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Campus Diva takes on Online Work – My Freelancing Journey

My name is Patience Kathambi and I am a freelancer. I work online writing articles, blogs et cetera. As of today, I have bragged about this to many people; those whom I know and strangers alike. Why? I’m just that chic who needs to brag. Not that it’s a good thing. I just enjoy doing it 🙂

My ex, whom I loathe, hit me up the other day and I actually responded just to go on and on about how I’m doing so much better than him, working from home and stuff.

How it all Begun

Ajira digital program is where it all started. I didn’t really go there with dreams of becoming an online worker. I went there because it sounded like a fun camp thingy full of people my age. The perfect place to show off.

So, I packed my things; all the fancy stuff in my wardrobe, enough clothes to change three times a day, a manicure kit, a reading tab, a camera, and a bunch of other cool stuff completely unnecessary for a training seminar.

The arrival day was good. It is always important to act standoffish and not mingle with people in order to remain a mystery. I found my room and unpacked. Went out to survey the surroundings and see what I was working with. I then met a bunch of guys who thought they could talk to me. Sigh.

They said something about me being drop-dead gorgeous (obviously) and asked if I would like to go for dinner. Of course, I said no coz I already knew where the cafeteria was. I didn’t actually. And I regretted not eating all night. I’m a foodie, guys, so you can imagine.

Nevertheless, the next day would be awesome, I was going to do awesome things with awesome people and take awesome pics to show off on social media. Because, why lie, I compete with people I don’t know for likes that will never benefit me.

Training for online work

So the seminar started the next morning and I don’t think I have ever been more disappointed in my whole life. (I have, but I just like sounding dramatic). It was an actual training with serious people who meant business and there were rules! It was definitely not what I had signed up for! To make matters worse, in that hall with over 200 people, I was the coolest one.

Now I know it sounds like a good thing, but I can’t show off my brand new Fenty puma shoes to people who don’t care about designer shoes. Plus, you can’t really feature uncool people on your Snapchat because that just translates into you being uncool….

Goodness!! I just realized how vain I am!

I came up with a cool plan. 1: Pretend to know nothing so that if I get picked on to answer questions, bam! The underdog. 2: Pretend to be shy so that when I make a presentation, I shine even more. And 3: Pretend to be unbothered by my surroundings so that ‘those’ people don’t approach me.

I basically wanted to remain an enigma to everyone. For my plan to work though, I needed to focus and follow every single instruction. I could not fall behind because that is so not cool.

Meeting new people

I know, I sound like a mean person, but I’m actually very sweet. Otherwise, would I have helped out the poor fella who had no idea whatsoever of what we were doing? Yes, he treated me like the queen I am and his friends followed suit, but that’s beside the point. It’s really hard to teach people internet stuff when you’re not a teacher and you are not getting paid for it. I could feel my awesomeness radiating from my body… for real.

I don’t regret helping that guy, but I regret giving him my number because he is weird. I just can’t get rid of him. In fact, this one time I met him at the beach and my boyfriend and his cousins were in the water. let’s call the creep Bryant.

So Bryant walks up to me and says hi but my boyfriend spots him and they come over. Bryant is a small guy. My guy is 6 feet tall. I can’t say what happened next but nobody got beat up. And just to show you how much of a creep he really is, he texted me later ranting about how I set him up and what not. He was all “how could I do that to him, what had he ever done to me to deserve such treatment…” Did he recently text me to reaffirm his undying love? and to tell me how he is hustling hard in Nairobi so that he can take me home? Yes, he did. Boy bye.

Anyways, I did end up making friends at the AjiraDigital program because there were actually pretty awesome people there. Awesome beats cool. It was fun and interesting and my three-phase plan flopped. I admit I was a little stuck up, but don’t hold it against me people. I got over that silliness and toned down the “crazy” a couple of notches. And I’m glad I did because otherwise, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the training as much as I did. So shout out to my teammates and the teachers and everyone else who took part. You are all great people 😊

My learning experience

So, like I said, the training was amazing and I learned so many things that I would never have learnt otherwise. We were taught how to look for and find online jobs, all the do’s and don’ts of freelancing. Etiquette, time management, and organization skills. All which I needed badly. By the time the training was over, I was filled with knowledge and was ready to take on the freelancing world like never before.

