Being a freelancer in Kenya, working online, hiring freelancers online: the frequently asked questions on freelancing answered

Contents

Glad to launch Niabusiness Classifieds section with this article. If this is your first time here, let me tell you a bit about Niabusiness Classifieds. It is a freelance marketplace created to help Kenyan employers find competent and well-skilled freelancer they can hire for various tasks. It is also a place Kenyan freelancers can advertise their services for free – and get hired.

In this article, I attempt to go through some of the frequently asked questions about being a freelancer in Kenya. Learn more about the basics of working online / hiring online. If you have a question that has not been answered, check the various articles on Niabusiness Blog.

Ready?

 Note that Niabusiness has linked to some of the resources on this page using affiliate links. When you click on something and purchase it, Niabusiness will receive a commission from every successful sale / referral, at no extra cost to you. 

What can I do to start working as a freelancer in Kenya?

Usually just a skill freelance clients / employers are looking for and an internet connection. For example if you want to start offering content writing services online, practice the skill of writing a lot – become really good at it.

Once you think you are ready to be hired – to contribute your content for pay – hop on a freelancing platform like Niabusiness or a marketplace like Upwork. Share what you can offer and prospective clients will decide if they want to work with you or not.

On Niabusiness, click here to create an ad about the freelance service you are offering. Placing an ad on the site is free.

Remember also that you can also reach out directly to businesses and individuals – via email usually – and see if they might be interested in the services you offer.

How do I hire freelancers in Kenya? Can I hire people from within the country to help me? How do I get started?

To hire freelancers you can reach out to them directly or use a website like Niabusiness to find someone. Go to the classifieds page and browse the ads already submitted in the category you are interested in hiring from.

For example if you are looking for someone to manage your Google Ads or Facebook Advertising on a freelance basis, click on the Ad Managers category – and reply to one of the ads listed in the category.

From there, it is just a matter of explaining the scope of the work the freelancer will do, explaining the kind of result and process you have in mind, agreeing on a fee and whether to pay all of it or half of it upfront, before work commences. Then the freelancer gets to work.

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There are many Kenyans already working online as freelancers. And it is easier than before to find people from within the country and hire them. Click the Browse Ads section to start your search for a freelancer.

How do freelancers in Kenya get paid? How can I pay freelancers working for me?

There are so many payment options available to individuals, businesses and organizations in Kenya interested in freelancing.

Here are some of those popular modes of payment:

  • PayPal. This is popular with freelancers working on various marketplaces and also freelancers who find work via cold pitching. For freelancers, PayPal is an easy way to send invoices and to receive payment. For clients it is a simple gateway to see pending invoices and pay them in full once they approve any work done by the people they hire. Kenyans working online can also withdraw their PayPal funds to their Safaricom M-PESA mobile money wallets or Equity bank accounts.
  • M-PESA. Popular used by many Kenyans who sub-contract to beginner freelancers and also a simple efficient way for local clients to pay Kenyan freelancers. It is easier and faster than going through the hoops of sending money via PayPal then expecting the freelancer to then withdraw the monies they receive their M-PESA accounts.
  • Payoneer. Another service similar to PayPal that is popular with employers, clients, affiliate marketers and freelancers in Kenya and the rest of the world. Some clients just like sending money to he freelancers they hire using Payoneer. The freelancers can then withdraw the money to their bank account in Kenya or use their Payoneer MasterCard debit card to withdraw money from an ATM account.

Other services used by both freelancers and clients include Skrill and Transferwise.

Why is getting freelance jobs hard?

Definitely getting jobs online as a freelancer requires some work – hard work. Getting gigs and getting paid might take you some time. Probably because learning and then implementing what you learn might take awhile. Then there is the element of competition – with some categories more saturated than others.

A rule of thumb is usually to keep at it. If you are sending 50 pitches per day, maybe try that for 2 weeks, a month, maybe even two to three months and see where it all leads. I the process you’ll get to refine your gig hunting skills. Everything with doing takes a lot of work, and so is freelancing – the right way.

How do I deal with scams, fraudsters and all those who make freelancers deliver work then disappear – the ones who don’t want to pay for quality work?

Vet who you work with as a contractor or client. Insist on upfront payment if you are not really sure about the person.

Make sure you research a little bit about who you work with. Ask them some questions about themselves to gauge if you’d be comfortable moving things along with them. If you are not really sure you can trust them, channel your efforts elsewhere.

Also join various freelance Facebook groups – usually they put a spotlight on some of these scammers and share pointers that can come handy if you are really serious about protection yourself from people so into perpetuating fraudulent behaviour on various freelance marketplaces.

How do I find high paying freelance clients online? Am tired of being paid little money for a lot of work by difficult clients?

