One of the biggest blogs in Nigeria is by a woman named Linda Ikeji, and her namesake site is in the top 10,000 in the world. It’s a gossip blog, brings in close to $1 million a year and gets millions of pageviews a month. It has a huge and dedicated following and it was on Blogspot.
Today on October 8, the website was removed by Google because of claims of copyright infringement. A space worth $1 million is gone just like that. It turns out that Linda Ikeji wasn’t running a tight operation that the revenue she was generating deserved. It seems she played herself because she had taken no steps to protect what she created and the cards came tumbling down. The website African Music Law wrote about it.
The more information that I find out about how the blog was run, the more obvious it is that Linda wasn’t doing business the right way. And there are so many lessons to take away from all of this. We shouldn’t repeat the mistakes she did so below are some tips we all need to learn from this.
Build a website on a space you pay for
When you pay for a website, it is a form of ownership. What this comes with is more control and more rights. With everything, ownership is of utmost importance. This is why Intellectual Property law is so important. Our ideas are great but the person who can say they own something has the value.
Blogspot is owned by Google and it is their free blogging platform. It’s great because it’s really easy to use and it’s tied to your Gmail account so there are no extra logins. It’s not so great because it does not look so professional. But mostly, it’s because users are tied to Google’s Terms of Services (the long thing we all agree to that none of us read). So when you sign up for a blog on Blogspot, you’re agreeing to whatever Google wants you to. You are at their mercy and they do not owe you due process if they decide you’ve done something to violate their TOS. They can snatch it back at their will.
So when Google deleted Linda’s blog, she didn’t have much recourse or any leg to stand on. This is why I say Blogspot is good for BEGINNING bloggers. But don’t sit there for 7 years just because you don’t wanna pay hosting fees (which for Linda, would probably be a couple grand a month but she was making more than enough to cover that). As a paying customer, you get more rights. Your host can’t delete you without warning or for any reason. PAY. FOR. YOUR. WEBSITE. Your surreal estate is valuable.
“Using free blog spaces is like planting food on land you do not own. You could lose everything for any reason.” – @PoppaString
Buy your custom domains
I have already written an entire blogpost on why you need to buy your custom domain (URL) but it is worth repeating. Linda Ikeji’s blog address was lindaikeji.blogspot.com. Why did she not have LindaIkeji.com or LindaIkeji.org or LindaIkeji.ng (the domain for Nigeria) or .CO or even .Net? Because other people (yes multiple) had bought them before she had. In fact, the .NG version was just snapped up last month by someone. This is utter carelessness because it doesn’t get much more basic Website 101 than to have a URL that is branded to you.
Now if she tried to get any of these URLs, sellers will charge her thousands of dollars for it, instead of the $12.99 she would have paid if she got them from a regular domain registrar. Like everything else in the world, money talks and people have created careers and their own wealth from buying and selling valuable URLs.
BUY. YOUR. NAME. and your kids’ too while you’re at it. They’ll thank you.
Invest in your business
Beyond domains and hosting, any and all businesses need to have owners who are willing to put up money to make them run smoothly. Linda Ikeji was able to build wealth in her business (great for her) but she did it with very little overhead costs, it looks like. And that might actually be more expensive to her in the long run. Money saved today when you’re being too cheap can cause multiples of that money to need to be spent in the future.
It’s like if you buy a car that you don’t get serviced and you skip oil changes. Well the engine might go out and that car might run down and quit way before it is supposed to because it wasn’t properly maintained. Same for your business. It’s like having health insurance so you won’t have to pay so much out of pocket if you ever need surgery.
If you’re pulling in millions a year, hire a webmaster who can maintain your site. Hire someone to manage your ads. Get a lawyer on retainer to ensure that you’re legally covered. Make sure you have an accountant so your money is straight. FIRE YOURSELF and hire professionals to do their job so you can concentrate on making sure your business/blog is putting out great content.
Plagiarism is not prospering
Linda has apparently been plagued with allegations of plagiarism for years. YEARS. I don’t read her blog so I don’t know how much content she lifted from other sites but according to Uduak’s law blog, she’s been sued numerous times. And finally, it is this particular allegation, coming from a @MrAyeDee that got her blog pulled.
