How to make it as a Part-Time Freelancer in Kenya; My Personal Experience Juggling Employment and Online Work
My name is Frashiah Wambui. Many people call me Frush. I took up part-time freelancing a few years back. Today, I am happy I made the choice, I may say sijafika (I’m not there) yet, but I am very happy I started this journey. Read on to know how my freelance experience has been, juggling between 8am-5pm employment, parenting, and working as a part-time freelancer. It’s going to be a slightly long but informative read so, make yourself comfortable 🙂
If I may ask, what do you use the internet for? Facebooking, tweeting, WhatsApp, name it. If I decided to hold this survey, I am sure majority of the people with internet access use it for Facebook and Whatsapp and YouTube. Which is okay, we all love social interactions, I do, so najua.
It’s one evening and I am sitting lazily on my couch after a day’s work. Am half-attentively following an interview on one of the local TV stations, the other half is on my phone (read Whatsapp). I remember the interview was on the available options for Kenyans who are willing to make an extra dime. One of the ladies on the panel mentioned online work. This line got my attention “there are so many online jobs available on the internet today, but what is our Kenyan youth using the internet for? Facebook and Whatsapp”
I switched off my mobile data instantly and paid keen attention to what the lady had to say. I watched the interview to the end, retired to bed but with a decision. See, I had always had access to a stable internet connection but I had NEVER made a penny from it, all I did was pay monthly bills to my provider. Well, the thought probably never crossed my mind or I was plain lazy 🙂
The Search for Online Work
As you already know, our TV stations do not allow too much air time for many panelists, so time was up before the lady had given the finer details on how one should start on online tasks, and get paid for it. I had to take it from there, so I decided to ask Google.
Luckily for most of us, Google knows it all hehee. I opened my browser and keyed in the phrase “How to make an income online”. As you can guess, I got loads of answers. That’s what Google does, it gives you all the available options, and the filtering is for you to do. I was green I did not know where to start or how to go about it. I read a lot of publications on making money from the internet, the options I remember included YouTube, Transcribing, Internet Marketing, Affiliate marketing, writing to mention but a few.
I read different articles on how to go about the options I considered possible for me. I settled for content writing, of course not before trying all the easy money scams (read Public Likes) that fill the internet. Luckily, I did not invest on any of these sites. I knew what I wanted; I wanted to make extra income not spend an extra coin.
Why I Settled on Content Writing
For starters, I loved writing, I still do. Composition writing was my favorite part of my school life. Well, I do not mean to brag but I scooped high grades in this 😉 I have always believed that doing something you love will provide beautiful results. Now, doing something you love and getting paid for it? Well…got to be heavenly! After reading through some reviews, I knew it was easy to find content writing jobs on the internet. There were many websites that provided for the same, there still are.
As regards trying, let me mention I also tried YouTube. Yes, I got a YouTube channel on young moms (being one already). The channel is still under construction and I am striving to attract as much traffic as possible so that I can earn a handsome number of paid ads (you know the skippable ones that normally pop-up before the main video starts to play.
Choosing the Right Clients to Write For
The internet provided me with a vast number of options. I read through reviews and narrowed down to a few sites that I felt I could trust. I settled for iWriter.com, Upwork, Freelancer.com, and Guru. I signed up on these sites, decided to work on at least one article per day and read more on online work for the remaining hours that I could spare. See, working moms do not have time, they create it forcefully. I needed an extra income (side hustle) so I had to create extra time. I still go with working late at night or early in the morning.
After creating accounts on all these sites, I chose to actively follow up on one at a time, and then I would settle for the best. I began with iWriter. Why? Unlike all the other sites, I did not have to make any bids (had never done that before, so I kinda shied off). IWriter just required me to choose the article I wished to work on. I took up three short articles for three days, all the articles got rejected 🙁
I felt discouraged, more like broken. What I did not know is that after a number of bad reviews/ratings iWriter automatically blocks your account. I also did not know how to choose the clients to work for as a beginner. I later found out that I had to choose clients who had an approval rating of over 90% to stand a chance for good ratings and or reviews. I learned fast and after the three rejects, I started choosing my clients more selectively. I only went for clients with over 95% approval rating.
On iWriter, you start off as a standard writer and your progress is determined by the ratings the clients you work for leave behind. You can also be lucky to have a client add you to their favorites list which means more work will be reserved for you, i.e. if they specify that they want work done by their favorites only. I did not get another reject, some of the ratings were not that good but I soldiered on. After two weeks, I got my first pay $20! I was very excited. Kwa hivyo hizi vitu hulipa? I could not believe it.
How to Get the Money from the Internet to You
Fine, I had worked and my Paypal account had been credited with $20. That’s around Ksh. 2,000. See, I had created a PayPal account some years back but had never actively used it. It was just for formality, out of ile curiosity ya kusemanga nko na Paypal account, lol. I needed to find means of ways of getting the money to me. Understand, I come from a small old town and many of ‘my people’ do not know much about online payments. I had to have it closer, at least kwa Mpesa.
Once again, I asked Google. Google gave me a number of options for Kenyans wishing to withdraw funds from PayPal. I read a few reviews and settled for Paysap. After creating and linking both PayPal and Paysap accounts, I received around Ksh. 1800 into my Mpesa. Well, I do not know how much this money can do for you but for me, this was enough to sort my baby’s diaper change for two weeks.
If you are new to freelancing, you will realize there are other options for getting paid. These are the safest options for Kenyans.
In Freelancing, Learning Never Stops, Keep Exploring
The internet is very dynamic, as an avid user I have learned the need to embrace flexibility and new ideas. One day I am searching on how to become a successful online worker in Kenya. I narrowed my search to online options for Kenyans. I had got some experience but I wanted to know how other Kenyans were having it.
