Discover the valuable lessons I’ve learned over 12+ years as a freelancer. From overcoming challenges in my online business to celebrating milestones, join me as I reflect on an amazing journey of running my business, blogging, and freelance work.
A couple of years ago, I had to deal with a bunch of problems in my online business. But now, I’m celebrating more than twelve years of running my online business, writing blogs, and doing freelance work.
Looking back at these twelve years feels really amazing.
I have lived in 3 different cities, worked with hundreds of clients, met a lot of friends who we haven’t met in person, and have had plenty of bumps along the way.
Online business life is not for the weak of heart or non-risk takers but without a doubt one of the best decisions I have made so far in life.
6 Takeaways That I’ve Learned in 12+ Years While Freelancing
If you’ve ever considered an online business, blogging, or freelancing, I would recommend reading on to see the six takeaways that I have learned over the past twelve years.
1. You should never stop learning.
When you’re in an online business, you can’t afford to stop learning.
Over the past twelve years, I have had to learn how to do my accounting and expenses, create contracts (shout out to Google search), submit proposals, and the list goes on.
Online business and blogging are more than just doing; they are also taking time out of your day and week to keep learning about any area of your business that you want to improve.
The first two years were a big wake-up call for me because I came into online business thinking that I could just do the work (blogging + marketing) all day long and that I would get paid for it.
Not realizing that I would spend more time doing the admin work and everything that I would need to do to keep my business afloat.
It took me years to earn that first paycheck.
For those who believe it’s easy and you can just earn fast money, things don’t work like that.
The good news is that it is a process, and we are all learning every day.
No freelancer has it all figured out (I still have a long way to go even today), and the most important thing that you can do is take each day as an opportunity to learn something new + apply it to your business.
In today’s generation, everything is already accessible, not like the way we started back in the day.
For those who are on Twitter, you are privileged to have people like Gillsaint, Mafole Baraka, Amos Nyanda, myself included, and my sister Carol Ndosi providing you with free guides and directions on the digital economy.
Back then, no one was doing that.
2. Communication Is Key
Do you want to learn how I’ve managed to attract and keep clients over the years? Keeping a high level of communication.
I can’t tell you how many times clients have contacted me to hire me since their previous article writer’s communication was so poor.
I understand that being on the phone/email all day is unhealthy, but replying to clients within a fair timeline is necessary.
I’d always tell my clients that I’d answer within 12 hours at the most, although I generally try to respond within a few hours (even at night).
Apart from keeping in contact with your clients, it is critical to communicate your expectations.
At the beginning of each new working relationship with a client, I send them an email or separate document outlining what they may anticipate from me and what I expect of them during this process.
One thing to keep in mind is that your clients do not control or determine your schedule (which is probably why you went into online business and freelancing in the first place), so you must establish ground rules and be strict with your schedule. Clients, on the other hand, will not be aware of this until you express it to them.
Having good communication is not only a good strategy in business, but it also makes working with clients and the work process run much more easily.
3. Collaboration is better than competition.
Yes, you are in a competitive market as an online entrepreneur, but no, that doesn’t mean you need to compete with every person out there or freelancer in your field.
Teaming up and partnering with other people usually means more opportunities and more money.
Over the past twelve years of freelancing and blogging, I have worked on a ton of projects with other people, even ones that offer pretty similar services to what I offer.
The point is that there are a lot of opportunities out there and you will be missing out if you are always competing and not collaborating.
Back in the day when I was running the Jobs listing website “Jobs Tanzania” I competed with Zoom Tanzania to the extent that they raised the claim that I was scraping their content.
But later on, we resolved that and they joined me in their Ads network “Pinpoint Africa Media“.
It was an opportunity that I would not have had if we were still in competition fights.
A couple of other ways I have collaborated over the years:
A client hired me to handle WordPress website design (which I was not doing back then), so I joined up with another website developer from Arusha whom I met on Facebook to do the job while I maintained the project.
We both profited from the job.
One of my friends and “competitors” was swamped with work and couldn’t take on this new content writing project. Because I was in communication with him, He gave me the project and I sent him a thank-you tip. Win-win on both ends.
Moral of the story:
Reach out to your competition, introduce yourself and what you do, and see if there are any ways you might collaborate.
4. Tell Your Story
What can I do to set myself apart from the hundreds, if not thousands, of other people who provide similar services? I tell my story.
There are many other bloggers and freelance content writers out there, but there is only one me.
I’ve made it a personal commitment to always be honest about who I am and what I do.
It is easy to just list your services and work samples, the harder part is integrating your brand with your personality.
What makes you stand out?
Why would a client hire you over another freelancer?
These are important questions to ask yourself.
Consider things from the client’s point of view.
Are you going to hire someone just based on the services they offer, or are you going to see what they’re like as a person/company if you’re searching for a content writer and reading a few portfolios?
Being open and vulnerable about myself has made it impossible for a client to compare my business to someone else’s because no one else has lived my experiences and told my story.
5. Produce excellent work
This should go without saying, but it’s still worth mentioning.
At the end of the day, if your product or service isn’t up to the standards, you won’t be in business for very long.
If you just devote half of the time that you need to your task, it will show, and word will travel quickly to other people that you are not that good and people won’t work with you.
“Let the work speak for itself,” as the saying goes, is extremely true.
Make sure your work is always of the highest quality, because it reflects everything about your business.
This is not to say that your work has to be perfect from the get-go because it won’t be.
If you looked over my articles from twelve years ago to what it is today, you would see a dramatic difference. The point is that there is always room for improvement and growth.
6. Be Flexible and Adaptable.
If you are a freelancer or business owner then you know nothing ever goes according to plan. It just doesn’t happen.
You have to be flexible and adaptable to any situation.
I went into Online business thinking that I would only have to focus on blogging and content writing and not digital marketing, but after a few months in, I realized I couldn’t sustain a business only offering one service.
I can tell a story regarding Jobs Tanzania.
In the beginning, I depended only on network ads and when things were not going as planned I had to initiate changes and try new different monetization models.
That’s when I had to introduce Featured (Paid) job listings, CV writing services, and sponsored content. Later on, joined with other local companies for partnerships.
It’s also important to realize that you might have a goal of making a certain amount each month, but there will definitely be ups and downs, so don’t let the slow months slow you down.
Take that time to learn a new skill, do something you are passionate about, or just take some mental health days.
Freelancing, like life, is all about being able to go with the flow. Keep your plans and goals in mind, but keep in mind that plans might change.
The Final Words.
If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ve found something helpful in this article. If you’re thinking of starting an online business, blogging, or freelancing right now, send me an email or give me a call and we’ll talk.
At the end of the day, it’s all about community and helping one other win.
I’ve been lucky to have wonderful people in my life who have helped me get to where I am now.
Thanks again for reading and your support!
Leave your comments in the comment section below.