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How To Become a Writer in Kenya with Zero Experience | Stella Mwangi

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