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Stella Mwangi
33 Freelance Businesses You Can Start Today With Almost Zero Capital (2019 Update)

33 Freelance Businesses You Can Start Today With Almost Zero Capital (2019 Update)

Updated July 2nd 2019

So you want to start a freelance but you don’t know what business to start? Even worse is that you’re scared of looking for online opportunities because you’re afraid you have to spend money to make money⁠—money that you don’t have.

This is a very popular predicament. Lots of people in Africa want to go down the freelancing road but have no idea how to make money online without paying anything or how to get started.

We are still stuck in the era where freelancing is just something to keep yourself preoccupied as you wait for the ‘perfect’ job.

As a freelancer going onto my 6th year, I can tell you that it’s as ‘perfect’ a job as any other. You simply have to find what suits your skills and passions.

The good thing about freelancing is that you can start a business from your bedroom or anywhere else without much capital. Most of them simply require a laptop and a good internet connection.

And forget about academic writing and transcription, there is A LOT more that you can do depending on your skills, experience and interests. And, you can have more than one freelancing business if you want.

The quickest way to start a successful online freelance business is to take courses in the area of business that you settle on. This way, you get to learn from the experts and pick from their lessons.

For that reason, I have not only listed the best online freelancing businesses that you should explore, I’ve also included my recommendation for the best online courses for your consideration.

So without further ado, here are my top 33 easy ways to make money online without investment:

*This post may contain affiliate links to products. I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links.

Related Posts:

How to Make Money Online Without Paying Anything

1. Social Media Manager

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

There are people who love social media and then there are those who LOVE social media. If you fall in the second category then I’m here to tell you that your addiction could earn you some pretty good money.

Social media is a growing area for businesses, entrepreneurs and even influencers. It’s also time-consuming and businesses are always looking to outsource the work to an expert.

If you love social media, have a creative and humorous side then you can take a few online classes and learn how to manage social media platforms for businesses. You can then earn a tidy sum helping companies run their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linked, Snapchat, and many other platforms.

As you get good at it you can add more high-paying related services such as Facebook Ad campaigns.

Recommended courses:

2. Blogging

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Blogging is still a popular source of income as many businesses have come to appreciate the power of content marketing. If you’re a good writer, there are lots of blogging opportunities that you can take advantage of and earn a decent freelance salary.

Starting your own blog is one of the (lowest cost) best business ideas you can start working on right now. Write about topics that interest you, then monetize your blog and earn some money from your blogs.

Recent blogging statistics show that tens of thousands of bloggers are running profitable blogs making six-figures thanks to a combination of affiliate marketing, blog sponsorships, Google ads and other revenue streams.

To speed up the process of launching your blog, I recommend setting up your blog using a reliable and affordable hosting company like Bluehost, choose a simple WordPress theme and work on your first post immediately.

If you use this BlueHost link to get the special discount price of $2.75 (Sh. 275) per month instead of $5 (Sh 500).

Recommended courses:

I recently put together a Quick & Easy Guide to Start a Blog that breaks down how to start a blog and ways you can implement immediately to make money blogging 👋.

3. Landing Page Specialist/Copywriter

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Do you have a way with words? Can you genuinely describe yourself as a wordsmith? Start creating landing pages for clients and start getting paid for it.

Landing pages, also referred to as sales pages or squeeze pages are web pages used to convert web visitors from prospective leads to customers. They have just one goal, to convince the web user to take the desired action.

Landing pages are so important that they pay way more than most other writing gigs. The better you are at convincing people to do what the client wants them to do the more you will get paid.

If you want to get a feel on how to make money online without paying anything as a landing page specialist or freelance copywriter, check out this awesome course on Udemy, Copywriting Secrets: How to Write Copy That Sells.

Recommended courses:

4. Freelance Writing & Copywriting

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

This is a good choice on how to make money online without investment. Every website owner (including myself) will at some point need the services of a copywriter to write content for their homepage, about me pages, FAQ’s, landing pages, or blog posts.

If writing is something that tickles your fancy learn how to become a freelance writer today and soon start getting clients who can pay you handsomely.

Freelance writing is my main hustle and has been since I joined the freelancing world and I can assure you that it’s a great way to make money and you can fully depend on it for all your money needs.

Recommended courses:

5. Ghost Writing

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

This is another perfect job for a good writer. With ghostwriting, you write content on behalf of someone else. This could be books, online courses, newsletters, blog posts, emails, recipes etc.

However, you don’t get any rights to the content. It all belongs to the person you’re writing for and will publish it under their name.

Recommended courses:

6. Magazine Article Writing

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Here’s another great avenue for anyone interested in how to make money online without paying anything.

There are so many magazines, both local and international, that will pay you to submit articles. If you especially have worked or are working as a journalist or writer, this will be easy to accomplish.

Here’s a list of over 100 publications that pay writers. Just check out the ones that cover topics that excite you or you’re well versed in, pitch an idea, and land a paid writing gig!

7. Online News Correspondent

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

A lot of the local news that you watch today is as a result of citizen journalism. You could be minding your own business and then something newsworthy happens. You unconsciously take a video and send it to a local station and becomes big news.

Well, how about doing this in a more permanent and professional way? You don’t need to have a degree in journalism to be a reporter and there are many international news websites that are always looking for help on getting local coverage.

Most of them, such as The Examiner or HuffPost, will compensate you for your article based on the amount of readership it generates.

If you’re a journalist you have higher chances of getting jobs from well paying international news outlets, such as AFP, to work for them as a local correspondent on a freelance basis.

To find work simply google “local news correspondents wanted” or something similar and send your application to the outlets you find.

8. Advert Copywriting

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Online advertising is big business. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google, businesses want to be found online.

For online ads to work, they need good copy. With a creative mind and good copywriting skills, you can earn some much-needed money writing ad content. Also, get familiar with popular business slang and industry jargon used online before you launch your business.

9. Google Ads Consulting

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Google advertising is pretty complex for most people. It’s a headache that most businesses will prefer to pass on to someone else.

If this is something that you’re interested in, you can get Google Adwords Certified free, and start offering your services as an expert to businesses.

Recommended courses:

10. Proofreading/Editing

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Have you been writing for a while now or your grammar is simply perfect and looking for ideas on how to make money online without paying anything? Start a proofreading business.

Good writers are always looking for people to edit their content to ensure that it’s perfect.

You can offer editing services and edit books, articles, research reports, news articles and so much more!

You can find lots of job postings from companies and individuals in need of writing, proofreading, and editing services making this a high-demand freelance business idea. The amount of money you earn will highly depend on the type of editing work you do.

11. SEO Services

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

People will normally pay attention to websites that appear on page one and two of Google search results. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) determines how well websites rank in search engines.

Learn the best SEO practices and start selling your services to businesses that want to increase their page ranking. You could offer keyword research services or offer to write SEO ready website content.

Recommended courses:

12. Affiliate Marketing

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Are you a writer and already have a blog? You probably felt that it’s a good idea to start a blog but you got sidetracked and stopped updating it or felt that it was too much work. Well here is a good idea to get back to blogging.

Affiliate marketing is an easy freelance business to start especially if you’re already blogging. Affiliate marketing involves promoting products and services on your blog through a personalized affiliate link. When people click on this link and make a purchase you get paid a commission. Sometimes you people don’t even need to pay as long as they click on the link.

Join reputable affiliate networks such as ShareASale, Rakuten, Clickbank, and Skimlinks to start making money from the content you’ve already produced. You can also check out this extensive list of 59 Best Affiliate Programs for Business Bloggers.

Recommended courses:

13. Teaching

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Are you a teacher looking for options on how to make extra money online without paying anything? Use your teaching skills to teach kids online.

By using video chat, you can teach kids anywhere in the world. You can teach a language, math, science or any other teachable skills.

14. Stock/Portrait Photography

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Do you love photography? Then you can easily start a photography business and turn your skills and passion into a profitable business idea.

Start with doing free shoots for friends and family to build up a strong online portfolio and perfect your skills.

To start making money, add your best photos to stock photo sites such as iStockPhoto, Unsplash, ShutterStock and earn royalty fees for every one of your photos purchased/downloaded.

You can also run your own online photography store and sell the photos directly. You will make more money this way, especially from private corporate work.

15. Photo Editing

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Online photo editing is another great gig for people who love photos, know how to use Photoshop and want to know how to make money online without paying anything.

People are always looking for someone to make all sorts of changes instead of buying their own photo editing software. Others simply don’t know how to do it. Look for such people.

Recommended courses:

16. Translation

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Do you love learning new languages? Can you already speak more than one language? Don’t look any further for ideas on how to earn money without investment. This a good source of income and you don’t need any money to get started.

If you speak any global language such as Spanish, French, Chinese, French, German and so on, you can look for translation work and translate content from English to other languages you speak.

Flexjobs has hundreds of freelance, remote translator jobs available right now. Check them out.

Duolingo offers free foreign language classes.

17. Graphic Design

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Graphic design is one of the skills that’s in constant high demand.

Businesses will always need logos, marketing materials such as brochures and business cards. They are also interested in online graphics such as infographics, memes and images.

