Good morning y’all,
I just finished one of the longest-standing jobs I’ve had as a freelancer (since Jan 2018) — content marketing for WorkFusion. Well, it’s not completely finished but we’re on a break while they review the success of the entire project. It involved me and ≈70 other freelance writers from all over the world. Some of the posts were even written in non-English languages! It was an exciting project that also happened to be wella paid.
Ha * I sigh in happiness. While it was definitely a fulfilling experience, I’m not sad to see it go (or pause). That’s the thing with being a freelancer, you learn to let go easily and know that your personality is not tied to your job or title because they change so regularly, it’s a merry-go-round and you live quite nimbly.
You also get used to having a million and one projects moving through your hands, that the minute you wrap one up, you can focus on the next or go on a mini-break.
This time, I have decided to turn my attention inwards — write about my experiences, my lessons learned and my very random thoughts that I wish I could share but I never do.
Mostly though, and this is to be of actual value to you, my readers :), I’ll be writing about freelancing and navigating this unconventional career choice in Africa in 2018. With the internet, it really doesn’t matter that I am in Africa. I only have to learn the skills, speak the language, connect to the internet and start from somewhere.
I have been writing since I was able to, in books, notepads, blogs. For a job/skill that doesn’t pay too much compared to others (e.g. being a developer), I’m not mad at myself for being here and choosing this.
I recently shared on my Instagram (deleted the post now) that I made $5000 in my first 4–5 active months on Upwork and then doubled it in the next 2 months, and this was made from solely content marketing jobs on the platform. There was just one odd job where I got paid $10 to help someone make a PayPal payment on an online site (PayPal isn’t active in her country).
And that’s one of the weird things about freelancing, you could be literally be doing anything at any time. From working in a team to execute a worldwide campaign to writing copy for pitch decks and testing mobile applications. You can also be attending world-class events for free and getting paid for it. Of course, you’ll be scribbling away the entire time but you sure are not excluded from meeting cool people and enjoying yourself.
You also get to keep weird hours. Sleep at 5 pm and wake up at 3 am, going about your daily life like 95% of the world isn’t on some strict day/nighttime schedule. You get to truly make your rules as long as you keep delivering results.
And I guess, this is where the beginning of the cons come in. You are living a risky life, uncertain where you’ll be in 6 months, sometimes getting broke and feeling lonely especially if you don’t have friends who do the same thing or, at least, don’t go to work every damn day.
To be a freelancer, especially in the beginning, you have to be very open to risks — just let go and let Life. Put in work, talk about your brand, sell yourself, attend events, etc (I’ll be covering strategies in a later post), and hope that the jobs start coming in.
And when they do start coming in, you want to retain them. You want them to love you, speak about you and call you back again and again. Because when they do, you have some certainty and stability in your life, and you can see past the next 3 to 6 months.
PS: If you’re an experienced writer/online multimedia content creator who doesn’t mind some extra income and work, please contact me.
Needless to say as a freelancer, you’re always saving; at least till you hit a minimum bank balance that you’re comfortable with and can breathe freely. Whenever you spend close to that minimum balance, you know it’s time to get a new client.
A freelancer must be good at getting jobs. You have to be persuasive; you have to figure out what they want to hear and tell them that. Of course, you should deliver on it too, so be careful to only say what you know you can do.
Twice, I took on jobs my skills weren’t a match for and I ended paying another freelancer 75% of the earnings after I tried twice and received brutal feedback.
Damn. The feedback.
Some clients are tactless and make you regret the day you agreed to take their money. These ones you drop them as fast as you can. They’re never worth the effort. Because remember, the reason you probably decided to become a freelancer in the first place, was because you want to be happy and independent.
If you struggle to grow for about a year and there are no marked milestones, you should definitely get a more experienced freelancer in your field to show you the ropes and pass jobs to you at reduced pay, or just go get a regular job.
In the end, the goal is not to be eccentric but to be happy.
I think freelancing is a totally millennial thing to do. We have the internet, dammit. You literally can be whoever or whatever you want to be. You want to be a filmmaker? Take Issa Rae’s path, make movies independently, freelance and keep your eyes out for opportunities. See, I just found this site.
You want to be a famous chef. Girl/Boy, get home, get out your cooking stuff and make that dish on YouTube or whatever.
You want to work in the tech space? My dear, stand up right now and go to the nearest co-working space or tech startup incubator. Talk to the first person you meet there and ask about their programs.
We live in a new world with little to no rules, I truly believe this.
The only thing holding you back from being whoever you want to be is your eagerness to be that person. If you want it bad enough, you’ll get on the internet and figure it out.
What’s your excuse?
While you’re here, sign up to be notified of my progress as I write my book: A Week of Saturdays. It’s going to be good! Here’s A Week of Saturdays on Instagram too. Follow and ask any specific questions you have.