Learn about pricing. Find ways to make your services more appealing. Add-on services are sometimes more appealing to clients and you find that more are willing to pay higher rates if you can help them take even more off their plate.

And then there are some businesses willing to pay more if it means they get to get the results that ordinarily would have only originated from a new employee of theirs. It will take a lot of learning and a lot of testing – that is how you are going to land better paying clients.

Should I create my own blog or website as a freelancer?

This is totally up to you. It is highly recommended if you want to portray more of a professional image to potential clients.

Mostly freelancers are told to use their site to show their portfolio, add a page about them, a page about their freelance services and a way for people to contact them.

But truth be told, there are some who just host their work on Google Docs or Dropbox and still get hired. So, again, highly recommended – but know that it is not a prerequisite to getting hired in most niches.

What are the popular things you can do online as a freelancer?

Content writing is a big one. Then there is graphic design, virtual assistant services, web design, app development, web development, transcription, translation services, customer service work among others.

Check the various ads listed in the various Niabusiness categories to get a general idea of some of the things you can do to make an income freelancing.

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What are some of the tasks you can hire online freelancers to do for you as a business owner?

Build your website for you. Add an online shop component to your website. Write affiliate review articles for your niche site. Write blog posts. Do email outreach for you. Virtual assistance. Customer support. Sales page writing. Product description writing. Logo design. Upload media and content pieces to your site. Edit code on your site. Create sales funnels. Create email campaigns and autoresponder series. Create and manage ads. Improve your site’s on-page and off-page SEO. Link building. Video Creation. Lead magnet Creation. Podcast & audio transcription. Banner ad Creation. Ad management and many many more. Check the Niabusiness categories on this page to get an idea of just some of the things you can outsource to freelancers in Kenya.

What are some of the things clients working with freelancers hate?

Most clients no matter which part of the world they are coming from generally don’t like the following:

  • Shoddy work. If you can’t deliver the result they are after, stop giving people headaches. Play to your strengths.
  • Missing deadlines. If given reasonable time to complete your work and you keep failing to turn in work in good time, the client won’t be happy.
  • A general lack of professionalism. Not knowing how to play well with others in the industry / niche. Bringing into work things that really most don’t care about – like your ego.
  • Not listening to their instructions. Most clients are open to suggestions but remember to not let these tempt you into interpreting their job description in a way that leads to results they are not happy with. Keep things simple.
  • Overcharging. All am going to say here is let your common sense guide you. Be reasonable.

What are some of the things online freelancers hate?

  • Clients complicating simple processes. Keep your standard operating procedures as simple as possible before you even go out looking for a freelancer to outsource work to. For example sometimes a writer doesn’t need to connect with you on Skype in order for them to write you an article.
  • Paying peanuts. Be reasonable. Pay well. Long-term it doesn’t cost you anything to meet well-done work with a handsome reward. Pay well. Pay on time. And please don’t take people in circles.
  • Requesting additional help (not originally mentioned in the job description) and making it seem like it is no big deal. People lead busy lives. So be frank upfront about each and everything that you expect from the person you hire.
  • Misrepresenting yourself. Be real. Share your real name. Maybe even mention where the stuff you get from the freelancer will be used. Pseudonyms and fake profiles eventually only results to a shaky foundation of trust, even if you are paying well.

When should you stop working with a freelancer or client?

Anytime the client or freelancer does anything ruinous to the relationship between the parties, a few emails might be exchanged to rectify the situation. If that doesn’t make things better, it is usually time to look elsewhere.

Common problems usually involve missing deadlines, delaying payments, sporadic communication when constant and regular contact is needed.

If someone is just not a good fit, it is not cruel to cut them loose. Just do it and work with somebody else.

Can I start working as a freelancer, as a side hustle, even in a cyber cafe or my smartphone?

Whatever you’ve got, use that to get started. I have gotten work emailing potential clients from a feature phone.

I am writing parts of this article on a smartphone (the rest I am typing on a laptop).

And yes, I have also done some client work on computers available to the public in cyber cafes. So, yes, if you have the will to figure work, it won’t matter what devices you currently have in your possession.

What are some ways freelancers waste their money? How can they be frugal, save more – learn to form better financial habits and spend their incomes on worthy investments?

The various ways some waste money? Spending on things they don’t really need. So, might be new software, apps, devices or even a lifestyle that feels comfortable but is so stressful to maintain.

Forming better financial habits involves mostly learning and practicing habits that ensure more of the money you make stays in your ‘pocket’ – working for you. You can read. There are many good books out there. But here is another finding thing I have observed.

There are many people who read these good books but the education they get never translate to helpful habits. So, while reading, remember to also put lots of effort to turn the things you read into habits that eventually help you grow strong financially.

