Phyllis, Writer

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Hi, Iโ€™m Phyllis and Iโ€™m from Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya is full of fun, football and athletics. I'm a fan of singing and doing charitable work and I work from home while taking care of my two young handsome boys.

What do you do?

Having completed my CPAs, I immediately secured a job at a coffee firm where I was the accountant. After working for 3 years, I decided to quit so that I could have time to do my stuff and take care of my young family. Since then I have been doing freelance writing.

How did you become a freelancer?

It all started right after I gave birth to my second-born in July 2016. I decided to quit my 8-5 job to cater for my young family. All along, I had this thirst to work from home but I didn't know where, what, and how I could do so. My heart was thrilled when a work-at-home friend of mine introduced me to the freelance world. Freedom!! The "paid freedom" I had been longing for was now a possibility.

Why did you become a freelancer?

Independence has always been my dream. The thought of working while looking after my babies was such a great thrill. I couldn't wait to start training in academic writing.

Where did you find your first paid freelancing job?

I knew that I would get my first client after getting to know the ABC's of what it means to be a freelancer. I rolled up my sleeves and was ready to face this "giant". I got my first paid gig by writing a psychology paper from Bishops Writers Bureau - a site for academic writing. I submitted the paper and received great feedback and a bonus of work well done! I couldn't believe it.

What expectations did you have going into this kind of job? And how has it been the same or different from what you expected?

As far as I'm concerned, nothing comes without toil. But this was tougher than what I expected. I thought that jobs would be available, and they were just a click of a button away. I expected that I would get jobs rolling in one after the other. But I soon found out that I had to look for the jobs, and it wasnโ€™t at all how I expected (opening your laptop and getting jobs allocated for you).

Whatโ€™s your favorite thing about freelancing/working from home?

Working from home gives me the freedom to do what I want. No office distractions or inflexible schedules - and letโ€™s not forget about the pajamas! You donโ€™t need to keep on buying office clothes.

What's your LEAST favorite thing about freelancing/working from home?

The issue of loneliness; though it doesn't bother me much because I'm an introvert, but sometimes itโ€™s not super fun.

How long did it take for you to feel like a "successful" freelancer? Until you were able to pay your bills regularly without worrying?

Well, I can't say that I am exactly where I want to be in terms of my freelancing career yet. But Iโ€™ve come a long way from where I used to be! It has taken roughly 2 years for me to feel stable as a freelancer. I did change from writing academic papers to ebooks, articles and blogs. I realized that I was able to show off my creativity in this kind of writing. Iโ€™ve also been blessed to work with clients who pay quite well. And of course, I joined some Facebook groups along the way and honed my skills.  

How did you price your services when you were just starting out?

It hurts to remember! The payment I got at first was so low. I remember I even got one client who paid like 3 times what I had asked for and this made me realize I was probably charging too little. This was just because I had a fear of rejection. I thought if I quoted too much I would lose opportunities. With time, I discovered that clients pay you based on the output. Since then, I have learned to charge based on what I'm offering, which is high-quality work.

What was your biggest struggle when you were just starting out?

When I started freelancing, getting negative feedback was very discouraging. I could get into a negative mindstate and think. "Well, I better quit this thing, Iโ€™m no good at it." This was my fear of the unknown talking. Inspirational quotes were my saving grace at this point! I realized you don't have to fear criticism, but rather use it as a stepping stone to learning more of what is supposed to be done.

What do you know now, that you wish you knew back then?

Working from home can be daunting, especially if you don't set some time aside for recreation. I wish I knew to say 'no' when I was tired. I often found myself working even when my legs became stiff from sitting down for too long just to avoid turning a client away.

What's your favorite way to find new clients and job opportunities? What worked best for you?

Facebook groups, Upwork, Remote Hub, and cold-pitching are the best ways to find work according to me. I have found numerous opportunities on Upwork but I would advise anyone to cold-pitch, it definitely pays off.

What are your favorite tools for work? Any apps or programs you love?

Slack, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

What's one BIG lesson you learned the hard way on your freelancer journey?

Living a balanced life while freelancing has been my biggest challenge. It is extremely difficult to write if you don't eat well, exercise, and have some time to rest.

How do you stay motivated when work is tough or there arenโ€™t enough jobs coming in?

It can be challenging when there are not enough jobs coming in. I usually spend that time singing (my hobby) and doing household chores. I learned never to put all your eggs in one basket. Even if you are freelancing, you need a hobby to keep you motivated during hard and dry times.

If you met a new freelancer who wanted to get into your line of work, what advice would you give them?

Freelancing is fun and rewarding, but it is not a bed of roses. You have to work hard to achieve your goals.

Any tips or tricks for working with difficult clients?

If you ever happen to meet a difficult client - and I bet you will in the freelancing journey - never get upset, angry, or take it personally. The best thing is to try to listen to the issue at hand and give reasonable solutions. But, you should also know when not to give in.

Now that you've experienced all the ups and downs of being a freelancer, would you go back to a regular 9-5 job?

I would never consider going back to a regular 9-5 job. I have hit the point of no return. My freedom matters a lot.

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