How to Become an Online Writer in Kenya

If you thought it’s hard to become an online writer in Kenya, I’ve got some delightful news for you. You can do it. Online writing feeds so many people and you’re about to be the next one. 

I started online writing back in 2015 and for 5 years it was my bread and butter. I enjoyed doing it because it made me money until I had to pivot to something more fulfilling; blogging. 

So, in this piece, I’ll share my insights and advice on what you need to get started with online writing. Let’s not waste any other second. 

What Is Online Writing?

Based on semantics, online writing is any form of writing that is created to be published on the internet. However, the Kenyan digital economy definition of online writing is similar to academic writing. 

A type of formal writing used in academic and scholarly contexts. It’s a way of communicating ideas and arguments in a clear and concise manner based on findings and research and guided by academic writing guidelines. 

It’s when a university student from abroad gives you an assignment and later submits it as his/her own. It’s a controversial topic considering it’s a form of cheating. However, it’s a gig that many Kenyans depend on to put food on the table and the market does not seem to get exhausted. If interested, find out more about online writing, and its pros and cons.

Types of Online Writing

Just as there are numerous forms of academic assignments from essays to reports, so too are the types of online writing jobs. I’ve got a whole breakdown of the types of online jobs, you can check it out but if you’re as busy as ants at a picnic, here is a brief description of the 5 most common types.

  1. Academic Essay: A piece of writing that represents a well-reasoned argument based on research analysis and interpretation of a specific question or topic. 
  2. Research Paper: An academic writing that presents the results of original research and aims to contribute to the body of knowledge in a particular field of study, following a defined format.
  3. Case Study: Similar to a research paper, it offers a detailed study for a specific subject through thorough examination of a particular real word situation rather than a general topic.
  4. Critical Review: It’s an evaluation and analysis of a piece of work such as a book, film or article, which involves a detailed examination of its strengths, weaknesses and general quality. 
  5. Project Report: This is a detailed overview of a project. It contains objectives, methodologies, outcomes and recommendations. 

Think of online writing jobs as any type of assignment you’d be given in university, including Calculus questions that take pages to solve and the engineering tasks that require use of specialized CAD programs to solve. Find out more about other types of online jobs here.

Examples of Online Writing Platforms

There are countless online writing platforms in existence, and more are popping up everyday like social media accounts. Some are local while others serve an international client base. Some offer writing services for particular niches or job types while others are marketplaces for anything academic. Below are some of the most popular online writing platforms in Kenya. 

  • Studypool: One of the best accounts for absolute for beginners
  • Essay Shark: Has a decent supply of jobs throughout the year.
  • Uvocorp: One of the most valuable account because it pays well
  • Unemployed Professors: Pays very well, hence requires you to be an expert. 
  • Writers Labs: One of the most well balanced accounts 
  • Writers Hub: Higher acceptance rate but has a large pool of writers thus more competition for jobs.

These are just a handful of top academic writing accounts. If you want more, check out over 20 online writing platforms you could try creating an account on. 

What Skills Do You Need to Become an Online Writer?

Now before you get excited about starting your online writing journey, there are certain skills you need to thrive in this space. While it’s certainly one of the easiest freelancing jobs to venture into, you need a bit of smarts to thrive in it. 

What smarts am I talking about?

1. Strong Command of English

Being able to communicate effectively in English is the foundation of every writing career. You need a good understanding of proper grammar, syntax and vocabulary to communicate your ideas. 

If you cannot think and talk well, you’ll struggle to write coherently and this is easily discernible from how you write when you contact your potential clients. So, unless you have a strong foundation in English, you might have to consider one of the many other online jobs.  

2. Writing Skills

Having good writing skills is more than just communicating in English. It’s the ability to craft compelling and engaging works that capture your readers attention besides conveying your message effectively. 

Great writing skills are nurtured. They come as a result of consistent writing tasks over years on different avenues from notebooks to online platforms. If your daily communication activities require you to use English, you have the foundation for great writing. 