Check the personal finance books section on Amazon for ebooks you can buy and download to your smartphone, tablet or laptop right now. Use the Kindle app to read them on Microsoft Windows, Google Android or Apple iOS.

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How can I diversify my freelance income?

There are a few things I am going to suggest. Generally I find most freelancers are comfortable just doing freelance work for new or existing clients.

Most of them don’t like venturing out – and I understand: working online as a freelancer takes a lot of hard work.

So, you might just want to find opportunities for growth right where you are now. If you are already working as a contractor, create higher tier services, create a team.

To diversify, look at affiliate marketing, earning via display ads (on a website, blog or app you own), book publishing, running an agency, investing your money to other ventures offline e.g. farming, real estate, stocks, bonds among other things.

Can I list my skill on Niabusiness today – give this freelancing thing a shot?

Yes. I mean there is more upside to giving this thing a shot than downside. To post your ad for free, go here. In the title for your ad, mention the specific thing you’d like to be hired for. And then in the description section, go a little deeper into what it is you bring to the table.

Show prospective clients what you can help them with. Share any results you’ve gotten for others (or even yourself) if you like – anything reasonable that will make your Niabusiness listing stand out. If you still want to educate yourself some more, check the articles on Niabusiness Blog.

The Ajira Digital website – is that the Government of Kenya’s attempt to help curb unemployment rates in the country by promoting online freelancing / remote work as an alternative and viable way to make an income?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. If some of the taxes can be allocated to teach the citizenry about freelancing then someone in the government must be serious about getting as many Kenyans as possible to learn about the many opportunities available online that can lead to a meaningful income month-to-month.

There is someone who is promoting this on behalf of the government – a big team possibly – and personally I am thankful they are doing this.

You can go to their website, use this website and many others to learn as much as possible about opportunities to make money online, then place your own ad on Niabusiness Classifieds or browse the current listings on the site (if you want to give work to fellow Kenyans).

How long will it take before I start making money online? How fast before I start making money as a freelancer?

If you are prepared, you can start making money as a freelancer in two weeks or less. You just have to know what the clients need – and be ready to deliver. And then you also have to be active in your quest to find people willing to pay you for your expertise.

Someone who gets in touch with say 50 to 100 potential clients a day will probably land new gigs and start making money sooner compared to someone reaching out to say 5 to 10 clients per day.

So, it depends on your level of effort and creativity. You can even go out there, reaching out to potential clients, and find well-paying work on the same day.

Is managing freelancers a hustle? As a potential client interested in hiring somebody, is spending my time and money on a freelancer going to be worth it in the end?

If you hire the right way, hire the person qualified to tackle the particular task you have in mind, and give them reasonable time to complete the work, you will find that managing freelancers is actually quite a breeze.

So, here is how you keep the headaches at bay: While going through the listings on the site, target the ads that closely resemble the job description that would accompany the task you want to outsource.

Or break down the tasks into bits and try working with various freelancers on each component. Notice the overlap, their skill level, promptness and then maybe you can decide to continue working with one or two. It will be worth it for you.

I lead a busy life but want to get into freelancing. How do people get the time to search for, find, do online jobs and get paid while maintaining a work-life balance?

Ok, 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week, that is what everybody’s got. So, in there you are going to have to find time. I mean so many others have. And since they are humans like you, with busy schedules like you, it means you can do it.

So, for example instead of going into freelancing hot – spending hours upon hours daily in search for jobs then giving up in a week or two – maybe three, stop sprinting and adopt the marathon mentality. Carve 30 minutes a day – and dedicate it to learning as much as you can.

Then once you know enough spend most of your time looking for work. Study some of the ad listings placed on Niabusiness Classifieds, then write your own and upload them to the site.

Do this with other freelance marketplaces as well – if you want to cast a wide net – make yourself available to as many potential clients as possible.

About PayPal – how do I create an account? How do I verify my PayPal account?

There are so many employers who prefer using PayPal to receive invoices from the freelancers they hire. And there are many freelance contractors who use PayPal to get paid – after all they can easily withdraw money to their M-PESA online or via the mySafaricom App.

You can create a free PayPal account by going to PayPal.com. To verify the account, use a credit card or even a debit card such as the I&M Bank VISA M-PESA Prepaid Card, KCB account ATM card among others.

What is the most interesting thing you gleaned from reading this article? Share it in the comments section below.

Got a job / a task you want to hire out? Place an Ad here. Looking for freelance work? Browse the Ads on Niabusiness.

To read other awesome articles like this, go through the blog archive.

Again, if there is something you want to list on the site, click here to place your ad. Creating a listing on the site is free.

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