How to Start Freelancing in Nigeria: By Real Freelancers

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With the current state of affairs in the country, freelancing in Nigeria is quickly becoming commonplace. A freelancer is someone who earns their pay on a contractual basis, per task, or per hour. This type of work is usually remote, allowing you to work from home.

Unlike other jobs that require a permanent commitment, a freelancer is more like a temporary employee. This means that you don’t get a steady salary, job security, or other full-time job benefits. However, you benefit in one major way: freedom.

Being a freelancer offers you the freedom to work from home and to work with as many individuals as you wish. It allows you to escape the rat race of slaving away on a job, allowing you to become your own boss.

All these benefits are yours if you can get a foot in the door, and this guide will show you how to start freelancing in Nigeria.

How Much Do Freelancers Make in Nigeria?

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Freelancers in Nigeria make more than 50,000 Naira a month. Experts in their given fields can make more than a million naira every month. This is true when you consider that freelancing sites pay in dollars, euros, or pounds.

Is Freelancing Profitable in Nigeria?

Yes, freelancing in Nigeria is very profitable, as it pays well and doesn’t cost much. Freelance jobs can be done from home and don’t require you to spend more than data money or generator fuel money. So, you can earn more than your 9-to-5 job while paying little in costs.

How Can I Start Freelancing in Nigeria

This won’t be the first or last guide that you’ll see regarding freelancing in Nigeria. It might not be filled with motivational words designed to get your blood pumping or with beautiful fantasies about the freelancing lifestyle. However, it would offer something that you desperately need—a simple guide that’s grounded in reality. 

All the points that I would make here are things that I have personally used and verified. Everything that you’ll see in this article is achievable, you just need grit, determination, motivation, and lots of prayers (or luck). So, I will be sharing my experience and the experience of many other freelancers on how to start freelancing in Nigeria.

Choose a Skill

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The freelance market is one that is filled with opportunities, and there are many skills that you can choose from. Of course, these days, Nigerians mostly engage in content writing, programming, video editing, and graphic design.

However, I’ll be the first to tell you that this is just the tip of the iceberg. These skills are popular, and they are very much in demand, but there are other popular skills as well. You could go for audio transcription, work as a virtual secretary, be a data entry specialist, etc.

So don’t limit yourself when it comes to choosing a skill. Freelance marketplaces are available for a wide range of skill sets.

Register on a Freelancing Platform

Now that you’ve got freelancing skills, the next step is to register on freelance platforms. Unless you can meet your clients physically or advertise your skills locally, you’ll need a freelance platform. These platforms act as a hub where clients can come to meet freelancers who can handle their tasks.

Although there are hundreds of these platforms, only a select few are open to Nigerians. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be allowed to register with others; it’s just that getting hired would be difficult. After all, in a greater part of the world, Nigerians are known as scammers.

Nonetheless, below are some freelancing platforms that would provide you with a chance to grow.

  • Upwork
  • Fiverr
  • PeoplePerHour
  • LinkedIn
  • Nairaland (yes, you can get jobs in Nairaland)
  • Toptal
  • 99designs

Here’s a complete list of the best freelancing sites in Nigeria.

These websites accept Nigerians and provide payment options that Nigerians can access. So, you don’t have to worry about stigmatisation here.

Make Plans for Steady Power Supply

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As a Nigerian, you need to prepare for the possibility that our power distribution companies will fail. There’s nothing more painful than waiting hours for power so that you can start tackling a job with a short deadline.

There are many options that you can consider for steady power, such as generators, inverters, and solar panels. For a generator, you don’t need much; an I-pass-my-neighbour generator would do, as you only need to power your computer or smartphone. If the solar panels are too costly, you can just get an inverter and charge them whenever there’s power.

Get a Smartphone or a Computer

You can’t start freelancing in Nigeria without a smartphone or a computer. Most freelancing platforms can’t be accessed without a smartphone, and working as a freelancer requires a computer. Sure, there are a few jobs that can be done with just a smartphone, but if you want to upgrade, you’ll need a computer.

Now, for computers, you’ll want to get a laptop. While desktop computers might be cheap, we don’t have the steady power to take advantage of them. So, get a laptop that can still serve you hours after utility power is gone.

