Women & Money is a monthly PiggyVest series that explores the relationship between real Nigerian women and money. This series sheds light on money, career and business from a female perspective.
For this month’s episode of Women & Money, we spoke with Evi Idoghor, a 34-year-old freelance writer and lifestyle creator residing in Lagos. Among other topics, she talks about pivoting from one career to another.
What was your relationship with money, growing up?
As a teenager, my parents took care of all my needs, so money was not something I thought about. Throughout secondary school, I didn’t have any money goals. Any money I had was just extra cash at hand.
Then I did my A-levels for 2 years as a boarder. I had pocket money and provisions, and the school gave us meals and snacks. So one term, I decided to save my pocket money. When I came back home for the break, I gave it to my mum because we had cousins living with us and that was my way of contributing to the household.
But in general, money was not a thing to worry about. I was very free and generous with money. Whenever anybody needed a loan, I would easily give them.
Did this change when you got into the university?
I went to uni in 2006, in the US. For like a semester or two, I picked up a job. During the summer, especially, I would work to make extra cash to do what I wanted.
It was the same thing when I went back for my Masters in 2012. I knew that whenever I got broke, I could always call home and they’d send money. This gave me a very laid-back relationship with money. So, I never saw the need to save. But things started to change in 2015.
There was a recession in Nigeria, I believe. The naira was now ₦500 to $1. Money stopped coming as it used to, so I was forced to find a job and start saving. It wasn’t until I started to face financial difficulty that I began to see the value of saving money.
Saving made me feel safe that I had money set aside and would never be strapped when I needed cash.
You had some kind of financial safety net. Did this privilege influence your decision to become a writer?
Yes and No. Writing was a passion I discovered later on. I studied Chemical Engineering in school, and I tried for years to get a job in the engineering or oil and gas industry. But it was hard because I was abroad, and none of the organisations I interviewed with was willing to file for me to stay back in their country.
It caused a lot of difficulties for me because I didn’t want to come back home. But when it turned out that there was nothing I could do anymore, I returned to Nigeria. When I came back in 2017, I was 29; too old to land any of these graduate trainee roles or transition into the oil and gas industry.
Yeah. This was when I discovered my passion for writing. Then I got my first job at a writing agency. I’ve focused on my writing career ever since. So, while I didn’t decide to be a writer just because I had the financial support of my family, I would say that having that support has helped me focus on my passion more. If I didn’t have the backup, maybe I would have been forced to look for something more lucrative to do.
Congratulations on following your dreams!
Do you have any plans of going back to the US?
Nope. I’m here to stay and build my career.
Now that you’ve decided on sticking to this path, what does career growth look like for you?
I have a personal blog, where I talk about a lot of topics ranging from faith to cultural issues to lifestyle and relationships. For this platform, growth for me is getting a certain amount of sustainable traffic every day like other well-known successful blogs or websites. And this traffic would in turn translate to income I can use to sustain myself.
Have you gotten any career advice that has helped you move forward?
Yes. I was advised for years to start putting out more video content. Videos attract people more than written content, and I can use that to gather a new audience that will have their eyes on everything else I do. I’m doing that now and I can already see the difference.
That’s awesome! At the moment, what is your income like? Is it enough to support yourself and still invest or save?
I won’t lie to you, it hasn’t been easy. Being a freelance ghostwriter is great in the sense that you’re able to set your own price for your service. However, the clients don’t come in as much as you’d like, when compared to a well-known organisation doing the same thing.
I’ve tried advertising on social media, but it still doesn’t come easy without recommendations. The clients trickle in, so even though they pay you a huge sum at the beginning, when the project spreads out over a duration of time, the money dwindles fast.
Before you know it, you’re already looking for the next gig. I’m still able to save. But it’s not enough to invest or diversify my investments, so to speak.
What is financial freedom to you?
For me, financial freedom is being able to take care of my needs and have extra left to save and help others in need.
If you attain your career goals and financial freedom, what other financial goals would you like to achieve?
Prior to quitting my job at the writing agency, I had invested in a business that gave me returns every month. I was living the life! I didn’t have to worry about money. But then they went out of business and that source of income was scrapped.
It was an ideal situation and going forward, I would like to partner with another business in the same way. So once my finances become stable, investing in businesses is one of my goals. But I’m not a finance person, so this is as far as I’ve gone with my plans.
Are there things you wish you knew when you were younger?
I wish I had been more open to the path I’m on right now. Journalism, communications, and writing were not fields that came to mind when I was applying to uni. If I were to go back and advise my younger self, it would be to hone my skills as a writer and start early. I feel like I would have been farther ahead in my career if I had taken it seriously.
Have you made any money mistakes?
Ah! My money mistake is spending my money.
[Laughs] Isn’t money meant to be spent?
I know, but I’m that kind of person. I don’t understand people that have money in their savings account and still complain that they’re broke. Why would you have hundreds of thousands of naira in savings, but you’re strapped for cash? I guess that’s why my savings account dwindles fast. If the money is there I will dip my hand inside and spend it.
Is it safe to say you’re not good with money?
I’m not o. It’s safe to say, please.
Best in spending money! Do you have a favourite purchase?
Maybe my iPad. I use it a lot and it’s efficient.
Would you like to leave any financial or career advice for women?
[Laughs] It’s obvious I need financial advice myself. But in general, I would advise women to focus on what they know how to do best. Every day we are alive, we’re trying to figure out our purpose, and everybody has one or more things they’re good at. Focus on that.
Be consistent. It’s like working out: you may not see the results tomorrow, but if you keep at it, you’ll find that your old outfits start to fit better. With time, you will see the results and impact that you’ve made. Keep going.