Do You Also Want To Be A Successful Freelancer? [Interview]

For the readers that don’t know, our interviewee today is an accomplished freelancer from right here in Kenya! She’s one of the most successful local freelancers I have heard of, having won a one year government tender to offer writing and editorial services for a regulatory state corporation recently. Imagine that! Our interviewee pens her thoughts at: You can also find her on her website:

Q. You’re quite an achiever, tell us about you.

Thank you for having me here. I am writer, blogger, editor and proofreader. I found my passion in writing about a year ago and decided to pursue it, at first on a part time basis before taking it up full time at the beginning of the year.

Q. How did you start?

I started freelancing by chance. I had been working in corporate Kenya since leaving collage and my last FT job was in the banking sector. Upon leaving the bank and back into the overcrowded job market, I was searching for a job when I chanced upon an online magazine (; I still write for them) searching for contributors/freelancers for their business magazine. With little knowledge about online writing but a salient passion and determination for writing, I put forward my application and like they say, the rest is history.

Q. What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

The people over at tujuane were very supportive, understanding and offered the much needed help. However, the reality of working as a freelancer hit me so hard that it took me a while to adjust. Without a regular work schedule, daily commuting and no boss to answer to, at first it seemed like an easy thing to do, but it took an enormous amount of determination and self-discipline on my part to make it work.

I was also battling with the idea of telling people that I freelance which I must say is somewhat new here in Kenya. (Interestingly, saying you freelance is coded to suggest that one has no regular FT job hence searching). But after much thought, I realized what I did/do is no different than what people with a 9-5 do, just that I work from a home office with my own set of rules, structures and schedules and a very demanding boss-me. This has helped me greatly.

Q. What are the challenges of being a freelancer in Kenya?

Getting people to understand that being a freelancer is not about lazing around the house in your pyjamas and a bowl of pop-corn seated in front of the TV, while others are busy working out there. It’s still difficult to explain to people that I work from my home office, at times working 10-12 hours a day.

There is also the notion that one is not a professional or cannot deliver to par as those working in an office setting.

Finding clients has been an uphill task as Kenyans have been socialized to believe a 9-5 or operating an office outside your house is how one should be making a living. But, I must say this perception is changing, thanks in part to technology that has made it easier and fast to communicate with one’s clients anywhere in Kenya and/or the world.

Q. What was critical to your success?

Having a vision and believing in my abilities. I have also continuously sought to improve my skills by reading widely and attending workshops that can impart the necessary skills needed to be successful.

I am also a risk taker as I believe one can only know the extent of their abilities by taking wise and well calculated chances. Toss in a bit of luck, passion and drive; and you have a winning formula.

I do not view my freelancing as a hobby but as a business, thus putting in place the necessary business structures to support it.

Q. What about the competition and marketing? Do you need to advertise, print flyers participate in conferences or is it mostly through word of mouth?

I can say most of my clients are through word of mouth, networking, knocking on people’s doors and contacts I make at conferences. Having a presence online (blog) has greatly contributed to my marketing efforts. My business card acts as my marketing tool by clearly stating what I do and how I do it.

As for competition, I do not worry about it as the market is large enough for any one person, let alone a multitude, to fully exhaust it. It also depends with one’s line of work, how specialised, demand and market forces.

Q. Do you think that in order to “make it big” online you have to live in a Western country? Or does Kenya offer more or less the same opportunities?

I do believe, as long as you have high speed internet, patience, persistence and good judgment when it comes to making a living online, it does not really matter where you work from. I personally started writing online and still do, before sourcing for clients’ offline.

Q. Where do you see yourself and your business(es) in the next 5 years?

When I made the decision to freelance full time, I ensured to put in place a strategy that will chart my path to accomplishing my goals and vision such as working with a large corporation or even the government-but in the distant future, say, in three years time. But, this came sooner than expected and have had to make adjustments to my plans for bigger things. In the next five years, I hope to have made significant strides by having a freelance agency where businesses, government and NGOs can come to and source for highly skilled freelance professionally for their projects here in Kenya.

Q. If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

To be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing as I have learned so much during my short stint as a freelancer and still do. The only thing I would say… why didn’t I start this sooner!

Q. What advice do you have for internet business entrepreneurs in Kenya?

Just choose an internet service provider that charges for unlimited usage on a monthly basis. This will save you the first headache of working online/remotely without running a huge bill on internet usage. Trust me on this!