You should also exercise caution when choosing your laptop. Although the tech field is one that benefits from high-grade laptops, there are some must-haves for all freelancing categories.

  • Random Access Memory (RAM) of 8 GB or more: Trust me, you’ll need this when you want to open your browser while working with another application. This is also necessary for people who use Google Chrome, as that browser would slow down any laptop with little RAM.
  • Windows 10 or later: Microsoft is dropping support for older Windows versions, including Windows 8 and older. So, if you need a laptop with a modern version of Windows. This would also allow you to install software and use applications that only work with the latest versions of Windows.
  • Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard: If you need a Macbook, you shouldn’t go lower than 10.5 Leopard.
  • Battery life of at least 2 hours: The battery power of a good laptop should last at least 2 hours. This would give you enough time to do meaningful work before it shuts down.

Prepare a Steady Internet Connection

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To work on online freelance jobs, you’ll need a steady internet connection. This means a download speed of at least 3 Mbps and an upload speed of at least 1 Mbps. Of course, bigger numbers are better in this case.

A good internet connection means that you don’t get breaks or lags in a video call. It also helps when most freelancing sites work with the idea of first come, first served. 

This means that the first to successfully pick a job or bid on a job gets it. So, how are you going to compare with others outside the country if your internet connection is poor?

Now, I know that internet speed is not steady in all states in Nigeria. Nevertheless, there are some tips that can help you make the most of it.

  • Pick a SIM with a strong network signal for your area: This means that while MTN might be slow in your area, it doesn’t mean Airtel, Glo, or Etisalat will be the same.
  • Go for an internet service provider: While this is the best option for freelancing, it’s not readily available in all states. Internet service providers are telecom companies that are focused on providing data and not much else. These are the likes of NTEL, Spectranet, Swift Networks, iPNX, and the newly launched Starlinks.

With these internet service providers, you can get access to truly unlimited internet and high connection speeds. Some of them even provide a router or a Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) connection, which offers better data speeds.

If you want to work as a customer service freelancer or a virtual assistant, go with an internet service provider. You’ll get a steady data speed of up to 50 Mbps, which is important since your job works in real-time.

Unfortunately, the weakness of this option is its location limitation. So, you have to be a resident of states like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, and Ibadan.

Prepare a Work Schedule

You get a lot of freedom freelancing in Nigeria. This means that, apart from meeting the deadline to turn in a task, no one would care about how you spend your time. So, you can spend your day doing all the things that you love after you’re done with your work.

This freedom comes with its demerits, though, which is why successful freelancers work with a schedule. Without a schedule, you can find yourself working late into the night trying to meet work deadlines. Sometimes, you’ll have so much work that you won’t have time to do much else, and you’ll end up working all day.

So, to avoid all these pitfalls, you have to create a schedule for your work. Do you work better in the early mornings, while others are still asleep? Or do you work better in the afternoon when your brain is completely working?

These are all factors that freelancers have to consider to ensure that they spend their days well. You should also factor exercise time into your schedule, as you’ll probably end up sitting for hours at a time. Don’t forget to create rest time as well, as your productivity will drop if you work while tired.

Create a Work Area

When you work with freelancing websites in Nigeria, you are only given a job to do and time to turn it in. No one cares about how you go about doing it. With all this freedom, however, comes a big hassle—procrastination. Many freelancers, myself included, are notorious for this. 

Sometimes, you’ll want to work, but the drive isn’t there. Other times, you’ll settle down to work, but something else takes your attention away. There are also situations where you finally start working, but your speed is very slow.

To combat the effects of procrastination and increase your focus, you need to create a work area. A work area is a section of your home or room that is dedicated to work and nothing else. Whenever you are in your work area, your brain knows that it’s time to work, and it focuses on that.

There is no specific formula or method for creating a work area, as it differs according to individuals. Nonetheless, there are some features that every good work area should have, such as:

  • Noise-free: If you want to offer the best service to potential clients, you’ll need a quiet work location. A quiet spot also helps when you want to make a video call, as the absence of background noises will help.
  • Ergonomic chairs: A majority of freelancers can work for hours at a stretch, and this means they’ll be seated for hours. Sitting down for hours on a hard plastic chair has a lot of health implications. Hence, it’s better to get an ergonomic chair, as it will enable you to have good posture and offer comfort while you work.
  • Table: Ensure that you have a table to keep your laptop on while you work. Keeping your laptop on your lap for hours can tire you out, and the heat can be distracting.
  • Good Lighting and Ventilation: You don’t want to strain your eyes too much to see your keyboard while you work, as it can result in eye problems. Whether it’s a fan, a window, or an air conditioner, ensure that your work area is properly ventilated.

