Elance, oDesk, and Making Money Online

The last time you heard from me, I had made almost half a million freelancing, and was hanging up my keyboard in exchange for a little honest work. The work was fulfilling and fun, but I’ve always been bad at marketting, and referrals will only get you so far. When I gave up the online work, I was lucky. I got a job at a digital ad agency, doing pretty much the same stuff as freelancing, except I had to sit in an office, and I get medical benefits. They still let me wear jeans every day, and they have sparkly red floors and attic-style roofing, so it’s a really cool deal.

The past few months have been tricky though. Between the dollar falling and the baby growing, finances just aren’t stretching as far as they should, so I reconsidered finding a side hustle. I didn’t want it to be writing work, since I already write during my 9 to 5 [or whatever time the briefs are complete, which sometimes means 9.00 a.m. three days later.] I toyed with the idea of farming, since we kept commercial chicken when we were little. I bumped into some farming info in the days after, and I figured it must be a sign. But to be a farmer, you need, you know, a farm, and that needs money.

What followed was a few days of daydreaming and restlessness. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I decided to log on to Elance and see what was going on. I wanted to check my password and see if my account was still active. Well … it was … and everything was right the way I left it, so yay! I looked up some of my old Elance clients, and was glad to see they still wanted to work with me. One even recommended me to his wife, who has become one more happy client. She gives me work via oDesk, though it took me a while to remember that password and figure out how it worked. I opened my oDesk account in 2008, but I haven’t used it since.

So what has changed since I last worked freelance? Not much. The dollar went up and down again, and Paypal still doesn’t allow withdrawals in Kenya, except for The Kenya Red Cross Society. There are still a lot of middle-men trying to offer that service, but I prefer to get my payments via Payoneer or have a wire transfer straight to my bank. There’s a charge for it, but it’s also a convenient way to keep track of all the money coming in from side work. The gigs are still pretty small, paying between $1 and $5 per article, and I spend 3 or 4 hours a day working on them, which means I’m retraining my body to function on four hours asleep. Anyone who knows me appreciates what a mammoth task that is, but sometimes you do what you have to.

I was very hesitant about getting into freelancing again. I get home from my day job at 8 or 9 p.m. and after a day that long, it seemed unreasonable to sit at a computer for anything but pleasure. But I’ve been having conversations with my friends, the kind where they want a change in their lives but they’re not willing to make any effort, and I realized I was doing the same thing myself. I am where I am because I’m not pushing myself hard enough, and I needed to change that, so I did.

I get a lot of emails asking how to succeed in online work, how to get jobs, how to get paid. In the two or so years that I’ve worked online, I’ve made $1,400, and I know of Kenyans who have made a lot more using the very same avenues that I do. There’s no secret behind it. You just log on and keep trying till you get it right. It’s not as easy as it looks, but it’s definitely worth it.

Put in the same effort in your work, whether you’re working for $1 or $500. That’s how you build a name for yourself, that’s how you get recommended to others, and that’s how every time you walk away, you come back and find work waiting for you. That, and effective marketting, which I’m yet to figure out, but I’ll get there, someday 😉

Crystal Ading’ is a professional author, editor, rock lover and mother. Her work is available through www.threeceebee.com.

Are You Becoming Cheap Labour?

I bet you have heard about websites like Freelancer.com, Fiverr and GigBucks. These are websites in which anyone can sign up and start making money online almost instantly. Basically, on these websites you can sell your services for a small fee. The good thing about them is that they are very popular and as long as you are skilled in something it is very difficult NOT to make money online on these sites.

Indeed, there are literally millions of people who are trying to make money using these websites (and other similar ones). Of all these millions of people, many actually do make money! Sounds nice, eh? You want to go try it out? Go ahead. But before you do, please take a moment to think it through. These websites are loved by people by me because I can get really talented people to offer their services to me really cheap. The people doing jobs on these sites are certainly happy to take my money. And I’m certainly happy to pay them… you know why? Because it is crazy cheap labour!! I can literally hire a graphic designer for $5 (Kshs 450) to create a logo for me then go ahead and sell that logo to someone else for Kshs 5,000/- Pesa taslimu.

