Before early 2017, I knew nothing about freelance writing. I didn’t even know there were people making money out of it or from other online businesses. So how did I discover this invaluable gem? I’m going to let you know about it in a short while. But first, let me give you a little story of my life.
The Little Story of My Life
I’m a proud mom of two beautiful daughters. The first born will soon be starting her 3rd year as a BSc Electrical Engineering student in one of the local universities. The younger one is joining university in September 2019 to pursue a degree in BSc IT.
Getting here hasn’t been easy for us, but I thank God for making it possible. I can proudly say that it has taken His grace for us to have come this far. We’ve been through ups and downs that have made us stronger together. I’ve learnt lots and lots of life lessons that have made me who I am today.
Now, let’s talk about how I ended up jobless in October 2016.
How I Became Jobless
It’s not easy getting formal employment without ‘serious’ qualifications. I don’t have a college diploma or degree even though I had joined university sometimes back in 1998. I had been a BSc Maths and Chemistry student in Chiromo for close to four years before I dropped out in my final year.
My dropping out had nothing to do with college fees but other circumstances. I went through issues that almost made me give up in life. In fact, were it not for my parents and other family members, perhaps things would be different for me.
I thank God for these wonderful people who stood with me until I was back on my feet. It took me longer to accept that I was in a mess and I had to take the responsibility of turning my life around.
After dropping out of university, I stayed without a job or any income-generating project for a while. My children and I were staying with my parents then. I eventually got a job with a leading supermarket in Kericho where I worked for two years before calling it quits. I had some little savings that helped me start a small eatery that went down after a year or so.
I was out on the streets job searching again. A few months down the line, I got another job with a construction company. The same company was later to transfer me to Nairobi to work in one of its major projects then. I worked there until early 2014 when I left to try my hand in business while still in Nairobi. My business picked up, albeit slowly, but also went down about two years later.
At this point, I started feeling like business wasn’t my thing and perhaps I should try seeking employment again. I was out in the cold for about two months before getting another job with one of the leading milk-processing firms.
I worked there for close to six months before those of us who had worked there for less than two years were let go. That was in October 2016. I was in a fix all over again. This is when I decided to go back to my parents’ place in the village and see what to do next.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make, though. I couldn’t imagine going back home and starting from zero all over again. Remember at this point, my children were in high school. I had my immediate family members standing with me before I was back on my feet again.
How I learnt About Freelance Writing
I’m an active Facebook user and this helped me discover ATK, a leading Facebook group for freelance writers, transcribers and others who were making it big online. I sent a request to join and was accepted shortly after.
I came across posts from writers including Walter Akolo that focused on freelance writing. I also came to learn that Walter was an article writing trainer. That’s when I got curious and decided to send him a message on Facebook. I asked him about what I needed to become a freelance writer.
Besides basic English grammar, the other things that he mentioned were a computer and a good internet connection. And of course, the training fee.
I was lucky because my brother had a laptop and he wasn’t using it regularly. I borrowed it from him. That was one step forward.
My challenge was getting the training fee since I wasn’t working or earning any income then. I was broke to the core! The amount may seem too little but it’s a lot when you have nothing.
I asked my brother for some money and he gave it to me almost immediately. That was another step forward!
The Next Step…
The next thing I did was to enrol for Walter’s course. I found it quite helpful. However, I almost gave up along the way when I thought I couldn’t do it well. This feeling came when I was given a writing assignment to do. I wrote an article that I thought was great but the feedback I got almost discouraged me just because I had been awarded a 50% mark.
Of course, the editor provided guidance on how to improve iit. I was to rewrite then resubmit, something that I didn’t do. Talk of having a thin skin then! This made me think freelance writing wasn’t for me despite follow ups from Walter.
After that I tried my hand in transcription but I couldn’t hack that one either. I had to go back to Walter’s course. I couldn’t imagine staying idle and without an income any longer. Something had to give in.
My First Job
I kind of started his course all over again. At least I could still access it. I kept asking him questions and guidance which he was still willing to offer.
I then opened an Upwork account shortly after and sent a number of bids. It took me about two weeks to land my first job. Though it wasn’t paying much, I was happy that I had finally landed one.
My first client gave me a five star review and I guess that’s what helped me land more jobs. I received five star reviews from my other clients after that. Here are some of them:
The projects that I have successfully completed for my clients focus on niches like technology, business, travel, and beauty products.
I currently have four long term clients on Upwork with two of them sending me work regularly. Two of these clients were referred to me by another client who was impressed with my work. And yes, after 16 weeks on Upwork, I became a top-rated freelancer!
Besides Upwork, I’ve also managed to bag other clients. They include direct clients that I cold-pitched and those that reached out to me through Facebook and Linkedin.
Earnings from my writing projects have been rising steadily. I even started hitting over $1,000 monthly from late last year, about 6 months after I seriously began my freelance writing journey.
My writing journey has been both exciting and sometimes not-so exciting.
I say exciting because it has given me hope again. I’m able to make an income that pays our bills including house rent.
The not-so-exciting aspect of my writing journey has been the kind of challenges I’ve had to deal with.
They include rejection from clients and having to sit for long hours sometimes while trying to meet deadlines. I’ve even suffered burn out a few times and been forced to take a short break from writing. But the challenges have helped me learn a lot and grow even stronger.
I’ve learnt that hard work, persistence and believing in my abilities can take me places. The other thing is to make sure that I deliver articles that meet and even exceed my clients’ expectations.
I’m not yet where I want to be, but I believe all that where I am at the moment is worth celebrating and being grateful for. My freelance writing journey hasn’t been all rosy, but it’s been worth all the effort. I’m glad I chose to do it.