With the high rate of unemployment among college graduates in Kenya, the youth are seeking other avenues to make ends meet. One of these avenues is online writing which has been gaining traction over the years.
Last year, the Kenyan government through the Ministry of ICT launched the Ajira Digital Platform aiming to help people get jobs online. What the minister did not tell people however is that besides working in content mills and settling for a few dollars for each article written, there exists a much larger world out there.
It’s high time online workers stop seeing themselves as “self-employed” because at the end of the day they rely on monthly or weekly stipends to survive – just like employees who survive on paycheck on paycheck basis. We need more webpreneurs around, people who innovate ventures that put the country on the map. Earning passive income.
I spoke to Spike Wyatt, a seasoned webpreneur who once worked as an article writer but now owns a popular article marketplace called WriteLearnEarn. Our email conversation allowed us to talk about many things. From the hassle of thriving online to uncertain income and even scams. Here’s how the conversation unfolded.
Question: What were you doing before you started online businesses and how many
years have you been doing so? What propelled you into online business?
Answer: I was an IT professional for over 20 years, starting in training and support, moving into technical, then on into things like requirements analysis, business intelligence and so on.
I moved into the online world in November 2008. I injured my back (again) and had to spend months lying on the floor, learning to walk properly and other fun stuff. I couldn’t work in normal jobs — every time I tried, I lasted 3 months and ended up in agony (again) — so I had to find another way.
Question: Do you write online articles for clients? If yes, what kind of
articles and on what sites?
Answer: Not any more. I used to write on sites like Helium, Associated Content and Constant-Content. I’d write pretty much anything except marketing copy — I’m terrible at selling things!
Now I edit other writers’ work so they can wow their clients and, of course, run WriteLearnEarn (WLE).
Question: What advice would you give to newbies who are starting out on their
online writing journeys?
Answer: That’s a tough one because there’s so much good advice… I’ll pick three things I’d say:
1. Don’t believe anyone. Find out for yourself. Read everything, try everything and keep trying new things. You’ll fail a lot, but keep going until you figure out what works for YOU.
2. Build a client-facing business. Start on the sites but move into direct client work as soon as you can: it’s a LOT more work but the pay is better because you’re not handing a percentage to a site. And you build for the long term.
3. Get an editor. You don’t need one for site work but it’s an essential for client work. Don’t pretend you can’t afford it: add the cost to your writing rate. It’s absolutely worth it.
Question: Do you ever feel like giving up in your online businesses? If yes,
what holds you back?
Answer: Gods, yes! Low income, too much work, scammers, annoying clients, entitled idiots, trolls… the online world is full of good reasons to give up. What holds me back? Partly the desire to never work for anyone else again, mostly that I know it’s what I enjoy most and do best. Dark days exist so you appreciate the bright times.
Question: On average, how much do you make per month from your online businesses?
Answer: It varies wildly. It can be a few hundred dollars or five times that. I haven’t figured out this “regular work” thing yet!
Question: What strategy are you using to be a cut above the rest who are doing
similar things to yours?
Answer: You may be surprised to learn that I have no strategy. I don’t compete. I have no interest in being famous or making piles of cash at other people’s expense.
Everything I do is built on the same ethical philosophy: generosity, honesty, transparency. I believe business should be about doing good, helping people, sharing whatever revenue it generates and making the world a better place.
I don’t care about most of the standard measures of success. I care that I help people write better, improve the quality of online content, am fair to everyone involved and that WLE gives writers in less-popular countries a way to earn.
Spike Wyatt’s words are a wake up call to all Kenyans doing online jobs. Think beyond writing articles, academic papers or transcribing clients’ videos. With the country fast moving towards digital media, it’s high time you think of venturing into the wider and more economically viable world of eCommerce.
The writer James Njenga is a freelance blogger, ebook writer and affiliate marketer. He blogs at www.twenty4seven365.com