week a few months ago. I was getting around 200 – 300 visitors on average then, but 31 guest posts in one week added 500 daily visitors to my blog over the span of a few months. No single blog I have written for have ever sent that much traffic, but I guess they did. I wrote an article about the challenge that outlines my process a few months ago.

CT: What are your 2012 goals for your business — what will you do next?

BO: Aha, they are so big that thinking about them sometimes makes my heart leap. For this very purpose, I have worked on my home office for months now and it is finally ready.

I have several big goals for this year, and some of them are:

  • Make my blog the very best this year by improving the quality and practicality of my articles (check out his new design!)
  • Write a minimum of 30 guest posts on big blogs and a minimum of 30 guest posts on small blogs every month. These guest posts will lead to a funnel  on my blog. The posts on the big blogs will lead to my home page which will soon be turned to a “Copyblogger-like” squeeze page, and the guest posts on the smaller blogs will link to individual articles on my blog for SEO purposes. I know I only have so much time to achieve this, but I will be cutting down on client work significantly this year, and even though it will really affect my income, I think it is a short-term sacrifice for a great future. I can work for blogging clients to make what I need to cover my basic expenses for the mean time and then focus my time on growing my business.
  • Increase engagement and value among my readers by creating a “reader challenge” towards the middle of this year, and then use it as a way to make them trust me even more.
  • Focus a lot more on building my list. I’m working on gaining at least 10,000 more subscribers this year.
  • Partner with other writers and influencers in my field.

CT: Are there any mentors you had who helped you? Who have you learned from?

BO: It’s funny, I don’t have a mentor yet. I’m kind of a guy who loves to walk it all alone, but I’m changing over time as I’m starting to realize the importance of relationships to living an effective life. I do respect some guys online, though, and the two on top of my list are Glen Allsopp from Viperchill.com and Pat Flynn from SmartPassiveIncome.com. Those two guys rock and their content have always been a guide and inspiration to me.

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69 comments on “How to Get Great Blogging Clients…Even if You’re a Teenage Nigerian

  1. Mar and associates on

    While I definitely need to apply some of these principles to my own site, I have had positive feedback by updating my personal social networks with project launches and success’. You obviously deal with the catch of some of your ‘friends’ not knowing the value of your work, but they’re generally easy to spot and weed out when necessary. Thanks for a good post.

  2. angel on

    As someone just starting out, this story is really inspiring
    to me even while I struggle along.

    I would like to know however, how many posts would we
    have to write to earn $5000? And how long should it take
    to write each one?

  3. Marjorie on

    I’m disturbed both by the title of this piece and by the self-congratulatory tone of many of these comments. “… Even if you are a teenage Nigerian,” suggests that being a citizen and resident of one of the most populace, educated and delightful countries in Africa is some sort of liability for which Bamidele must do penance.

    I am an international trade and development lawyer turned law professor. I practiced for nearly a decade before joining academe, and in that time part of my task was working with Nigerians to harness the power of international trade for development. In my experience, legitimate Nigerian companies often faced ignorance and prejudice as they sought entry in international circles. Sure, we are willing to take their oil and other natural resources — we don’t worry about them being Nigerian then — but when Nigerian companies in other sectors seek partnerships and business opportunities, all sorts of problems arise. It is simply sheer ignorance to equate all Nigerians with the handful of scammers and con-artists who roam the internet sending out those ridiculous emails from “heirs” who need our help smuggling out the millions left by their dead fathers in a Nigerian bank account (what does this say about our own greed and lack of moral fiber that we get caught up in these scams?)

    If we are going to talk about scammers, I have a few examples for you: Enron, Madoff, nearly every damn commercial bank in the United States during the housing “bubble.” Every one of those examples caused ripple effects impacting people all over the globe. But I have yet to see an article about “How to do business in the World . . . Even if You are a Rapacious American.”

    Bamidele is to be congratulated for his entrepreneurial savvy, and for his commitment to success. If we knew anything about Nigeria, we would recognize that he is NOT an outlier, but rather embodies the characteristics of most hardworking Nigerians. He should not have to downplay or “prove out” his Nigerian heritage so that the willfully ignorant can be appeased. The internet prides itself on being a world culture – let’s embrace that by showing some basic knowledge and understanding of other cultures.

