Jumpstarting your freelancing career as an African

Freelancing has become a buzzword that promises flexibility, autonomy, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s an aspiration that has grown to rival the world-renowned “American Dream”. Over the past few years, freelancing has become more accessible to any and everyone who would like their share of flexibility, autonomy, and financial independence. 


Beginner freelancers find it daunting to get started because freelancing platforms have become saturated. Where should you look? Where should you be? How should you show up? 


This guide will show you how to jumpstart your freelancing career today if you are interested in working as a writer or designer. 


Underpin your expertise, skills, or interests

The easiest and first thing to do is to zero in on a niche based on your academic training, self-developed skills, and your personal interests. Are you proficient at writing? Or do you have a knack for designing things? What type of writing? What type of design? 

Finding answers to those questions is significant because the more you are clear on what it is you are good at, the better you can become at that skill or interest. If it isn’t immediately clear what you might be good at and capable of helping clients with, then you should consider giving yourself time to realize your potential. You need to treat this discovery phase with the highest priority in your life otherwise you risk forgetting about it and giving up on your journey as a freelancer. 

Consider putting your skill or interest to work by creating your own work samples (you don’t need to wait for your first client). Your work samples could be blog posts, social media content, transcription, email copywriting, ebooks, and academic writing to name a few areas of writing. If you already have published work then you are a good step ahead. 

If you identify as a potential designer then you should discover (by trial and error) the kind of design you can quickly excel at as a self-taught student. Will it be branding, logo design, illustrations, graphics design, motion graphics design, or video editing? Choose what you enjoy doing but it should also be something you know you will pick up at a fast pace.


Join freelancing platforms

There are numerous freelancing platforms on which you can build a portfolio to showcase your skills. However, joining platforms that connect entry-level freelancers (beginners) with clients is important – like Dollar Talent. Going with entry-level platforms like Dollar Talent will give you an increased chance of visibility to clients and you will enjoy an easier bidding process when sending proposals to clients. 

Dollar Talent – is a great platform for African writers and designers who are still entry-level. If you are just starting, consider joining Dollar Talent.


Upwork – If your writing or design work is advanced and you have a decent portfolio, you might want to also consider freelancing on Upwork. However, just about every category of work offered on Upwork is saturated with freelancers.

Upwork has over 20 million freelancers offering services on their platform. This means that competition for posted projects is very tight. Even when you have the right skills and experience, it all boils down to spending money on Upwork connects. You need to spend at least U$300 per month on connects to land each one to three gigs with clients.


Fiverr – If you prefer a fast-paced work environment with clients knocking down your door with instant orders, then you should try freelancing on Fiverr as well. Fiverr is much harder to break into than Upwork. The good thing about Fiverr is that you do not need to buy or pay to get clients. You simply compete by completing your profile, showcasing compelling work samples, and delivering a consistent 5-star experience to your customers.


Consider an affordable rate for your services

An infallible way to ensure that you expand your portfolio is by offering your services at an affordable price. This will help you get more clients, more portfolio items, and subsequently, an extensive portfolio that will catapult your career to greater heights.

If you are from the continent, you have an opportunity to undercut your global competition due to your lower cost of living. This is by no means a way to not dignify your work, but it’s a simple business competition strategy that is favourable to you. Of course, we would all like to earn upwards $20 dollars per hour, however, the world cannot make that a reality for everybody. So if you can, consider lowering your rate. As long as it allows you to lead a comfortable life wherever it is you are working from.


Persistence is key

Nothing noteworthy can be achieved without persistence and grit. This is also true for your freelancing journey. Being resilient in the face of challenges with getting clients or failing to close interviews will be something you will have to do until you land your first few clients. You need to adopt a life-long learning mindset. Putting your best foot forward every day will translate into success and financial independence. 


Delving into the freelancing world can seem challenging for any beginner. However, focusing on building your portfolio and positioning yourself on the right freelancing platform is essential to gaining your first few customers. Now more than ever, with a narrowed-down niche, the right platform, affordable pricing, and perseverance, you are well on your way to enjoying the freedom and flexibility of freelancing


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