For this week’s MoneyRise User Story, we spoke to Deji, a Cinematographer and an AMVCA Best Documentary nominee who not only aggressively earns, but also invests. He believes in the gospel of Rise and preaches it to the nations of the world.
What was growing up like?
Growing up was interesting. I come from a middle-income family that experienced high-income wealth at one point, but for a brief period. So it was an interesting situation where I lived in what I’d call a rich neighbourhood, but my family wasn’t as wealthy as anybody that lived around us
How did that influence you?
There is this popular saying that what you turn out to be in life is an average of the influences you have around you. Everybody around me was doing better than I was in some way, so it was easy to aspire to bigger things; things that I wouldn’t normally aspire to be because my family just couldn’t afford to do some of those things.
That must be inspiring
Yeah. I mean, it still inspires me till now. My parents still live there, so, I still have some of the same friends from my childhood and most of them are doing better than I am, which still inspires me to work till now. It’s a continuous thing and although I’m not wealthy right now, it is a work in progress.
What do you do?
I’m a cinematographer; I shoot commercials, ads, documentaries, etc. I recently got nominated for AMVCA Best Documentary, for a documentary called Road2Blow, which follows the story of 14 people on their search for fame; these people are artists, actors, models and musicians.
Yayyy! That must be nice. So how was your journey to Cinematography?
After I left the University, things didn’t quite work out the way I hoped. I couldn’t find science-related jobs that paid enough, but then I stumbled on Graphics Design. I did that for about two years. The person I used to work under (Mayowa Alabi a.k.a Shutabug) had a knack for photography and so, he would give me his camera to play around with.
That was how my interest in photography came to be. I did that for about a year and while playing around with the camera, I found Cinematography. I guess for me, the push to go into Cinematography full time was first because I enjoyed the craft and secondly because I don’t think that there is any creative industry in Nigeria or in the world that is as valuable as the video industry. I knew Cinematography was something I enjoyed that also has a lot of value, so I thought, “why not do it?” That was how I started
Yes. So I was having this conversation with a friend recently about how difficult it is to gauge the value of industry directly. But something I use as a good metric is that I gauge the value of an industry by looking at the top earners in that industry. So If you think about the biggest earning graphics designer you know, you sort of have an idea how valuable that industry is. Think about the richest UI designer you know, and you can peg that value somewhere also. So for me, when I look at some of the biggest video directors that I know, those guys are making a killing.
So till now, I’m very far from what those guys earn. I think last week, TG Omori was talking about how 8 million naira was last year’s money. And that’s for a 3 mins video that he shot in one day, which probably took him another 4 or 5 days to edit. So in one week, one job brought 8 million naira, of which he could have taken 2 or 3 jobs in that same week. There are very few creative fields in Nigeria where you can make 8 million naira in revenue that quick.
We have talked about the valuable side of it, are there any challenges?
Yeah, definitely. Video is very capital intensive, unlike some other creative industries like design where you can have one laptop and use it for the next ten years. You may struggle, but if your skill is good, nobody can tell whether your laptop is good or bad. With video, new cameras come out every other year, so if you are using the same camera for two or three years, eventually, people will be far ahead of you and you will have to catch up.
I think an average cinema camera costs around $30,000. If you want to get an Alexa, you could be looking at spending as much as $80,000. Most music videos now in Nigeria are shot with an Alexa, so it’s very capital intensive.
Personally, in the video industry, I know I have invested maybe around $7000 or $8000 over the last 4 years into buying equipment.
Wow. That’s a lot. So, have you been able to recoup your investment?
Yes, yes. I have broken even on most of the investments. I try to be wise with what I buy. I’m not like most people who buy things just because it’s fancy and it just came out. Before I buy something, I look at how much it costs, and I ask myself how long it will take to break even. If I cannot break even on the equipment in 6 months, then the purchase doesn’t make any sense. So I get myself only the equipment that I need and make sure I can break even in that period.
What is your relationship with money like?
I’d say that I’m an aggressive earner. So I learned a while ago that the only way to be rich, especially at my level as a beginner is to earn more money. I can’t save my way out of poverty, I can’t invest my way out of poverty.
I have a 9-5, but I run my own business on the side. And I try to make sure that I have revenue that comes in every week — that’s my target, so every week I get revenue. I try to go the extra mile just to make sure that I achieve this, so I never have free time. At the end of the month, my salary will also come in. So yeah, that’s what my current relationship with money is like. Besides the aggressive earning, I also aggressively invest. I aggressively save.
How do you invest?
I wish I could give actual figures, but what I do is that, of all the revenue I make, which is my salary and the extra income on the side, I probably save/invest about 60 or 70% of it.
70% How do you manage ?
80% of my salary alone is enough to cover all my expenses in a month. So in a good month, if I don’t have any side income, I could still save/invest maybe 10 or 15% of my salary.
I travel a lot, but when I’m in Lagos, I stay with my parents. When I’m out of Lagos, wherever I stay is paid for by somebody else. I’m in a hotel right now, and I’m not the one paying for it. I also barely have to bother about feeding; in Lagos, my mum cooks (I do have to buy foodstuff though), and out of Lagos, the job pays for it.
So there are many costs that the average Nigerian would have to deal with that I rarely have to deal with. For instance, I don’t have a car so I don’t have to buy fuel or drive anywhere. Because I stay with my parents (I mean, I contribute to stuff around the house), I don’t have to pay rent.
So yeah, I still have to spend out of my salary but the fact that I have income on the side, allows me to aggressively save or invest from the extra I make.
Let’s talk about Rise, how did you hear about us?
I honestly don’t remember. Somebody must have said something about it on Twitter. I follow your CEO on Twitter and some of my friends are also friends with your CEO, so they talk about him on a personal level and about the work he is doing.
So I’m not sure, I just know that one day I stumbled on it. And it was around the period I had some spare change. I had just made about 200k and was looking for what I could use it for because I just didn’t want to blow it.
At the time, I wasn’t saving or investing at all. I heard about Rise and decided to try it out, so I downloaded the app. I also downloaded a couple of other platforms to see which one worked best for me.
So what portfolios do you have on Rise?
I think I have 80% of my entire portfolio in Build Wealth, then 20% of my portfolio in stocks. That 20% floats, depending on how the markets are doing. Recently, the markets have been very dilly dally, so I have been going in and out of stocks.
What has your experience been like since you started?
I’d say that my experience using the app has been amazing. One of the benefits of Risevest is that you don’t have to day trade. You don’t have to continuously watch the market. That was one of my turnoffs for other platforms. I like the fact that with Rise, I could just put my money in there and face my work, come back in time and see how it’s doing. I also like the fact that savings and investments on Rise are dollar-denominated.
So you know how the exchange rate goes up and down? Recently, there was a huge increase in the exchange rate, so the value of my dollars went up. I don’t know what the exact figure is, but the point is that the difference in that recent increase in the exchange rate alone gave a profit equivalent to about 75% of my current monthly salary at work.
When I initially came into Risevest, the value of the dollar was at 480, now it’s about 580. In that period, I gained so much value from the exchange rate change. Right now, the exchange rate increase accounts for about 70% of all the money I have made on Rise.
From June to April, I think I have been there for like 10 months now. Apart from the value, I get from the exchange rate increase, I’ve also made about $500 from my investments during that time. That’s a lot of money.
On a scale of 1–5, how likely are you going to recommend Rise to new users?
I’m always recommending Rise, so I’d say 10. I’m always talking about Rise and sharing my referral code. I preach the Rise gospel because I have made actual money off it.
Thank you so much for your time, we appreciate it.