Imagine where you’d be if you never had help along the way.
No one to steer you back when you went off course, tell you that you’re talented, or give you a soft landing when you needed it.
Mentorship comes in different forms. It’s not always direct or aligned.
Do you remember the person who gave you direction on the right career path when you felt unsure of your future?
The teacher who made you believe you were incredible.
The mentor who guided you from the bottom of the ladder to that cushion executive job you now have.
They helped you because they saw potential. Something special to be nurtured. That guidance is pivotal to your career success.
No one is an island. We take and give help. It’s what makes life the perfect symbiotic relationship.
Personally, I’ve benefited from having people in my corner. A circle of support that’s lifted me.
For example, when I started freelancing in 2019, I was coming off a 2-year content mill gig where I was earning $500 for writing 92k-100k words per month.
At my highest point, I was writing 2k words a day, supervising a team of writers, earning $900, and thinking life don’t get better than this.
I had a poverty mindset conditioned to believe that I wasn’t good enough, scraps were the best I could do and poor treatment from shitty clients was normal.
Two years later, $10k months are the new normal. I’m locking down five-figure retainer deals and generating more high-end leads than I can handle.
What shifted between 2019 to 2021?
What took me from the mindset of $1,000 is an excellent month to closing out a six-figure year with ease?
Freelance Mentorship Is the Difference
In 2020, I met Valerio Puggioni, who runs the Freelance Copywriter Collective, and my mindset started to shift. First, he told me that he reads everything I put out. I was shocked to think that someone so knowledgeable knew who I was and had read my work. It was validation that I didn’t think I needed.
He was open with me about his process, rates, and style of work. Just knowing that a freelancer was charging at least $1,000 for content, when I was just starting to charge $200, blew my mind to smithereens.
He was my first mentor, and we never even made it official.
Soon, I met Dayana Mayfield, and just like Valerio, she opened her playbook to me and guided me through the world of SaaS writing.
I went from charging $200 in January 2020 to $600 at the end of December 2020.
The growth would have been impossible without mentors who:
- Guided me
- Changed my mindset
- Showed me the way
- Closed gaps in my sales side
People in the industry came through for me at every turn, leading me to where I am today.
I Don’t Want to be the Exception, Rather the Norm
Not many Africans or folks from developing countries make $100k or even half that amount annually. So, it makes me feel like an exception, and that’s not a position I like.
Unfortunately, there are so many barriers right now that it’s near impossible to compete fairly.
Skill level is top of the list of barriers. This roadblock prevents BIPOC freelancers from gaining the skills, visibility, and access to the network they need even to have a fighting chance. I faced these barriers myself, and I can tell you from personal experience that it messes with your mindset.
After one too many rejections, you start thinking you’re not good enough, imposter syndrome becomes a Godzilla-sized monster, and you become satisfied with mediocrity.
Mentorship helped me overcome this mindset. Hearing the people I admire tell me my writing is terrific gave me the confidence to aim for higher gigs and raise my rates. At every turn, there’s been a mentor guiding me on how to get it right. I have never done anything alone.
I want freelancers from developing countries to access the mentorship that got me where I am today.
Imagine a world where freelancers from developing countries could compete on an equal platform with freelancers from developed countries?
You can provide the practical skills to help freelancers gain the confidence to pitch for higher-paying gigs.
Higher paying gigs lead to more money and a fairer distribution of wealth.
This Is Where You Come In
I did the first cohort of the mentorship sessions in November 2020. I manually paired over 150 copywriters in developing countries with experts who could help them upskill and improve their selling abilities.
Now, I want to expand that opportunity to other freelancers outside of copywriting. We’ve got SEO, digital marketing, design, and more categories.
What can you do?
If you live in a developed country or you’re a freelancer in a developing country that’s crushing it, please sign up to provide mentorship.
Don’t just sign up. Ask your colleagues and friends who have the required skills if they’d like to sign up. Strike up conversations that lead to mentoring freelancers in developing countries. Use your social media channels to raise awareness about this great project.
The goal is to provide mentorship for 1,000 freelancers in this cohort. And there’s no way I can reach those numbers without your help.
Be our apostle on the streets of Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Share your experience when you’re paired with a freelancer to mentor.
When Does Freelance Mentorship Begin?
We will start pairing mentors with mentees on the 1st of February 2022. It’s four weeks, one hour a week via zoom call. You go over materials your mentees send to access their skills, and you walk them through improvements during the calls. It’s also an opportunity to answer questions they may have about the business side of freelancing or guide them on the right career path.
While the official timeline is four weeks, we’ve had many mentors who decided that four weeks wasn’t enough time to impact knowledge. They decided of their free will to continue mentorship for two, three, and even four months. But this is not obligatory. Do what feels right after you’ve accessed the skill set of your mentee.
