Short Code SMS Business : How To Set It Up and Make Money From It

ShortCode SMS business simply involves setting up a system that allows you to use a “short code” to provide variety of mobile content through text messaging. People that subscribe to your “shortcode” are billed automatically by their network provider and you get your own share from it.

What is a Short Code?

Well, it is a 5 or 6 digit phone number which GSM users can send some information to. You can get it from companies or sites that offer short code services in Nigeria. You cannot get it directly from MTN, Glo etc

The way people that text a shortcode are billed is different from the way they are billed when they text gsm numbers. Shortcode have the following tariff, N30, N50, N100. The tariff is the airtime value that will be deducted whenever anyone respond to the code.

Big Brother Africa, Nigerian idols are examples of TV programs that use “short code” for SMS voting. It can also be used for SMS competitions, Text 2 Win promotions, charity sms donations and can also be used to provide information services eg health tips etc

If you set up a shortcode, you can make money in partnership with the company that issued the code to you, while you also have access to the phone numbers of the short code subscribers for other marketing purposes.

example of short code

There are basically two types of gsm short codes: the dedicated short code and the shared short code.

Dedicated Short Code vs Shared Short Code

A dedicated short code is leased and exclusively used by only one brand. All of the setup costs and fees associated with a dedicated short code are the responsibility of that one brand, which can make the option of buying a dedicated short code out of reach for some.

Shared Code is used by multiple brands, which share the setup costs and fees, making it affordable to smaller brands. Keywords makes it possible for brands to share one short-code. It is the keywords that partitions each user to his own account without interference of other people sharing that code.

The keyword is what your prospects will type first before any other information you want them to send to the code. Eg. Send ‘vote’ space ‘contestant name’ to 33811″.

The keyword in the example above is ‘vote’ while the shortcode is 33811′

How Much Can I Make From ShortCode Business in Nigeria?

The N30, N50, N100 airtime value is what you will share with network providers eg MTN and the company that issued the short code to you.

Below is how much each GSM network will deduct:

Tariff (NGN) Visafone MTN Airtel Glo Etisalat
30.00 NGN 10.930 8.851 14.781 9.851 13.210
50.00 NGN 21.088 18.702 22.018 13.623 21.043
100.00 NGN 30.233 35.334 48.501 24.939 40.340

 NB: The charges above might have changed by the time you will be reading this.

How much you make from a short code depends on the agreed sharing percentage between you and the issuing company.  On a neutral ground, the issuing company gets 50% while you get 50% too.

Once a GSM user responds to your GSM short code, lets say with an MTN number, MTN will deduct their own money immediately according to the table above. The remainder is now what you and the issuing company will share based on your agreement during the set up process.

The number of people that respond to your short code, will determine how much you make from the business.

How To Make Money From SMS Short Code Services in Nigeria

Firstly, you have to acquire your own shared gsm short-code.

Secondly, you need to get people to respond to your shortcode. The more people respond to the code the money you rake into your account. Meaning it’s game of volume.

Typical campaigns like health tips, educational tips, relationship tips etc. will be a very profitable venture because they are niche almost everyone have a particular need for.

Here is a typical campaign you can promote with your short-code,

“Health is wealth. In order to live healthy you need to constantly stay inform with daily health tips. Send ‘health’ to ’33810′ to receive sms three times weekly. SMS Cost N100″.

The campaign above can rake in good income from a large number of mobile phone users. Because nobody wants to die. Hence, such campaign can easily attract people to respond. Another topic is News/Alert.

But then, you have to get this message of yours out to the public before people can start responding to it. This can be done by promoting your short code offline with fliers, posters etc, via radio or tv stations. You can also buy gsm database and use bulk sms sites to promote your short code offer to the phone numbers.

Where To Get Short Code in Nigeria

If you are ready to get your short code now, go to

You can get a great discount from an on-going promotional offer here.

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Written by Jide Ogunsanya

Pro Nigerian Blogger, Digital Marketer and Web designer. I help business owners to grow their businesses online. You can join my Facebook Group here or join my Telegram Group here.

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  1. With the way MTN has been disturbing me with all those short code sms, its obvious they are making lot of money from it. Thx for the info bro

  2. From your post, Networks do not offer “short code” rather sites and companies. Whom do they register with and how do the companies go about it? Thanks for the post, it was enlightening

  3. is their ANY WAY I can do business with Mtn office direct.????
    they can take their profit and give me mine without passing through a different company giving me short code and sharing a profit of 50%- 50%

    please what is the way out……

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