    • Bamidele Onibalusi on

      Hey Majorie,

      Thanks so much for the well-thought out comment, it is really appreciated!

      In response to your comments:

      “I’m disturbed both by the title of this piece and by the self-congratulatory tone of many of these comments. “… Even if you are a teenage Nigerian,” suggests that being a citizen and resident of one of the most populace, educated and delightful countries in Africa is some sort of liability for which Bamidele must do penance.”

      Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the title, and a lot of other commenters agree. I’m a Nigerian myself and I can attest to the fact that succeeding online as a Nigerian is a major challenge. The purpose of this interview is to inspire people in both developed and developing countries to take action and give no excuse irrespective of the challenges they’re facing. Of course, Nigeria is the most populated country and one of the most educated country in Africa but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its challenges; unlike most developed countries, hardly any attention is paid to the internet sector here. In fact, majority of the people in power don’t know how the internet works let alone to think about using it or improving it for the populace.

      Yes, it’s easy for people to learn and succeed in other sectors in Nigeria, but succeeding online has its own challenges.

      For example, think about the major challenges in this country:

      Inadequate power supply (if you get up to 4 hours of power in a day you should be thankful)
      Expensive internet access (paying around $100 for up to 10GB of 3G internet access); it would have been better if this were the only problem. Another major problem is that you can’t get faster internet access even if you’re willing to pay for it.

      (This is the current state of things 2 years after I started and it was much worse when I was just starting; making me have to partner with a cafe owner to overcome these challenges)

      “Bamidele is to be congratulated for his entrepreneurial savvy, and for his commitment to success. If we knew anything about Nigeria, we would recognize that he is NOT an outlier, but rather embodies the characteristics of most hardworking Nigerians. He should not have to downplay or “prove out” his Nigerian heritage so that the willfully ignorant can be appeased. The internet prides itself on being a world culture – let’s embrace that by showing some basic knowledge and understanding of other cultures.”

      Just re-read the interview and you will notice that there is NO reference to me being an outlier, otherwise, what would be the point of this interview? The main message of the interview is that if an ordinary guy from NIGERIA with unique challenges compared to developed countries in the world can do it, why can’t you?

      I never downplayed my country and I never will, but I do, and always will, stand by everything I said in this interview.

      Nigeria is still struggling when it comes to using the internet, and do you know the number one question I get from Nigerians every day? It is, “how do you get paid by your clients?” “How can I be paid when Paypal doesn’t support Nigerians?” “Do you have any recommendations on how to open a Paypal account?”

      With this in mind, to say that Nigeria doesn’t have its challenges will be uninformed and comparing it to other developed countries in the world because it is “highly-populated and educated” will be the same. My point and I’m sure Carol’s point for publishing this interview, is, to let writers see that there is NO excuse for not getting paid what you’re worth for the service you’re offering. And I see nothing wrong with that.

      In my opinion, I think you should re-read the interview with an OPEN mind. You probably read it with a negative impression after reading the title (which I still think there is nothing wrong with) so you might need to forget that impression to get the main point of the interview.

      I totally respect your opinion and what you stand for, and I support most part of the points made in the interview but the reality of life is difference, and it only takes some observation to see that each country is with its own unique challenges.
      Bamidele Onibalusi recently posted…How to Really Get Started as a Freelance WriterMy Profile

      • Sheyi on

        Bamidele, no one will understand what it means to be a Nigerian trying/struggling to make it online. Let not even talk about the payment (paypal and others) when about the internet connection error?

        Last week, Google decided to ban my adsense account, my cheque was on the way and hundreds of dollars in the account. All i can say that caused it is because i accessed my account from another ip that is not my normal ip… the account got banned!

        What about getting people (like the commenter) to accept that we Nigerians knows something about making money online or how to make people trust me to pay me money to buy any of my niche sites?

        All I believe is your intuition and if you follow it, success is inevitable.

        Sheyi
        Sheyi recently posted…How Arianna Huffington Created HuffPost – Made $100M + Why Many Bloggers ‘Might’ Die Poor!My Profile

    • Carol Tice on

      Hi Marjorie — I certainly in no way mean to slam Nigerians…as Oni says, my point is just that it’s harder to start a successful online business in a country that payment processors have branded your entire nation a problem (not me, them!), and that has sporadic electricity. And of course being in high school means you don’t have as much life experience, either.