But I’m going to be honest with you. I hope you commit to longer than one month unofficially.
I hope that you:
- Hold your mentee’s hands as they walk these hard streets of freelancing
- Introduce them to folks in your network who could hire them
- Help them grow their network
- Introduce them to speaking gigs or guest posting opportunities
- Help them get the needed visibility to fulfill their greatest ambitions
Because that’s what mentors do. They build you up until you’re strong enough to do it for the next person.
We Also Need Volunteers
Here’s the big problem that’s delaying everything we want to achieve – we’re short-staffed. We only have two people on salary. We also plan to bring on a podcast and video editor to help out with the podcast we plan to launch in March 2021.
However, we need unpaid volunteers who are willing to donate a few hours a month in the following tasks:
Web developer/web designer: Someone we can call on when we have issues on the backend or need some coding done on the blog.
Editors: To proofread the content we put on the blog and provide feedback to help our writer get better.
Social media experts: To guide strategy, grow our social media channels and provide the right content for freelancers in developing countries.
Email marketing professionals: Someone to help us set up our email list properly and show our admin how to manage it going forward. It’s in shambles right now, and I’m a mess where email marketing is concerned.
If you work in a company where you get Volunteer Time Off (VTO), you can use those hours towards helping the freelance coalition. We have no plans to raise funds, so the only contribution you can offer is time and expertise.
It would be nice to get a digital marketing agency to sponsor paid ads for the coalition and help us get more visibility. Many BIPOC freelancers would benefit from the work we’re doing.
Please fill this form to volunteer with the freelance coalition
Reach out to me via email if you would like to sponsor paid ads for the coalition
What Other Plans Are Happening in 2022?
If you work in these fields listed below, I would love for you to teach us something for an hour:
- Content Writing
- Digital Marketing
- Selling freelance services
- Setting up and scaling a freelance business
For example, if you work in design, you could teach designers in the coalition how to use Figma to build landing pages. If you’re in SEO, show us how to do a tech SEO audit, fix crawling errors or any of the one million things tech SEOs do.
Do you get the idea?
You pick one particular topic from your broad knowledge, and you teach us that topic for an hour. The idea is to curate as many topics as possible into a massive library of resources for freelancers in developing countries.
Think about it for a moment.
Many freelancers in developing countries can’t afford to pay $50 for a course or paid resource. They’re unable to scale or grow because of this massive skill gap.
Suddenly, there’s a library of resources where they can learn the basics of running a freelance business, getting clients, scaling, learning the skill side step-by-step without feeling overwhelmed. And best of all, it’s free for them!
We need your help to make this dream a reality.
Fill this form if you’re interested in sharing your expertise for an hour.
Audio and Video Podcast
There are over 850,000 active podcasts in the world. And that number will keep growing. But how many of these podcasts are geared towards solving the unique problems that BIPOC freelancers face?
I don’t know anyone.
I’ll bring in an expert to answer members’ burning questions around a topic each week. The goal is to provide as much practical value as possible for freelancers to implement immediately and hopefully at a minimal cost.
So, if you see me in your DMs begging you to chat with me for 30-50mins, please say yes so I don’t have to walk out with my face covered in shame.
Overdramatic? Yes, I’ve been called that in the past.
Please fill this form if you want to jump on the podcast.
A Crowd-Fueled Blog
Seeing as we’re currently a tiny army of three, I’m appealing to experienced folks in the industry who have experience distilling knowledge into words to write for us. The idea is to create crowdsourced content similar to what you’d find on Hackernoon, SEJ, and other sites that rely on guest posts to educate their audience.
We can’t pay you, but you’ll be contributing in no small measure to our mission to educate BIPOC freelancers everywhere.
Heck, this would count as charitable work, in my opinion.
Fill this form to pitch your guest post idea
Anything Else I’m Forgetting?
Errrm, I don’t think so. But if I remember, I’ll add it to the post later on.
To recap, we need mentors to help us fulfill our biggest mission in 2022 – to provide mentorship for 1,000 freelancers in developing countries.
We need volunteers in many areas, including editors, email marketers, and web developers. We’re also seeking industry specialists who’d be willing to teach us one topic for an hour, jump on our video/audio podcast or write an evergreen guest post to educate us.
Whatever you decide, I’m honored that you’re willing to take action instead of sitting on the sidelines as we seek to close the earning gap and bring more visibility to BIPOC freelancers, especially for those living in developing countries.
Chima is an SEO content writer and content strategist who specializes in building and executing topic clusters for SaaS companies. She has worked with clients like Wix, Semrush and Aura