• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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BusinessDay

What they don’t tell you about monetizing your passion

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“Is It not just to write?”

I cannot count how many times I have heard those words, especially from people who are bent on paying you a ridiculously small amount of money in exchange for your skill.

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If you’ve ever heard these words and you are like me, you have properly said in your mind, “Then why don’t you do it yourself!”

Being a freelancer is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but being a freelance writer in Nigeria? That requires extra grace and patience. I spent months trying to hack it as a freelance writer but I had to transition into another aspect of communications when the reality of the freelance life didn’t match what I had envisioned for myself. I was tired of hearing those words, “Is it not just to write? You shouldn’t charge this much.” What about the endless chase for your balance after spending hours delivering on a brief? That wasn’t the life I wanted to live.

I remember when I decided to take a shot at being a freelance writer. I had gone off to another state for the compulsory NYSC after quitting my job as an Assistant Editor. I was in the middle of trying to figure out how I was going to survive on the monthly ‘allawee’ when I got a call from a Senior Editor I had worked with previously. “Adedoyin, how much do you charge to write a 1000-word article?” That question jolted me to full alertness. Someone wants to pay me to write articles?

Of course, I had never thought about how much I would charge! Before then, I earned a monthly salary writing, editing and creating content for a youth magazine. To be honest, I didn’t think of making money beyond that. I had to be honest with the Senior Editor and let her know that I didn’t have any rates, simply because it had never crossed my mind. She was gracious enough to pay me well for that brief but the lesson from that conversation has stayed with till date.

After that conversation, I started doing some research on freelance writing and I put together my first rate card some weeks later. I started with a price I was comfortable with and as I became more confident in my ability, I reviewed those prices upwardly. The research didn’t, however, prepare me for the struggles freelance writers in Nigeria face.

There were many sleepless nights, tears and times where I just had to walk away after being treated unfairly by a client. Then there’s that perception that you don’t have a real job! “How can you be sitting all day and be pressing your laptop?” That was what a well-meaning individual said to me when he saw me working from home on a week day. Don’t let me go into the funny domestic requests from family members who believe that you are automatically less busy because you work from home.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. I did meet a number of interesting people as a freelance writer, some of them are still friends today, like Lady S who showed me I could charge per word for writing briefs. Before meeting her, I charged a flat fee based on my perception of how much work the brief would involve. Lady S taught me a better way. Get the number of words and multiply it by your ‘per word’ rate.

Interestingly, I had seen that freelance writers abroad use this model but I never thought it could work in Nigeria until I met Lady S. That significantly changed the income I received as a freelance writer.

In my foray into freelance writing, I have learnt that nothing is ever handed to you on a platter of gold as a professional in Nigeria, but you must keep pushing. It’s important to believe in yourself and in your expertise. I struggled with pricing appropriately because I didn’t value my gift as a writer. Can you believe I edited a book for N10,000? I laugh just thinking about it! I learnt to charge my professional worth and I learnt to walk away from briefs that were just not worth it. Not everything is about money. Your peace of my mind is also important too.

Lastly, I learnt how to reach out and ask questions from other professionals. I know there are people who love to hoard information but I was able to grow with the support of people like Lady S who helped me to find my way and become better at what I do.

If you ever get to read this Lady S, thank you!

About Adedoyin Jaiyesimi

Adedoyin Jaiyesimi is the Chief Communications Consultant at The Comms Avenue, a capacity building and knowledge exchange platform for leading and innovative communications professionals. With a thriving niche community of over 300 communications professionals from across the world, The Comms Avenue also offers high-level knowledge sharing meetings and training programs for communications professionals and corporate organizations.

She has vast experience consulting for international organizations and top corporate executives and specializes in providing strategic communications advisory services for development, philanthropic and corporate organizations, helping them to develop and implement a robust communications strategy.
Adedoyin has successfully executed projects for the W Community, Women in Business, Management and Public Service (WIMBIZ), Leading Ladies Africa, Heritage Bank, African Philanthropy Forum amongst others. She has been profiled on She Leads Africa, Leadership Newspaper and Lionesses of Africa. She was also featured as one of The Spark’s Visionary Women in 2019.

Instagram – @adedoyinjaiyesimi

Email – [email protected]