While having a formal background in graphic design will definitely give you an edge, it’s relatively easy to learn the foundations of graphic design on your own.

Easy-to-use tools such as Adobe Illustrator, Stencil and Visme have made it possible for just about anyone with a bit of creativity, and motivation to practice graphic design and earn a side income.

Recommended courses:

18. WordPress Site Consulting

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

WordPress is a popular content management platform and most business owners (myself included) start building their online presence on WordPress-hosted website. The African Nomad is hosted on WordPress.

Take your time to learn how to start a blog then turn this newly earned skills into a very lucrative freelance business idea. Use your skills to create WordPress blogs for clients. Earn even more money—especially if you sign up for affiliate programs with companies

Website owners are always looking for ways to customize their sites. If you are good in web design and you are a WordPress expert, you can create useful WordPress plugins that businesses can buy to customize their sites.

19. Web Design

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Websites are one of the must-have marketing tools for businesses today making web designers very popular—which is why becoming a freelance web designer is one of the best freelance business ideas.

Web design is all about creating and maintaining websites. This includes the webpage layout, content production, and graphic design.

If you have an artistic eye you can easily learn web design through online courses such as Learn Web Design and Profitable Freelancing on Udemy. This course will teach you everything about web design from scratch and equip you with the skills you need to earn your first freelance income as a web designer.

Recommended courses:

20. Programming

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Programming is one of the highest paying freelance jobs but not so many people venture into it. If you love numbers and computers, you can easily teach yourself how to code and develop software that you can sell and make tons of money.

Recommended courses:

21. Develop an App

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

I swear there’s an app for everything! Yet, there’s still so much more that could use an app. If you’re a techie looking to earn some extra cash consider starting a side business developing apps.

Look around for a niche that is yet to be flooded and create your own app for it. Remember to validate your app idea, confirm there’s actually a market for it before you get too involved.

You can sell your app on the App Store or Play Store. You can also sell your app on Facebook using Facebook Ads.

Recommended courses:

22. Virtual Assistant Work

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

This is another great avenue for anyone interested in how to make money online without paying anything.

There’s a lot of administrative work that goes into running a successful business. Most soloprenuers don’t have the time to do everything and will appreciate any help they can get.

Virtual Assistants (VAs) take on tasks including email management, customer support, invoice management, accounting, social media management, copywriting, data entry, research and so much more. VA jobs are a great way to start your freelancing career.

Check out my in-depth post on How To Become a Virtual Assistant When You Have Zero Experience.

Recommended courses:

23. Podcast Production

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Podcasts are becoming more popular as videos are now more preferred than text. Businesses are running podcasts as a way to build trust and generate business leads.

As a freelance podcast producer, you can earn money writing and editing scripts or even assisting the client to manage comments during a live podcast.

Better yet, you could start your own Podcast if you believe you have something valuable to share with the world. With enough fans you could soon start making affiliate income through adverts, and sponsored episodes by both big and small brands or even individuals.

24. Video Editing

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Video editing is one of the most popular skills around the world. If you took a video editing course in college you could very well start earning some money editing videos as a side hustle.

Video content is now the most popular content online creating huge demand for this skill. If you don’t have any video production and editing skills, worry not, you can take an online course get started in no time.

Recommended courses:

25. Music Writing/ Coach

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Surprised right?! Yes, you can make money writing music. With so much competition for online jobs, going against the norm will increase your chances of getting more gigs. Music writing is one of the less explored jobs.

If you’re a skilled creative writer or even a musician, you can start creating songs for advertising agencies and get paid for doing something you enjoy. There are also clients who would rather use original music for their marketing videos so you can target such clients.

Some people also want to learn how to sing or play an instrument and are looking for someone to coach them online at their own convenience. Our very own Mercy Opande, the first winner of the popular singing competition ‘I Can Sing’, offers music coaching services to people all over the world from the comfort of her home studio!

Private music instructors earn an upwards of $20-100/hr or even more depending upon skill and experience.

You can also sell your music on popular micro-stock sites such as MotionElements and ShutterStock or the freelance services marketplace, Fiverr.

26. Voice Acting

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Here’s another unexplored skilled. Remember how the Safaricom ‘Mteja hapatikani’ lady got famous? If you have a lovely voice too you can use it to make a living doing voice overs.

You don’t have to go to huge companies such as telecommunications. Consider doing an audio narration for a book or business reports, voice-overs for local adverts and more.

You can sell your voice acting services any time on Fiverr, Upwork and other freelance sites. You can earn up to $72/hour!

27. Travel Consulting

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Still struggling to come up with a solid plan on how to make money online without paying anything? This could be it.

Do you love travelling and exploring your surroundings? Are you an avid traveller? Turn that experience into money.

Once you get on the road and learn a few things, you can turn your love for travel into a money-making business as a travel agent. For a small fee, you can help people plan and book their trips.

Start with helping out your friends and family members with your travel plans. I recently planned a girls’ trip to Europe for my girls’ club and we had such an AMAZING time. The girls trusted me with the plans they know my love for travel and they have seen me do my own trips successfully. So start with people who know you and then ask them to refer you to other people.

28. Accounting

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Are you familiar with Quickbooks? This is a skill that could earn you some extra money! With this skill, you can help clients track and manage their finances.

If you’re also aware of how tax laws and filing tax works (June is always around the corner Kenyans 😉 ) that will earn you even more money.

There are so many small businesses as well as individuals who need help with their finances and are more than willing to outsource this task to a freelance accountant and bookkeeper instead of hiring in-house.

Recommended courses:

29. Tour Guiding

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Africa is a very popular tourist destination. We have tourists all year round. Now if you’re familiar with any local area you can start a freelance business as a professional tour guide and show visitors around the area.

You easily get started by becoming an Airbnb Experiences host. All you need is to create a unique experience and offer it on the Airbnb website. With Airbnb Experiences connect guests with unique people, places, and activities that guests couldn’t typically find on their own.

Doesn’t this seem like the perfect combination of travel and work? Seriously, consider it!

30. Write and Sell eBooks

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Jump into the freelance business world by learning how to earn money online without paying anything and start earning by writing and selling eBooks.

You may not know it but if you take a second and think about it you may realise that you’re actually quite good at something. How about you start making money from whatever it is that you’re good at?

It could be a service such as managing finances, copywriting or a craft such as making DIYs. package that skill and knowledge into a downloadable eBook that delivers value to people looking to learn that particular skill.

Put in some serious work in your eBook, target the right audience and you could be making money from the book for years to come⁠—as long as it remains relevant.

If you’d rather skip the writing part you can buy already written eBooks at a wholesale price and sell them at a profit.

31. Become a Coach or Mentor

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

If you have something you’re skilled at and very passionate about, you can start making money by offering one-on-one online coaching. There are lots of people willing to take online classes within their own schedules guided by a coach.

Check out this course on Udemy on how to develop a successful online coaching business from scratch.

Recommended courses:

Online Coach Certificate: Profitable Business in 7 Days only

32. Online Courses

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, turn what you’re already good at into a moneymaker. If you can call yourself an expert in something, there’s a chance people are willing to pay to become an expert in that field—just like you.

If you want to take your skills and turn them into an online course that teaches others how to get the same results you’ve achieved in your life, career, or business, start with Learn How to Create an Awesome Online Course on Udemy and start teaching people how to get the same results you’ve achieved in your life, career, or business.

This is actually what I’m doing with my blog, teaching others to be freelancers like me. Now I just need to start charging you guys 😉

33. Teach DIYs

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Another good idea on how to earn money from home without any investment is to turn your passion into an income stream by teaching DIYs. There are people who are quite good with crafts.

If you’re one of those people who can easily turn an old t-shirt into a fashion statement bag, then you have a moneymaker lying in silent.

Have you seen the dedicated ladies who teach people how to make shaggy mats? Take a cue from them and start teaching people your craft, you never know there could be other people just waiting for someone to teach them.

There are dozens of DIY portals (such as DIY.org, DIY Network, Instructables and Mahalo) that you can use to earn a healthy income just by showing others how to do the things you love.

I have been freelancing for over 4 years now and I have been able to make a decent living combing a few of the above jobs.

I offer social media management services, I’m a virtual assistant, a blogger, ghostwriter and article writer. I’m also learning Spanish and hoping that by the end of the year I will add English/Spanish translation to my list of services. I’ve also been seriously considering being a tour guide because, hey travel is my main passion and it would be nice to get paid to do it :).

So, if I’m anything to go by, starting a successful freelance business is quite possible. The list of services that you can offer is simply endless. All you need is a passion, discipline and the will to do it.

Are you running another type of freelance business that I missed? Let me know in the comments.

 

how to make money online without paying anything | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

 

 

How To Become a Virtual Assistant When You Have Zero Experience

How To Become a Virtual Assistant When You Have Zero Experience

Do you want to be a virtual assistant but have got no experience or idea where to start? No problem! The truth is, you don’t need any experience to get started. You can earn the experience as you learn how to become a virtual assistant. Many people start from scratch and go on to build lucrative careers.

The beauty of working as a virtual assistant is that you can do it from home as you take care of your kids. No need to worry about hiring help (that you can’t afford) to take care of your little ones. 

