Ah, the many joys of being a freelancer, especially in Africa! For starters ( and if you reside in a boisterous city like Lagos, Nigeria), you would have said your goodbyes to bottle-neck traffic commutes to and from work. Then the hours do not seem so gruelling again, because even though you may still engage in the proverbial 9 to 5; you are working for yourself! And speaking about work hours, being a freelancer means you get to clock in and cock out on your own terms(provided you meet your clients’ deadlines). Perhaps the icing on the cake for most freelancers is starting out with making a living from what you are passionate/proficient at, with little or no start-up costs and the potential of making a decent living.
A note of caution, my friend will suffice at this point. Competition is keen in the African, and indeed the global freelance sphere. Statistics from the Global Business Survey posit that 54% of the workforce in 1,500 businesses around the world surveyed in 2012 will be online in 2017. In a related study, that the number of freelances could increase to a monumental 40 per cent of the global workforce by 2020(yes in two years time, thank you). Already, Africa is catching up with the trend, with many young millennials on the continent embracing freelancing.
So the question becomes how do you stay afloat in the Freelance world? And by staying afloat, I mean how can one attract and retain the best freelance jobs within and without the continent? These tips, I hope, will point you in that desired destination:
1. Take shots (multiple) at Cold Pitching
Cold pitching is more or less making informed(directed) strikes in the dark. In other words, cold pitching entails making contact with bloggers, entrepreneurs, companies, small businesses or startups and letting them know how your freelance skills can add value to their business.
Cold pitching borders on identifying the apparent (or not so) need of the business and proposing how you can help meet that need. For instance, you may notice that your prospective client does not run a blog-but they should. Or, on Instagram (or any other social media platform) you see they are trying to grow their online presence and you think your content can help with that.
Once you have identified the ‘missing links’, all that is left is drafting a cold pitch and sending it off on its journey of a return( hopefully with good tidings).
Remember that your pitch should contain information such as how you came across the business, your area of expertise and any other useful tidbits.
2. Have a website
One of the ways of getting the best African freelance jobs is having/operating a website. However, in reality, especially if you are just starting out freelancing, this option might not be an option for you off the bat. But do not despair, dear freelancer as you can go the route of having a blog at the initial stages.
A personal blog can give your freelance business the online yardage you need to meet the right clients and get good contract work. So whether you are a content writer, a software developer or graphics designer, your blog should give prospective clients a good sense of your abilities and skill sets.
Eventually and as you begin to earn, you’ll want/need to invest in a self-hosted website and create a professional looking freelance site.
3. Learn another language
‘Hey, how does learning/speaking another language help in getting the best African Freelance jobs available?’ you ask, eyes opened in astonishment.It does help my friend, by a long mile to boot. You have the required skill set; isn’t only logical that you hone your people skills by being bilingual ( or multilingual if you are up for it). Learning a new language comes with a host of opportunities including increasing your chances of getting hired, earning more income as well as bridging the cultural gap among other reasons.
I can hear someone ask again- how can one learn, say French or Portuguese, when one is resident in an English-speaking? Well, I would point you in the direction of online language classes and forums, where you can meet with fellow learners and enthusiastic teachers, as you learn the rudimentary.
4. State that you are for hire
These words-as simple, as obvious and as commonplace as they sound- can actually mark the difference between getting the best African freelance jobs or not.
Prospect clients are not soothsayers; they, therefore, won’t know if you have time to take on more clients. So when you tell them you are for hire, it just makes it easier for them to give you and your work a shot.
In addition, your ‘hire me’ caption allows other freelancers to refer to you when there are extra opportunities that require your skill sets.
5. Create an air of Expertise.
So you really want to get the cream of the jobs available in the African freelance sphere? Before you can command top dollar (or whatever denomination suits your fancy), you would have to build your expert/knowledge status and be regarded as influential in whatever area you freelance in.
There are a number of ways you can achieve this objective. For instance, if you software freelancer, you can easily achieve proficient status by contributing regularly to open source projects(sometimes even for free). The key is to ensure that your name pops up when prospective clients make inquiries for experts in that field. The same rule applies to writers and other classes of freelancers. It is important that you guest post and perform other tasks that enhance your visibility in the freelancing space.
Once you are able to create that structure, you are then able to attract and retain the best African freelance jobs available.
The list above is by no means exhaustive. To remain relevant in the freelance world, it is important that you follow these tips and many others to ensure steady patronage and increased earnings.
If you know of any other tips for getting the best African freelance jobs, please feel free to leave a comment in the appropriate sections.