Before you read my success story, let me introduce myself. My name is Joseph. I am a patriotic, enthusiastic, ambitious Kenyan youth and an upcoming contractor in the building and construction industry. I am writing this on the 54th Jamhuri Day celebrations for my country, which is just two days before my graduation day. I pursued a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Urban and Regional Planning, with Information Technology at Maseno University, the only university located at the Equator 🙂
For the sake of those who are hearing about online work for the first time, it involves finding and completing work over the internet. Your payment is then wired through online payment platforms such as Payoneer and PayPal. If you work with a local platform such as KuHustle or broker, your payment could come through MPESA.
Fast forward to my story. I was surprised when I realized how huge the internet is, and its opportunities. Before that, I had listened to online work stories with a lot of apathy through my years at the university. I knew of a few students who did this kind of work, and I thought of it as hectic and beyond my abilities.
The journey to my success story kicked off when a friend encouraged me to apply for admission into the Ajira Digital Program. This program seeks to reduce the level of unemployment in Kenya. Sponsored by the Government of Kenya, and KEPSA, it intends to provide and encourage Kenyans to venture into online work through training, mentorship, and networking.
This came around June of 2017, a time it had become quite difficult for me to pay my bills. Being fresh from college, I was in desperate search for a source of income and something to keep me engaged. Luckily, I secured a place in the first classroom at The Cooperative University of Meru. It involved a fully sponsored week of vigorous training, food, accommodation and free internet!
The one week’s training gave me great experience and a whole new perspective of online work. At the end of it, I realized that I had been looking for something I needed so badly in all the wrong places. From the training, I gathered adequate knowledge, skills and the confidence that I previously lacked.
The contacts I made proved quite resourceful; as some of the people I met had been working online for some time. These guys were more than willing to help, and I am working with one of them to date; his name is Timothy Munene.
The program also involved a two-week mentorship program, and my mentor helped me sign up on several platforms where I could finally meet clients as a freelancer. I currently run freelancer accounts with KuHustle, UpWork, Fivver, and IWriter. There are many other platforms on which one could sign up for free.
All one needs to start working as an online freelancer is a desktop/laptop/smartphone, an internet connection, a reliable power source and a quiet workplace. Some of the jobs available online include:
Transcription refers to listening to an audio file and putting it down in form of text.
Virtual Assistant involves offering professional and skilled technical, administrative or creative assistance to companies, entrepreneurs and businesses over the internet. It is one of the best ways of making money at home
Content Writing involves creating materials meant for posting on websites. It has to be relevant to the targeted audience, who create traffic for the said site. Such materials include blogs, articles or about us pages
Data Entry generally refers to keying in analog data into a computer. It is more of the work done by clerks, typists, and coders.
Translation refers to changing written information from the original language into another language as specified.
There are numerous job categories one could choose from, but I decided to venture into content writing. This kind of writing requires less intensive research compared to academic writing.
One only needs to unearth a few facts from the internet, and then combine it with some creativity and good English. Some of the skills and values I possess and that proved very useful in my online work career are:
Every client is looking for unique content in terms of ideas, tone, and style. I invest a lot of time in sharpening my creativity. Some of the materials I read most randomly are novels, magazines, newspaper columns, and blogs.
- Time Management
My clients need me to deliver tasks within a specific duration of time. Failure to do that may attract penalties, termination of engagement or low ratings. I always ensure that I take up tasks I know I can deliver on time, to avoid getting into bad books.
Everyone appreciates doing business with an honest and transparent person. On several occasions, I have had interruptions with power, poor internet connection or emergencies. Under such circumstances, I always let my clients understand that I am unable to complete the job(s) at hand in good time.
They can then reassign the task(s) to other freelancers. Some are very understanding in such cases, while others get angry for some reason. Overall, this has worked well for my career.
As a freelancer, I have all of my communications with clients hinged on this pivotal value. The use of words such as “Please”, “Sorry” and “Thank You” never abandoned my statements. I believe it is the reason why I have been able to find long-term clients.
- An Eye for Detail
I always ensure that I follow instructions to the letter, in order to offer my clients good value for their money. Every time I come across unclear instructions, I always make the necessary inquiries. Due to this, I rarely have revision requests for my work, save for the minor ones.
Why I Love Working Online
a. Flexible Working Hours
Online work allows me to work when I am free or want to, which means I have the freedom of doing other things at different times of the day.
b. No Fixed Work Place
I am able to work either from my office or from the comfort of my house. Sometimes, I visit the community library to read, work from there or just for a change of environment. This also gives me the opportunity to meet new people, one of my greatest likes (people who visit the library are awesome and great thinkers, by the way). My point is, you could work from anywhere, as long as you deliver quality work.
c. Minimal Startup Capital
To start my online work career, I only needed to buy a modem for internet connection. This is because I already owned a laptop and a smartphone. However, if you have a smartphone and a desktop or laptop, you might not need to acquire a modem. You can just tether the internet connection from your phone. Alternatively, you can also use your smartphone to surf the internet and type your work on the computer. Once finished, you can use your phone to email your work and receive more. That’s a survival tactic there for you!
d. Choosing My Payment
Online work is the only place I know of where you can choose what you want to earn. I usually work with clients who offer at least $3 per page, avoiding those who pay less. You can bargain with your client for a higher pay, so that you get what you desire.
e. Great Exposure
I have written content for a wide range of disciplines, even far away from what I studied at the university. When I write about health and fitness, I get to learn many things that I initially never knew about my own body. I have written numerous articles about cities and multinationals across the globe, and this allows me to tour the world virtually. Of late, I have been creating content for a self-defense site, and I am already practicing some taekwondo.
The Downsides of Online Work
a . Long Working Hours
The greatest challenge I have faced so far is working for long hours. It requires a lot of concentration, and with time I have learned to find quiet places where friends cannot find me easily. That means one has to be sort of anti-social to some extent, which has not been easy for me, I love parties 🙂
b . Purchasing Gadgets
I have friends who are interested in working online; but do not own a laptop, desktop, smartphone or all of the above. Using library computers is hectic, as you have to compete with many people. If you are slightly late or happen to get off your seat for a moment, you might find your place already taken.
c. Power Black Outs
Power blackouts are a huge nuisance to any freelancer. I have had to terminate a number of jobs prematurely, to the disappointment of clients. I had a difficult time explaining to one of my clients that I could not complete a task because my place had a blackout. Evidently, he is from a developed country where the longest power blackout is resolved in a matter of seconds.
d. Delayed Payments
There are times when my payments delay, and it can become so discouraging. This is especially so if one has the Kenyan tendency of spending before they earn, just because they expect some money ‘soon’. However, I have learnt to anticipate such instances. The good thing is that finally, you will get your money.
To my fellow Kenyans, let us stop crying foul saying that there are no jobs. Opportunities are available all over the internet. In fact, freelancers have never been enough. Let’s use the internet to make as much money as possible as we also enjoy the experience.
This will help keep you groomed and your bills paid as you wait for that white collar job you always dream of. Trust me, if you do it right, that white collar job might not be necessary. Get going, and thank me later.
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