Today, I decided to break from my norm of giving freelancing tips and I decided to interview an African freelancer. His name is Walter Akolo.
He was named as one of the five fastest-rising entrepreneurs in Kenya by Kuza Biashara in 2014. He has also been named as one of the most influential youths by Kenya yote. With no college education to boast about, a family that looks up to him for their sustenance, Walter is an epitome of resilience who has braved online writing for over six years now.
Currently, he still does online writing for clients but he mostly relies on passive online income generated by his freelance writing blog which has over 20,000 unique monthly visitors. Indeed, Walter is one of the guys who will shape the African freelance narrative. He has written on the Huffington Post, helped international clients build their content marketing strategies and trained newbies on how to earn online.
I conducted an online interview where I emailed Walter my questions and despite his busy schedule, he was able to give me the answers that I needed for this write-up.
Read, enjoy and implement the maxims given by Walter.
Question: What were you doing before you started online businesses and how many years have you been doing so? What propelled you into online business?
Response: Before I started working online, I briefly worked in a car hire firm. Before that, I kept going from job to job trying to make ends meet for over 4 years. This was just after dropping out of campus where I had been called for a course I totally couldn’t manage (it was a design course and I’m more of a writer/marketer). You know how things go in Kenyan University Placements, right?
It was a difficult time living hand to mouth, not being able to pay rent, having issues with school fees etc.
I started working online part-time when I was still at the car hire firm.
There are many things that propelled me into online business. These included:
- Flexible hours
- No commute
- Being my own boss
- Finally being able to earn enough to make ends meet and fulfill my dreams
Question: Do you write online articles for clients? If yes, what kind of articles and on what sites?
Response: Yes, I write for clients. I have written on diverse topics and niches. My favorite is the online marketing niche since I’m an internet marketer. Apart from that, I’ve written on spirituality, weight loss, health, self-improvement and business among other niches.
Question: What advice would you give to African newbies who are starting out on their online writing journeys?
Response: I would advise newbies to go for it. They should not assume that it’s easy. Just like anything else, you have to learn, master and work hard at it. If well done, they can get breathtaking results. They should also have a career trajectory which could start from freelancing (writing articles, transcription, graphic design etc.) to internet marketing (blogging, affiliate marketing or owning their own businesses).
Question: Do you ever feel like giving up in your online businesses? If yes, what holds you back?
Response: I admit I have felt like giving up a few times due to several challenges. At one point I went through difficult life, health and business crises that I wanted to give up on life itself.
However, I was able to carry on due to my deep passion for online work and business. This is the career I love most. I knew its potential and that I just had to work harder and things would get better. And the hard work kept paying off over and over again. The rewards have been immensely satisfying.
My hope is that by 2020, Africans will be owning big online businesses–the likes of Uber, Netflix, Google, and Amazon among others.
Question: On average, how much do you make per month from your online businesses?
Response: Sorry, I no longer talk about my online income for privacy reasons. However, for the past six years, I have managed to take care of all my family’s bills via online business income alone.
Question: What strategy do you use to be a cut above the rest who are doing similar things to yours?
Answer: I always do my research to see what actually works at the moment. That always keeps me a step ahead. I also critically analyze what I learn and add some of my own thoughts and creativity to what I do. Most people just copy what others do, therefore not adding much value to their audience.