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I’m Not In The US – How Can I Get Writing Gigs?

writers-round-the-worldHey Anne,

I’ve been receiving your posts daily,updating me on the latest writing jobs.I am a Kenyan University student,and I am taking a Bachelors degree in Communication and Media Technology ,though I have a bias for the print media.I love writing; its a passion I’ve nurtured since I was young.

It’s however unfortunate that (in) most of the writing (job) updates you send, the employers would rather have people based in the US.

Please Anne,is there any way you can help me exploit my writing talent as I hone my skills and up my prowess, while still making some money to push me through college?

Zilper (in comments)

Hi Zilper,

Kenya? Love the international nature of the ‘net. I’ve not met anyone from Kenya before, so nice to meet you here.

Yeah, most of the jobs we post here are in the US. A few in Canada and a few in the UK. That’s only because the jobs we find to post are in those countries. I don’t know for sure,  but I suspect that’s also where the most freelance writing jobs are, at least when the language is English, which, unfortunately, the only language I speak, read and write.

Out of curiosity I used google to discover the official language of Kenya is something called Ki Swahili. So I asked google for jobs in Swahili, jobs in Kiswhili (google runs the two words together), writing jobs in Kiswahili and finally writing jobs in Kenya. I got listings with each search, enough so I think it’s probably worth doing if I’m right and you speak and write Kiswahili. If your native language is something else or you also are fluent in a third, do searches that way.

That said, I’m also guessing that writing gigs in the US pay better than those in Kenya, although some of ours are truly low pay. American employers tend to hire in the US because they know how to do it and it seems easier.

You can overcome some of those objections by making it super easy for them to pay you – PayPal is probably the best approach. And having a PayPal account will reassure US employers somewhat. Skype may let you do telephone interviews cheaply and if that’s true, when you apply make it clear if they want to talk with you, you’ll call them so they aren’t looking at high cost out-of-country calls. Also make sure you’ve nailed the differences in time – in all four US timezones.

Although I didn’t look deeply, it also seems that translation jobs may be the most numerous. Not writing, but close enough to get started I think.

Finally, double and triple check your spelling etc. I found a couple of typos I corrected here, but those will get you eliminated in a heart beat.

Thanks for asking and let us know how it works out.

[askanne] [sig]

{ 37 comments… add one }
  • George

    Hi, was nice reading your contributions. I am a kenyan citizen and a freelancer writer. I get all my jobs from clients in Canada and US. I would like to assist my fellow kenyans on how to bid for these jobs. I have a couple of sites that accept writers outside the US provided that, you are a good writer and payment is through paypal. Kindly contact me. Thank you.

    • plecidous Khimulu

      Hi George,

      Just came across your comments while surfing for a solution to a similar predicament Zilper is facing.I’m also seeking sites that accept Non U.S & U.K writers.Kindly bail me out as well.

      Can rech me on pkhimulu@gmail.com or 0726108881.

      Many thanks in avance

  • lynne kanini

    i need help am a good poet and ready to show my talent

  • joseph

    hi, how do i join freelance writing? I’m a Kenyan and most freelance writing jobs are specified for us, UK etc.


    please may you just get me a trial topic so that I can try my skill in freelance writing? I am from Kenya currently in MOI UNIVERSIY.

    • Onesmus, I don’t know how the freelance writing market works in Kenya, but I suspect it’s similar to here in the United States – look for local newspapers and magazines and submit. If you want to write for the U.S., U.K. etc. you just have to keep applying with samples.

  • George Kamau

    Hi Anne? I’ve a talent of writing and really would like exploiting it, would you please offer me with various addresses of freelance writing companies in USA,UK & Australia since here in Kenya don’t look convincing. Thanks.

    • George, it doesn’t work like that… I post jobs 3x a week. You can apply for those directly, not through me.

  • Hey, am actually very grateful that I came across this site. Am wondering, could I get anything to do with poetry within Kenya or outside but still be able to earn from it? This could enable me to publish my first batch of poems as I look forward to being a renown writer, for any positive responses, collaborations and any kind of getting in touch, reach me on my blog!
    Nellita2002 recently posted..My Missing You LetterMy Profile

    • Nellisa, I know nothing about the market in Kenya – for poetry or anything else… as you uncover it let us know.

  • Evan

    Hi Anne, i think payments to Kenyan writers can be made through Western Union. I have reliably learned that a service called M Pesa, which is an I.T-Finance revolution in Kenya as a money transfer service, is taking root in The U.S. It s already in U.K!


    Anne, I am based in Kenya nf oking for well paying freelance writing jobs. i specialized in African issues, media, democracy and health

  • Wilson Kariuki from kenya. working at NMG. interest in writing but no place yet since i work in programming. will appreciate your efforts to nature my writing talent more

  • kanda

    i have extensively read the views that people have aired on the topic ” why Americans clients prefer American writers” well i know of Kenyans who have perfected their American writing styles and are now enjoying the benefits of their work. the only problem is that you can only perfect it after landing on small gigs that require particular styles. most of the clients have rigid payment methods, Pay pal shouldn’t be the only payment method available here. Those biding jobs are just not the way to find opportunities

    • Anne

      2checkout.com might be another solution… anyone else know of international payment providers?