Linda’s response was in a post where she actually admitted to stealing content but her defense is that Bossip, Daily Mail and other websites plagiarize too. Ma’am, that’s not how you handle this. WHERE IS OLIVIA POPE?? You can’t go to court and tell the judge that the crime you committed wasn’t as bad because everyone else was doing it. See? If she had a lawyer or even a PR person, she would have been advised to make a better statement.
Also, just because she is not the only blog that plagiarizes does not mean that it is okay.
What is important to learn is that stealing from others’ work is a huge legal liability to you. Taking someone else’s work and intellectual property is a problem that can cost you what you’ve built (as you see here) and actual money (not to mention that it’s ethically wrong). If sued and she loses, Linda might have to cough up hundred of thousands of dollars. Also, it turns out that she hadn’t incorporated as a business entity, which means her personal assets (her own money) could also be lost in one judgment. That brings me to the next point.
Furthermore, plagiarizing reeks of your own inability to be original. And that brings very little respect.
Backup your blog and website
Before Google erased Linda’s blog, she should have done a backup so she had all her posts in an XML format, which she can upload elsewhere. Without a backup, you lose years and countless hours of work. Did she do it? Not sure but we can only hope. I’ve been blogging for 11 years. If I lost all my posts because of a hacker or a takedown, I’d probably quit and become a farmer. That is too much stuff to have to recreate.
Related post: How to Backup Your Blogger or WordPress Site
Success means more detractors
Linda is not the only person plagiarizing and this does not make what she did remotely ok. However, the post she did of her new $150,000 car definitely brought more heat her way. Why? Because mo’ money, mo’ problems, and more success, more detractors. It seems that seeing her boast about her car added fuel to the fire that some of her archnemeses were stoking already. She has all the right to brag if she wants but when your house is made of tin foil, you might want to be more careful.
However, Google did not shut Linda Ikeji down because she bought a car. Those are not grounds for deletion. So although she has detractors, she has also mishandled her business.
I take no pleasure in seeing her work being erased because, honestly there are too few Black women who can say they’re pulling in that much money from their web properties. However, it seems she might have built her site and following through copying and pasting other peoples’ and if that’s the case it’s a shame.
One of her biggest mistakes is that she didn’t have ownership of her web property. She didn’t have ownership of her website, nor of her name. I do hope she rebuilds and I hope she learns certain lessons from this. The main lesson is that she needs to do better and handle her business smarter (and stealing is WRONG). There was too much hustling backwards at play here.
Linda Ikeji and her fans have accused people of just hating on her success. I’m sure some people are but it’s clear that her negligence as a businesswoman has led to a lot of what’s happening here. She should take accountability, humble herself and do better with whatever her next move is. According to her Twitter account, she’s creating a new website.
Although she has this huge name and she can get a new website, it’s like trying to rebuild after your house burns to the ground. It will take some serious work and there’s no way you can recoup all your losses. But good luck to her on that.
My boy Folabi (@Folabi24) had this gem to drop and it’s so apt.
“Goes back to what I call our orientation in that part of the world. I call it ‘African Store Mentality.’ Check out many of these so-called African Stores; they are rarely well maintained, even when they make decent profits. Meanwhile, the owners of this establishment drives around in exotic cars which they publicize and go to church to do thanksgiving for how well Jesus is blessing their hustle, even as the business environment look terribly in need of better maintenance.
And then when the city or whatever government comes and slams their business with fines, they’d cry foul, that “this white people are evil,” or that their jealous enemies have used juju to undermine their business. As it with with government, so it citizens. An oil-rich Nigeria with poorly maintained oil refineries so bad it has to import her own refined gasoline.
Linda is out there throwing out missives about jealous opportunists who reported her and who bought-up all available variations of her name online, from .COM, to .ORG, etc. The carelessness is hers. She should own it and stop making kindergarten excuses.”
That’s a perfect way to close this. Sound off and let me know your thoughts (respectfully).
Update: the blog is now back up as of the evening of October 9. However, I still stand by everything I say here.