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Here’s how I started as a Freelancer in Nigeria

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Here’s how I started as a Freelancer in Nigeria

It is true that the road to being a successful freelancer can be a long and torturous one. I can attest to this as I have been through the rough path before I finally found my way in the world of freelancing. When I first started on this journey, my initial thoughts were along the line of ‘how hard can freelancing be’.

I got to find out pretty quick that it can be as hard as anything. One of my misconceptions was that all I need to do is dump my day job, get a laptop and sit at home while waiting for work and clients to come looking for me. Oh, how very wrong I was. Thankfully, I learned quickly enough to jettison that mindset and know that even as a freelancer, I have to strive for the works I’ll get.

Another misconception that reality of working as a freelancer quickly cleared for me is that freelancing is very much a job. Of course, it is very different from the normal 9-5 job I quitted to start life as a freelancer, but it is work on its own too. It is not a stable source of income and not a reliable job until I made it one. Until I built it to the level it is now, freelancing was a hit and miss thing for me.

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It is not all gloom though, there are some tips and simple secrets of the trade I picked up over time that helped me to scale up and become quite successful at it. In this article, I will be sharing some of these tips and secrets with you and if you are determined enough you can start to earn a steady, comfortable income as a freelancer within 30 days.

Network and Spread The News

The first step I took when I was about to start on my freelancing journey was to network and make contacts with people that can help me with referrals. I started with the people in my immediate social sphere, my family, my colleagues at work and my friends in college. I told them about what I was going into and asked them to help me spread the news. Believe me, my first set of clients came from referrals from these people I informed.

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You could also start off your career by using these freelancing websites that accept Nigerians.

Build Your Personal Brand

One thing you need to know as a freelancer is that you are a brand. You are no longer an individual, but an embodiment of your brand. What I am saying by this is that no matter which field you want to freelance in, whether writing or digital marketing or web designing, when you are making your pitch, you are not just selling the services you render, you are also selling yourself.

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As a freelancer, your personality counts a lot in getting you clients. The truth is, as you are starting out, people will work with you based on trust and if your personality does not encourage people to trust you, well that’s bye-bye.

While building my brand, I got myself on the social media platforms and I ensured all my details are fully filled therein. I built my LinkedIn profile to be as professional as possible and I made sure all the relevant experiences I have was clearly stated. On Facebook, I searched for and joined groups that are relevant to my field and I ensured I was relevant in those groups by asking and answering questions often. The engagement on these groups gives me the visibility I needed, and with time, other members of the groups started taking me as an authority in the field.

I Wrote Down My Action Plan

As the old saying goes, one that fails to prepare is inevitably preparing to fail. This is true for anything you want to set about in life, not just freelancing. Before I left my day job to take up freelancing full time, I made sure I wrote down the things I want to do and when I need to do them. I arranged them in a chronological order and I was ticking them off one after the other as I finish them.

Like I said earlier, this is a job, a single ownership business so to speak. I had a personal plan drafted as my business plan with the standard contents of a professional business plan reflected in it. I included the financial requirements for the business, my projected revenue and my monthly target. This helped me in keeping my head straight and my eyes on the ultimate goal of making my venture a financially satisfying one.

I Researched The Field and Identified The Competition

Learning never stops, it never ever stops. I scanned through different social media platforms and read articles and blog posts from different sources so I can absorb as much information as I can on things happening in my field of interest. Although there is the real danger of getting sidetracked when one is searching for information online, I made sure I guarded myself against this.

The most helpful information I discovered was about my competitors. What are they offering that I am not and how are they going about their business? I picked up the parts I needed that I can make the work for me and I found a way of including it in my business.

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Get A Freelancer Mentor

Don’t burn bridges.

That statement up there is about the best advice I’ve ever come across. It is quite simple to understand the principle of it but putting it into practice is where the problem is.

As a freelancer, you can’t afford to burn bridges, with people you know or with clients. A single bad word about you and your service from the wrong person can send all you’ve worked for down the drain. Remember I said earlier that a major currency of this trade is trust. And trust once broken is quite difficult to regain.

Your biggest influencer as you set out to start work as a freelancer is your immediate boss, as he or she might be the one people go to for recommendation about your service. So be careful when leaving there, resist the temptation to flip him the bird no matter how good it will make you feel. Remember to keep your eyes on the goal.

You also need to find someone that is already in the field that can mentor you and show you the ropes as you take your first baby steps. If it requires you to eat humble pie and beg an influencer in your field to help you get started, do it. It won’t be easy but at the end of the day, it will be worth it.

Finally, I want you to know that nothing is set in stone. Because I took the aforementioned steps and they worked for me does not mean they will work like a charm for you too when you try them.

These are steps I took, not a magical formula to transport you to the summit of the freelancer pyramid. Try them out as outlined but be free to tweak them to suit the peculiarity of your situation and reality.

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Paschal Okafor is NaijaTechGuide Team Lead. The article Here’s how I started as a Freelancer in Nigeria was written by Adebimitan. The article was last modified: April 25th, 2018

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