  • Hi all, hope am not late in putting forth my two cents’ worth. Am a Kenyan freelancer and I find Anne’s answer refreshing but at the same time lacking in accurate facts. Here in Kenya, one cannot receive their money from their paypal account. And that is the folly of most clients seeking freelancers as they will require one to have a paypal account. So, if these clients are flexible enough to make payment changes, then maybe, just maybe I would consider applying for online gigs feverishly.
    @Benjamin Hunting,
    Its true, US, UK and Canada are not the only markets where one can get clients. All one needs is time and dedication to find these jobs elsewhere. Am actually surprised you found a Kenyan client via Elance. I think I need to crawl Elance for such opportunities (am not a big fan of bidding sites)
    .-= Judith´s last blog ..WHO IS THE BOSS? =-.

    • Anne

      Judith, I don’t pretend to know what countries allow their residents to take paypal payments or not and if I didn’t make that clear I should have. If, as a citizen of Kenya, you know how to accept payments from the US and other countries I’d appreciate knowing myself… and others probably would too… you could post in comments or even write a brief article (no pay) for me about that.


  • The Kenya gig specifically was found through Elance.

  • Most of my international gigs have come either through job postings I have found online through sites like yours, Anne, or through web boards such as Elance or GetAFreelancer.com. It has been a very long time since I have used the latter, however – I find there are more projects that interest me at Elance.

    Many of these international companies actually do actively post looking for freelancers, and they often turn to job boards and sites because they know there are a large number of English-language writers there.
    .-= Benjamin Hunting´s last blog ..Miata Track Impressions – The Learning Curve =-.

  • Finally – and I promise that this will be my last consecutive post – I think it is a mistake to assume that the majority of English-language freelance jobs are to be found in America, Canada and the U.K.

    There are thousands of corporations located in countries that do not speak English as a first language. These companies market their products to English nations. The people marketing and documenting these products and services may speak and write English but not at the level necessary to penetrate the North American market, and so they regularly hire freelancers to help them with this. This is an ENORMOUS market for freelance writers.
    .-= Benjamin Hunting´s last blog ..Miata Track Impressions – The Learning Curve =-.

    • Anne

      True – suspect, however, that not many of the post looking for freelance writing gigs. So it would mean writers contacting the corporations directly, where ever they are. Benjamin, have you done that with any success, or do you have any tips?

  • Also, I think it helps to keep in mind that freelance writers must be open to adapting themselves to new markets in different regions. People here have posted about non-American writers being unfamiliar with the customs and vocabulary associated with writing on this continent, but consider the markets that you could participate in if you yourself became familiar with the way English is used in other countries.

    As the market becomes increasingly global, flexibility is going to be the key for freelancers interested in maintaining a steady workload.
    .-= Benjamin Hunting´s last blog ..Miata Track Impressions – The Learning Curve =-.

  • Interesting article. I’m Canadian, and I just finished a freelance contract for a client in Kenya. So there are definitely jobs in that country for freelancers. It was a great experience on both sides.

    Personally, half my work comes from outside of North America – I get regular clients from Europe and Asia. There is plenty of English freelance work to be found outside of the U.S.

    Regarding 1099 – that has never been an issue for me working for American clients. There are many ways to make things work if you are not American but want to freelance to American clients.
    .-= Benjamin Hunting´s last blog ..Miata Track Impressions – The Learning Curve =-.

    • Anne

      okay, so how did you get the gig in Kanya from Canada?

  • I think there also is the issue of taxes. Some companies may want you to do a gig on a 1099, which you can’t easily do if you are not a US citizen. It’s probably some lawyer or accountant who has placed that restrictive language in the advertisement.

    • Anne

      No reason an us based employer couldn’t send a 1099 to kenya is there? That would keep the employer in compliance… not sure how that works.

  • Hi Zilper. What stops most employers from hiring foreign writers, other than a “buy America” mentality, is those writers’ disconnect from American culture.

    It is often reflected in their word choices – typically, dating from the British Empire, foreign writers exhibit a colonial British vocabulary. For example, you wrote “I am taking a bachelors degree” and “up my prowess.” Those are simply not phrases one hears much in the US and mark you as a foreign writer.

    Also, if the writing deliverable needs to reflect US culture in any way, employers do not want to use foreign writers. Some easy examples would be writing product descriptions for an e-retailer, or movie/club reviews. But the reality is that many press releases, blog posts, web content, and even white papers and, yes, some SEO articles require that you be intimately familiar with the US culture, in small undefinable ways.

    Otherwise, there are plenty of foreign writers earning a living on US work. They are big in SEO articles and any type of writing that requires a lot of research – basically, writing that takes a lot of time and requires less skill.

    Finally, I would only repeat Anne’s advice. First and foremost, you have to write better. She fixed some of your writing and there are many mistakes remaining. That’s a hard sell.

    • ..what about the words ‘humor’ and ‘colour’ are they acceptable-i can change them though to read America

      • Anne

        Joel, we yanks tend to drop the u’s – there are some other differences. Google: english english v. american english and you’ll find some good resources.

  • Oh dear, me again. Hi Anne!

    Depending on the cost of living in Kenya (OMG, great place to live!), one option may be the freelance job bidding sites. Wages are lower (generally), but LOTS of work around. I try to trawl and tweet the best when I can.

    Apologies for self-promo, but there’s a post on my blog here which details the four I have looked at.
    .-= SpikeTheLobster´s last blog ..Rockstar Freelancers =-.

    • Anne

      lol, self-promo encouraged here… more or less. Always glad to have you Spike and I hadn’t thought of the value of bidding from countries with a lower cost of living… good thought. I

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