“I join contests because I want to win,” Kelvin Otieno Ogos, better known as KelvinOTIS on the world’s largest crowdsourcing and outsourcing site Freelancer.com, states with an assured air. “Winning proves that my design skills stand out among other designers’.”
Kelvin is referring to the Contests regularly launched on Freelancer.com. These graphic design-oriented contests typically involve the creation of logos, business cards, mug designs, etc. and they are open to everyone. Employers then get the chance to choose from a number and a variety of designs, often in the hundreds, within minutes of posting. While Kelvin is unsure as to the exact number of contests he has participated in since he joined the site in 2010, he estimates that he participated in hundreds. “I have won eight times,” he proudly shares.
Freelancer.com was the first site he came across. “Thanks to the name, it came up so fast on the search engines during my regular surfing.” He admits that it was difficult to make headways in the beginning but his persistence and hard work bore fruit when he won his very first contest on Freelancer.com.
Having been driven from his office in the Nairobi Central Business District by high overhead costs and stiff competition over a shrinking market of potential buyers, Kelvin’s success in the contests has opened a whole new world for him. “This was definitely the ultimate turnaround opportunity for me,” he reflects. “It tremendously improved my income.” To date, Kelvin has earned US$4,210 via Freelancer.com. He even funnelled a portion of his earnings into his new hand-painted T-shirt business, an enterprise that now provides him with monthly earnings of about US$500.
“The ultimate reason for joining the contests” he adds, “is to earn money, but along the way I realized that it’s more than that. Through the contests my design skills have sharpened—by seeing many other trends all over the world, including meeting clients with diverse needs.”
The exposure has helped him get more jobs through direct hiring.“Finding clients is one very big challenge; maintaining them is another,” he says. “This was made easy for me at Freelancer.com where within a short amount of time I had come into contact with hundreds of them through contests and direct hire jobs.” One of the clients he found this way, Toshiyuki Tega, has hired him repeatedly since he won a contest posted by the Japanese entrepreneur. Based on the strength of his portfolio, Kelvin has formed relationships with clients from Australia, Belgium, USA, Switzerland, Thailand, and Canada.
Kelvin’s financial challenges gradually eased, and right now, he is comfortably able to take care of his bills, including settling his children’s school fees. “Due to Freelancer.com, I am able to work from the house, which allows me to spend quality time with my family while making money to meet family-related needs. I have never regretted closing my office in the city. I could never have found a better alternative than Freelancer.com.”
The availability of graphic design jobs on the site is what caught his attention from the beginning. He was, and still is, amazed that “they keep streaming in every minute.” He has grown even more confident with the discovery of site’s custom features, like the “tight client-freelancer protection” that assured him of payment for completed assignments, and copyright protection of a member’s work.
“Freelancer.com is a freelancer’s marketing tool because of the free space to display one’s portfolio,” he says. “This increases the chances to earn income. I also like the Rewards Program where earnings can be traded for various services.” He also commends the 24/7 live Support Desk where he has “always gotten assistance to queries on the spot.”
“I do not only look at Freelancer.com as a place of work,” he confides, “but also as a learning platform where one can sharpen his communication and interpersonal skills, improve his varied professional skills, and expand his knowledge of diverse world cultures through networking.”
More than local and international recognition, Kelvin is driven by a desire to level up his skill set in order to leave a visual impact in what he calls “the world of creativity.” “It is my joy when my work achieves what it was intended to do.”