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A decade ago, the idea of working online would have seemed impossible for your average Kenyan. There were many misconceptions on online work.

How could you make a living off the internet? Was that even a real job?

Granted, that was a reasonable reaction considering most of Kenya did not enjoy a good internet connection at an affordable price.

Today, working online is a reality for a number of enterprising Kenyans, especially the youth.

And with good reason:

  • A high unemployment rate has meant that thinking outside the box to make an income is the way to go. 
  • The laying of fibre connection in the country has resulted in a better, faster connection as well as affordable access. 
  • Computers and smartphones have become more affordable.
  • The online work opportunities have grown exponentially and there’s more than enough jobs to go around.

Tap into Government-Backed Programs Such as Ajira

The Kenyan government has even recognized the potential of online work and launched its own initiative, the Ajira Digital Program.

The Ajira Digital Program is driven by the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, with a plan to empower over one million young people to access digital job opportunities.

With government backing available, online work has proven to be both legitimate and reliable.

Make an Online Job Work for You

Other than the financial rewards, online work has other benefits as well:

  • Freedom to work from anywhere in the world.
    You don’t need to be tied to a particular location to get the job done. You could even travel around the world and it would not be a problem.
  • Freedom over your time.
    You own your time and you decide how much you allocate to your work.
  • Choice over your work.
    You get to decide what work you’ll do and for which client. If you work on a project and realize it’s not for you, you can simply choose not to work on that kind of project again.
  • The learning opportunities are great.
    Working online will open you up to different people from around the world and different ideas. The concepts and skills you can learn from your clients and projects are as diverse as they are useful.

    There are also so many courses available online that can help sharpen your skills in copywriting, virtual assistant roles, graphic design, sales and marketing and even accounting.

Find Your Niche

So you’re sure you’re interested in working online but are not sure about the opportunities available? No problem!

It can be overwhelming searching through the internet trying to figure out where to start.

A great way to do it is by first figuring out what skills you already have and then use that to get started.

Some helpful questions you can ask yourself include:

  • Am I good at writing?
    Anyone can be a writer if they put in the effort and practice, so it’s not a problem if you’re not the best writer in the beginning.

    There are plenty of online courses to help you sharpen your skills and become a great writer.

    However, you know yourself better than anyone. Do you think you have it in you to write for a living? If the answer is yes, then consider starting your online work journey in copywriting
  • Am I good with people?
    There are jobs that require a certain type of personality based on the customers you will interact with. If you’re short-tempered or easily get tired of interacting with people, working directly with customers may not be for you.

    If, however, you love to interact with people and are glad to be helpful and enjoy catering to customers’ needs, consider going into customer service or virtual assistant roles.
  • Am I a fast typer?
    Typing fast is a skill that anyone can learn.

    If you already have this skill or are open to learning, consider data entry as a place to start.

    You can also try your hand at transcription. It requires good listening skills as well, but quick typing is the biggest advantage.
  • Am I good at research?
    Research skills are critical for any profession and everyone should work to acquire them.

    Research skills are the ability to search for, collect, analyze, interpret and evaluate information relevant to a particular subject.

    If you enjoy research and believe you are good at it, apply for online researcher jobs.
  • Am I fluent in more than one language
    Being multilingual is a great advantage in a globalized economy.

    Most Kenyans are, at the very least, bilingual, so understanding the importance of this is not a problem.

    This is where the French or German classes you took in high school, or just after high school, come in handy.

    You can even be thankful for those mandatory Kiswahili classes, as you can use Swahili proficiency to land a job

    There are also opportunities in being fluent in your mother tongue, so don’t underestimate that skill.

    Put your skills to good use and apply for online translation jobs.
  • Do I have any specialized skills such as video shooting and editing, photography, accounting, social media management, graphic design or website development?

    Believe it or not, a lot of jobs are being done remotely, so having extra skills is a big advantage.

    You can work for clients from around the world doing specialized jobs that a few years ago would have required you to go to an office.

    Who would have thought you could work remotely as an accountant of an organization?

Writing down your different skills helps you narrow your search as well as gives you a list of skills you can pick up as you go along to make you more marketable.

Now that you have your range of skills ready, it’s time to focus on searching for jobs.

There are many different types of jobs available online that can be a good source of income. Depending on your skills, you can narrow in on the best ones for you.

Here are some of the most common to start with:

  • Copywriter 
  • Virtual Assistant 
  • Graphic Designer 
  • Transcriber
  • Translator 
  • Data entry
  • Accountant/bookkeeper 
  • SEO expert

Watch out for Scammers

The internet is huge. You can spend weeks looking or end up wasting time on illegitimate opportunities, so it’s important to know how to spot scams.

Some of the things to look out for to make sure you’re not being scammed include:

  • You are asked for personal financial information as part of the registration process. 
  • The recruiter does not show much interest in your skills and competencies before giving you the job. 
  • The job ad focuses on how rich you’re going to be if you start working for them. 
  • The company boasts several rags-to-riches stories that showcase high-flying lifestyles.
  • The job posting has glaring grammatical or spelling errors.
  • The contact email address is a personal one rather than a business address. 
  • The job requires you to pay some money to be considered. 
  • The job requires you to recruit other people before you begin to get paid.

Once you know what to look out for to avoid being scammed, it’ll be much easier to spot legitimate online work.

As a rule, if it looks too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. Trust your gut and follow your instincts. 

Put Your Resume out There Today

Now comes the most crucial part: getting your CV ready.

Online jobs, just like any other jobs, require you to submit a great CV and/or portfolio.

There are useful and free resources online to help you create a great CV, such as SlashCV, Resume.com and VisualCV.

A good tip on writing a CV is to keep it to two pages or less and as relevant as possible to the job you are applying for.

Once you have your CV ready, pick the samples of your work to go with your application.

If you don’t have a lot of work experience, don’t worry. Simply create work samples of your own that demonstrate your skills.

For example, if they ask for article samples, sit down and write some.

You now have a great CV and work samples; it’s time to apply for jobs.

A good place to start is by submitting your CV on online job platforms including the Small Revolution job board. Here, you can browse for jobs from around the world.

So, what are you waiting for? Your future is in your hands. Take the next step in your journey today.

Photo by pch.vector / CC BY

Katrina
Author

I'm Katrina McKinnon, founder of McKinnon Group and Small Revolution. I'm using my 20 years' experience in building and operating online businesses to create engaging educational materials that helps others become successful online workers. Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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