We’re reaching out to some popular creators to get their best tips and tricks for success and better understand the ups and downs of life as a trailblazer on the internet.
This week, we spoke with Niyi Fagbemi, a travel and lifestyle creator that uses videography to show the beauty of Nigeria. Niyi has over 185,000 followers across Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
From documenting the life and beauty of the Calabar Festival to filming an aerial view of the biggest floating slum in Africa, Fagbemi’s goal is to showcase Africa’s uniquities and to document Nigerian stories. Fagbemi also collaborates with international corporations, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Bank of Africa (UBA), to tell meaningful long-form video stories about his home country.
Niyi attributes his career growth to his passion for finding beauty in Nigeria. In an interview with Passionfruit, Fagbemi spoke about his art and described his favorite projects to work on. He also discussed his monetization strategies, favorite filming equipment, his unique challenges as a Nigerian creator, and his advice for other up-and-coming creators.
The following interview is condensed and edited for clarity.
Why did you choose to showcase the niche beauty of Nigeria?
When I was growing up, right I heard a lot of bad things about Nigeria. I mean, presently, I still hear a lot of bad things about Nigeria, even from an international context.
The truth is every single country in the world has its own bad side. Even European countries and the West have a lot of challenges when it comes to some aspects of how they live. But what is publicized is more of the glorified beauty.
However, when it comes to Africa, they choose to tell the not-so-good side of our countries, and I feel that has affected the mindset of Nigerians and Africans as a whole. So, one thing I’m really passionate about is not only putting Africa and Nigeria in a good light but also being able to change the mindsets of people when it comes to how they view Nigeria.
How do you monetize and make a living as a creator?
For the kind of work that I do and for the region that I’m at, what really makes people the most money in terms of what they do is documentaries.
One thing about documentaries is you get to travel and also experience other parts of Nigeria as well. You get to meet you get to meet people. I mean, it’s just a great way to network and also a great way to earn a living.
I work for a lot of international agencies and for local agencies as well. I still do short-form content for people, but I think going forward, it’s going to be more long-form content for businesses and organizations, and maybe the short form will be about three times a week.
Do you have any tips or advice around monetization for creators?
Before you even think of monetizing anything, the first thing is to be passionate about something because if you’re not passionate about something, you’re not going to make any money from it. You have to find something to specialize in, a niche that is something that you know you’ll be good at. It’s not something that’ll happen immediately. There’s a little bit of trial and error involved.
So when you have your core area of interest, you’ll have to research the monetization strategies in that field. For example, in videography, there are travel, lifestyle, and third-party organizations one can work for. You have to be creative and collaborate with organizations, so it’ll help expand your reach.
Also, you have to consistently create content in an effort to strive to become better at your craft.
What is your favorite filming equipment for creating content?
Firstly, I understand the kind of shooter I am. I’m not the kind of person that likes excessively big cameras. I love travel-friendly gear. I particularly like mirrorless cameras. My favorite cameras are the Sony FX 3, Sony Alpha 7R IV, and Canon EOS R5. My two best lenses [are] the FE 35mm F1.4 GM and FE 72-200mm F 2.8 GM.
What are the specific challenges you face as a Nigerian creator, and how do you cope with them?
When it comes to traveling to other countries, even in Africa, the Nigerian passport is limited to about 26 countries. There are a lot of limitations when it comes to that. So as an African, I have to apply for visas from other African countries where I want to help tell their stories. Sometimes there are also a lot of challenges in visa acquisition, immigration, and customs situations.
What is your advice for other Nigerian creators?
Your position is a good thing and a tricky thing at the same time. You need to understand that the Nigerian market is very populated. You have to be on top of your A-game. You have to be ready to outwork others. I mean, it’s not a competition—the sky is the limit, and the sky is also big enough for everyone.
But if you want to be one of the top people in your field, you have to put in the utmost effort and consistently work hard. You need to network with other people, understand your craft, and make yourself stand out.
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