#ChroniclesOfAWriter – How I got my first job as a freelancer

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Hello! Welcome to another #ChroniclesOfAWriter post. I hope you’ve been able to gain practical tips from the posts in this series. I love to hear your feedback so let me know what challenges you have and I’ll see how I can help 🙂

Today’s post is based on two questions I get asked a lot – How do I get my first client and what do I charge? So I’m going to share how I got my first clients and my subsequent clients. You can apply the strategies I used to get your first client or get more clients if clients haven’t been coming your way.

My first job as a freelance writer was to write a series of articles for Butterscotch magazine. It was the first time I would be paid by a magazine to write articles. I wrote three articles and I was paid roughly N20, 000 for each article.

I didn’t go out to look for this opportunity. It came to me. I was serving at the time. Between managing content for the Oyo State NYSC editorial board and my church, I wasn’t really looking for an extra job but I needed money. That allawee we were receiving was barely enough.

Even though my hands were full, I still ensured that I sent in articles to Y! Africa from my weekly column. Any writer who wants to be successful needs to be visible. Remember my previous post about building your platform? Never take your platform for granted because it is more or less your CV and proof of your credibility and expertise as a writer.

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One day I got a call from my former editor and she wanted to know what I was doing at that moment. Once she made sure I hadn’t been off writing for a long period, she commissioned me to write three articles for Butterscotch magazine.

I was so excited, mainly because I was spreading my ‘wings’ and also because I was going to earn extra money! The articles were straightforward. They were the sort of things I wrote when I managed Y! Magazine. There was a little bit of research involved but it wasn’t too much work. I delivered, got my money and the articles were published.

Just as I was rejoicing over the surprise opportunity that came my way, another former editor called me. Again, she asked what I was doing and I told her “I just finished working on three commissioned articles for a magazine.” She said, “Fantastic! I was calling to find out if you are able to write articles that will involve some research in history.”

I couldn’t believe it. Even though the money was not as much as what I got paid for the previous job, I jumped at the opportunity. It was interesting working on those articles. I had to write about the history of the film industry in Nigeria and the foods and languages of the different tribes. It involved more work; there was a lot of material to get through but I delivered.

After that, the phone calls stopped. Tears. So for eight months I didn’t get commissioned to write any article. I didn’t even know how to go about looking for these opportunities. I think the reason was because, back then I didn’t realise this was going to be a full-time thing for me.

I started my personal blog in June 2014 and in August, after much prayer and seeking the face of God, I decided to start LRouge Media which is now ContentCraft. I started off with advertising my services on my blog and through word of mouth.

Thankfully, I had built up a nice portfolio of work and that really helped. I also looked for more guest writing opportunities and I included details of what I do in my profile/ bio. That’s another advantage of guest writing. It’s an avenue for you to advertise yourself.

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Back to my story, for over a month, I showed up at my friend’s studio which was my ‘office’ and I would work on building content for my church. One day someone who used to come to the studio frequently said to me, “Doyin, you are always sitting on this chair with your laptop. What are you always typing?”

Then I launched into a full blown advert of what I do. That’s how I got my first official client. The person told me he was designing a book for his pastor and he had been looking for someone to help him edit the book. 

Even though I got payed N5, 000 to do the edit, I was happy about this breakthrough. It was a nice feeling. Shortly after that, I got my second client, 1Plify. A friend of mine called after seeing a post on my blog to tell me about his startup and he needed someone who will manage the company blog and come up with content ideas to drive the brand forward.

I had so much fun developing content for the 1Plify Blog. I did it for about four months and in the midst of doing that, my credibility increased and I started to get more clients.

Next week, I will discuss how I charge my clients. It’s been a work in progress but I have been able to find what I am comfortable with.

On the 27th of August, I’ll be showing 10 writers practical ways to earn more money as a writer. I will also be sharing useful resources that will help them build their platform amongst other things. The training costs N20,000 and 4 spaces have been taken already. So register today by sending an email to thesparklewritershub@gmail.com.

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