Interview with a Freelance Writer From Kenya


Name Andrew Matenzawa, www.andrewmat.com

Freelance Copywriter/Content Writer/Book Reviewer

Where are you from? I’m from Kenya, a country located at the heart of Eastern Africa and one of the fasted growing economies in Africa.

Number of years freelancing: Well, if I could generalize, I can say that I’ve been freelancing for four years now (since 2014). You see in 2014; I couldn't seriously get off the ground thanks to my very slow desktop computer (Intel Pentium or what Intel rates as two stars entry-level products). But I began “serious” writing in 2015 after a friend named Paul Means offered to buy me a laptop.

Favourite thing about being a freelancer? Well, freelancing has it benefits, plenty of them. But what I love most about my full-time job now is the fact that I can work from anywhere, anytime. I can work from my house in my pajamas, from a hotel, from my friend's house- just wherever I want, something that people with 8-5 jobs can’t enjoy.

Least favourite? My least favorite as a freelancer is that it at times makes one “lonely.” I spent most of my time (70%) indoors, just me and my computer. I remember at one point, my girlfriend complaining that I was always a busy man, and didn't have time for her. (Haha, you know how ladies can be,- they need attention). But since then, I’ve figured thing outs, organized myself, and stick to a given routine.

How did you get your start? Well, I started off as an academic writer, trained by a friend for like a month and gave me a 4-page unpaid gig.

What was your first freelance job & how did you get it? My first paid freelance gig was a 1page assignment back in 2014. I vividly remember it was “How Harley Davidson Uses Competitive Advantage.” I got the writing gig from a facebook group and was paid $2. The amount didn’t matter, but wow, I couldn't believe it, that I could get paid for just researching and typing a few words. You see, in my country, there’s a stereotype that you have to actually “sweat” to earn a living. Many believe that you have to have a physical job to make ends meet- I had the same notion, but that changed from that moment I pocketed my $2.

What inspired you to do what you do? Well, I could say my $2 wage inspired me. Given the circumstances (with my old desktop computer that rebooted almost every 30 mins) I could have quit. But every time I thought about quitting- I would say to myself- “C’mon you can make it, you can earn more than $2, you just need more time, and the wheels gonna be rolling”.

Additionally, I had friends earning at least $800 per month- and that’s a lot of cash given the campus situation.

Where do you find inspiration? Given that almost 70% of my time is spent on the internet, that’s where I find my inspiration. I’ve been a book reviewer since December 2016, mainly writing author bios and reviewing their books as well.

Reading about their life, and how each author came to be, genuinely inspires me. I’ve seen many novelists manuscripts rejected by many publishers but finally end up making it in life, others writing about their real-life stories-that can make one shed tears. Reading about these authors gives me hope for a brighter future.

Proudest moment? My proudest moment was when a client contacted me for a long term project. That’s back in 2016. I’m happy I’ve written for my client for over a year now and also hoping for more.

Something you’re currently working on that you’re excited about Currently, I’m working on my niche sites that are getting some good traction- something I’m excited about.

What does a typical day look like? Whoa! I often wake up at 4 am, write a couple of book reviews for my client till noon (with some breaks in between). From noon to 4 pm, I’ve dedicated that time to creating content for my websites. From 5 pm, go out cycling 6km, return to my apartment take shower, take supper and watch a movie, then to bed and the cycle continues.

On weekends you’ll probably find me outdoors, cycling with friends (20km plus) or gaming with my nephews. My days might seem awkward for an average person, but that’s how I like it.

How do you balance work and life? As I mentioned above, I tend to stick to a specific routine and ensure that I get time to spend with those I love most and at the same time pay my bills.

What do you make time for everyday (no matter how busy you are)? Regardless of how busy I am, I always have time to cycle, spending time with family members, and of course sleeping- hahaha, who doesn't sleep anyway?

Any advice for someone starting out? If you’re starting out, here’s my two cents, never give up because there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I know people can discourage you to get “decent” job others will tell it's impossible to feed a family from just “words,” but that’s not true.

You see when starting out, many of my friends discouraged me, telling me it was impossible. If anyone approaches you with the same notion today- just stand firm and tell them, “Dude, I was born to do the impossible not the possible.” The key is finding a good mentor, set achievable goals, don't compare yourself with other ( don't be a copycat) because you’re unique and everything will unfold well as you wished.

Lastly, avoid procrastination, because if you keep on procrastinating, someday you going to regret and wish you had started today.