      I think that’s what makes Oni’s story so inspiring. I know so many writers who let themselves be stopped by far less daunting challenges.

  4. Harleena Singh on

    Awesome interview Oni, and am so glad to know more about him Carol!

    It is indeed remarkable to know more about Oni through this wonderful interview. It was truly inspirational and motivational 🙂

    While I have visited his blog often, and regularly read is great informative posts, but it’s something totally different to learn more about a person and his journey to where he has reached now. Truly remarkable!

    Wishing you all the very best in your life’s journey 🙂
    Harleena Singh recently posted…Easy Ways to Achieve WellnessMy Profile

  5. Laura Wrede on

    What an inspiring story! I lived on generator power for a year and know the struggles that alone can cause, let alone all the other obstacles. Bamidele should come to the US and give talks in the schools to inspire our kids!! Great story.

    • Tayo Solagbade on

      @Laura: “Bamidele should come to the US and give talks in the schools to inspire our kids!! ”

      What you said about having Oni speak to kids in schools is something I also expect to happen over here in Nigeria. Our journalists can help make more people aware of Oni’s achievements. Nigerians who know about Oni, need to pasr the info to them. Most media houses have Facebook pages, twitter accounts and websites, through which they can be reached. I have used those channels to do my bit. If others do the same, maybe they’ll pay attention and contact Oni.

      Even religious groups could invite Oni to speak to their members. I recall Robert Kiyosaki saying in one of his books, that despite his “spotty” church attendance, a church pastor invited him, to speak to his congregation about making money. So many people (young and not so young) can benefit from Oni’s wisdom.

      About a month ago, I posted a link to Oni’s blog on the facebook page of Nigeria’s current president, suggesting that Oni be consulted towards helping the government cost-effectively achieve its much publicised goal of creating JOBS for millions of jobless Nigerian youths.

      I am hopeful they will do (or are already doing) that. Oni has found a tested and proven way that CAN turn this country’s economic fortunes around in addition to other benefits. And it costs so little compared to conventional methods pursued by government with little success for years now.

      Like I said in the post on Oni’s blog, I expect Nigerian journalists to be willing to fall over themselves, to interview Oni. So many young Nigerians need to discover this new way, so they can empower themselves earlier on in life – IN SPITE of the limitations of our environment.

      On a final note, I must say that I feel just the same way you and Carol (who, like me, hopes her teenager can become more entrepreneurial) do.
      I’ve shown my “soon to be” 13 year old son EVERYTHING I can find about Oni, since the first day I discovered his blog.

      It’s fortunate that he (i.e. my son) recently completed 6 months of weekend typing lessons (on manual typewriter) that I enrolled him for, and is now using Mavis Beacon’s typing tutor on the laptop.

      Before now, I did not have much in the Nigerian environment to inspire him with, outside of myself, so he could take this serious. With my discovery of Oni’s blog, and interviews like Carol’s, he now knows NOTHING is impossible for him – and needs less prompting to keep going.

      Oni makes me proud to be a Nigerian, and I’m convinced, from studying the focussed and level headed manner he carries on with his work, that he is going to accomplish even greater success as time goes on.

  6. Michael Chibuzor on

    It’s nice having Onibalusi interviewed here. I’m highly inspired by his success story even though he’s from a third world country with Epileptic power supply. But all these doesn’t matter, Nigeria is a great country and together, we shall make it fabulous. Your success is phenomenal Oni and Carol. You two rock!
    Michael Chibuzor recently posted…Did Google Updates Affect Your SEO Ranking?My Profile

  7. Mike Sobol on

    I’ve seen you around online, Oni. You have a lot of fans, and you’ve obviously figured many things out faster than most. Good on you. Keep spreadin’ the love.

    More than anything, it’s the action > revenue understanding that you’ve got dialed in, which seems elusive for people. So much time and effort is wasted building things that don’t yield results. You, on the other hand, just go get results. Barriers? What barriers? I’m a fan, bro.
    Mike Sobol recently posted…Three Step Success – Part One: The NotebookMy Profile

  8. Anca Dumitru on

    Inspiring chat with Oni.

