Written By Cyprian Okonkwo
The term ‘’freelancer’’ sounds cool, of course it does! And it’s indeed the dawn of a new age in the Nigerian work force, any avenue that makes you your own boss is pretty admirable in the employment community.
Freelancing is basically freedom in the work you do, but by definition, a freelancer is someone who is self-employed and possesses a skillset which is then offered to a clientele with no long-term or permanent commitment.
The kind of work involved in freelancing varies, Almost every range of service that would be required by business can be provided by a freelancer, this includes but is not limited to: Marketing, Copywriting, PR, Writing, HR, Writing, Tech-Support, Programming such as web design and software development, Graphic-Design, Data-Sourcing/Data Entry and Financial Support such as book keeping.
The above listed examples are just a few of many more skills that relates to freelancing. Freelancing, in fact, exists in two kinds which are Remote Work; most of the previous examples fall in this category and also includes and skillset that’s executable over-the-air, on the other hand, there’s the ‘In Person’ part of freelancing which cannot be done remotely, Such as HardWare Engineering for one.
Freelancers may have some certain advantages to the work they do, it’s like they are basically in control of everything, All that’s needed is a skill that can be delivered conveniently, this then can even bring in international clients and a steady and concurrent flow of income, they get to pick or choose they work they want, set-their own schedule, and depending on the level of expertise they have the upper hand in bargaining, they do work as they see fit and they even get to fire clients!
But here are some problems you may face as a Nigerian Freelancers, but still none of the demerit should stop you from being in a freelancer if you a Top-Notch quality of output. One Foremost problem of freelancing in Nigeria is beginning,
It would be like an investment to oneself as you’d need to gather resources to enable you deliver and that would cost money.
- Being a freelancer means you’d basically have to provide yourself the tools and resources used in executing project in many cases. In a scenario where you are not a full-time employee of your client, you then are expected to provide yourself, primarily an expertise, mobilisation expenses and most importantly Internet and Electricity as you do know how these are unreliable in Nigeria.
You are expected to complete the job as at when due and get paid for it. This is one major set-back pertaining to remote gigs, as there exist many variables that can greatly affect your performance and productivity which may not be your clients problem but yours to fix.
Building a steady clientele
- Building a steady clientele may come of difficult as this would take time to develop. Freelancing is now a new concept, it has been a mode of employment longer than we can think of, but it’s seem most Businesses in Nigeria are taking a long time to get acqainted with this new niche, some expect that you sign contractual commitments as a full-time employer and they dish scenarios on your plate that would discourage you from taking on other jobs.
You will come across this clientele, no doubt! And you may decline but at some point you may literally become jobless as you are yet to find clients to offer your services to based on terms you’re comfortable with, and this may rely also on the type of skillset you’re offering. Thus consistency and determination is what helps in such stages.
Personal issues interference
- Personal issues may come into play that disturbs your flow of work as a freelancer, as in case of remote gigs where you have to work from home. Though, Home is where the hearts is and, it’s equally where distraction may be.
The fact that you’re not on the 9 to5 race and always seen at home, other jobless people just interpretes that you too are jobless; and then comes on as disturbances to your productivity. Not to mention other personal problems that may be in play. One good solution to this is “Co-Working Spaces’’ welcome idea right? Yeah but the question is if you can afford it, as it seems they may have been built for the “big boy” freelancer.
Flexible, but extensive
- You should know that freelance is flexible and extensive, it can be a 24×7 Job, because your sole aim is to deliver quality work when it is needed, and your conscience might not let you rest when a deadline is fast approaching. Work can be irregular and managing multiple clients and projects can be a challenge. Many freelancers and not just Nigerians experience an err in their work-flow.
While some people like the variety of working on several projects at a time, others may find it difficult to keep track of deadlines and pace themselves to deliver quality work on time. Great time management systems and organization is key.
And this can be factored by the work environment, you need to plan for lean times, and be ready to work hard to deliver work on-time when work is plentiful.
Knowing and standing by your worth
- Knowing your worth, another problem is with the issue of billing your clients, It may be visible that some freelancers with skills feel that because their skills are not certified, they tend accept payments that lesser than the value of their work, Even business still want to judge your expertise based on what they see on a piece of paper.
On the other hand, some freelancers with certified skill now choose to over charge clients and in the end such clients end up back with the former just like a vicious cycle. You should know your worth and the value of what you offer, pay may be low to start out.
Especially in today’s digital economy, many people expect to pay less for work from a new freelancer. Breaking in with lower costs may be needed, but as quickly as possible, seek to charge what you’re worth and find clients willing to pay for quality.
- This particular problem doesn’t even deserve to be listed here but it’s a Nigerian thing. There lives this unusual stereotype plastered in the minds of Nigerians and most Africans, that any money that comes from the internet is as a result of fraud, “Yahoo Yahoo”, “419”, “chache” or what ever name we could use to describe dubious income.
Take for example as freelance software developer, you would be seen with a laptop and the seers begin imagining all sorts of negative things. You should be quick dismiss negative comments and be focused, there’s a popular phrase that says ‘419 no dey advertise’. So knowing your intentions and ambitions, you should be eager to talk about the work you do, how you do it and why you do it
Freelancing is cool, but its not a “highway to heaven”, your success in your field would depend solely on your attitude to work, and proactively.
As a freelancer, you should primarily work on your personal development first, before offering your self to clients, they just want to know that you can do their jobs, and that’s all they ever care for.