Inviting freelancers working online in Kenya to share their stories (of how they started and stayed the course)

I am inviting freelancers working online in Kenya to share their stories with me and other readers.

The goal is to share:

  • different stories from people coming from different backgrounds
  • stories that can inspire existing freelancers and beginners as well
  • experiences that can help others refine their processes so they can get more out of their time
  • comments that others can refer to from time to time when they need a dose of inspiration

And I will go first. Here is my story.

 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 was your background before you started

Here’s mine. I went to primary school. Then high school.

And right after that, I joined university – and did a degree in law (LLB).

I remember studying computers in high school. The subject was called Computer Studies.

I did it for two years – in Form 1 and Form 2.

In uni, we also had a unit on Computers.

And by then I had experimented with blogging platforms such as Google owned Blogger.com.

At the time it was just a matter of learning a little bit about how to grow ones platform as an aspiring author. And one of the budget friendly ways to do so that I kept reading about was blogging.

It is in uni that I also registered my first domain name and paid for web hosting.

The site I created was mainly used to practice my writing skill.

During this time I also remember writing poetry and publishing them as Facebook notes and also on sites such as PoemHunter.com.

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But I mostly spent my time online learning more about internet marketing, blogging, WordPress, sales, marketing and self-publishing.

And I would occasionally write a post for my own blog.

I tried running multiple sites at a time when I saw some experts say niching down was the best thing an online publisher could do – for their own sake, the sake of their readers and advertisers.

Problem is I was stretching myself thin trying to work on different projects concurrently.

This is also the time I decided to learn a bit about personal development. And marrying it with business, I started to think of better ways to go after the goals I had, to work on projects sequentially.

Just a lot of testing during this time. A lot of failures. Some mild wins. But generally great lessons emerged from all the various experiments I tried.

When did you start and why

I started online freelancing in 2016. Or maybe I should put it this way: the first time I did any kind of freelance work for a client I met online was around four years ago.

I needed money. And that time I was running my own blog, publishing articles I wrote myself on it.

So, I thought to myself, instead of just waiting for my Google AdSense income to grow (wait for my blog traffic to increase) or to get more conversions from clicks to products and services I promoted as an affiliate, I could just do what I was already good at for someone else and have them pay me.

That is how I became a freelance writer.

Someone could pay me for my writing and use the content I created on their own property (website / blog) or offline.

What is it you do and why

I am a blogger and I write for clients as well – sometimes.

So, I create content for my own properties – which I monetize via affiliate marketing and display ads.

And I also offer my content writing services to others – mainly folks in the WordPress, blogging and small business niches.

I do it because I like writing – and the good things that come up as a result of the content I create. So, rankings, email subscribers, connections, income and the satisfaction of having helped someone get unstuck.

What are some of the things you did to try to get freelance jobs online

I just relied mostly on emailing potential clients. I didn’t rely on methods such as bidding on job sites to get hired.

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But I do have accounts on various freelance marketplaces and platforms.

I have an account on UpWork. I have an account on Fiverr. I also have an account on Freelancer.

By the time I started sending cold pitches to potential clients, I was subscribed to a number of newsletters / email lists in one of my favourite niches: internet marketing / blogging and WordPress.

So, I just replied to some of the emails I received from various publishers in the niche, and that is how I got my first gig.

What challenges have you experienced along the way

Consolidating my time on a few projects. This has been a major challenge, especially since I set out to learn everything about the IM (internet marketing) and publishing space.

And if it is not that, another challenge I have experienced is trying lots of different things to reach a particular goal. For example:

  • Trying to get more traffic by pursuing multiple strategies at the same time (SEO & SEM – Search Engine Optimization & Marketing, social media marketing – Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest and social bookmarking sites, back when Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon were really big).
  • Trying different monetization strategies (offering services, selling my own products, using ads and trying to make money off affiliate programs as well).

So, what am learning is to just do less. To focus on a few things and do them really well. And to move from one thing to the next only after I set a strong foundation for the current thing I am working.

Which means I have also had to learn how to best allocate my time on all the different things I am working on – be it my own projects or projects for different clients that hire me.

What rewards have you gotten

Mostly a great education, learning new things I was never taught in school.

And to coming to a conclusion that I’d you really want to learn and do something you can, if you put in the time and give yourself time to grow.

I have grown immensely from all the literature I have consumed over the years.

I have learnt a lot from the projects I have worked on.

I have become a better writer.

I have just grown as a person, made great connections and some money too.

What lessons have you learnt that have helped you along the way, especially during tough times

To always know that whatever you are struggling with can be overcome.

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If lack of knowledge is stopping you from successfully pursuing something that is a problem that can be easily fixed by doing some research on the internet.

So, anytime I have felt that I couldn’t do something, that I was unable maybe to accomplish something, I would just take a long break, then go online to:

  • Read articles (case studies and interviews especially)
  • Download and listen to podcasts.
  • Watch educational video content on websites such as YouTube.
  • Find ebooks, online courses and Facebook groups on whatever topic I wanted to learn more about.

So, you can choose to stay stuck – by not proactively going after resources that can help you fix your problems. Or you can just take a dose of humility, say you don’t know them go online to learn from those who know what you want to know.

Any awesome tools and resources you have come across

I have listed some on the Niabusiness Tools & Resources page. But here is a short list:

  • Google Search – for surfacing content published by various experts on different subjects.
  • Gutenberg.org – for awesome free ebooks on various topics.
  • WordPress – a great platform to run a blog or website.
  • Google Drive – for online file storage.
  • PayPal – for creating quick invoices and getting paid.

What are you doing to keep growing your freelance career or business

I am still learning as much as I can while leaving room to actually implement the things I learn.

And lately I have been working on Niabusiness.com/ads, which itself is a freelance platform aimed at:

I am also doing the things that I know have worked for me before like putting out great content out there not knowing the good things that may come up because I just had the courage to create something and publish it.

And then as the owner of Niabusiness Classifieds, I am also creating various ad listings on the site for various tasks I can do for clients. So, I am slowly adding new listings in some of the categories listed here.

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