3. Grasp of Writing Formats.

Academic writing is structured. Every type of assignment utilizes a specific formatting to maintain consistency throughout publication and thus avoid confusion. Also, these formats help scholars interpret knowledge with ease and contribute further literature. 

The most popular formats used globally are; APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association) and CMS (Chicago Manual of Style). You need to learn the structural rules of these styles. A good place to start is the Purdue Owl for APA and MLA formats and The Chicago Manual of Style web portal for CMS. 

4. Research Skills

This is what separates excellent academic writers from others. They know where to find the right information, and can harness that data to write non-generic, compelling, and well backed arguments that enable clients to score highly.

Of course no one is born with good research skills. But good research is based on two things; understanding of the topic and practice. Which is why I usually recommend online writers to venture into niches they have some background with and to practice consistently.

5. Time Management Skills

To thrive in life, time management is key. There will always be other things to do, whether its going out with your friends, studying for exams, or playing PS games. But when you decide to start online writing, make it a top priority.

You’ll often work on multiple projects with tight deadlines. Sometimes you’ll struggle to balance things out and feel overwhelmed. That’s the daily struggle of an online writer. So if you cannot manage your time well, you’ll struggle in this space. 

6. Flexibility and Adaptability

As mentioned earlier, you’ll often have numerous assignments to work on while dealing with a wide range of clients with different personalities. You have to be flexible and adaptable to deliver what every client desires.

This means adjusting to different styles, topics and format simultaneously. Also when a client is having a bad day and redirects their frustrations to you, you’ll need coping mechanisms at least when you can’t afford to lose them. 

7. Proofreading Skills

Being able to proofread your work before submission will keep the dreaded ‘revisions’ at the minimum. Imagine getting a call in the middle of the night from your client complaining about grammatical errors on work you submitted. It sucks.

If you don’t want that, learn to proofread your work for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors as well as check for plagiarism to ensure originality. Several tools online that can help you with this, e.g, Grammarly, and Quilbot for errors and Originality.AI for plagiarism.  

What Else Do You Need?

Honestly, a good laptop, reliable internet connection and the courage and determination to get started.

Steps to Become an Online Writer in Kenya

Now let’s get into the good stuff. Below is a roadmap for getting started with online writing in Kenya. You can follow the steps one by one or do some things simultaneously, but eventually, you’ll land your first paid gig. Remember to take a selfie when you get that first payment delivered in your account. But I digress.

Step 1: Identify Your Specialty

The first step to becoming an online writer in Kenya is choosing your niche. Look at it this way; there are so many academic realms to venture into. Also, there are numerous types of assignments you could be asked to do. It would take you ages to master them all. 

That’s why you need to identify your niche. It narrows down your area of focus and allows you to develop the necessary skills in that area and build a portfolio that showcases your expertise in the subject.

Check out these examples of individuals and the niches they could focus on 

  • Engineering student: Calculus and CAD assignments
  • Medical student: Nursing and Medicine assignments
  • Software developer: Programming Language assignment
  • Humanities student: History, essays, and wiki assignments 
  • English teacher: Literature reviews and journal assignments
  • Accountant: Economics and statistics assignments

Step 2: Build A Portfolio

Having identified your niche, it’s time to build a portfolio; a collection of work that showcases your ability to meet the needs of your clients. Clients prefer experienced writers because they won’t have to train them and if need be, it’s easier.

Of course when you’re only a beginner, you don’t have anything to showcase your abilities. So build a portfolio. Use LinkedIn (the social network for professionals). Create a profile and add details about your education background. 

Then write a brief, on point About description that highlights what you can do as an academic writer without bragging. The best way to check your ego is to ask a friend to read through and tell you what they think. Make your profile simple and clear.

Step 3: Write and Publish Samples 

As a beginner, you need to complete 3 to 5 mock assignments in your niche and publish the links as projects on your LinkedIn account. Pick any relevant assignment from the internet and complete them on Google Docs. Then publish the work on LinkedIn as follow; 

Go to your profile and click on ‘Add profile section’

From the drop-down list, click on Additional and select “Add projects” 

Enter a short title that describes your assignment, scroll down to Associated with and select your position as an Academic/Online Writer or university student (if you don’t have one yet, create it first)

Past the link to the shareable Google Docs Document in Project URL

In the description, write down what the assignment was about. You can also paste the instructions of the assignment including number or words/pages, writing format and deadline. 

