Freelance Path Series: John Iwuozor on Growing From Being A Data Science Intern To Having A Successful Freelance Business

Welcome to the first installment of “Freelance Path” with John Iwuozor. The freelance path is a series where we follow the journeys of our community members from when they started their marketing journey to where they are now.


 John Iwuozor is a Content Strategist and Writer for B2B Cybersecurity and SaaS companies. He is also the Founder of ChessforSharks, a Content Marketing Agency for Chess Brands & Influencers.


 This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


 What made you want to become a freelancer?


It all started in 2020 while I was still home during the pandemic. I just got laid off and was trying to get my hands dirty by venturing into tech-related roles. During this time, I created a free WordPress blog to test my web development skills, and write chess articles.


A few weeks later, my brother came across a data science internship posting. I applied and started my journey as a data science intern. The company was going to offer the best 10 interns a full-time job paying N150k/month and I wanted it so bad. I spent 6 hard months studying to emerge among the top but life had other plans (LOL).


I couldn’t get the job and out of desperation, I searched for other alternatives. I came across freelancing and luckily for me, I was the query analyst during my internship which meant that I had built a writing portfolio (this portfolio helped me land a $300/ 1500-word article  gig as a newbie)


 Wow, how did you get your first official client?


I leveraged google, searched “Chess writers needed” and came across a job posting needing chess content writers.

My first client paid me $25 (N8k+) for a 1000-word article. That initial feeling was very exciting and I remember telling myself  “If I can write 5 of these in a month, I’ll earn $125 (N40k+) per month”


As luck would have it, I got a $300/article gig next easing my way to my first $1k. After a few months, I was averaging $500 per month (~N300k+). By Q2 of 2022, some of my efforts began to pay off and I started having $2k+ months. By November 2022, my freelance business brought in $6.8k. The goal is to have consistent $10k+ months.


 How did you hear about the freelance coalition and how has it been beneficial to you?


I came across Chima’s posts in late 2021 and was shocked to see that a Nigerian was earning $100k+ from freelancing. This prompted me to join the community where I encountered other well-to-do freelancers, the likes of Lily Ugbaja, Althea Storm, Katherine Nwanorue, and Roshni Shaikh.


The FCDC helped me a lot with the webinars. I gained a lot of value from the free courses provided by the community. These resources contributed to my growth as a freelancer and helped me attain my highest income.


I like the way Chima described it on the FCDC About Us page – To thrive and not just survive. That’s my motto now.


 You mentioned that our webinars were helpful, which episode was your favorite?


The expert series with Lily, Ufoma, and Chima. I remember that webinar clearly because it contained so much practical value and I was able to speak with Chima for the first time on a subject I had little knowledge on. 


I also remember Lily reaching out after the webinar to offer extra support. After then, I went rogue on implementation and started seeing great results. 

What is your long-term plan as a content writer? Would you ever go in-house?


I’m just 2 years into my freelance journey and I still have a lot to learn.

I love the flexibility that freelancing offers, so if I ever have to go in-house, I need to be sure that the learning experience and pay are worth it.


Right now, I want to focus on building my portfolio, building authority in my niche, getting featured in interviews and podcasts, and taking more courses. I’d also love to be at BrightonSEO this year as well.


 What has been your biggest highlight since you started your freelance journey?


The first is meeting Chima because it made me realize that you could be black and successful in a field such as content writing. 

For context: On Nairaland (a popular Nigerian forum), a lot of Nigerians charge about $5 per article believing that they are worth that rate. If you’re exposed to this mindset for long, it’s difficult to imagine that you could earn enough to afford vacations around the world.


Another major highlight was earning consistent seven figures (Naira) last year because I remember starting 2022 with a ton of rejections.


Have you ever had any client horror stories?


No, I haven’t really had any bad client experiences. I haven’t been scammed before. 


 Do you have any advice for freelancers who are starting out?


I’d say ‘build strong writing portfolios’. Making my first $1k was easy and I can only attribute that to my portfolio at that point. As you build your portfolio, share your work and learnings on social media. Do this consistently and your future self will thank you. 


Connect with John Iwuozor on LinkedIn

Jadesola Kareem

Passionate about content and diversity, Jadesola is a content writer. In her free time, with a cup of coffee in hand, she binges on reality shows.

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