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Freelance Writing in Kenya – My Journey Discovering Online Work

Many people ask me how I started freelance writing, and when I think about it, it was completely by chance.

My name is Caroline Maina – a hip Mom of three who believes age ‘ain’t nuthin’ but a number. I prefer CarolE Maina. I capitalized the E because most people write it as Carol, so in most social media groups, I kept introducing myself as Carol with an E, and it stuck.

Writing has always come easily for me from when I was little. I read a lot, so that also helped shape my grammar. I loved books, and reading Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, The Enchanted Garden, and later on, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew would thrust me into a world filled with wonder.

I loved compositions, and oft times, mine were among the best in our class. I was the English teacher’s pet and boy! that got me some nasty comments from the other kids!

That didn’t faze me though, I was almost always engrossed in a book to give it much thought anyway. Later on, when I did my K.C.P.E, I discovered Sidney Sheldon and Danielle Steel…oh my! I was hooked.

In those days, the wait for the K.C.P.E results was long and during that time, many kids got into a lot of mischief. Many girls in their naivety got pregnant, which unfortunately ended their educational journey. If they were lucky, some went back to school. I digress.

Anyway, Sidney Sheldon and Danielle Steel hardened my resolve to become an author. Their books entranced me into a different world. A world of words beautifully strung together to create amazingly captivating stories. I laughed, cried and identified with the characters, and promised myself that one day, I would write a book.

When I was in form 1 or a ‘Kamono’, my friend Judy and I decided we were going to write a book, and actually started on it. What happened to the book you ask? I really have no idea. I guess school work got in the way and we discovered writing a book was no child’s play.

That is how our project “write a book”,’ilikunywa maji’ or went under. Judy has long gone away to the UK, and although I am in contact with her, I am not sure she still wants to write a book. I still harbor the dream that someday I will write a book.

The Freelance idea, as much as it was by chance, it was forced on me by necessity. A friend in the UK sent me a message on Facebook. So she tells me, “By the way, Carol, you were always so good in English and you loved writing, can I get you to help me with my school assignment?”

That was long before I knew academic writing was a ‘thing’. I jokingly asked her if she would pay me and she said of course! Haiya! Was she for real? I accepted the assignment, and since I was working, I barely had time to finish it. Two days due, I panicked. I took leave off work and gave it my all. She passed, was ecstatic, and I was amazed! Life went on as usual until I lost my job.

Being jobless threw me into a tailspin. I didn’t know what to do. I slept for two days straight, wondering what to do, where to turn to. Until I decided to talk to my friends and tell them I would do their assignments for a fee.

The same girl gave me work, and others recommended their friends. I was very green when it came to academic writing, and I learned a lot during this period. I discovered there were Facebook groups by seasoned Freelancers and joined most of them, trying to learn as much as I could about the industry.

I had begun to tire from writing academic papers because it didn’t feel like it was my thing. I felt it like it was sucking the life out of me and needed something more interesting, more engaging. Writing a 3,500-word paper is no joke, and I needed something I could work on for shorter periods.

My journey began. A friend introduced me to a guy who was paying 100 bob for a 500-word article! It was very demoralizing, but I knew I needed to learn at least something about content writing. However, I learned a few things and worked for quite a few people, with each paying more than the last.

I love freelancing for the freedom it offers me. I have the freedom to choose when I work, and what I work on. It’s cool sometimes when my friends ask me, “Aren’t you going to work in the morning?” and I can easily reply, “I work from home, cos that’s how I roll ;)” to the envy of many.

It’s much more fun than working a full-time employment job. I have the advantage of planning my day, with the knowledge that what financial gains or the ‘mullah’ I get depends on how hard I work.

I have to admit sometimes it’s pretty tempting to go back to sleep on a cold rainy morning though! Social media is also a great temptation and I sometimes find myself scrolling through Facebook or Instagram when I should not be! Self-discipline is great and all, but as they say, it is easier said than done!

Online writing was a mystery to many like it was for me a while ago. It has grown in leaps and bounds in a such a short time that even our Kenyan government has recognized it as a major form of employment for its youth.

The launch of the Ajiradigital Initiative was a statement in itself. The government’s realization of online writing as a major source of income for many, and going all out to provide training, was and is a major statement.

For those already working online, it is a great bonus. Those willing to start writing also get to benefit from this training.

At the moment, I am pressing on and still gaining experience as a writer. I believe it never gets easier, but that you get better. The more I write, the better I get at it.

I have a personal blog where I jot down my thoughts. I also hope to keep doing content writing, but ultimately, I still harbor aspirations of writing a book one day.


Did you like CarolE’s story?

Kindly leave a comment below and let me know what you think 🙂

PS: At Trulink we DO NOT advocate for or encourage academic writing. CarolE today does content writing but NOT academic writing.