Last Tuesday, for the first time in my life, I swam in a pool.
That wouldn’t be remarkable to you, probably. It might even seem irrational to you. But for me, it was an occasion to celebrate, because it capped 6 months of hard work followed by a lifetime of resolutely thinking of myself as being capable of swimming.
Why am I telling you about this pathetic-but-epic swimming story in a post on how to start freelancing in Nigeria? Because if I can overcome my fears and swim in that pool, you can also achieve anything in life; including making money freelancing in Nigeria.
As of the time of writing, the average annual pay for freelancers is $67,169 a year. Convert that to naira and you’re a millionaire, just in one year. And some freelancers earn more than that.
So if you’re looking to start freelancing in Nigeria and make money, 10 times better than an average Nigerian; then this post is for you. Read on!
By the end of this post, you’ll learn how to start your freelancing journey, as a Nigerian. But before we dive into detail, let’s understand what freelancing is.
What is freelancing?
Freelancing means to work as a self-employed person rather than be employed by someone else. It involves using the skills, education, and experience you’ve acquired to work for multiple clients and take on contracts without committing to a single company.
A person who does freelancing jobs is a freelancer. Freelancer works as a writer, graphic designer, website designer, developer, or the like, selling services per hour, day, job, etc., rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer.
Steps to Start Freelancing in Nigeria
Acquire Profitable Skills
The first step towards starting freelancing in Nigeria is to acquire profitable skills. I need to make this clear: freelancing is not some quick technique to make fast money or some general motivational aphorism that replaces hard work. In fact, being a freelancer makes you work harder (especially if you want to work with foreign clients).
Having said that, acquiring profitable skills can make all the difference in your freelancing business. While there are many skills you could learn before starting and earning in dollars freelancing, you have to acquire skills that pay. Some of the notable skills that pay you might consider are:
- Facebook Ad management
- Legal entity structuring (among the most lucrative)
- Software licensing
- Social media management (SMM)
- Behavioral design
- Trade law
- Search Engine Optimization
- Video Editing
- Graphic design
- Content writing
- Website design and so on.
To get certified in any of these skills, you have to through a certain level of training to be able to meet the standard demands of clients. One skill can take a few months to learn, some others might require you to stay longer in the trench, honing and sharpening your skills for mastery
For instance, if you choose to start offering copywriting as a service, you’ll first need to unlearn your high-school essay mode of writing, and then learn how to write persuasive and compelling words that move people to take quick action.
To shorten your learning curve, have should someone who guides you as you learn and master your skill.
Create A Portfolio
Next step is to create a portfolio. When launching into the freelancing marketplace, there’s no other better way to attract clients than with a portfolio.
Sure, you can win anyone over if you are an expert at promising a great deal or showing how you can help, but most often; clients want to see what you can do. And you can only do that with a portfolio.
If you’re reading this, I believe you understand what a portfolio translates to in the freelancing world, but in case you don’t, here’s what it is, in a nutshell:
A portfolio is a set of documents (or graphics, website, videos, etc.) or any tangible proof that showcases your expertise in your field. You’ll normally need to provide these documents since you’re going to be doing business with someone who can’t see you physically.
A set of portfolios for our services helps potential clients visualize us in the role we’ll take on and allows them to consider if we ll be perfect for their business.
In a world where everyone is lost in the maze of activities, trying to meet ends and make quick bucks, a freelancing portfolio also helps differentiate you from other candidates, neck-on-neck with you for that project you desire so much.
Now, I’m guessing you’re probably asking…
How can I create good portfolio for my freelancing business?
- Define your USP – USP stands for unique selling proposition. It allows businesses to differentiate themselves from others in the park. But what does this mean for your freelancing business? It means niching down your services to a specific segment of clients in your industry. So instead of going with the generic “digital marketer” you can go with “SEO Specialist.” “Logo designer” is more specific than “freelance designer.” Defining your USP helps you become more specific in your client hunting and as well as gives you clarity about who your clients are.
- Create samples for your work – Now that you have clarity about your freelancing business, it’s time to create samples tailored to that specific set of businesses. For instance, if you’re going with a logo designer, you’ll want to focus on creating quality logo designs that will attract your potential clients. If you don’t already have previous works you can showcase, the best way to do this is to work for your friends or family for free.
- Store your samples in a website or any cloud source – The best way to attract potential clients with your portfolio is through a website. A website gives you flexibility and makes clients see what you’re actually worth, plus it helps you build credibility. If you’re choosing a website, try adding a section where you explain to potential clients the state of the problem and how you tackled it. However, if you can’t afford a website, try saving your works on cloud platforms like Google Drive or portfolio sites like Medium.com, if you’re a writer.
Develop Business Mindset
Once you’ve created a portfolio, the next step is to develop a business mindset. What differentiates freelancers earning $45,390 per year from those earning peanuts is their ability to understand that freelancing is a business.
If you’re going to command higher rates and charge what you are worth in the freelancing world, you have to position yourself as a business mogul, not as an employee.
Get rid of the employee mindset, it hurts your earnings as a freelancer.
As a freelancer, you’re not WORKING FOR your clients; rather you’re WORKING WITH them.
Understanding this, will helps you brand your business correctly so you attract clients who can pay you the big bucks.
Sign up on Freelancing Platform
To get started properly, you can sign up on freelancing platform. I personally don’t like using freelancing platforms to hunt for freelancing jobs, but they’re a good way to help you understand what clients want in the real world.
And if you’re lucky and good at sending pitches you can land high-paying freelancing gigs from these platforms.
If you’re just starting out as a Nigerian, I don’t advise chasing Nigeria freelancing platforms as they only offer you peanuts for doing a lot of work.
That said, you should aim for clients that will pay you in dollars to increase your chance at making it big with freelancing.
Some platform you can be using to hunt for jobs includes:
- Freelancer, etc.
Promote Yourself on LinkedIn
Finally, you need to promote yourself on professional platform like LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the second most popular platform for B2B marketers with more than 55 million companies from all around the world.
Needless to say, LinkedIn is a gold mine for serious freelancers who know how to play their game really well.
If you’re serious about making a ton of money with freelancing, then you’ll want to consider using LinkedIn.
Unlike other freelancing platforms, you’re not required to pay any sum of money to LinkedIn whenever you land a freelance writing gig, plus the competition is minimal if you position yourself well.
Some good LinkedIn strategies you should be using to land freelancing jobs include:
- Connect with prospective clients in your industry
- Connect with other freelancers in your niche
- Offer insightful comments on prospective client’s post
- Post authority content (tips, how-to, etc.) about your service frequently.
When you’re just getting started with freelancing, it can be pretty hard to land your first few clients, but as time goes by you’ll begin to see desirable results.
One of the things you should really focus on is marketing. And with other tips in this post, you should be able to land your first gig soon.
I’m looking forward to hearing your success stories.