If you’re looking for an opportunity to be your own boss and quit the 8 to 5 rat race or simply want an extra source of income, then you’ve made the right decision to work as a virtual assistant

Don’t let lack of experience hold you back. What you need right now is dedication, determination, and enthusiasm and you’ll soon be a superstar VA!

Think you’ve got what it takes? Read on to learn how to become a virtual assistant with no experience.

What Is A Virtual Assistant (VA)?

First things first. You need to understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into. 

So who is a virtual assistant?

Loosely put a VA is anyone who offers support services to other business owners remotely (not in a traditional office setting as we know it) in exchange for an agreed upon fee.

VA services range from simple administrative tasks to complex social media campaigns.

Who Uses Virtual Assistants and Why?

Small business owners, solopreneurs, busy professionals, and bloggers all use virtual assistants. 

It makes perfect sense for this group of entrepreneurs to outsource tasks to VAs so that they can get time to work on projects and tasks only they can complete. 

Hiring a VA is also more cost-effective compared to hiring an in-office employee. The business owner gets to save stuff such as office supplies, health insurance, and other employee benefits programs.

What Services Does a Virtual Assistant Provide?

This is probably the one thing that has you all confused about becoming a virtual assistant. There’s really no right or wrong answer to this question or a complete list of services because there’s a HUGE array of services that a virtual assistant can do. 

The good thing about this is that no matter what your interests are you are almost guaranteed to find something that will appeal to potential clients. This is what makes working as a virtual assistant one of the best ways to join the freelance world. 

But, there are a few popular services that most VAs offer. Here are a few examples:

Social Media Assistant

Social media can take up LOTS of time for a business owner. Most solopreneurs and small businesses find it hard to keep up with their social media marketing. 

Because it is a very important marketing tool for businesses, business owners are always willing to outsource this task to someone who knows how to do it.  

Social media management is one of the most popular and ever-expanding VA services. There are lots of opportunities for those interested. It’s also a skill that can easily be learnt as long as you know how to use popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. 

As a virtual social media assistant, you can manage a client’s social presence by creating content, social media graphics and responding to messages.

You may be a good fit for this service if you:

  • Love social media and know how to pin, post, tweet, snap etc.
  • Can create content that will create a buzz for your clients
  • Stay updated on trending topics
  • Are familiar with automation tools like Buffer, Tailwind, and Hootsuite (if not yet, no worries you can learn)

Email Marketing Assistant

Email marketing, like social media management, is another popular service. Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing tools but also time-consuming.

Email marketing VAs take on tasks such as setting up autoresponders, segmenting email lists, and designing email templates using software like MailChimp or ConvertKit.

You may be a good fit for this service if you:

  • Love sales and marketing (most emails are promotional in nature)
  • Have good communication skills, especially written 
  • Have an interest in technology as you’ll be using email software a lot
  • Love writing

Blogger’s Virtual Assistant

There’s a blogger at every turn. New blogs are created every day in their thousands. Creating a blog is very simple but keeping the blog updated with regular content is not. That’s where you come in.

As a blogger’s assistant, you may offer services including writing, editing, and posting blog content, creating website graphics, editing and proofreading. 

You may be a good fit for this service if you:

  • Love writing
  • You’re just starting out as a blogger or have always wanted to start your own blog 
  • Love doing research and staying updated with trending topics

E-commerce Assistant

Running an online store can be quite demanding. Most online store owners have to keep track of hundreds of thousands of items in their inventory. Plus, they have to deal with other tasks such as processing orders and returns and respond to general customer service inquiries.

As an e-commerce assistant, you can help shop owners with writing product descriptions,  responding to customer billing inquiries, tracking packages and handling returns and promoting sales and product launches. 

You may be a good fit for this service if you:

  • Are familiar with Amazon, eBay, Etsy and Shopify
  • Have good customer service skills
  • Good in sales
  • Love shopping 😉

Administrative Support

Administrative services are pretty straightforward and usually the most outsourced. Most admin services involve offering internal support to business owners. 

Admin support services include everything from entering data and creating spreadsheets to managing calendars and booking travel arrangements.

You may be a good fit for this service if you:

  • Are good in time management
  • Can multi-task easily
  • Are organised
  • Love working with people

Other popular virtual assistant services include: 

  • Customer support
  • Website design
  • WordPress maintenance
  • Graphic design 
  • Transcription
  • Bookkeeping
  • Data entry
  • Editing videos
  • Project management

The list goes on and on! 

For ultimate success, offer a variety of related services because clients prefer working with one or two VAs instead of a whole bunch of them. 

What Skills Make You a Great VA?

There are a few skills that EVERY virtual assistant who wants to know how to become a virtual assistant must have in order to have a successful career. These skills are important regardless of the services they choose to offer. These are: 

  • Communication skills: A lot of VA services involve communicating with customers. You, therefore, need impeccable communication skills to keep the customers and your clients happy. I would recommend polishing up your written communication skills if you’re not so confident in them as they will come in handy A LOT.   
  • Organizational skills: You need to be very organised to be able to handle different clients and tasks. Organizational skills help you to do a perfect job for each client and not mix up things. 
  • Reliability: A great VA is reliable and dependable. You are expected to work on tasks as instructed, within set deadlines and report back on your progress. Don’t wait for the client to keep reminding you to do your job. 
  • Time management: You’re going to be working with multiple clients and therefore, have numerous things to do at the same time. Being able to manage your time well among all your clients and their needs will take you far. 
  • Resourcefulness: Clients will ask you to do a lot of things you’ve never done before and will expect you to find out how to do them on your own. You’re expected to provide solutions and solve problems for clients. If this sounds like something you can’t handle then you won’t be a good VA.
  • Good computer knowledge: VA work is mostly done online using a computer. It goes without saying that you should have good computer skills.  

So while clients are looking for people that can provide select services, they’re mainly looking for people with the above skills. As long as you’re open to acquiring these skills, you’ve got a shot!

How to Become a Virtual Assistant with No Experience

Follow these 6 basic steps to kick start your virtual assistant career today:

1. Research and prepare

When you have no experience in something, then there is soo much that you don’t know about it. The first step in gaining experience is gaining knowledge and you only gain knowledge through thorough research.

It’s also important that when you commit to being a VA you go into it with your eyes open.

You’ll be doing a lot of learning at the start of your VA career. Begin by reading as much as you can on how to become a virtual assistant (props to you for being on this page, way to go). 

Follow successful VAs and see what they do and how they do it. There’s so much you can learn from the experts. 

Research on how to start a virtual assistant business, because even though you may be marketing yourself as a freelancer, you will be running a one person business and you never know, you may grow big and hire other VAs! 

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Research on the most lucrative VA services.
  • Research on what clients want/look for when hiring a virtual assistant.
  • Research on how to manage clients.
  • Research on the tools you need to deliver your work.

2. Decide which services you’ll offer your clients/ pick a niche

As you’ve seen, there is so much that a VA can offer. However, you can’t be a jack of all trades. You need to pick a service or group of related services. Choosing a service may be tough at first but I’ll guide you on how to go about it. 

Because at this point you have no experience working as a VA, doing something that you’re already good at will give you a headstart. You don’t have to stick with the service you choose once you get some experience in the industry. You can always change to something else. 

I started as a content writer, then I became a social media marketer, then a blogger, a VA and now I’m a digital marketer and copywriter. Along the way you will find your true calling, for now, concentrate on starting. 

You’re completely free to grow and adapt your business as you see fit. Feel free to continuously change, add or remove services according to client demand, profitability, your availability and your personal interests.

To pick a service think about the skills you already have and your top interests. What are you good at and what do you enjoy doing? What is your current day job? Is it something you can offer on the side?

You could be a good writer, so why not work with bloggers? Are you a social media addict? How about working as a social media assistant? The trick is not to overthink it. 

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Start with what you’re good at.
  • Take a look at the list of services I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Pick 2-3 ideas that you feel you’d like to begin with and then….
  • Get Started!

3. Learn how to be a virtual assistant

Improving your virtual assistant skills will benefit you and your clients. Your success depends on your commitment to becoming a better virtual assistant, not on your experience. Commitment to just be a good VA in terms of your chosen service/s but also in becoming a well-rounded business owner.

Take online courses to learn specialised skills in the area of your chosen services. This will help you become an expert and be able to charge high rates. For instance, if you choose to be an e-commerce assistant take an online course on how to run an e-commerce store.

Also, take courses to learn how to work as a virtual assistant. If you’re looking to accelerate your VA business, start with these courses:

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Decide what service you want to offer first before taking a course.
  • Go for highly recommended and rated courses.
  • Commit to completing your courses and follow through with things you’re asked to do during the course.

4. Decide on your pricing structure

You’ve chosen the service you want to offer, you’ve taken a couple of courses and are more confident in yourself now. The next thing you need to do is decide how much you want to get paid. In short, how much are you worth?

Feeling shy to answer that question? I totally understand! It’s not easy to toot your own horn. 

What’s the right amount to charge and how much is enough (but not too much)? The answer varies. 

The role of a VA varies making it difficult to have a one-size-fits-all rate. What you charge will depend on the service you’re offering, your skill set and experience, client base and the industry. 