Once you’re done, save. 

Whenever a client needs proof of your experience, you’ll simply share your profile and project links. 

Remember- the assignments you use to showcase your skills will be used to judge you. Ensure they are of the best quality possible. 

Step 4. Find Clients

Once you have a portfolio and a few samples ready the next step is finding clients. You must be wondering where to start. Well, 3 hacks come to mind when I think about this.

  • Join online writing groups: Facebook is full of groups for online writers. Freelancers and clients gather here. This gives you an opportunity to lock in a gig. At the very least, you can connect with other freelancers and learn more about the space. Check out some of the Facebook groups you can start with. However, these groups also harbor con artists. Be careful. 
  • Apply to job boards: There are many academic writing platforms online and more are propping up everyday. So, you’ve gotta give them a try even if you’re an absolute beginner. Don’t be like me who was afraid of applying to these accounts and spent 3 years working under someone else earning a fraction of what they made. This list of over 20 accounts is a good place to start. Just Do It
  • Buy an account: If you’ve tried applying for accounts and failed, maybe it’s time to consider buying one. It takes away the hassle and gives you access to an account that’s already getting jobs. It’s risky though. You can buy an account then it gets closed as soon as you do your first job. Or you get one that barely secures any job. So, only deal with people you can trust and follow up with later. 

Step 5: Build a Network of Contacts

Finally and most importantly, get engrossed into the online writing community. Secure a client, save their number, do a great job for them, and they will always have you in mind when they need something done. 

Scout Facebook groups for more clients, make friends with other freelancers, you will need them in future. If you have an account, impress your clients and they will find a way to work directly with you outside the platforms – they have very strict measures against client poaching. 

Tips When Searching for Online Writing Jobs

There are certain things you should take note of when searching for  jobs. It’s a crazy world out here, you need tough skin to survive. So 

Be open to do free or low paying jobs: Almost every writer will have to deal with unpaid or low paying jobs in the beginning. It’s normal. Besides giving you a taste of what it’s like to be an academic writer, you get real time feedback, develop your skills and gain the confidence to increase your rate. However, don’t dwell on such work for long – 2 weeks max. 

Be careful not to get scammed: I’ll promise you this, when you start contacting clients or job suppliers from Facebook and other platforms, some people will try to con you, i.e., make you do a job and fail to pay you when you deliver. Unfortunately you cannot be 100% safe from becoming a victim. But one measure you can take to be safe is to only work on a one-page first time job from new clients. If they don’t pay, you won’t feel the pain. If they pay, you can progressively trust them with bigger jobs. 

Don’t let work pile up before you get paid: Avoid working on several jobs without pay. Whenever you’re done with a job, ask for payment before you proceed with the next. If a client keeps their end of the bargain you can extend the interval from one job to one week, 2 weeks and later one month.

Be open to try different niches: It’s good to do a wide range of academic assignments in the early stages to find out what you’re good at. While it’s advisable to choose a niche, trying out different things opens up more opportunities which you need to get your footing.

Wrapping Up 

Starting online writing is a wise move especially if you’re in university or have just graduated and can’t seem to find a job. It introduces you to freelancing, gives you a dependable income and keeps you busy as you strategize. The steps we’ve discussed will help you enter this space.

However, I currently have reservations about the future of online writing. With the entry of artificial intelligence, it’s likely the demand for academic writing services will decrease as more people opt to use tools such as ChatGPT to complete their assignments. 

It’s smart to think about your pivot or exit plans so you’re not caught unawares when the market collapses. At the very least, the number of jobs available is bound to drop and only the highest rated writers will scramble for the remaining jobs. 

Nonetheless, it’s time for you to get started with online writing. If you need any assistance with this, kindly drop a comment below and I will respond soon enough. 

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