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Making money online – The Zimbabwean struggle

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This is not a guide on how to make money online. Techzim has covered that before, one recent example is here.

We have all seen the stories, “Individual X makes US$10,000 a month with their blog.” Our immediate thought is we have to get in on that easy money. The reality though, is that like with anything else in Zimbabwe, it is a true hassle. In this article, we will not look at taking your traditional business online to sell products and services – I already did that here but in a context of creating online content such as articles and videos and your expected income

Another point to note which we will not discuss in-depth is putting your content behind paywalls. A pay-wall means your blog requires a visitor to pay to view the content. This may work once you are an entity with a large following but it may fail for a new kid on the block. You may also need to spend more money on creating your content by hiring dedicated professionals.

Online, audiences have value according to their geographical location, which then dictates their value based on their country’s economy (kind of). Before we look at these options, we will take a quick look at some of the simplest options you have as a Zimbabwean. You can:

  • Create videos on Youtube and show adverts like traditional television,
  • Create an online blog and show adverts like traditional newspapers and magazines.

The major advertising publishers that show decent adverts that are not offensive are Google owned Adsense. They tend to have restrictions on your content and do not allow certain behaviors on your strategy. No one ever reads the user-agreements but in this case, it is best you read the long and boring legal documents several times and get a clear understanding. There have been stories of people losing earnings of up to US$100,000 after violating these agreements. There are other advertising agents online that may pay more than Google but they tend to also have low quality ads that make your website look very spammy and low quality.

The value of the source traffic country is determined by several factors which also include your resident country as the publisher, the niche you operate in, the quality of content you produce at the rate you produce it and the size of your audience. For niches, for example tourism and finance related content will allow you to display related ads that pay a lot more than say beauty tips and entertainment.

The point to note with these advertisers is that your audience has value according to their geographical location. Here we have some of most valuable source traffic countries in order of highest to lowest value:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Ireland
  • Spain

These are the generally highest paying source traffic countries in terms of online adverts. This means that if you can, you should be creating content that can be consumed primarily by people in these countries to make the most you can online. This tends to be harder as you have to do a lot more research and also create very high-quality competitive content.

Herein lies the problem with making money online as a Zimbabwean. The value of your online traffic if said traffic is primarily from Zimbabwe (which does not pay very well in terms of advertising earnings) is that well, you do not make a lot of money. To Google, a Zimbabwean audience is worth much less compared to a South African audience and an American audience is gold to them.

We can shift a little bit of blame for this to our local brands which have not embraced the online way of doing business. There are very few companies in Zimbabwe that advertise online. These companies can also blame Zimbabwean content creators who do not have any quality content for people in Zimbabwe to consume. It becomes a problem of cyclic dependency.

If you have a challenge creating content that appeals to residents of countries with high paying ad revenue, then you also have the option of approaching local brands and creating partnerships with them. You can advertise their content on your blog or use it in your videos and they pay you according to your reach. Several local publishers have been doing this with great success on Youtube.

In terms of Google’s Adsense which we have actual figures for, for every 1,000 people who see a single advert on your blog, you get paid a figure in the US$4 ballpark. Compare this to Zimbabwe, where every 1,000 views of a single ad will earn you anything between US$0.20 and US$1.00.

Another quick comparison is this, 1,000 people visiting your website from the USA will make you the same amount of money as 20,000 people visiting your website from Zimbabwe within the same time period.

Figures for advertising deals with local brands will vary based on what you can agree to with them. If you can rope in a few big brands, with decent traffic you can earn enough to pay the bills.

As a blogger or Youtuber, it comes down to whether you can generate the high traffic needed to earn big bucks with a Zimbabwean audience, or you go ahead and invest in creating super content that you can present to overseas audiences.

About author

Van Lee Chigwada is a software developer at Age-X. You can find him on Twitter at

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4 thoughts on “Making money online – The Zimbabwean struggle

  1. You post good information how to make money on youtube and Blogging,but you leave out problems associated with how you will recover the adsense money from google Ireland into Zimbabwe, bank account,wire transfer charges

  2. The principles for making money covered here will work anywhere in the world.

    I am especially grateful for the ratios of earnings bases on locations.

    I live in Lagos, Nigeria. Do you know the earnings ratio?

  3. Hey there

    Nice post. I thought I would give it a practical perspective. I own several sites and the problem of target audience is one that I have to grapple with. I think it’s better ultimately to target a Zimbabwean audience. I have a site whose audience is international and my traffic and earnings are mediocre at best. Maybe there are other factors at play here, but I really think I would have done better by targeting a Zimbabwean audience.

    I have recently been diverting to niche websites. My advice to Zimbabweans is to be very clear right from the start that the website that they are creating is for making money. I didn’t have that in mind when I started. My new niche sites target monetization through Amazon. As an example, I have this site; It’s less than 3 months old, yet its already making a couple of sales and earning me something per week. Imagine if this had been my first site; (that one is 4 years old and has around 400 visitors per day)? I only get about 5 visitors per day for the Amazon site yet I get something from it.

    Anyway, it’s a complicated world that i wish they taught everyone at college. I mean, Zimbabweans are struggling, yet there is money to be had online. And there are university students who have no idea what I am doing, yet I only studied English! I taught myself web development, SEO etc. Apparently, these things are only glossed over at university.

    1. Hi, which bank did you open your FCA account with because it seems adsense wants me to have a USA based correspondence bank, but my NMB only has european ones?

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