When you’re setting your rates, think of the rate that would make it worth your time. Decide whether to charge an hourly or a fixed rate. 

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Research and ask around what other VAs in your industry are charging and try to match that rate.
  • Think carefully about what you want to charge because it’s much harder to raise your fees than it is to lower them.

5. Launch your website and create your online presence

This is the step that many VAs don’t take seriously and when I look back this is the stage that pulled me back from my true potential. Had I known before I’d have put in a great effort in developing my website and an online presence for my business. 

Why is this so important? A website and a social media presence make it much easier to market your business to potential clients. Your online footsteps once established never disappear. The effort you make today will be there 10 years to come. 

Your website and social media profiles are your portfolios. No matter the service you’re offering a personal website will front you as a professional who knows what they are doing. 

A website also makes it easy for clients to find you when looking for VAs online. If clients are able to find you, your client pipeline will always be full. 

Build a personal website where you list your experience, skills and the services that you’re offering. Promote these services and skills on your social media platforms. 

See also: The Quickest & Easiest Way to Start a Blog (Bonus Tips on How to Make Money)

6. Get hired

Yay! You’re now fully aware of how to become a virtual assistant and pretty much ready to find your first client as a virtual assistant! 

But there’s only one problem… how in the world do you find your first client? 

Finding your first few clients will obviously be harder than getting your next ones. This is because as you gain more exposure, experience and confidence it gets easier to sell yourself to clients. 

I encourage new VAs to be proactive and consistent in their efforts to find their first clients. Yes, I understand it’s tough, but it will take you longer if you don’t make the effort to continuously try to find work. 

What I mean is that don’t apply for two jobs today and wait three weeks to try again. The truth is that you will get rejected over and over so you have to be persistent. 

At first, it’s all a numbers game. The more jobs you apply to, the higher your chances of getting accepted. So send those applications daily, don’t give up until you get hired. 

Follow this simple process to fast-track your chances of getting clients:

Step #1: Know who your ideal clients are. It’s easier to find something if you know exactly what you’re looking for. Not every client looking for a VA will be interested in your services. Before you start looking for clients, figure out the types of businesses and markets that interest you and where you can find them. What attributes are you looking for in an ideal client?

Step #2: Pitch potential clients daily. At this point, you’re still figuring out how to get started as a virtual assistant and so you have to rely on pitching before you grow and start getting referrals. If you want VA work, you’ll have to go looking for it because nobody even knows what you do yet. Make pitching clients one of the first things you do each day. 

Step #3: Offer a trial period. We said that you’re going to gain experience on the job, right? To do so you need work. Sometimes it pays off to offer your services for free for a short period to allow you to have something to do and practice your skills. Taking on some small tasks for free will give you the chance to test the waters and see how well you are able to work as a VA.

Step #4: Network on online communities. Go on Facebook and LinkedIn and find groups where your ideal clients are likely to be. Such groups give you the chance to sell yourself to potential clients. Here, you can offer your free trial period services. 

How to Find Virtual Assistant Jobs

There are many ways to secure your first client as a VA. Here are some of the best ones I recommend:  

Cold pitching

This is the process of finding potential clients online and sending them a pitch on who you are and the services you’re offering. The best way to pitch clients is via email. The worst they can say is no or not reply back. Don’t give up keep pitching as many clients as possible. 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is also a great source of clients. Even though considered a platform for working professionals, there are lots of individuals and small business owners using it to hire VAs. Most of these clients are willing to pay high rates for you to work from home.

Facebook groups

There are so many Facebook groups out there for virtual assistants, entrepreneurs, and more. Join a few and use them to network. Remember, don’t use these groups to just sell yourself, you need to be helpful and answer questions. 

Here is where all the research you did at the very beginning and the courses that you took will come in handy. You’ll be able to show potential clients that you know about being a VA and working in your chosen niche. You never know, someone may reach out and hire you! 

Friends, family and former colleagues

You can always start with the people you already know. My first client, who is still my client to date was my former supervisor. We’d stayed friends after she left the company. So when I started freelancing I told her about it and she told me that she was actually looking for a content writer and that’s how I got my first client.

So don’t ignore your friends, family and former colleagues they may have work for you or know someone who does. Let them know that you’re a VA now and the kind of services you’re offering. 

Freelance jobs boards

There are very many freelance jobs boards that you can use to find VA jobs. However, you need to be careful on the kind of sites that you use. A lot of these sites exploit freelancers by paying them peanuts. Many of them also have fake clients who are out to take advantage of vulnerable newbies. 

All in all, freelancing sites are a good start when you’re learning how to become a virtual assistant with no experience.

Let’s take a look at some of the best ones: 

  • Indeed: This is the world’s biggest online jobs site. To find VA jobs on the site, simply search for “virtual assistant” under the ‘what’ tab and “freelance” under the ‘where’ tab. You’ll see lots of options. Also, sign up on email to receive daily notifications of new VA jobs sent directly to your inbox. Remember you’ll be sending as many applications as possible so you’ll need to know where the open positions are. 
  • Guru: The site features lots of freelancing jobs including VA ones. To find jobs on the site, sign up free, create a profile and start bidding for jobs. 
  • PeoplePerHour: This is a popular freelance job site that attracts all kinds of freelancers including VAs. To get started, create your profile, add your VA services, set your hourly rate and then wait for clients to contact you. 
  • Amazon Mechanical Turk: This is a fairly new freelance job site but has a good number of popular VA jobs such as creating and moderating content, data entry, collecting phone numbers and website information, gathering feedback, finding Google keywords, among others.
  • ClickWorker: The site has various virtual assistant jobs such as writing, translation, data collection and research. This is a bidding site so you have to sign up, create a profile and complete a qualification assessment test. Once you pass the test, you can then bid for jobs. 

Becoming a VA has never been easier! I believe that you now understand how to start a virtual assistant business. 

If you really want to become a virtual assistant, follow these tried and tested steps and you’ll be on your way to a successful virtual assistant career. Remember, all you have to do is GET STARTED. I wish you the best of luck! 

Are you still having a hard time figuring out how to become a virtual assistant? Where are you stuck at? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to assist you!

How To Become a Virtual Assistant | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

How To Become a Freelance Writer When You Have Zero Experience

How To Become a Freelance Writer When You Have Zero Experience

You’ve been searching for a job for so long to no avail. You’re on the verge of giving up but you keep going because you really do need to earn an income.

You’ve seen talks all over the place about working as a freelance writer in Kenya. You think to yourself that perhaps you should try this freelancing thingy.

But you’re wondering how to become a writer in Kenya with no experience.  

Do you stand a chance against all the experienced writers you see around?

Honest truth? YES, you do.

You can quickly set yourself up to be a successful freelance writer and forget about that job you’ve been searching for for so long.

We all have to start somewhere.

And if you ask around you’ll find out that many of the writers you greatly admire started out with zero experience and so can you.

You also might be wondering if you have to work for years on end earning peanuts before you can be good enough to earn the big bucks.

No—you can totally jump right in and land high paying clients as soon as today.

This is exactly how to become a writer in Kenya when you have no experience if you need to start getting paid today.

*This post may contain affiliate links to products. I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links.

how to become a writer in Kenya | The African Nomad |Stella Mwangi

How to become a freelance writer in Kenya

Freelance writing is one of the best and most popular ways to earn a living and anyone who puts their heart to it, can do it. Let’s get into the real work on how to be a freelance writer.

Follow these 8 steps and you’ll be on your way to a successful freelance writing career in no time.

1. Research widely about becoming a writer

The first thing you need to do once you’ve decided freelance writing is the path you want to take is to learn everything you can about freelance writing.

Get your hands on everything you can from professionals on the subject and familiarise yourself with it.

Here are a few important things that you should seek to understand before you start working as a freelancer:

What exactly is freelance writing and how does it work?

Freelance simply means self-employed. Freelancers work when necessary for whoever needs their skills at the time. They have the freedom to choose whom to work with and what kind of jobs to work.

Freelance writers, therefore, get to work on an array of topics, styles, and forms. They choose the kind of clients they want to work with and also set their own independent charges.

Freelance writers don’t need to work in an office, they have the freedom to work from anywhere they want even from the comfort of their couches.

What skills do you need to become a freelance writer?

The art of writing is not necessarily inborn, it’s a skill that you can learn. Besides writing, there are other skills that you need if you’re interested in working as a freelance writer. Having the right skills is what will keep you going as a freelance writer.

These  are a few other skills that will be very important in the success of your freelance writing career:

– Grammar and spelling: This is a MUST HAVE skill. You may write a really good piece but ruin it by using poor grammar and spelling mistakes. Take a grammar class if you don’t trust your grammar skills.

– Proofreading: You need a good proofreading eye that will spot poor grammar and spelling. You can always hire a proofreader but as a newbie, you could save yourself money by learning the skill. If you get really good at it you could actually offer proofreading as an added service.

– Communication: This is a vital skill for every freelancer because you have to be in close communication with your clients, especially because you don’t get to see them face to face like you would in a traditional office setting. Your communication skills, therefore, need to be top notch.

