Jeremiah Ajayi is one of our most consistent and conscientious members of the Week of Saturdays community. He handles SEO of the Week of Saturdays site.
In this blog post, he shares his journey as an undergrad freelancer from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria.
Hi Jeremiah Ajayi, tell us about yourself
I am Jeremiah Ajayi. You can call me the rare gem, you can call me Jerry. I am currently a 300 level student reading Law at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Nigeria.
So tell us, what is your side hustle?
So basically, the buck of my income comes from content writing and SEO optimization. I work as a content marketer and copywriter too. I write effective ad copy for companies.
How did you start freelancing?
Money is like one of the greatest motivations, everyone knows that.
I got started two years ago, April 2018, but I was writing long before then. A friend introduced it to me actually. He was a freelance writer and I was captivated by the way he wrote and made money, and you know money is like one of the greatest motivations, everyone knows that.
So I was like, okay, I’m a good writer too so let me ask him to teach me. And that is how I started. Answering this question brings back memories I don’t really cherish but I think it’s good because it puts a smile on my face too, and makes me realize that I’ve actually grown. I am proud of my growth in one year.
If someone had told me I will develop to this stage, I wouldn’t have believed it because my start is just not something I like to talk about. My first writing job was rejected. Second, rejected. The the third got accepted luckily, and since then I’ve been lucky.
Do you think there is a misconception about what you do?
Oh yes! This question. There is a misconception about what I do every time.
“Jerry are you writing novels?”
No, I’m not writing novels. I don’t write stories. I am storyteller, but a storyteller who sells stories about products and companies, not fiction books. When I try to describe the word ‘copywriter’ to people who don’t understand, they think it’s about me copying from a website and putting it into my words and that’s one of the basic misconceptions about what i do.
When it comes to SEO, people think I do SEO for websites, as in technical SEO. But no, I do SEO writing and give new businesses advice about how to incorporate SEO from the start. I can give the technical advice but I don’t do actual SEO, just the writing.
It’s just like an engineer giving technicians instructions but there are some things an engineer wouldn’t get involved in.
Aside misconceptions, what are some challenges you’ve faced as a freelancer?
Rules are for boring people.
The challenges I have faced and are still facing as a freelancer are difficult clients.
Some clients are rigid and difficult that they make life hard for a person. They forget that aside being a freelancer, we are first humans and we have feelings. We’re not robots. They may give you time which is quite flexible, but they don’t allow you to explore your creativity.
It’s funny how freelancing is meant to allow for a lot of creative works; it’s meant to allow you to explore your creativity, but in the real sense, it’s doesn’t do that. Because clients give you what they want, and they want to stick to their rules. If you try to experiment or give something different, they get angry. It worries me because I’m a flexible, creative person who doesn’t always follow the rules. Rules are for boring people.
I also face challenges because of where I come from, Nigeria. God bless Nigeria, but I’m just saying the truth. I face issues like ‘no electricity’ everyday. You want to work and realise you don’t have power supply. They sometimes don’t give us power supply in my area for over a week. So I use my hard earned cash to fuel the generator. These are some of the challenges and no matter what you do, the Nigerian system still has a way of getting to you.
Also, Paypal does not have a network in Nigeria. You don’t get your money transferred to you easily. I’ve also faced the challenge of breaking from old self. I was a creative writer, but being a freelance content writer has made me learn to negotiate and write more professionally. I also have to do more than write to satisfy clients. I have become an editor and a graphic designer. *laughs. It’s not part of my job description but if I want to give my clients the best, I have to give more than just writing most times.
What do you think you learnt the hard way?
I learnt not to take on more than I can handle. That’s a challenge I’ve faced recently. I accept more jobs than I can handle and I don’t have a team. I get more jobs than I can handle and it’s my fault because I think I sometimes I make greed control me.
I’ll advise others not to take more jobs than they can handle at a time. Don’t overwork yourself, don’t multitask between projects because multitasking reduces the quality of the work.
Instead of accepting five jobs at a time, I take one or two, give it my all, and get a 5-star review. That’s what I have majorly learnt and I think that lesson is what I’ve learnt the hard way because at a time, I tried to take ten jobs at a time and each had their deadlines, and I was trying to meet these deadlines and I was interning too. I literally crashed because I couldn’t hold on anymore. That taught me a lesson because I ended up doing mediocre work which is not my MO.
I’ve also learnt not to receive offers I know that no matter the amount of research, I wouldn’t be able to give my best. I receive jobs in my niche and I’ve learnt the importance of finding your niche as a freelancer. Because when I started, I was taking jobs from everywhere because of the money, then I realised I should only take jobs I can actually do. Something I can give my best at. Yes it’s good to take up challenges but don’t take up things you already know you can’t do.
Yes it’s good to take up challenges but don’t take up things you already know you can’t do.
Would you want to pursue this full time?
I can’t pursue it full-time now. I don’t think I know what the future holds yet. I know it’s bright and I do have a legal profession to pursue too. So the key is to balance the two.
I can’t leave one for the other because I am in love with the two career choices.
If you had the chance to change anything, what would you change?
I will change my orientation. I entered writing with a really wrong orientation. I was feeling entitled. I was a good writer as a child so I started my writing career with this sense of entitlement that I am good but along the way I discovered that, guyy, you need to calm down. You need to chill. If I am to start writing again, I’ll change my beginning mindset.
What are your goals for the future?
I plan to build a website and create an agency that will help young Nigerian freelance writers with opportunities. So I want to build my personal brand and have the reputation to create that.
I want to be useful to my prospective clients, target audience and be an authority in my niche.