    It makes you say: If he can, so can I. It’s a matter of drive and motivation combined with skills. Oni showed he has all of these to inspire others. I came across his youngprepro blog three months ago and thanks to him I learned about the Den which I have joined today.
    Anca Dumitru recently posted…Hi there!My Profile

    • Carol Tice on

      I saw — we have quite a few other members who’re based in Europe, so you should be able to find some good accountability buddies in there.

      And hey, I meant to say — Oni is a Den member, too! Can’t wait to see what happens to his income once he takes some of the e-courses in there and gets a few new ideas on how to market his writing.

      • Anca Dumitru on

        Thanks, Carol.

        Great to hear I’m not the only European around with English as a second language. Yes, am looking forward to connect with other fellow European writers. I trust I will soon be reaching my goals, with the right advice and guidance that I hope to find here. 🙂

  9. Timur on

    Hi,
    I still don’t really understand how can I make money via blog,
    can you tell me more about it?

    P.S. I’m happy for Bamidele Onibalusi, because I have friends in Nigeria and they always have poor electricity, there are times they disappear from Skype while talking with me :), also they have bad infrastructure mostly 3G internet and paying a ton for bandwidth. So I do really know what it takes to be “always” online there. Good luck
    Timur recently posted…Git and NetBeans 7.1 Problem: Everything in the project appears modified, but is notMy Profile

  10. Josh Sarz on

    Oni. Man. You are such an inspiration. I told you that before in an email.

    Just like myself, born in a country that doesn’t have English as our native tongue, YOU were the reason why I pushed through with making a blog. I’ve only been contented with reading stuff online, but when I got to your site and read your background, I decided to build my own blog.

    I’m glad for your success, Oni. I wish you all the best in the future.

    Carol, thanks for sharing this wonderful interview with my man Oni.
    Josh Sarz recently posted…How To Keep Your Content From FlatliningMy Profile

  11. Ayo on

    Great interview Carol!

    Being a Nigerian could appear like a serious disadvantage, but service always boils down to one major thing – quality.

    I found Oni via a comment here on Make A Living Writing. I checked out his blog and was really impressed by the quality of his articles. I just didn’t know he was making so much from guest blogging or that he could be so young.

    Keep it up Oni.
    Ayo recently posted…7 Common Lies about Social Media that Can Affect You SeverelyMy Profile

  12. Amy Gutman on

    What an amazing–and inspiring–story, Carol! A combination of feel good piece + a kick in the pants. 🙂

    Especially appreciate (as I generally do on your blog) how you really drill down to the nuts & bolts of how writers make things happens vs. leaving it in generalities such as Believe in yourself! Don’t give up! (Not that these aren’t important but they only take you so far)
    Amy Gutman recently posted…How to get out of bedMy Profile

  13. Valentine Belonwu on

    I came to know Bamidele since 2010 and he has really changed the way people think about NIGERIA, because of him, so many young once here has started blogging just to be like him 🙂

    Valentine

  14. Sheyi on

    Bamidele is such a guy that I like alot. Been a teenager does not stop him from making money online and the many problem we NIGERIANS face in making money online does not stop him from breaking barriers.

    Sheyi

  15. Robinsh on

    I think it’s a very long time since I’m following Onibalusi and also checking his all the most from the beginning but never know that he was cracking other’s internet connection, done partnership with cafe for using computer with internet etc

    I think due to these challenges and due to his fighting behaviour only he became successful in his passion that is blogging or say guest blogging 🙂

    Thanks for this wonderful Interview, Carol !!
    Robinsh recently posted…Become Great Businessman by Avoiding these 10 ExcusesMy Profile

  16. Sam on

    Really, He is one the inspiring personality. I have been following him since 2 years and I am quite amazed to see his success. Blogging is such thing where age doesn’t matter the only thing that matters is hard work and strategy.
    And moreover I felt very bad that Oni doesn’t have access to paypal, I can understand how it fells because same case resembles with me.
    Anyway cheers,…

    -Sam
    Sam recently posted…How To Use SEOPressor – SEOPressor Plugin Review and TutorialMy Profile

    • Kendahl on

      Bamidele–You are such an inspiration! I really enjoyed this interview, because it helped me to understand how much hard work contributes to success. I’ve been hearing that all my life, but this is the first time it has truly been clear to me why you must stay on task and keep moving steadily towards your goals. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us! (Thank you Carol for the great interview as well.)

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