Through my searches, I land on a Kenyan site, Freelancer Kenya. As I came to learn later, this is a site owned by one Walter Akolo. You have probably come across it as well. I read through some of the publications he had made on the site, liked them and my experience related to many other people on the commentaries. I subscribed to his email alerts. Since that day, I got a number of emails giving great insights on how to make it as a freelance writer and so on.
I made it my habit; I had to check my email every day. One day, I saw a job alert from Walter. The email subject read ‘Timothy needs writers’. I quickly read through the email, as it read, Timothy was in search of writers to add to his already existing team. He was open to both experienced and newbies. I decided to give it a trial. I sent him a copy of my sample and waited.
After sending out the application, I did not get an immediate reply. I almost forgot I had made an application then one day I got a new mail from Timothy. He needed me to work on a topic he had sent to me. I quickly wrote the article and sent it to him. He must have liked my writing because he hired!
I got instructions on how he liked his work done, (the tone, formatting and the like). He also asked me to state my availability, my contacts (read Mpesa number) and all the important details. I started working for my Kenyan Client and got weekly payments on my Mpesa. I am still working for Timothy, I have learned a lot, written a lot and I am getting better payments with him.
What Clients Want
One thing with freelancing is that you open yourself to meeting different kinds of clients. Different clients will give different instructions. For instance, some will want you to use friendly tone; others will require you to be strictly formal. Others will be okay with numbering or bulleting your work; others will insist you stick to plain paragraphs.
There is one similarity with all clients though, quality, quality, quality, and consistency. Be consistent in your work and provide quality, all the time. Many clients will start with a lower pay but will give better terms when you prove your consistency and provide quality work. Whether its graphic design or setting up a website, do your best, always.
Upwork, Guru, Freelancer, What Happened To These Accounts?
I am in other employment, at times I am quite engaged and can hardly spare time, or I am so worn out to even construct good sentences (pun seriously intended). It became a bit challenging for me to give the other accounts some substantial attention. I still write on iWriter at times, (when I can get time, though the site seems to be struggling lately), I downloaded the Upwork app on my phone just recently and guess what?
I Got Hired On Upwork!
I do not work on Sundays, I observe the Sabbath day 🙂 So I switch on my data to chat (it’s still an addiction am dealing with) an up there pops an Upwork notification. Taking you back a little, after downloading the app on my phone, I updated my profile for the first time to about 40%. This must have worked because the notification was an invitation to apply for a writing job. I applied and got hired. I recently received my first payment on my first milestone and I am glad I took up the offer. I have since tried to be more focused, started sending proposals and I am still keen on completing my profile to 100% and to make it stand out.
Online Work Options
When choosing the online work of choice, go with what works for you. Are you a graphic designer, web designer, app/software developer, internet marketer, can you transcribe, name it, there are a vast number of opportunities available for you. Online work, whether as a main hustle or side hustle can go a long way into improving your quality of life. All you need to do is to decide, then act.
Start from somewhere and you will grow. I have so I know. Being my third year since I started online writing, I have read very many articles and reviews. I have grown individually and holistically. I can write about almost anything and everything. From product reviews, Short stories, re-writes, web blogs, biographies and so much more.
Interested in Online work and freelancing in Kenya? Embrace AjiraDigital
You do not need to be employed in the corporate world to make it as a Kenyan. You can be equally productive as a freelancer. The government itself acknowledges this and thus the recent launch of the Ajira Digital Kenya Government program. This is a program that aims at helping Kenyans explore alternative employment through the digital platforms.
Ajira digital offers information/training on how to start off from scratch and make it in online work in Kenya.
What You Need To Start Online Work
To make it in online work you will need the following;
- Have the willingness to try/learn
- A desktop or computer
- A stable internet connection (you can use a modem or go for cable connections)
Tips for Making It in Online Work
- Be self-disciplined (you are your own manager and supervisor)
- Be consistent in your work
- Follow your client’s instructions
- Do not give up, even when you have to re-do your work severally
- Concentrate when completing assignments (no half-way concentrations)
- Quiet and cool places are the best and try as much as possible to avoid those phone distractions.
What Next? My Freelancing Goals
First things first, of course, I look forward to a higher income and to exploring all the possible avenues to help me achieve the same. I look forward to setting up a proper blog. I already have a free blog where I post my wild thoughts. I am still putting a few things in order and hopefully, frush blabla…com will be up soon. All these in God’s speed. I am also exploring other money making options, transcribing is top on my list and I am undergoing training on the same.
I am also hoping I can teach people interested in content writing on how to go about it. Besides writing, I am working on getting more content that will be informative and selling for my YouTube channel. As for the Upwork account, I will strive to make it better and make sure that it pays. Iwriter.com, please get back on your feet :), many people still need you.
Online work has many advantages, it can pay, it pays and it has paid me well for the last three years as a part-time freelancer. I do not regret ever watching that show or my monthly bill on the internet. At least, I get an extra coin from it, and my visitors can enjoy free Wi-Fi. I know you all can get means and ways of accessing the internet. You do not have to go to the cyber-café just to stream YouTube; you can stop for two hours and write an article for Ksh. 350.
Let’s face it, most cybercafés charge 50 cents for browsing per minute, that is 30 bob per hour. Let’s say you take three hours to do a 500-word article and earn Ksh. 350, you will have a profit of around Ksh. 260 from the article. Do not just use the internet; use it to earn an income. Start today, na kama sio leo, ni leo!
I gave you my experience from scratch, I hope it inspires you to start. I am in full-time employment and a part-time freelancer and I am not about to stop. The journey just started.
Have you tried online work? How has the experience been for you? Feel free to share your experiences/questions in the comments section below.
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