– Professionalism:  Professionalism is part and parcel of any successful business – freelance writing included. You have to always conduct yourself in a professional manner when dealing with clients. This includes maintaining deadlines.

– Research: As a writer, you will find yourself tackling topics that you’re unfamiliar with and expected to provide the right facts for whatever issue you’re writing about. This is only possible through research. If you don’t enjoy doing research then maybe you should rethink your desire for becoming a writer.

What does a freelance writer do?

Once you learn how to become a writer in Kenya what will you be doing? A freelance writer is basically a writer for hire and provides their skills in a variety of capacities.

You are probably familiar with article writing and blog writing but there are many other areas of writing that a freelance writer can pursue. A few of these include:

  • Speechwriting: According to Oberlo speech writing and CV writing will be big this year. This is a high-demand freelance writing area that most freelancers don’t pay attention to.
  • Business writing: small businesses are always looking to hire writers to write content for their websites, blogs, emails, sales letters and other marketing collateral. Top eCommerce niches include organic beauty products, baby equipment, matcha and pet supplies. These are good niches to target when looking for business writing jobs, especially for mom bloggers.
  • Video script writing: Video marketing is set to get bigger this year thanks to Facebook Live. As a freelance writer, you can make money writing scripts for videos.  
  • Email marketing writing: Email marketing is HUGE for solopreneurs, small businesses and big brands alike. There is no shortage for this type of work and it’s high paying.
  • Ghostwriting: You can create online courses, eBooks, printables or guides on behalf of clients. Ghostwriting means that your name won’t appear on the content you create.

Other areas of writing are news writing, copywriting, writing fiction/non-fiction books, web content writing, editing, blogging, product description writing, research writing and academic writing.

How much do freelance writers make and is it sustainable?

Yes, freelance writing is sustainable. I fully depend on freelance writing for income and I must admit that I’m comfortable. In fact, sometimes I make enough to pay for trips around the world at least once a year.

If you work on improving your writing skills and put in the work then you’ll attract high-paying clients and make a very good income.

Freelance writing rates vary depending on your level of skills and experience. Think of freelance writing like a buyers’ market until you have proven your worth.

2. Pick a niche

Now that you have an idea of what it means to be a freelance writer, the next thing you need to do is to pick a freelance writing niche. That is an area of speciality.

As you’ve seen there are many areas of freelance writing but you can’t set out to tackle all of them. To scale your success, pick one area and perfect it. It pays to be an authority in that one area than to be a jack of all trades and a master of none.

For example, you could market yourself as an email marketer and concentrate on helping businesses write sales emails.

Taking this approach helps you stand out as the expert a specific kind of client needs.

Think about it, if a client is looking for an email marketing writer they won’t search for a writer but for the best writer who specializes in email writing.

A tech business is going to look for a technology writer, a digital marketing blog is going to want a digital marketing writer, etc.

You get the picture.

3. Acquire a writing skill

As I mentioned, writing is not necessarily inborn you can learn it. Learning how to write is a step that you should take seriously when learning how to become a writer in Kenya.

Even if you already have some sort of writing skill, it’s important to keep brushing up your skills because writing is an ever-changing industry. There will always be something new to learn.

Take a specialised course in your chosen niche to perfect your art and make yourself marketable in this competitive field.

Here are a few courses that I recommend for every beginner interested in how to become a good writer:

Udemy freelance writing courses:

4. Set up your website

Once you’ve got your niche in mind, take a course to make your writing skills better, it’s time to set up a website.

Now, look. I’ve seen a lot of freelance writers say that they don’t want to spend money on a blog until they are already making money freelance writing.

I want you to remember that the goal here is not just about how to be a writer but about becoming a writer and starting to make good money—as soon as possible.  

Being a good writer is NOT enough to make you good money.

Potential clients judge how good of a writer you are based on your online presence. But how do you create an online presence when you have ZERO writing experience?

A professional freelance writer website.

I’m not talking about a one-page portfolio site here.

I’m talking about a business website.

Because that’s what freelance writing really isrunning a business. Setting up a blog helps you stand out to your specific target clients as a serious professional.

You can also use your blog to post articles that showcase your writing skills. Clients will always ask for published writing samples.

Well if you are just starting out chances are you don’t have any samples. So what do you use along with your job application? Your blog!

Your blog will act as a sample of your active writing habits and skills and increase your chances of getting hired.

Make sure that you add an ‘about me’ page on your website and tell potential clients about yourself as a freelance writer. Include a ‘hire me’ page as well so that they can know you are open for work.

Creating a website is pretty simple and will take you just 20 minutes to have it up and running. You don’t need to have any IT or tech skills to set up a website.

Read my step-by-step tutorial on how to start your own blog in under 20 minutes.

^^ The post includes a discount on web hosting, a free domain, and the EXACT steps to start your blog. #Score

…So, NO excuses! 🙂

5. Write some relevant samples

If you want to use your website as your portfolio and proof of your writing skills then you have to write relevant blog posts.

As a freelance writer, your portfolio is your marketing tool. You won’t get hired unless clients believe that you can do a good job. So start building your portfolio as soon as possible.

I know you may not have faith in your writing skills just yet but there’s no other way to get better than by practising. So quite the self-doubting.

My advice is to stop thinking and start writing. Keep reminding yourself that if you don’t write, you won’t get the job.

Remember, we are trying to move you from zero experience to an expert. So get to work. Go on, open your word document and start typing anything that will make a write-up.

6. Decide what to charge

By the time you’re done with step 5, I bet you’ll be feeling more confident in your writing skills. The next how to get started as a freelance writer step is to decide what you will charge.

You’ve got to know how to price your writing services if you want to have a dependable income from your freelance writing career.

Setting your rates is understandably not easy given that there’s no standard rate. When deciding how much you should charge be careful not to underprice yourself and work for peanuts or quote unreasonably high rates and price yourself out of good opportunities.

Talk to seasoned writers and do some online research to find out what is the average rate in your niche. Then settle on what you think is reasonable for a beginner.

It’s not a bad idea to take lower rates for your first few jobs and then quote higher once you’ve demonstrated your writing skill.

From experience, starting at between $10 and $15 per 500 words as a beginner isn’t too bad. Increase this rate as you gain more experience.

7. Find clients

I slaved my way through online freelancing sites such as Upwork and I personally don’t advocate for them. I encourage new writers to save themselves the time and effort and go straight to finding direct clients (DC).

Direct clients tend to pay higher rates and more often than not, will have long term work for you so you don’t have to keep scrambling for work all the time.

One of the best ways to find direct clients as you’re getting familiar with how to become a writer in Kenya is through referrals from friends and family.

Reach out to your friends, relatives, former colleagues, bosses classmates and acquaintances and let them know that you’re looking for freelance writing work and should they have or know anyone with some work, you are available.

Post a status on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account as well as the family WhatsApp group and let your friends and family know that you’re working as a freelance writer now.  

Another good way to find freelance writing clients is by cold calling. Cold calling involves sending emails introducing yourself to potential clients. This is a great way to find clients once you have a few good writing samples on your blog. To find potential clients, run a quick Google search for companies or individuals in your particular niche.

Collect emails of people who are in charge of hiring writers such as editors, heads of content or marketing, content developers, heads of digital marketing etc. and email them introducing yourself and how you offer them value through your writing services. Propose they reach out for further discussions should they be interested. Remember to attach relevant samples of your past work.

You may have to send lots of emails to lots of potential clients before you find the right one. You will be tempted to quit after several unanswered emails but the secret is to keep doing it. Push yourself to send at least 10 emails daily until you find enough clients.

8. Find communities and network

Join various writing communities to continue learning how to become a writer and build your writing skills. It will also be a good way to find clients.

You can join both online and offline communities. Online groups on Facebook and LinkedIn are a great resource for any new writer looking for inspiration. You will learn so much from experienced writers in these groups.

When you join a group or networking community, don’t just be a passive member, participate in community/group events. answer /ask questions, offer your opinion, enter contests etc. This will help you establish yourself as a credible writer.

How to find freelance writer jobs

For a beginner, this will be the most challenging but also the most rewarding part of your freelance writing career.

There are so many online freelancing jobs boards that you can use to look for writer jobs.

These are my four best sites that I use to find my clients and so can you:

Blogging Pro: This is a great site if you’re thinking of specialising in blogging. The site features blogging opportunities available around the world. Jobs are added daily. You also get access to lots of helpful blogging tips to help you grow your blogging skills.

WriteJobs: I recently started using this site after it was recommended by a member of one of the writers’ groups I’m in and I love it. They curated all sorts of writing jobs available on a daily basis. I love it especially because it has lots of high paying opportunities.

ProBlogger Job Board: This is another great site for those looking for blogging jobs though it also has a good number of other types of writing jobs. The good thing about this site is that it has lots of long-term freelance writing work to suitable for any level of skill including beginner.

Indeed.com: If you’re looking for a full-time writing job, Indeed.com is a good place to look. There are lots of jobs specifically for people living in the US so when searching for jobs make sure you filter them by ‘remote’ and ‘anywhere’. Subscribe via email to receive daily updates on available writing jobs.