Do you get my point? Sites like Freelancer.com and Fiverr represent hundreds of thousands of people willing and able to work for you at the cheapest rates imaginable. Is the smartest thing you can do to join these hundreds of thousands of people and to compete with them? Really?

WAKE up!! Find a way to make some money off this insanely cheap labour. Do not BECOME the cheap labour.

How to Get An Online Job

We get so many emails about online jobs that we decided to do somethign about it and try to solve this problem permanently!

We’re pleased to announce that today we’re releasing our newest, and only, book: Dummies Guide to Getting an Online Job.

Have you ever thought about getting an online job? Imagine a job which you can do from your own bedroom, in your pyjamas. Imagine a job which you can do at your own time (you can wake up late everyday and spend the afternoons on Thursday playing tennis). Could this lifestyle be for you?

Have you looked long and hard and struggled to find legitimate online jobs? We wrote this book for you. Many people go out looking for online jobs without doing the basic preparations. They end up as an online scam statistic. Do not let this be your story. Our book guides you through the things that a beginners should know and we suggest several places where you can find well paying legitimate online jobs. We even go as far as guiding you through the use of one very popular online jobs website/service.

Buy this. Now.

Teenage Girls Making Thousands of Dollars Online

Like most 16-year-olds, Renee’s world is in her bedroom. She hangs out here with her friends, and spends hours on her computer. But Renee isn’t just sending e-mails or surfing the web aimlessly. She’s running a highly profitable Internet business from here, one she says has earned her as much as $2,000 a month. But what’s she’s doing in her bedroom would make a lot of mothers blush. Renee is a “Cam Girl” – just one of hundreds of young girls who compete for attention on the Web by putting webcam photos and videos of themselves online. – Odd Line

This is the true story of girls, teenage girls who make much more money than many people in Kenya to do “teen modelling”. Basically, you have young pretty girls whose pictures and videos of themselves in various places and in various outfits (sometimes near pornographic) can be found on some website. Then, people pay $15 – $25 per month for access to these pictures and videos. Interesting?

Click here to read all about it. Can you imagine a teenage girl making Kshs 180,000/- a month for just ‘teen modelling’?? Keep in mind that there is nothing explicitly pornographic. How much money do you make a month?

If American and European girls can do this. can Kenyan girls achieve the same success? More importantly, is this kind of work ethically correct? What do you think, dear readers?

The Coming Disruption: Teen Knowledge Work

Dale Stephens is 19. If you or your business would like to consult with him for a day, his published rate on his website is $5,000. Imagine that, a 19 year old who is confident enough to charge Kshs 400,000/- a day for his consulting services.

Dale’s story is from an interesting articles titled The Coming Disruption: Teen Knowledge Work (click to read it).

The article describes the phenomenon that is young people (mostly barely out of their teens) are no longer getting employed but choose to try their hand at starting businesses. This is a very major change from just a generation ago when our parents would seek and hold on to jobs for most of their lives.

What do you think of this new trend? I’m all for it – instead of adding onto the high unemployment numbers, young people should instead try to create jobs – ama?

On Online Jobs…

So recently we’ve been getting a whole lot of emails from people wanting us to “hook them up” with online jobs. The emails usually sound like they were written by very sincere very qualified people who just want to make money online.

It seems the question on every one of these people’s mind is “How exactly do you get an online job?”

The sad truth is that this is an area that is very much a target of scammers i.e. it is very easy to get cheated while trying to ‘find an online job’. Why is it so? Because most of the time the people looking for online jobs have little knowledge on how to go about it and most of them are too desperate to get an online job therefore they believe anything and quickly jump at the thought of joining up yet another juicy online program that promises easy riches.

