If you’re sitting there in your PJ’s, sipping on some coffee, and wondering if you should take the plunge into the world of freelancing in Kenya, then you’ve come to the right place!
As someone who has been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt (okay, maybe not the t-shirt), I’m here to give you the scoop on the pros and cons of being your own boss.
Brace yourself, because we’re about to get real.
What is freelancing?
Freelancing refers to a work arrangement where an individual is self-employed and works on a project basis for different clients.
Freelancing has become increasingly popular in Kenya due to its flexibility.
Freelancers have the freedom to choose their own projects, set their own schedules, and work from anywhere.
This makes freelancing suitable for those who want to pursue their passions or balance other commitments.
Pros of freelancing in Kenya
👍 Flexibility and control over work schedule
One of the biggest advantages of freelancing in Kenya is the flexibility it offers.
Freelancers are not confined to a 9-5 work schedule; they have control over how much they work and when.
This means that freelancers can choose to work at times that suit their personal preferences and lifestyles, whether that’s early mornings, late nights or weekends.
However, this level of freedom can also be a double-edged sword.
Without the structure of a traditional office environment, it can be difficult for freelancers to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
It is easy for them to find themselves working long hours without taking breaks or time off, leading to burnout and decreased productivity over time.
Related: #6 Best Freelancing Platforms in Kenya: Your Ultimate Guide to Finding Freelance Jobs
👍 Ability to work from anywhere
Another one of the biggest benefits of freelancing in Kenya is the ability to work from anywhere.
If you have a laptop and internet connection, you can work from your favorite coffee shop, home office, or even while traveling.
This gives you the freedom to choose where and when you work, which is especially helpful if you are a night owl or an early bird.
However, working from anywhere can also be a problem.
When working from home or other remote locations, there are often more distractions that can easily take away your focus.
Therefore, it’s essential to set boundaries and create a designated workspace if possible to avoid these distractions.
👍 Opportunity to earn more money
With traditional employment, your salary or hourly wage is typically fixed and any increase in pay may only come with promotions or performance reviews.
However, as a freelancer in Kenya, you have the ability to set your own rates and take on as much work as you can handle.
This means that if you are strategic about finding clients and negotiating rates, you could potentially earn more than you would in a traditional job.
That being said, note that freelancing also comes with its own set of financial risks.
As an independent contractor, steady work or income are not guaranteed – especially when starting out.
Freelancers are responsible for their own taxes and expenses such as health insurance and retirement savings.
It’s essential to carefully consider these factors before jumping into full-time freelance work in Kenya.
👍 Possibility of pursuing multiple projects and clients simultaneously
One of the significant advantages of freelancing in Kenya is that you can pursue multiple projects and clients at the same time.
This means you have more opportunities to diversify your income streams as a freelancer, ensuring that you are not solely dependent on one client.
When working with multiple clients, you get to sharpen your skills in various areas as opposed to having just one specialization.
However, juggling multiple projects and clients requires excellent time management skills.
You must be able to prioritize tasks effectively while ensuring timely delivery of quality work for each client.
The risk of taking on too many projects is burnout or compromising on the quality of work delivered.
Therefore, it’s essential to strike a balance between taking on enough work and overworking yourself.
👍 Chance to develop a diverse portfolio of skills and experiences
As a freelancer in Kenya, you have the chance to develop a diverse portfolio of skills and experiences.
Freelancing exposes you to different clients from various industries, providing an opportunity to work on a wide range of projects.
This diversity is invaluable as it helps broaden your knowledge and experience in different fields.
Moreover, freelancers in Kenya can choose the type of projects they want to take on.
This means that you can specialize in areas where your interests lie or where you are particularly skilled.
For instance, if you are passionate about writing, then freelance writing provides an opportunity for growth and development while earning money at the same time.
In addition, freelancing allows for flexibility and autonomy over how one works. You can choose when and where to work from as well as setting your own rates of pay.
These factors help create an environment that fosters creativity since there is no pressure from managers or superiors dictating how things should be done.
Related: 6 Benefits of Freelancing in Kenya: Dollars, Freedom, and More
Cons of freelancing in Kenya
👎 Lack of steady income or benefits
One of the main drawbacks of freelancing in Kenya is the lack of steady income or benefits.
Freelancers do not have a guaranteed salary every month, and their income may vary depending on the projects they get.
They also do not receive benefits such as health insurance, sick leave, and paid vacations, which are usually provided by traditional employers.
This lack of stability can make it difficult for freelancers to plan their finances and budget effectively.
They may have to deal with irregular cash flows and unexpected expenses that can affect their ability to pay bills on time or save for the future.
On the other hand, some freelancers appreciate the flexibility that comes with being able to set their own schedules and choose which projects they want to work on.
They also have more control over their income potential since they can negotiate higher rates for specialized skills or take on multiple projects at once.
👎 Need for self-discipline and time management skills
One of freelancers’ most significant challenges is managing their time effectively.
Since you are working for yourself and not under someone else’s watch, it can be tempting to procrastinate or take breaks whenever you feel like it.
However, doing so will inevitably lead to missed deadlines and subpar work quality.
Therefore, self-discipline is crucial in ensuring that you stay on track with your project timelines.
In addition to self-discipline, time management skills are equally essential for freelancers in Kenya.
With numerous distractions such as social media notifications and house chores that need attending to, managing your time efficiently can be quite challenging.
It would help if you learned how to prioritize tasks based on their level of importance and urgency while still leaving room for other activities outside work.
👎 Difficulty in finding reliable clients or projects
Another one of the biggest challenges freelancers face in Kenya is finding reliable clients or projects.
Due to the competitive nature of the industry, it can be tough to stand out and attract high-paying clients.
Some individuals may not clearly understand what freelancers do, which can lead to unrealistic expectations and demands.
Another issue freelancers face is dealing with delayed or non-payment from clients.
This can be frustrating for individuals who rely on freelance work as their primary source of income. In some cases, clients may completely disappear after the project is completed, leaving freelancers without payment for their hard work.
Despite these challenges, there are ways that freelancers can mitigate these risks.
Networking with other professionals in their field and building solid relationships with existing clients can help increase opportunities for new projects.
Freelancers should also clearly outline payment terms and deadlines upfront to avoid confusion or disputes later.
👎 Potential for isolation and limited social interaction
Unlike traditional office jobs where you interact with colleagues on a daily basis, working from home or in a remote location can be lonely at times.
Freelancers may find themselves spending long hours alone with little to no human interaction. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression and burnout.
Note that this does not have to be the case for all freelancers.
There are many ways in which you can maintain social contact while working remotely such as joining online communities or attending networking events.
Take care of your mental health by setting boundaries between work and personal life, taking breaks, and engaging in physical activity.
👎 Challenges in managing taxes and finances
One of the biggest challenges freelancers face in Kenya is managing their taxes and finances.
Unlike traditional employees who have their taxes automatically deducted from their paychecks, freelancers are responsible for calculating, filing, and paying their own taxes.
This can be a daunting task for those who are not well-versed in tax regulations or accounting practices.
Furthermore, managing finances as a freelancer can also be difficult since income may vary from month to month.
Freelancers must create a budget and stick to it to ensure they are able to cover their expenses during lean months.
They may also consider setting up a separate bank account for business expenses and income to help with financial organization.
Summary of the pros and cons of freelancing in Kenya
Freelancing in Kenya has become a popular career choice for many individuals.
One of its primary benefits is the flexibility it offers.
Freelancers can control their work schedules and choose the projects they want to work on.
And can earn more than traditional employees as they set their rates and negotiate with clients directly.
However, freelancing also comes with its share of challenges.
One of the main drawbacks is that securing long-term contracts or clients can be difficult, leading to inconsistent income streams.
You are responsible for managing all aspects of the business, including marketing themselves, managing finances and taxes, and ensuring client satisfaction.
Another challenge that freelancers face in Kenya is the lack of legal protection.
Without formal employment contracts, freelancers may not have any recourse if a client does not pay or violates an agreement.
Despite these challenges, many Kenyan professionals continue to pursue freelance careers due to the potential rewards and freedom it offers.
Want to start freelancing in Kenya?
Weigh these pros and cons against personal priorities and lifestyle needs, then decide.
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