Have a contingency plan just incase things do not go as planned e.g. the current power rationing or how to meet your deadlines and other obligations when you are under the weather.

Last but not least, there are so many scams out there and one has to be very careful when venturing into internet business. Google is there to help you filter companies/individuals that want to make you a statistic of scammed individuals online. Just search for companies that you feel are not genuine or suspicious. You maybe surprised what comes of it.

For aspiring freelancers, one thing that needs to be clarified and understood is that not everyone can/should freelance let alone do it successfully. It takes guts, passion, determination and vision, and of course, an entrepreneurial spirit to make it.

Good luck and all the best.

That’s all for today readers. If you’d like to read more, please visit:
Smurt Notes Editorial

Additional Resources


  1. An interesting interview,more of this from likechapaa,i have had a chance to read a number of articles from and quite interesting that one should look at is relating the Obama campaign and his successs to freelancing and business.Freelancing is one area that can be used to reduce unemployment in the country and it should be explored.

    • Agreed, totally! Ever since I discovered her blog, its been a source of insight and learning. Freelancing is something that can help our country greatly.

  2. Gachahi Catherine says:

    Good morning,

    I just came across this article and thought that it was very inspiring. Please have the lady send me her CV on the email provided.

    Thanking you in advance.


  3. Congrats!!on the brave step,,,,,i have been toying with the idea.Now i am encouraged,,,,,,its an eye opener,,,,

  4. Thank you all for your comments. @Kelvin…for the chance and the interview
    @Jane Thank for your sentiments and am glad to hear you are inspired enough to take the bold step @kenyainterpreneur Your support is always appreciated.
    @Gachahi Catherine I will be getting in touch with you ASAP.

  5. Working from home. Actually working from wherever as long as you can concentrate right? What could be better than that!

    I’ve taken a small little step toward writing for pay and I hope to keep on keeping on. Maybe with time I should be be able to make a living from the beach! I shall certainly be getting in touch with you for more. If we can write, and there’s a living to be made, why not. YES WE CAN! All the best and here’s to that upcoming freelance agency. Clink!

    Those who might think you spend your time in pyjamas forget about them. They’ll never understand. Actually they may never matter.

    • Hey Shiko! Thanks for visiting 🙂 I sure hope you are successful in getting to make money on the beach. Employment just sucks

    • I feel honored to see a freelancer interviewed and talking of success because I share in it.
      I am a freelance writer with 4 good years worth of experience. I am also the author of the blog K Freelance I know what freelancing is and the challenges every new freelancer in Kenya faces. Writing in particular comes with a set of its own discouragements and if you cannot stand firm, you will end up living in regrets.
      I make a good side earning from writing (on freelance basis), which takes me just a 1 or 3 hours a day. However, I found out that many writers and freelancers in general are just used and paid meagerly. That is one of the reasons I started that blog to help fellow freelancers enjoy from their efforts.
      Joe Classics on Facebook
      @DrJoeClassics on Twitter.
      Any freelancer can get in touch with me, especially writers if they want to learn how to get successful.

  6. peter n njihia says:

    well advice me coz i need 2 know hw i can also do this,is possible to multtitask?

  7. Thanks for that article. I have for quite some time been toying around with the idea of free lancing, i just didn’t know of it was sustainable locally. Now, i will most definitely get into it.


  8. I was just surfing the web and checking my mail and came across this site.

    I work as a writer and also do English-Swahili translations. I once tried to get my work published, but it’s not been easy. I ride on other peoples’ wings.

    I have wanted to do my freelance writing and started writing my blog, which has musings of occurences in everyday life. Some are personal, others are lifted from conversations in a matatu or just in the office. I would like to know from Kenyan Freelancer, what steps do I need to take from here on because I believe I have a noble idea.

  9. Hey Sarah, good to learn about your quest and passion for writing. I will definitely help you out, guide you and show you the steps. Please, go to my blog, and send me an email from it so that we can set the ball rolling.

    In the meantime could you share with us your blog url so that we can all read your musings and conversations. I have helped someone publish their book when it seems there was no hope. Am sure your book will come to light one day, Keep the faith.

  10. hello kevin,i have been an online writer with 4-writers for the past 2 years, but i decided to quit.please help me get another online job as a writer.i want to be a freelancer but i dont no how to start.i urgently need your assistance


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