Running a successful freelance business in a saturated gig economy like Kenya requires skill, effort, and patience.
Freelance businesses are about building your unique brand from scratch.
Here are a few tips to help you grow your freelance business:
1. Identify your Niche
Expertise in the freelance business is important. You develop your expertise by first, identifying your niche. What is it you love and are passionate about?
Once you figure out your niche, identify a gap in that field, and create an opportunity out of it.
But that’s not where it ends. You also need to stand out in the services you provide. What makes you unique and more marketable?
- Tap into your strengths.
- Invest in continuously learning new skills. Examples of online learning platforms you can use include Skillshare, Udemy, and Coursera.
- Remember to stay informed about current trends in your identified niche.
- Join an online freelancer community in your area of specialization, such as Upwork and Fiverr.
- Request feedback from your clients to help you learn and improve.
- Gradually build and maintain your work portfolio to showcase your skills when marketing your brand and applying for gigs. Behance, Dribble, and Adobe Portfolio are good examples of online portfolio-building websites.
2. Freelance Contract
Drawing up a formal freelance contract between you and your client is essential.
It formalizes the verbal agreement you enter into with a client. A freelance contract sets out the agreed expected standards such as the scope of work and payment terms.
Contracts make it easier to resolve misunderstandings that may arise out of a client-freelancer relationship.
Although drafting contracts may sometimes be technical, and a lawyer would be recommended, it can be simple and curated to fit your business needs.
Keep in mind that ‘until the contract is signed, nothing is real’ ~ Glenn Danzig
3. Payment Options
When considering payment options from clients in different parts of the world, your location matters. Timely and convenient access to your earnings is key.
The majority of Kenyans use mobile money transfer services provided through Mpesa. Hence, global online payment platforms such as PayPal and Wise have made it possible for freelancers in Kenya to directly transfer funds from their online accounts to Mpesa.
Although PayPal is commonly used, Wise would be preferable to freelancers in Kenya since it provides better exchange rates. Pretty sure you would be happy to save a few coins, right?
Another simple and ideal payment option for freelancers in Kenya is GetPaid Africa. Not only can you earn from clients anywhere in the world, but you can also find gigs, and connect with other business people.
4. Lookout for Red Flags
The freelancing environment in Kenya has increasingly become competitive and proliferated. Freelancers may often feel the pressure and need to work with any, and all potential clients.
Caution. Not all clients are easy to work with, or even genuine.
You need to know when to turn down a client. Not because you are too busy or desperate, but because of discernible red flags that could risk the success of your freelance business.
Listen more, especially at the initial stages of your relationship with a potential client. There are some quick red flags you can pick. For example:
- Unreasonable conditions such as free work or unpaid trials before hiring you;
- Vague instructions on the scope of work; and
- Exploitative payment terms.
It also helps to do your due diligence and research your clients before working with them.