There you go, folks! It’s not as difficult as you thought to learn how to become a freelance writer in Kenya, is it? I certainly hope that this post has pointed you in the right direction and you’ll get started today.

Did you like this post on how to become a writer in Kenya? Don’t hesitate to comment below if you have any questions. Feel free to share your journey once you become a freelance writer.

 

how to become a writer in Kenya | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

The Quickest & Easiest Way to Start a Blog (Bonus Tips on How to Make Money)

The Quickest & Easiest Way to Start a Blog (Bonus Tips on How to Make Money)

So, you finally want to learn how to start your own blog huh? Great idea!

You’ve heard successful freelancers say it over and over and over again: to succeed as a freelancer you need a website.

For those who’ve asked me to help them get started as a Kenyan freelancer, you’ll bear me witness that I always insist that you have a blog.

One of the things I regret is not understanding the value of having my own blog when I started out. I’d be making lots of cash right now! All in all, it’s never too late to start.

I’ve seen an incredible increase in the number of clients since I got my blog going, especially direct clients. It has also become easier to land freelance writing jobs whenever I use my blog as my writing sample.

I cannot emphasise enough why having a blog as a newbie is important.   

But…how the heck do you get started? There’s so much info out there on the internet on how to set up a blog, and everyone’s telling you to do different things. Now you’re completely lost. Where’s the starting point?

Damnit, maybe you should just keep procrastinating—it’s too confusing!

Hold up! Kick that thought in the butt.

I know that setting up a blog can seem overwhelming and intimidating. I made lots of mistakes when I was learning how to build this blog but I’m gonna save you from that agony.

This free quick and easy guide is all about blogging for beginners and will teach you how to start a blog with just the most basic computer skills.

Now you can benefit from my experience so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes when you set up your own blog.

See more: How to Become a Freelancer: 6 Top Tips on How I Got Started as a Freelancer

Wanna get started immediately? Click here to go straight to Step 1.

Should you start a blog?

If you’re at that point where you’re wondering if it’s really worth it to invest time in setting up and running a blog I’ll put your mind to rest, YES it is.

You may be chickening out because you’ve never written anything before—save for the compositions you did in school.

You may be thinking that you need to be a great writer to be successful. Nothing could be further from the truth. The beauty of blogs is that they offer personal perspectives on things, so most bloggers write in a very informal and conversational style. You need no degree to do this.

Granted you may need to take up a few freelance writing courses to learn how to work your grammar but that’s nothing to stop you from getting started.

What is important is that you’re able to share your knowledge and passion with the world.

If you’re a freelance writer working with clients in various niches don’t think that you have to blog about those niches. No, a blog is personal. It’s about you, not your client. So feel free to pick any topic under the sun. Whatever tickles your fancy, go for it.

Wanna talk about your hair, go for it. Want to talk about your life growing up in the village, heck do so! The more passionate you are about something, the better you will be at writing about it.

Don’t worry about what to blog about, we’ll get to that in-depth shortly.

Whether you’re trying to build a freelance business, earn extra income from blogging, or are just passionate and want to write, then take up the challenge to start a blog today.

Don’t let the technicalities of starting a blog slow you down, follow this guide step-by-step. Here you’ll learn everything you need to know when it comes to starting a blog and actually profit from it.

Ready to take a leap and learn how to create a blog? Let’s jump right into this 7 steps tutorial!

I promise it’ll be simple, relatively easy, and definitely easy to understand. Sound good?

Awesome, let’s start your blog!

*This post may contain affiliate links to products. I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links.

How to Start Your Own Blog in 7 Easy Steps

Learn how to create a blog in about 20 minutes following these steps. Feel free to jump straight to any of the steps in case you’ve already gone through some of them. 

Step 1. Pick a niche & blog name

When I decided to learn how to create a blog I think I spent over a month trying to figure out what my blog name should be. Admittedly, I was just feeling shy to share my work with the world and looking for every excuse to postpone starting my own blog. This was a damn good excuse.

However, settling on a blog name can be indeed a daunting task. The first step to finding a good blog name is choosing your topic or what you’ve probably heard people call a niche.

What is a niche? And why do you need one?

A niche is what you settle to write about and a particular audience that you want to write for. In short, you write about one thing. Say for instance food, parenting, travel, fashion, knitting, etc.

A niche is important because it gives you a focus. It guides you on the direction to take instead of going round and round trying to talk about everything that comes to your mind.

If you’re planning to make money blogging, then I’ll have you know that it doesn’t pay to be a jack of all trades.

With a clear niche you’ll be able to plan your content calendar, decide on your blog design, and know where (and how) to market your blog.

Can’t think of a niche? Don’t worry let me help you come up with one.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What interest or dream from your childhood still excites you?
  • Do you have any hobbies or hobbies that you want to learn?
  • What is the one value that you hold close to you?
  • What’s the one achievement you’re incredibly proud of?

Something is starting to come to mind, right?

Let’s dig even deeper.

Now take a piece of paper and list down 5 things you find easy to do.

What are some of the things you’re naturally good at? These are the things you’ll be able to write about from a place of authority and confidence. Don’t overthink it, just write what comes to mind.

Try and be as specific as possible. Instead of saying “food” say “cooking, especially baking pastries”.

Next, write down the top 5 things you spend your free time doing.

Now, look at what you’ve written down and pick out the patterns and common things that stand out.

If you wrote down “cooking, especially baking pastries” as one of the things you’re naturally good at, I’m guessing baking pastries will be on your list of things you spend your free time on.

See where I’m going with this?

Rank the things that stood out in order of importance on a scale of 1–10.

Boom! You just found your niche.

Now you’re ready to pick a blog name.

Guided by your niche, come up with a blog name. Go for something descriptive that will instantly tell people what your blog is about just from the name.

If you want to create a personal blog to promote yourself as a brand, I recommend using your name, or some variation of it.

Step 2: Get your blog online

Next, decide whether you want to pay for your blog or grab a free one.

Free blogging platforms include WordPress.com, Tumblr, and Blogger.

You’re probably thinking why pay for something that I can get for free, right?

While at this point it may seem obvious to go for the free option, free platforms have a couple of downsides and having used both I’d advise you to go for the paid ones.

Remember I mentioned I made a few mistakes when starting out? Going for a free platform was one of them.  

One of the disadvantages of a free blogging platform is that you won’t be able to get your OWN domain name.

Your URL will look something like this: yourblog.wordpress.com. So for instance, if my blog was running on the free WordPress platform my URL would be www.theafricanomad.wordpress.com instead of www.theafricanomad.com.

Another disadvantage is that you will always be limited in what you can do with your blog. You will not be able to monetize your blog when using a free platform.

To make money from your blog you need lots of traffic and to get this traffic you need to tweak your blog enough to attract your target audience.

You’ll need to use plugins, themes, custom templates, videos and images. Free blogs will limit how much of such stuff you can use. It’s really pointless to learn how to start your own blog with the intention to make money from it and be limited to do it.

Your blog will also never really be yours. Yes, that’s true. A blog running on a free platform does not belong to you but to the owner of the platform. And you know what this means? They can delete it if and when they want.

Imagine the horror of putting in years creating content only to wake up one morning and puff your blog is gone 😱

On the other hand, with a self-hosted blog on your own domain name – you are the REAL owner of your blog. You’ll be able to name your blog whatever you want, and add unlimited bandwidth for videos, images, and content. You also get to use any themes, templates and plugins you want.

Hosting your blog

So how much is hosting and a domain name? It is not as much as you imagine and you don’t need to do anything once you set it up.

It usually comes to about $5 (Sh. 500) to $10 (Sh 1,000) per month, depending on your hosting provider. Sacrifice two Java coffees every month 😉

Setting up your domain and hosting may sound technical, but you’ll be surprised just how simple it is. Just follow these few steps:

The hosting company I recommend, and the one I show you how to use in this guide, is BlueHost. I used BlueHost when starting my blog and found it extremely easy to use and affordable as well.

And the good news is that if you use any BlueHost link on this site you’ll get the special discount price of $2.75 (Sh. 275) per month instead of $5 (Sh 500). Now you’ll just have to sacrifice one cup of coffee every month!

1. Click here for the special $2.75 per month rate on BlueHost and hit the green “Get Started Now” button.

how to create a blog | Stella Mwangi

2. Select your plan. As a new blogger, I recommend that you get the basic plan and upgrade to other plans when renewing your account. Click “Select” to choose your plan.

how to create a blog | Stella Mwangi

3. Type in your domain name (the one we came up with in step one) in the left box and then click “next” to start the registration process.

    • If you already own a domain name and want to use it for your blog, type your existing domain in the right box and then click “next”. Only use the right box if you have already paid to register that domain!

how to create a blog | Stella Mwangi

4. Fill out your billing details on the registration page.

how to create a blog | Stella Mwangi

5. Next, choose your hosting package and options.

    • All packages have everything you need to get your blog up and running, including a free domain name, easy WordPress blog installation, web hosting, and branded email accounts (e.g. info@theafricanomad.com).
    • The 36-month package gets you the lowest monthly rate, while the 12-month package has a lower up-front cost. I suggest you go for the 12-month package if you’re low on funds right now. Don’t make this an excuse not to continue. Remember, you can cancel anytime.
    • I uncheck the boxes next to the other products when I sign-up. You can always get these products later if you decide you need them.

how to create a blog | Stella Mwangi

6. Continue to payment and pick the payment method you prefer. I can guarantee you that all payment options are safe. I used my Equity Bank card in 2016 and I’ve not had any issue to date.

how to create a blog | Stella Mwangi

7. Lastly, create a password for your account. Once you do that you can choose a basic WordPress design template for your blog which you can easily change this in Step 3.

