Freelancing/Online Work from a Kenyan Perspective

With about 50,000 youths graduating from public and private universities every year, Kenya is estimated to have at least 2.3 million of unemployed youths. Most Kenyans join universities with the intention of getting good academic qualifications. This is because, it is always believed that it is only a good university education that can land someone a good well-paying job. However, the reality is usually quite different.

The Kenya Bureau of Statistics reveals that it takes an average of five years for a Kenyan university graduate to secure a job in Kenya today. With the all-time high in employment, what is a Kenyan youth expected to do? The cost of living has generally skyrocketed with so many bills to be paid.

Freelancing and online work has come to offer a solution to the situation facing Kenya. Freelancing is a form of self-employment where a person offers his/her services for a fee. A freelancer does not work for a single permanent client although good working relations should be maintained across all clients.

With the possibility of saving on office space, monthly salary expenses and health insurance, most small businesses and startups are increasingly settling for freelancers. If you are unemployed or would like to make some extra cash besides your monthly salary, online work is the way to go. There are numerous jobs to choose from. All you need to have is a computer, a good internet connection and the willingness to join the working online community.

There are some reasons that make online work/freelancing an important part of the Kenyan job market.

Jump Start Development; Being one of the most digitally connected nation in Africa, Kenya is set on the same platform as other more developed nations. Continuous development of the country’s digital media can directly lead Kenya to becoming even more developed and connected.

Growth of Digital Media; With the future looking more brighter and brighter, Kenya is expected to embrace digital media even more. Kenya will have no reason of not finding itself ahead of the digital media curve in Africa. What with institutions like ADMI offering the skills needed in order to master digital space.

Offer Employment; Most importantly, digital media is the ultimate solution to the major problem of unemployment rate in Kenya. With its ability to create a lot of jobs in the market, it can be the vital way towards becoming a productive member of the Kenyan work force.

Although many people are turning to freelancing/online jobs either as part time jobs or even full time, there are some tips that one should consider in order to stay relevant in his chosen field.

  • Mentor-ship; It’s good to find an acquaintance to guide you on your journey. A mentor should be able to challenge you, reassure you, help you find leads and even help you expand your network.
  • Find your Niche; Something that you feel passionate about will definitely have intrinsic value and will be even more rewarding to pursue.
  • Collaborate with Others; As much as you need to put more focus on your work, networking is equally important. Developing a community of people who you can exchange skills with, and collaborate on work is also important.
  • Self-Discipline; This is an art that requires a lot of time to master. As a freelancer, you will need to build a suitable working schedule. Have the discipline to push yourself to finish projects on time. In freelancing, beating deadlines is key.

Now, with all the information about freelancing, it is also good to note that it also has its share of advantages and disadvantages.

Pros:

No Capital Required; As long as you have the skills required to provide a particular service, that is all you need to get started. In case you don’t have a computer; you can start by using your smartphone and later invest in a good laptop. It is also very easy to market yourself. Sites such as LinkedIn can help you in creating a great online resume which you can use in attracting clients. Also, there are many Kenyan agencies that offer writing services.

Start Easy; Starting out as a freelancer is really easy. With a skill to offer, next thing to do is finding your first client. Having a laptop and a good internet connection simplifies this even further. All you need to do is register on a job board or a freelancing site to start getting clients.

Flexibility; Freelancing gives you the chance to work wherever and whenever you want to. It also gives you a chance to choose your own clients. Difficult clients do not have to be dealt with since they can be easily dropped.

Demand; Although there has been a lot of competition in the freelancer market place, there has been a growing demand for professional and reliable freelancers. In a bid to cut down on salary obligations and overheads, businesses today have on hand freelancers, instead of hired employees. Businesses are sourcing for online companies that can easily link them to the products and services that they need.

Cons:

Irregular Work Flow; It is important to plan for lean times since most freelancers experience some seasons where there is good work flow and others where the work flow goes down.

Steady Flow of Clients; It can take a sizeable amount of time to build up a steady flow of clients. If you already have a job, it is not advisable to quit until you have been able to build a steady flow of clients.

Income; Although freelancing offers very well-paying job opportunities, it would be rather unrealistic to expect huge amounts of money when you are just starting out. Newbie freelancers tend to be paid much less by potential clients. It is only after you have proved your worth through building an impressive portfolio of satisfied clients, can you now start charging according to your worth.

Conclusion

Yes, freelancing/online jobs is just not another passing wind, but it is definitely here to stay. The fact that individuals who have already ventured into the market are making an honest and decent living through the money they earn, makes it even more desirable. A freelancer can make an average of Ksh1,000 to Ksh 3,000 per day. The more you work, the more you earn is the rule of freelancing. It is not for the lazy. It requires a lot of commitment, dedication and hard work.

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