Prepare a Portfolio

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As a new freelancer, you’ll need a portfolio when you contact a prospective client. With no testimonies from past clients, a portfolio is the only proof of your capability as an expert.

A portfolio shows what you can do, as it contains your personal achievements and past experience. This can be a website containing your published articles, a link to your Github page, or a link to a website you designed. You can also create a video portfolio, which is a video showing all that you can do.

Set Your Rates

Now that you’ve prepared your tools and set up your work areas, the next thing to prepare is your rate. How well do you know your chosen field? If you’re someone who just has the skills and nothing else, you’ll need to do some important research. 

This research involves visiting freelancing platforms to learn how others in your chosen field charge for their services. Content writers charge per page or per word, while website designers consider the number of pages in a website. This is information that you need to know if you don’t want to undersell or oversell your services.

How Do I Become a Freelancer in Nigeria

In this section, I will be answering the question of how to become a freelancer in Nigeria. If you’re still an undergraduate, out of university, or still in secondary school, it’s never too late or too early for this question.

Unfortunately, when people ask this question, they are never given a straight answer. However, I will be doing things differently, as I will show you how to become a freelancer in Nigeria.

Acquire a Skill

Skill is the first thing you need to become a freelancer. Business owners are always looking for freelancers who are skilled in a particular area. The better your skills in a chosen field, the more you earn as a freelancer.

Don’t look down on common skills like

  • graphics design
  • social media marketing
  • content creation
  • data entry
  • digital marketing (here are some digital marketing courses to start)
  • web design

While newbies in these areas don’t earn much, experts earn more in a day than a newbie does in months. So, just choose a skill that you are comfortable with and work on it until you become good at it.

Open a LinkedIn Account

Every skilled freelancer has a LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is like Facebook but for professionals. So, it’s a good platform to network with like-minded individuals and even get gigs (freelancing work).

You can open a LinkedIn account with ease from your browser or from its mobile app. When you open an account, you need to properly optimise it by providing all the necessary information on the app. This means you’ll provide your full name, a clear professional picture, skills, educational information, work experience, interests, etc.

Follow Like-Minded Individuals on Social Media

Unless you are living under a rock or have a distaste for social media platforms, you should already have a Facebook account. If you don’t have one, you should do so immediately and also create a Twitter account. You can also create an Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and YouTube account, if you’re a content creator or graphic designer.

These social media platforms offer you an opportunity to find other individuals in your field. They also provide an avenue to promote your services and even find work, like freelance sites. Like-minded individuals on social media can also share work tips with you and other valuable information to improve your skills.

Learn How to Communicate

If you’re going to become a freelancer in Nigeria, you need to learn how to communicate. This means that you should understand how to pitch your ideas to clients within minutes.

If your English speaking and writing capabilities are weak, you should work on them as well. Sometimes, you might need to email prospective clients, so you should also learn how to write in a polite manner.

Understand How to Use Basic Freelancing Software

Apart from your freelancing skills, you also need to understand how to use some basic software in this business. These software include Google Docs, Google Sheets, Zoom, Slack, Telegram, WhatsApp, Skype, Google Meet, etc.

This software allows you and your client to communicate with each other and share files among yourselves. So, it’s very important that you learn them, regardless of your field.

Don’t Wait – Start your Freelancing Journey Today

Nothing good comes easy, and becoming a freelancer in Nigeria is no different. However, there is hope for the freelance service. Many employers have woken up to the remote work lifestyle and outsourcing work, which means that the demand for freelancers is steadily increasing.

So, if you’re thinking of taking a part-time job or you’re tired of walking around with a file, become a freelancer. When you work as a freelancer in Nigeria, you gain all the freedom that a 9-to-5 job denies you while earning more. You get to be your own boss and join a globally evolving work lifestyle.

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