I’d like to say that it all went well and here I am writing this blog in pure bliss. But I have a feeling you all know that it didn’t go as planned. And I hate to say it, but you’re right. Karma maybe for being so stuck up?

Finding a job

The training was over and not to brag (I’m bragging), I got a job the next day as we were leaving the venue, through an online platform called Guru. My employer was a lady, and she gave me a bunch of rules about submitting my work on time, plagiarizing, research and all that stuff. she said that I had to write at least five articles a day and my payment would be $15 per 500 words.

I kid you not, my adrenaline rushed at the offer! I calculated my possible income and all the things I could do with that money. I even, and I’m ashamed of this, thought that in a year or two I could quit school. I had made it!

Looking back, I cringe, because the first thing I should have done is ensure that the payment system was safe, especially since she was a foreigner.

Working at my first job ever

My boss lady sent me article after article. I thought of telling her that I had a life, I needed to sleep and I wasn’t always available. But who complains during their first week at a new job? I didn’t sleep and if I did, it was for only for a few hours, not more than four. I couldn’t feel my fingers, my back hurt, and I barely ate. I know it sounds exaggerated, but it’s the truth.

Here is how it worked. I was sent an article and if it was 500 words long then I had two hours to write it. In that two hours, I had to plan the article, research and organize it. I barely made the deadline the first few days and that woman breathed down my neck. But it was all about the money. Some articles were 3500 words long, some were 500 words long. I wrote them all diligently. I would later realize that she was no robot and I did not have to write them all.

The first four days felt like an eternity and I was supposed to get paid in two weeks so I carried on. Payday arrived and everyone at my house was amused at how excited I was at getting paid. It was all I ever talked about. I even gave out loans with zero interest with money I did not have. I was special. Five articles a day $15 each for two weeks straight. Do the math.

So I antagonized my sweet older brother and explained to my younger sister that when people get jobs you have to respect and obey them otherwise they wouldn’t buy you stuff. And that was how I got my own tiny servant.

I got scammed

Two weeks were finally over and I enquired about my money. She said the money was on the way but I should get going in the meantime. I didn’t really think about it much and went on writing. Then she said weekends were tricky with money transfers, Monday came but she was busy. The excuses went on for a week and I believed her.

I had to put my foot down however and told her that I wasn’t going to work anymore if she didn’t pay me. She told me to relax as she went to the bank. A few hours later, she gave me a speech about being her best writer blah blah blah, and the weekend was tricky for bank transfers. This is very embarrassing… again I fell into her trap and continued working.

Needless to say, my family did not treat me with the same importance anymore and I had no tiny servant. The concept of safe pay, especially while working with foreigners, had not really sunk in. I did not get paid guys. Four weeks, almost a hundred articles with nothing to show. I’d like to say that I quit, but in reality, I got played.

Being the proud person I am, I pretended that it was no big deal. I told everyone it was life and I had only worked for a month thank God. But it was horrible. A month for a freelancer is a really long time. I took it so hard that I decided to never ever work online again. I had to settle for being a plain old lawyer one day. Sigh.

Starting again

Six months later, I got a follow-up message from Timothy a mentor at AjiraDigital and he wanted to know how I was doing. Part of me wanted to rant and cry and tell him what that mean lady did to me, but I didn’t reply. But then again, I was broke because campus life is expensive. So I responded to another email from Timothy inviting interested people to write.

I applied and got hired, however, I was not so excited this time and I told him that I preferred the option of being paid daily. But this only lasted a couple of days then I started getting paid weekly after building some trust. This time it was different. The rules were much more and the pay was only a fraction of what I had been offered previously. But I was okay with it because I love writing and I knew the risks involved already.

I must admit, when I got the first ‘payments will be delayed’ email from Timothy, I thought “here we go again”. I got a little panic attack and lied to my boss that I was unavailable to work that day. I later got paid then felt really bad for lying to my boss. God bless his soul.

So far so good

Writing has been a good experience for me so far. Of course, I tell everyone about my job, more reservedly though (coz at this point I know better than to brag).

In campus, we had a unit called legal research and writing, so I liked to act as the lecturer’s assistant because I write for a living, hah!

I don’t really write for a living but who cares. I love it. Yes, it’s tough juggling school and work, and then just being me is a whole other job. But by the grace of God, I do it as often as I can (because my boss is awesome and he lets me do my school work), and so far, so good.