According to a UNDP report, the rate of unemployment in Kenya is at an alarming 39%. Many job seekers take years before they can get a job and even when that happens, there are no guarantees that the job will pay enough to meet their basic needs. Many Kenyans are now turning to online work which has a lot of promise. However, how does one get to be successful working online?
1. Identify Your Niche
While playing the jack of all trades may be fun, it will not help your freelancing career. You probably feel it will be easier to land a project or make money by doing any work that comes your way, right? Well, you would be wrong!
The reality is that people are drawn to freelancers that are experts in their field. They want to work with you because you actually know what you are talking about. This is why it is so important to pick a niche and establish yourself as the go-to guy.
For example, someone who calls themselves a “writer” may find themselves struggling for work. There are millions of writers available today; what makes you special? Instead, narrow your focus to “SEO writer” or “Business writer” and see the emails start pouring in.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
Identify your target audience carefully and ensure that you provide services that they need. Once your destination is clear, it is then easy to identify the skills you will require to succeed in your chosen line of work.
3. Invest in Acquiring the Necessary Skills
Many people who go on to have successful online careers start without any formal education in their field. They spend long hours training themselves. They invest in good books and online material. They spend hours on YouTube watching tutorials and practicing what they learn.
Don’t wait until you have acquired some formal training to begin working online. You will identify the specific skills you need as you work. Start with whatever skills you already have and improve gradually. Be ready to put in the work to acquire extra skills. If you can invest in some training in a college, that is a good investment, but it is not obligatory.
4. Consider Having a Mentor
Identify a mentor or mentors. This is someone who is already accomplished in your given niche. It is someone who can hold your hand as you learn the ropes. That way, you will learn faster and easier rather than learn from mistakes.
As more and more people turn to online opportunities, the field is becoming very competitive. To beat the competition one needs to improve their skills to have something extra to offer.
5. Quality Quality Quality
Provide quality work at all times. Make it a habit of going the extra mile. Make up your mind that you will keep on learning and getting better. Learn from successful people in the field and emulate them.
Chema chajiuza, kibaya chajitembeza. The quality of your work will attract clients to you through referrals from satisfied clients as well as from people who will find links to your work online. Update your online profile regularly and indicate the assignments you have successfully executed.
6. Personal Branding
Make yourself a brand. That’s how you’ll separate yourself from the competition. That is how you will stand out from the crowd. Concentrate and perfect on your niche and let the world know you for your specific qualities and what you offer the market.
Have the attitude of “Love me or hate me” in your personal brand. You are not out to please everyone and anyone; there are those who connect with you, who resonate with what you stand for. That is your tribe, your following. Those others are someone else’s tribe. They resonate with someone else. Be yourself; everyone else is taken. Be authentic, be you.
Target highly paying clients and that way; you will be able to work less and earn more. Give your all to professionally branding yourself and bidding correctly. Your aim is to do a few high-quality articles per week that pay you well.
7. Have a Professional Strong Profile
Provide as much information on your profile as possible. Make the profile a mini resume or CV. Put emphasis on your qualifications and experience. Indicate the jobs you have completed, how much they paid and who the clients were. Appear competitive.
The photo you choose to brand yourself online can make or break your career. What message do you want to portray by using that particular photo? Choose the background carefully too.
Look professional in the way you present yourself from the way you style your hair, use makeup and your facial expression. Give a hint of being happy and relaxed. Do not use too much make-up or have fancy hairdos. Look straight at the camera as that gives an impression of self-confidence and having nothing to hide.
8. Online Presence
Be professional in the way you present yourself online. Do not post photos or updates that portray you as a joke. Conduct yourself online like an authority in your field.
Join the right communities online and socialize. Bring value to the marketplace by giving people value in your contributions. You will need to be knowledgeable in order to give people value so read widely and be well informed about what is happening in your field and other relevant fields.
Have either a blog or a website and stand out as a professional. Give people value with your blog articles. Publish regular, well researched and informative articles. Having a YouTube channel is a plus.
If you are a writer, showcase your competence by submitting e-zine articles to boost your professional profile.
9. Bid Like a Pro
The bidding process determines how much you earn in your online career. Do your homework carefully and find out how much clients charge for the kind of work you want to bid for. Go through the highly paid work and pick out the factors that make that work attract high pay.
You can get clients to pay you more than they have indicated in bids. The fact that you have worked with serious clients and been paid high rates indicates to potential clients what you are worth. If they really want quality work, they will not hesitate to raise their fees in order to get you on board.
10. Use Relevant Samples When Bidding
Increase your chances of being paid highly by having sample articles that are as close as possible to what the client is looking for. The client will fall in love with your sample article and be ready and willing to hire you at whatever the cost. Avoid using general or unrelated articles to use as samples while bidding.
11.How Do You Find Clients?
Once you have identified your niche, do your research to find out where to get work. Familiarize yourself with highly paid freelancers in your niche and what they provide. Why do they stand out from the crowd? Why does their work attract highly paying clients?
Compare different highly paid freelancers and get to learn what makes them attract that sort of pay. Emulate them where necessary and improve to make yourself better than them.
Register your profile on platforms such as Upwork and Freelancer and prepare winning proposals when you have to bid for assignments.
12. Pitching Clients
One of the most important aspects of a freelancer is looking for jobs. Plan your work carefully. Allocate time for looking for new clients. Do not restrict yourself to the platforms but be open to cold pitching independent private clients who need the kind of services you offer. Take time to find out exactly what the clients need then prepare winning proposals to win them.
13. Conducive Working Environment
Be disciplined. Choose or create a favorable environment to work from. You will need a computer that is in good working condition. Invest in good antivirus protection and also relevant software such as grammar and spelling checkers. A smartphone can be used for some online work, but it is very limiting.
Invest in good reliable Internet and a dependable power source. Nothing should interfere with your work.
To achieve maximum productivity, cut out distractions such as unnecessary social chats, friends, family, TV, and anything that might come between you and your work.
Different people are most productive at different times. Some people work best at night while others work best during the day. Experiment with working at different times of the day or night. That way, you will be able to identify the best time for you. Try and accomplish the bulk of your work during those times.
14.Where there is No Vision, People Perish!
Success begins with a vision. Having your dreams in mind at all times keeps you motivated, focused and energized. A clear vision will help you work hard and master all the necessary skills in your work. No accomplishment in this life is easy, but purpose keeps one going. Remember to keep going even when the going gets tough. Winners never quit, and quitters never win.
15.Check Your Lifestyle!
Many online workers have fallen off the bandwagon of success due to mismanaged lifestyles. Online careers like other self-employment ventures can be quite tough to manage due to one being his or her own boss. Many people tend to mismanage their time, and many mismanage their money. Online work is a business, in business, you have to be very careful about how you spend your time and money.
Unemployment levels in Kenya and around the globe are continually rising as technology makes more and more jobs obsolete. The same technology has opened up opportunities to build careers online for those who will seize the opportunity and do what it takes to succeed. The World Wide Web is the goldmine of the 21st century, so don’t get left behind.
Find more insights into the freelance world in this rich eye-opening article https://www.toptal.com/insights/future-of-work/millionaire-freelancing-career