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How to Get Started in a Freelancing Career in Kenya: Beginners Starter Pack

Image by Brandy Kennedy from Unsplash

With the unemployment rates at an all-time high the world over, perhaps it’s time to look into alternative sources of income. Freelancing seems like the most viable option right now, for several reasons. Unlike the conventional rules, where your papers determine what you can do, in freelancing, the focus is more on what you can deliver. 

Whether you are a form leaver, a fresh graduate, or an experienced government official, there are a dozen freelancing career opportunities you can dive into.

And so, to help you get started, this article gives a step-by-step outline of what you should do to launch your freelancing career in Kenya. 

Identify a marketable skill you’ll start freelancing with

The best way to get started is to identify the skills you have. Look into your previous job, your hobbies, or some of the things you’ve learned throughout the years. It could be you’ve been a data entry assistant, a teacher, a hotelier, a salesperson, or an entrepreneur. In these roles, which skills did you acquire? 

At this stage, it would help to list them down on a spreadsheet. After you’ve listed them, sign up on a freelancing site such as Fiverr and research if other freelancers are offering services that align with your skills. 

You can also jump on to Google and enter “skill+ freelance jobs.” If, for example, you were a data entry assistant, a quick search “data entry freelance jobs” will tell you if these opportunities are available. 

Cancel out the skills that are not marketable and highlight those that are already in the market. You want to offer the kind of service that others are already being paid for, in other words, take the tried and tested route. 

Do some research about your skillset

Once you’ve identified what you are good at, it’s time to dig deep and identify what the market needs in that category. Say you want to offer writing services. A few questions to ask to better understand the opportunities available include: what does being a content writer entail? What are clients listing as the must-have in content writing job offers?

Further, is there a specific industry that you are familiar with? If you worked in the manufacturing industry, for example, you are better placed to provide services specifically for that industry because you understand it better.

Research the prices of the services you want to offer. How much is the average hourly? How much is the cost per project? Where can you find clients to offer you services?

The purpose of this research is to have a holistic overview of the services you want to offer. So, get granular on the details.

Polish your skills

You don’t need formal training to be a freelancer. However, it helps to find a course that will equip you with the skills required to succeed in the industry. You have to be exceptional in whatever it is that you offer.

Take advantage of YouTube. There so many videos you can learn from. You can also find helpful information on blog posts and books on the area you want to specialize in. In addition, you can subscribe to email newsletters from experts in your industry.

One of the most efficient ways to polish your skills is to take an online course. There are many free courses you can sign up for, learn and get a certificate. 

HubSpot has a wide range of courses, from content marketing to WordPress training. Google Digital Garage is another platform where you can find free courses.

Lastly, you can also sign up for paid courses. Top Kenyan freelancers like Walter Akolo offer a beginners course for newbies getting their feet wet in content writing. Some top-rated international freelancers also offer a wide range of courses in different areas.

It’s important to note that you must continue learning throughout your online freelancing career even after taking your initiation course.

Create a portfolio

A portfolio proves to clients that you are skilled at what you do. If you are a writer, please, don’t use word docs or pdf documents. Instead, publish your articles on LinkedIn or Medium free of charge. You can consolidate these samples on a website or share the link of individual articles with a client. In case you are a graphic designer, you should be able to direct a client to the logo you have designed or perhaps a website if you are a web designer.

The key is to get your work out there. If you must, do a free project to have something to show your clients as proof of your skills. 

Get started on a job search

There are several ways to find jobs online. The most common ones where most freelancers start are on platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr. You’ll be required to set up your profile on these platforms, wait for approval, and then apply for job offers that match your skillset.

You can also look for opportunities on social media. Facebook groups are the best places to get started. Another platform that’s often overlooked yet has a huge potential, is LinkedIn. You only need to optimize your profile, and clients will find you. You can also research for companies in your niche and send a cold pitch requesting to offer your services.

It’s worth noting that freelancing is more demanding than an office job. You might take months before landing your first gig. However, if you stay the course, you’ll definitely reap a bounty harvest from a freelancing career.

Also read: 7 Myths About Entrepreneurship and Freelancing That Seriously Need to Die

Mourine Odongo
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