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

8. Once the installation is complete click “Start Building” to be logged in to your blog.

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Step 3 – Designing your WordPress blog

Now, the fun bit.

Next, we’re going to make your blog look exactly how you want it to so that it can reflect your chosen niche.

Login to your blog by typing http://www.yourblog.com/wp-admin on your browser to bring up the login screen (replace “yourblog.com” with your domain name). You should have your login name and password in the email that was sent to you from BlueHost.

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

When setting up a blog you don’t need to hire a web designer to design it for you. These templates make it so easy to have a blog in just a matter of minutes without having to use any code.

Once you install a theme all you need to do is add your content and your blog will be up and running.

To choose a new theme, go to Appearance > Themes and install a free WordPress theme from the options available.

I usually choose something that looks professional and pretty easy to customize. I’m currently using Divi by Elegant Themes that’s why you can see the first two themes in the screenshot below.

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

Divi is not a free theme and you certainly don’t have to pay for a theme immediately but I love how easy it is to personalize it. You can easily choose the colours you want, add your logo, change the way you want your pages to appear, pick your own fonts and so much more. I highly recommend getting Divi by Elegant Themes if you want to fully customize your blog.

When choosing your theme go for a design that will reflect both your personality and what the blog is about. Having a travel-oriented theme if your blog is about dogs will work against you. Your blog visitors will always feel like they landed on the wrong website.

What to look for in a theme

Here are a few suggestions of what to look for when choosing a theme for your blog:

  • It’s simple: Your goal is to share content that your readers can easily consume. Having a simple theme will let you do exactly that. A complicated theme will only make it hard for people to consume your content. Don’t compromise legibility and usability. If a theme looks good but confuses your readers, it’s not a good theme.
  • It’s responsive: Responsiveness means that your blog looks good no matter what device someone is viewing it from. Be it a laptop, desktop, mobile phone, tablet etc. You especially have to make sure that the theme is mobile friendly because the majority of traffic comes from mobile devices. In 2018, 58% of site visits were from mobile devices. Google also favours mobile-friendly websites and ranks them first on the search result pages. To test if a theme is responsive, copy and paste the URL of the theme’s demo page into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page. If the text is too small or content is wider than screen then forget about that theme.
  • SEO friendly: Search engine optimization (SEO), refers to how well your content ranks on Google and other search engines. The higher your content ranks (appears on page one on Google) the more people will find your content when people search for it. The only way to know if the theme is SEO friendly is to check if the developer has said it is optimized for SEO.
  • It works in different browsers: There are many browsers available so you need to make sure your theme renders well on all the popular browsers. Try testing on a couple of different browsers such as Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Safari and Opera.
  • Supports plugins: The real power of your WordPress blog is in the plugins. Plugins are add-ons that give your blog more functionality. Let’s say you want people to subscribe to your blog, you need a subscription form where people can subscribe from. The subscription form comes as an extra add-on—plugin. Make sure the theme you choose supports all popular plugins. Take a look below at some of the most essential plugins you will need for your blog.  
  • Offers support: As a newbie, you may face a few issues when trying to optimise your blog. For instance, you may want to change your blog colours but can’t figure out how to do it. You should be able to ask the theme developer for help. However, please note that many free theme developers won’t offer support for their products.
  • Has high ratings and reviews: There are so many good looking themes and you may get confused on which one to settle on. One way to make a quick decision is to look at reviews. A theme with high ratings and reviews will be a good option.

9 MUST Have WordPress blog plugins

Like I mentioned, the real power of your WordPress blog is in your plugins. As you will see, there are thousands of plugins. You don’t need all of those.

Plugins allow you to do more with your blog than just adding content. You can capture emails, get site analytics to see how your blog posts are performing, increase your site speed, optimise your images, add SEO to your content, secure your website and so much more.

Now, you don’t want to add plugins just for the sake of it because too many plugins will slow down your website.

To help you swim through the ocean of plugins, here are the 9 must-have plugins that you should install right now as we continue with the process of setting up a blog.

1. BackupBuddy

Thank god for this nifty plugin! My hosting expired and I was too busy to keep up with my blog so I didn’t even notice that my hosting had expired. When I committed to reviving my blog I had to restore my earlier content and all I needed to do was hit the restore button on my BackupBuddy plugin. Besides that, sometimes things go wrong and you lose your content. A bug perhaps or even a hack. It’s always smart to have a backup of all your hard work.

2. W3 Total Cache

Faster websites rank better in Google. Your visitors will enjoy using your site more and are more likely to come back if your website loads quickly. W3 Total Cache reduces your file sizes so that your blog loads faster.

3. Yoast SEO

You want people to find your blog when they search about your niche. This only happens if your content is SEO ready. Yoast SEO plugin helps you to optimize your blog post titles, meta descriptions, content length and other elements on your entire blog making your blog easier to find.

See also: SEO: What NOT to Do If You Want to Get it Right

4. OptinMonster

If you want to make money blogging you need to have a huge email list that you can market to. OptinMonster helps you convert your readers into email subscribers through action-oriented popups that entice web visitors with a custom offer.

5. WPForms

Engaging your readers increases their trust in you and your brand. The more they trust you the more they will keep coming back to your blog and buy anything you might be selling. WPForms allows you to create easy to use contact forms that visitors can use to contact you or leave comments on your posts.

6. Social Warfare

Social shares are the new word-of-mouth in this digital era. A retweet, like or share is an endorsement. The more social shares your blog has the more traffic you’ll get. Make it easy for people to share your content by installing Social Warfare. The plugin allows you to automatically or manually add social media sharing buttons into your content.

7. MonsterInsights

You want to know how your blog is performing, right? Are people even reading your content? Which content do they love most? Who are your readers? Connect MonsterInsights to your Google Analytics account (you can sign up for a free Google Analytics account right here) and you’ll find answers to all these questions and more in your site’s analytics.

8. Akismet

You certainly don’t want spammy comments showing up on your blog’s comment section.  Akismet will filter out the spammy comments from all your blog posts. This plugin actually comes, by default, with every new WordPress installation. So you don’t have to pay for it, simply install it while setting up your WordPress blog.

9. Jetpack

Jetpack has a load of benefits including site security, improved website performance, more traffic, image optimisation, custom website appearance and so much more.

Step 4: Create your main pages (About, Contact, Hire)

This how to start your own blog guide would be incomplete if I were to skip this step. Having a blog page doesn’t complete your freelance website. If you’re planning to use your blog to showcase your freelance skills and to attract clients then these 3 pages are an absolute must. 

These pages are all pretty standard, but they’re also a great way to give your readers some basic, foundational information such as who you are, why people should listen to you and how they can get in touch with you should they have any questions or feedback.

  • About page: Use this page to introduce yourself and sell yourself to potential clients looking to hire you.
  • Contact page: This can simply be your email, phone number, Skype ID and social media accounts listed on a page. If you’d rather keep your email, phone number and Skype ID private, you can simply use your WPForms plugin to include a contact form.
  • Hire Me page: Use this page to tell clients exactly what you do, who you’re interested in working with and provide a way for potential clients to get in touch with you. You can also use this page to show off some of your recent achievements.

Step 5: Write a blog post & publish it

Can I now confidently say I’ve finally answered your “How do I start a blog?” question? I hope so!

One more thing…

Let’s do some actual blogging!

To post your first blog, on your WordPress dashboard, go to the left menu and click on “Posts”.

Click the “Add New” link and you’ll be redirected to the post editor screen.

Here you can begin working on your blog post. Enter the title of your post in the top box and the rest of your post in the lower box.

On this editor screen, you can add images, videos, memes or GIFs by clicking on the “Add Media” button then “Select Files” to upload your media from your computer. Then click “Insert into post” to add your media.

Once you have finished writing your post scroll down to the bottom page where you’ll see the Yoast SEO elements. Fill in the elements to optimise your blog post.

The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi

 

Once you’re done and your post looks good click the “Publish” button on the right side of the screen to publish it.

Congratulations! You now know how to start your own blog and publish content!

If until now you’ve ACTUALLY been implementing the above-mentioned steps of setting up a blog, you not only now know how to create a blog, you’re actually a published writer. How sweet!

Step 6: Promote your blog

The first 5 steps of this how to start your own blog guide are just the beginning. The real work lies ahead of you. To be able to get your blog in front of your target audience, you have to promote it, especially now that it’s new and unheard of.

One of the easiest and best ways to get people to read your blog is to post links on your social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.

Your family and friends will see your link, read your blog and share it with their friends and family automatically multiplying your readers. Remember we talked about social shares being today’s form of word-of-mouth? So get people talking about your blog! Social media marketing also increases your Google rankings.

