Working online in Kenya: Why you shouldn’t make a big deal out of it

Now, that the Coronavirus is making people stay at home more, and you hear work from home messages everywhere (online, on TV, on radio, on newspapers and social media sites) you might be tempted to jump on the bandwagon that is making working online (from home) seem like it is all fun, easy and a cure to all unemployment and low wage issues – without looking at things critically.

What do people mean when they say they are working online?

In the wake of the COVID-19, a lot of things. You now find that people are handling aspects of what they did in their workplace right at home.

And they are using the web (plus a few calls) to handle some aspects of their job right from home.

So, there is that aspect of working online – where people who had to go to the office daily (during weekdays) but now have to stay home handling some things for their employer on the web.

Could be sales, customer support, writing reports, data entry, research, data analysis, programming, coaching, consulting or even teaching.

And then we have online freelancing and online businesses (run by individuals), things people did online even before the pandemic.

With online freelancing, someone goes online to freelance marketplaces like UpWork, Fiverr, Freelancer or PeoplePerHour to bid on online jobs by clients who post job ads on these sites.

Or someone, with a skill in areas such as article writing, reaching out to businesses that can benefit from his skill (such as websites, blogs and small businesses trying to rank for local search terms) by sending out emails.

When a freelancer gets a job, they can then do the job – all online – complete it and get paid for their work. This is how most freelancers operate online.

And then there are those who work online, running their own businesses. So, it could be a startup founder. Or someone running their own digital agency. Or someone running their own SaaS business. Or someone dropshipping items online.

Or someone reselling items online. Or someone selling their own digital products online. Or someone running an online-only coaching or consulting business.

Or someone running their own marketplace or niche site. This is usually the approach people who want to work online, but don’t want the freelance label, take.

Online work versus other kinds of work

Really, there isn’t much that is different between work that can be done online versus other kinds of work, except maybe:

  • where the work is done
  • how a contractor / employee connects to a client / employer
  • the nature of a job
  • communication – how employers and employees interact

Working online: why not make a big deal out of it

At the end of the day, it is just work like all other work. There will be someone expecting results from you on daily, weekly or monthly basis. All jobs come with a description – whether the job is to be done entirely on the internet or partly in the office (and partly online.

And in order to be paid, in order to keep your job, you will have to deliver. If you don’t, your employer will not be happy.

And when they are not happy, you will either have to get back in their good graces (by working harder – proving you are valuable to their business) or quit and look for work elsewhere.

It takes a lot of work. Just because you work online doesn’t mean the nature of work you do will require less effort from you compared with other jobs. You will still need to put in a lot of effort to do good work, to create something of great quality.

So, while the concept of working online may excite some, at the end of the day, when a person gets work to do, they will have to do it well. And doing things well require a lot of effort. Don’t let the sexiness of it all fool you into thinking that you will just so the bare minimum and be fine.

If you go in with that mentality, you will soon be out of a job – back to whatever you said bye bye to before embracing online work.

It requires mastery. If you have no skill that can make somebody want to hire you online, even if you are given a laptop and internet connection, there is nothing you will do that will bring you an income.

The idea of working online can excite you to the moon and back, but if your skills are not worth paying for, even if you brag about the concept of working online or keep busy on various sites, no one will take you seriously.

And you often see this with newbies who try to look for work when they have not even created a portfolio – when they have nothing to quickly prove to potential clients that they are well-skilled in the particular area they are trying to make money from.

If you want to learn more about working online – and maybe try it

  • Check the Entity.co.ke blog. Read about some of the things clients look for when outsourcing work online to freelancers. Get tips you can use to start your own freelance career or business.
  • Check the various freelance categories on Entity Marketplace to see if you have a skill related with any of the items listed on that page.
  • If you want potential clients coming to Entity to see what you can help with, create an ad listing for your freelance service. Doing so is free.
  • Check some of the items listed in the Tools & Resources page for more ideas about things you can start doing now to start making an income working online (full-time or part-time). There are suggestions for affordable ebooks you can buy and start reading on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer – using the free Amazon Kindle app.

If you want to build your own business (to run an online business), find suggestions for domain registrars, hosting companies, keyword research tools, competition analysis tools, WordPress plugins, WordPress themes and page builders for the WordPress content management system.

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