What no one tells you is that working online is hard. Extremely hard. It is just as hard, if not harder, than working offline, or anywhere else. Look, no one is going to give you free money – sawa? So if you see someone promising easy overnight riches then you should be wary of two things:

  • That person is probably going to steal from you in some way
  • The ‘job’ is going to be nothing like he described it (if it exists) and certainly in no way easy

Now, this is not meant to scare you. Legitimate online jobs do exist. In fact, most of the people who write for Like Chapaa earn a significant portion of their money online.

The important thing is to be prepared to work incredibly hard. When you start working online, you will quickly realise that your competition is Indians, Pakistanis, people from Eastern Europe and people from many other countries in the hundreds. The people with jobs are far fewer than the people who want jobs so you will have to work that much harder to be seen and considered from amongst the crowd.

The fruits of your labour, however, are very sweet. I would argue that money made online ni tamu kushinda zote zingine!

We’re preapring some more articles on this topic due to public demand so stay tuned to Like Chapaa. In the meantime, have a look at these classics:

See you soon.

The 3 Easiest Ways To Make More Money

1. Freelancing
This is simple – take your skills and find someone who will pay you to do something for them.

Advantages of Freelancing

  1. It is extremely easy to get started
  2. It is extremely easy to set a price for your work – there are lots of example to copy.
  3. The relationship between work and income is very clear – if you work, you get paid certainly.

Disadvantages of Freelancing

  1. Freelancing is hard work and freelancers often get stuck in a “rat race” i.e. you need to work to eat
  2. It is hard to raise your fees and there may be an upper limit to how much you can charge
  3. It is sometimes difficult to know if your skill set can earn you money. For example, not many people may care about how fast you can read a book.

How do you get paid?

  • Per hour
  • Per project
  • ‘Subscription’-based – for example, “you have access to my expertise for 3 months”

Examples: web designer, marketing consultant, babysitter, freelance writer, programmer, etc

2. Productizing
This is related to freelancing – instead of, for example, offering yourself as a freelance marketing consultant, you could write a book on marketing and sell it. When you make your knowledge into a product, you can generate revenue even when you are sleeping. However, while this method can generate higher revenues, it is also higher risk as you are not sure if anyone will buy your products.


  1. You can make money even when you are sleeping, or sick, or…
  2. It is easier to make more money than in freelancing – you can sell your book to hundreds of thousands of people but you cannot write for that many people as a freelancer in a short period of time
  3. You get more freedom


  1. The logistics of selling products include specialist software like shopping carts, payment processors, email marketing software etc
  2. You need to know how to market your product online – this may include blogging, SEO, social networks, etc
  3. It is difficult to know who will buy your product, at how much, and how to price it
  4. The Internet is a sea of horribly crappy products and so it is difficult to convince people that yours is any different

How to earn money

  • Freemium model where you give something for free and then charge for upgrades e.g. DukaPress
  • Charge for single products like books or ebooks e.g. Kiosk 3CB
  • Create a product where you can charge recurring fees e.g online courses e.g. Membership Site Masterplan
  • Create valuable content and then market affiliate products. Here’s how to do this.

Examples: OBS, Kiosk 3CB, DukaPress, WooThemes etc

3. Getting a Higher Salary
Truth is, the vast majority of us are employed so this is an obvious strategy. Yet, very few of us think about it in this way. To get a higher salary, you need to improve your skills at work and demonstrate this to your boss. Hopefully, this will translate into increased responsibilities at work and a higher salary. Simple enough for you?


  1. You already know what to do! Just make your boss happy with the quality of your work.
  2. Salary increases tend to follow you through to the end of your career and they are cumulative. If you get a 10% salary increase, it will likely continue like this for the rest of your career and often can only go upwards.


  1. It is hard to know exactly what kind of behaviour will get you a raise
  2. Everything is out of your control and depends on your boss’ discretion and your company’s budget

Which road will you take?