Once you have some good traffic, you want these people to keep coming back for more. Email marketing is a good way to do this. Collect the email addresses of your visitors through your opt-in form and notify them when you post new content on your blog. Over time, you’ll be able to build a closer relationship with your readers.

Step 7: Make money blogging

The beauty of starting your own blog is that your efforts will pay off in the form of money if you put in the work.

There are several ways you can make money blogging:

Freelance Writing – There’s nothing that shows your ability to write like your own blog. If you’re a newbie, give yourself time to perfect the art and then start making money off your blog by selling freelance writing services. Pitch to clients in your niche and increase your chances of getting high paying clients.

Google Adsense – This is by far the easiest way to make money from your blog and you can get started in just a few weeks after completing this how to create a blog process. Adsense is an advertising platform owned by Google. Sign up on the platform and Google will place ads on your blog. You get paid when someone clicks on your ad or by the number of views the ad receives on your site.

Affiliate marketing – You’ve probably heard about this one. You add affiliate links for products that you like or recommend within your blog pots. You get paid a commission when someone clicks on that link and buys a product.

Ebooks/Digital products – Write an e-book or a downloadable PDF with info on a particular topic, preferably within your niche, and sell it on your blog.

Courses – Once you’ve gained good authority in your chosen niche, create a course teaching your audience how to do or learn something. The beauty of courses is that you only need to build it once and generate income for years.

Membership sites – Get people to subscribe to a restricted/membership area on your blog for a small fee so that they can access premium content, courses, videos, or a forum.

It’s Your Turn Now…

So there you have it guys, 7 simple steps on how to start your own blog. If you haven’t already started building your blog head over to BlueHost and make your first commitment to make this happen.

I hope you are now confident enough to get down to business and set up your own blog because as you can see, you need no tech skills to do it. So go on Just. Do. It.

Once you’re done head over to the comments section below and let me know how your journey learning how to start a blog is coming along. Should you have any difficulties or questions, don’t hesitate to share them too!

how to create a blog | Stella Mwangi

How to Become a Freelancer: 6 Top Tips on How I Got Started as a Freelancer

How to Become a Freelancer: 6 Top Tips on How I Got Started as a Freelancer

You’ve landed on this blog post because you want to know how to become a freelancer. You’ve been thinking about it for so long and after settling on a freelance business you can start today your mind is made up.

You’re ready to get started, right?

Not so fast…

One of the biggest reasons why many freelancers get frustrated during their first couple of months and many consequently give up, is because of the misconception that you’ll just sit at home and work will come to you. There’s this floating notion that freelancing is easy.

The reality is you have to work hard. Freelancing is indeed serious business. Unlike an 8-5 job that comes with a sweet, reliable paycheck every month, there’s nothing stable about freelancing. You need lots of hard work to take your freelance business to a point where stable income in streaming in monthly.

To achieve this you have to:

Decide. Commit. Act. Succeed. Repeat.

Quitting your day job to freelance full-time is scary. I should know. I did it 3 years ago. I was so scared of the unknown. What if I found myself without money to pay my bills? But being able to work for myself on projects that I love is totally worth the risk.

The good news is that you don’t have to quit your day job immediately. You can freelance part time while working full time.

Another reality is: you too can be a successful freelancer.

All you need is the right amount of preparation, information, courage, and dedication.

Today in this blog post, I will share with you some simple secrets that I used (or wished I used) to become a successful freelancer.

Before you continue reading, remember that I’m here to help! Feel free to reach out on my Facebook Group and ask any burning question that you may have concerning how to become a freelancer, freelancing jobs, traveling and how to become a digital nomad.

How to Become a Freelancer

1. Have A Plan Of Action

This is where most people go wrong.

Not having a plan is planning to fail.

Before you get started have a plan of action. Here I want you to be extremely practical. In fact, how about you write your plan out. It’s true that your thoughts become actions once you write them down.

So take your notebook and answer the following questions:

  • Do you have the discipline to work alone without supervision?
  • Are you ready to teach yourself? Which courses are most important to your success?
  • Do you have good communication skills? (Written as well as spoken)
  • Are you ready to take rejection? (This will happen A LOT)
  • What type of work do you want to specialize in?
  • What type of clients do you want to work with?
  • How much do you want to earn each month? (Be realistic on this one, remember you’re a newbie so do your calculation using the bare minimum amount required to make your effort worth it)
  • Are you able to work under pressure and stress?
  • Where do you want to be in 5 years?
  • If this fails, what is your backup plan?

2. Create a Personal Brand

What’s a personal brand?

A personal brand is your unique professional identity that sets you apart from other freelancers. This is one of the secrets that I learnt long after I started freelancing. How I wish I knew this before I got started as a freelancer.

Many of us will simply pick an area of practice and call ourselves a service provider in that area. For instance, copywriter, virtual assistant, transcriber etc. But what is so special about you? What makes you different from any other copywriter?

So, how did I finally build my personal brand?

I first chose a niche. Instead of selling myself as a general writer, I decided that I wanted to concentrate on digital copywriting (web content, email content, landing pages, sales pages etc.)

I then worked on my online presence. To begin with I spruced up my LinkedIn profile to reflect my services. I turned my profile into an effective CV. I added every single detail of my experience (education and work). I also asked for recommendations from past employers.

Here’s a preview of my LinkedIn profile:

how to become a freelance

I then employed the same tactics to my Facebook account. You want people to see the same professional message no matter where the look you up.

If you take a look at my Facebook profile, you’ll first notice my cover image. The image has my business name and a short description of my services. My profile intro tells what I do and who I work with.

You want people to see you as an expert in your field, so you better ensure that your brand communicates exactly that!

3. Prepare a Portfolio

A portfolio is very important for any new freelancer. This is how you gain trust from clients. Most clients assume that new freelancers don’t have the kind of experience required to successfully complete a project. How else will a client know you have experience if you don’t show them what you’ve done in the past.

You don’t need big projects to have a portfolio. Remember your university/college project? The free work you did for your church or friend? All that is experience.

If you have a full time job create a portfolio with your past work experience. All the tasks that you did. You don’t necessarily need a website in order to create a portfolio. You can do so using PDF.

Also, keep in mind that a portfolio is not just a collage of your work but also a creative way of creating your CV. So include a bit about yourself, your services, clients you’ve worked with (if you have testimonials include them), your charges and your contact details.

[thrive_link color=’red’ link=’https://www.canva.com/design/DACEyMftsH8/gpLkm0r_YMlGPaqUOg0UQA/view?utm_content=DACEyMftsH8&utm_campaign=designshare&utm_medium=link&utm_source=sharebutton’ target=’_self’ size=’big’ align=’aligncenter’]Checkout my portfolio[/thrive_link]

4. Prepare for a Rainy Day (Think finances)

Money is definitely one of the biggest concern that wannabe freelancers face. It’s also a major reason why most people chicken out. It’s pretty understandable why money would be a big concern.

Season 3 Payment GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

So to put your mind at rest, ensure that you consider this issue before you get started. For those who are already working, the easiest way to deal with money worries is to commit to saving a certain amount of money before you decide to freelance full time.

Calculate the amount of money you need to comfortably get by each month. Multiply this by 12 and you’ll have the amount of money you need to get by for a year. Then, depending on how much you’re earning come up with a reasonable figure to save every month.

This way, you’ll have enough money to get by for a whole year after you start freelancing. This will give you peace of mind to put your freelance business in order.

For those not working, the trick here is to set the right freelance rate. You want to charge enough to get you by and as little as possible not to put clients off.

Once you get started, be sure to keep track of your earnings in order to evaluate whether you are making by. It’s easy to get carried away with paying bills that you forget to check whether you are making what your services are worth. A simple excel sheet with a record of weekly earnings and expenditure will do.

5. Get a Few Clients to Start with

Before you jump both feet in, try and find one or two clients to get you started. These clients will at least earn you enough to pay your most pressing bills.

As you work full time, set time aside to pick a few small jobs here and there so that you familiarize yourself with freelancing and also to be able to create a list of potential full time clients should you decide to quit your job.

You don’t have to wait until you’ve launched your freelance business to find clients. You can take advantage of your networks, family, friends and colleagues to get referrals. Doing so will make it easy to get some initial work to get started.

6. Got Yourself a Mentor

Another lesson I learned on the job! Having someone who’s done this before to guide you will certainly steer you towards success.

Find a mentor who will give you advice or even give you some work for practice. Remember, it’s not all about the money. When you’re starting out learning the ropes becomes more valuable than the money you make.

So if it means taking on free work from a mentor do so, just ensure that you learn a thing or two along the way. You can request for a mastermind session in exchange for free work.

I was lucky to find a client who was willing to teach me (and still is) a lot of what I know. Whenever I take on work from this client the last thing on my mind is how much they will pay me instead I get excited by the prospect of learning something new from them as I work on their project.

If you’re still on the fence about becoming a freelancer, how about you take a few days and put the above tips into practice and see how it goes? Taking action right now is the ultimate secret to your freelancing success!

Are you already a seasoned freelancer? What other lessons have you learned that could be useful to those just starting out? 

how to become a freelance | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi