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Freelancing Basics

Essential Steps to Start Freelancing Successfully in Nigeria

Last Updated on June 25, 2023

Freelancing is a popular career path that continues to gain traction in Nigeria as more people embrace its flexible work terms and unlimited potential. Freelancing entails offering professional services on a project-by-project basis, as opposed to full-time employment with a single company. The rise of the gig economy has contributed to the growing appeal of freelancing.

One of the key benefits of freelancing is the ability to work on projects that align with one’s skills and interests. As such, freelancers can achieve a better work-life balance and enjoy greater job satisfaction. Furthermore, freelancers have the freedom to choose their hours of work, enabling them to pursue other passions or side hustles. This flexibility also allows freelancers to work for multiple clients simultaneously and earn significantly more than they would in traditional employment.

Another advantage of freelancing is the opportunity to build a diverse portfolio of work that showcases one’s skills and creativity. With each completed project, freelancers can add to their portfolio, attract new clients and improve their reputation. This, in turn, allows them to charge higher rates and secure more lucrative projects.

Overall, freelancing provides a wealth of opportunities for professionals across a range of industries. With the right skills, mindset, and dedication, anyone can succeed as a freelancer in Nigeria. The following chapters will detail the essential steps to start freelancing.

Step 1: Determine your niche and specialty

Are you planning to start freelancing in Nigeria? Congratulations! Freelancing is a lucrative industry in Nigeria, and you can be successful if you take essential steps. One of the vital steps is determining your niche and specialty. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses: Freelancing is all about offering your skills and services to clients. Therefore, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses to know which services you can offer. Take a pen and paper and list the skills and services that you are good at and enjoy doing.

  • Research market demand and competition: Once you identify your strengths, research the market demand and competition to know if your niche is in demand. You don’t want to offer services that have little or no market demand in Nigeria. Use online tools like Google Trends, Keyword Planner, and niche-specific forums and social media groups to understand the market demand and competition.

  • Choose a niche that aligns with personal interests: If you want to be successful in freelancing, choose a niche that aligns with your personal interests. Working on something you love increases your chances of success and job satisfaction. Align your niche with your passion to be successful.

Choosing your niche and specialty is an essential step in freelancing because it determines your success or failure. Take the time to determine your niche and specialty based on your strengths and interests.

Step 2: Establish an online presence

One of the most important steps in freelancing is establishing a strong online presence as it is the primary way clients will discover and learn about you. This step can be broken down into two main components: creating a portfolio website and utilizing social media platforms.

Creating a portfolio website

  • A portfolio website is a powerful tool that showcases your work experience, skills, and projects to potential clients.

  • The website should be clean and easy to navigate with a focus on highlighting your best work.

  • Make sure to include an about me section that describes your professional background and services you offer.

  • It’s recommended to include a call to action on your website, encouraging potential clients to contact you.

  • Regularly update your website with new projects and skills to keep it up-to-date.

Utilizing social media platforms

  • Social media is a great way to connect with potential clients and expand your network.

  • Create a professional social media account that clearly highlights your freelancing services.

  • Focus on the platforms where your target clients are most active.

  • Engage with your followers by posting relevant and engaging content, as well as answering any questions they may have.

  • Showcase your previous work experience and projects to build trust and credibility with potential clients.

Showcasing previous work experience and projects

  • Your previous work experience and projects are an essential component of your online presence and will help you stand out from the competition.

  • Include a portfolio page on your website that highlights your best work, with an emphasis on work that is relevant to your target clients.

  • Showcase your skills and highlight the results of your previous work, such as increased sales or website traffic.

  • If possible, include testimonials from previous clients, as this helps build trust and credibility with potential clients.

  • Regularly update your portfolio with new projects and skills to keep it current and relevant.

In essence, establishing a strong online presence is crucial for freelancers in Nigeria. By creating a professional portfolio website, utilizing social media platforms, and showcasing previous work experience and projects, freelancers can build their reputation, and credibility, and expand their client base. It’s important to regularly update your online presence to stay current and relevant to potential clients.

Read: The A-Z of Starting Freelancing in Nigeria: A Comprehensive Guide

Step 3: Set your rates and payment structure

The third essential step to start freelancing successfully in Nigeria is to set your rates and payment structure. Here’s how:

Research industry standards

  • Find out how much other freelancers in your niche charge for their services.

  • Check job postings and freelance platforms for average rates.

  • Consider your level of experience and expertise when setting rates.

Evaluate personal expenses and overhead costs

  • Estimate how much money you need to cover your basic living expenses every month.

  • Factor in additional costs such as taxes, healthcare, and software subscriptions.

  • Determine how much time you can realistically devote to freelancing each week.

Choose a payment method

  • Decide how you want to receive payment for your services.

  • Consider options like bank transfer, PayPal, or digital wallets.

  • Research fees and exchange rates for different payment methods.

When setting your rates, it’s important to find a balance between earning a fair income and charging enough to cover your expenses and time. Don’t undersell yourself, but also don’t overprice your services to the point of being uncompetitive.

Another important consideration is your payment structure. Depending on the type of service you provide, you may choose to charge per hour, per project, or with a retainer fee. Here are some pros and cons of each method:

Per hour

  • Pros: Gives you a clear idea of how much you’ll earn for each hour of work.

  • Cons: Clients may be hesitant to hire you if they’re not sure how many hours you’ll need to complete a project.

Per project

  • Pros: Gives clients a clear idea of how much they’ll need to pay upfront for a project.

  • Cons: You may end up spending more time on a project than you anticipated.

Retainer fee

  • Pros: Provides a steady income stream and ensures your availability for a set amount of time.

  • Cons: Clients may not need your services for the entire duration of the retainer.


In a nutshell, the payment structure you choose will depend on the nature of your services and your personal preferences.

When it comes to choosing a payment method, keep in mind transaction fees and exchange rates. Some methods may be more expensive or less convenient than others, depending on your location and the location of your clients.

One final tip: don’t be afraid to renegotiate your rates and payment structure as you gain more experience and credibility in your niche. Freelancing isn’t a one-size-fits-all business, and it’s important to adapt as your career evolves.

By researching industry standards, evaluating your expenses, and choosing the right payment structure and methods, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful freelancing career in Nigeria.

Essential Steps to Start Freelancing Successfully in Nigeria

Step 4: Network and market yourself

Freelancing in Nigeria can be competitive, so it’s essential to market yourself and build a network of potential clients. Here are a few ways to get started:

Joining professional organizations

Joining professional organizations can help you connect with others in your industry and gain access to job listings and other opportunities. Some popular organizations in Nigeria include the Freelancers Hub Nigeria and the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.

Attending industry events

Attending industry events can also be a great way to connect with potential clients and expand your network. Look for events that are relevant to your niche and attend them regularly. This could be anything from conferences to meetups and workshops.

Reaching out to potential clients through cold emailing and pitching

Cold emailing and pitching can be an effective way to reach out to potential clients, even if you don’t have any existing connections. Research potential clients and brands in your niche and craft a personalized message that showcases your skills and experience.

  • Make sure to highlight the benefits of working with you and include examples of your previous work.

  • Keep your message short and to the point, and follow up if you don’t hear back after a few days.

  • Be persistent but respectful – avoid spamming potential clients with generic messages.

Remember, building a network and marketing yourself takes time and effort, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Keep attending events, reaching out to potential clients, and refining your message, and you’ll see the benefits over time.

Step 5: Build a Strong Client Base

Now that you have set up your freelancing business, it’s time to focus on building a strong client base. Here are some essential steps to help you establish a loyal clientele:

Maintaining Good Communication with Clients

  • Respond promptly to client queries and messages.

  • Set clear expectations at the beginning of the project.

  • Keep clients updated on the progress of their project.

  • Show appreciation for their business with regular check-ins.

Offering Excellent Customer Service

  • Provide high-quality work that meets or exceeds client expectations.

  • Be open to feedback and willing to make revisions if needed.

  • Be professional, courteous, and respectful in all client interactions.

  • Be empathetic and understanding of clients’ needs and constraints.

Encouraging Referrals and Positive Reviews

  • Ask satisfied clients to refer you to their network.

  • Offer incentives for referrals, such as discounts or bonuses.

  • Ask clients to leave positive reviews on your website or social media profiles.

  • Showcase client testimonials on your website or portfolio.

By following these steps, you can establish a loyal and satisfied client base that will help grow your freelancing business over time.

Step 6: Continuously improve and learn

One of the essential steps to having a successful freelance career is to continuously improve and never stop learning. As a freelancer, you must be willing to invest in your professional development and training regularly. Here are some tips to help you stay on top:

1. Invest in professional development and training

  • Attend seminars, workshops, and training programs that relate to your niche

  • Take online courses to improve your skills at your convenience

  • Invest in books and ebooks that will teach you new skills

  • Find a mentor who can guide you and offer advice on how to improve

  • Join online communities and forums for freelancers to learn from others in your industry

2. Keep up with industry trends and changes

  • Regularly read blogs, newsletters, and publications related to your industry

  • Attend conferences or events where you can network with others and learn about new trends

  • Follow thought leaders and key influencers on social media to stay informed about changes in your industry

  • Join professional organizations and associations for freelance workers in your field

3. Refine skills and services offered

  • Regularly assess your skills and identify areas that need improvement

  • Take on projects that challenge you and allow you to learn new skills

  • Seek feedback from clients and incorporate suggestions to better your work

  • Continuously refine your services to meet the needs of your clients

  • Stay open to learning new skills that can add value to your services and make you more marketable

In essence, as a freelancer, your ability to adapt and learn new skills is essential to your success. Investing in professional development, keeping up with industry trends, and refining your skills and services will help you stay competitive and attract more clients. Remember to always be open to learning and continually challenge yourself to become a better freelancer.

Conclusion

Starting freelancing in Nigeria is a great career choice that offers numerous benefits. With the right approach, anyone can be successful. Here are some essential steps to follow:

  • Choose your niche and develop the right skills.

  • Create a professional online presence through a portfolio website, social media accounts, and professional networks.

  • Establish your rates and payment terms.

  • Acquire clients by leveraging your network and outreach strategies.

  • Deliver top-quality work and provide excellent customer service to keep clients coming back.

Don’t let fear hold you back from pursuing freelancing as a career. Starting may seem daunting, but with a little effort and hard work, success can be achieved. The potential for growth and financial rewards is immense. Get started today, and best of luck!

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