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The gig economy: How to join the highest paid remote workforce (right from Nigeria)

Wole Ogunlade
Jul 12, 2017 · 6 min read

Tribute: I was privileged to interview one of the most amazing designers in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem (Mubarak Imogie ) for this series before he passed on. May his soul rest in perfect peace.

Since September 2016, the number of highly skilled Nigerian developers and UX designers working remotely has suddenly increased. This would be more obvious to you if you have any highly-skilled friend in “Yaba”, especially those who believe that irrespective of your location, you deserve to earn globally competitive salaries.

To get a fair idea of the pay disparity, DevCenter carried out a survey showing that an equally skilled developer in Nigeria earns 18 times lesser than counterpart in USA. This pay disparity is very high, hence, an easier way to reduce the pay margin is to join the remote workforce. With this new wave of “employment” revolution, platforms like Switch and Andela are setting up shop to train people and give them opportunities to compete for well-paying jobs globally, while working remotely.

As part of my effort to understand this economy, I met and interviewed a few of these remote workers, mostly software designers, marketers and UX designers in order to gain valuable insights behind their motivations, their tools and best advice. I realized that in order to position themselves for global opportunities, many of these successful remote workers share some common similarities:

  • They share their knowledge openly. Usually via articles on Medium and personal blogs. By doing this, they amplify their expert status, which in turns raises their rates. See how this tweet puts it aptly.
  • They contribute to open source projects (as software developers) or participate in design contests (as designers) in order to share their journey, expertise and portfolios.
  • They are deliberate about building strong personal brands using platforms like Quora, StackOverflow, GitHub, Behance and Dribble. They use these platforms to showcase their portfolios of work and answer questions.
  • They are active on Twitter and follow other “power” users in their industry.
  • Many of them represent a movement by hosting and coordinating local meet ups and communities e.g Prosper Otemuyiwa co-hosts Laravel and ForLoop meet-ups, Chris Nwaba hosts Angular community, Kene Udeze hosts Usable (for UX/UI), Imogie hosted Dribble meet-up for designers etc. This has worked to consolidate their industry knowledge and global acceptance.
  • They know where their target clients are and ensure they have high visibility there, some of these platforms include:

Quora: Quora is the world’s best Q & A job board. They answer questions and add thoughtful comments on the subject they want to build expert status on. Here is an amazing guide to help you build a great presence on Quora.

StackOverflow, Dribble, Behance and GitHub: These platforms helps to showcase their works and codes for others to easily see their projects. Also, they actively contribute to open source projects and participate in contests.

LinkedIn. This social network helps them to be positioned professionally. They join groups relevant to their core competence and maintain a good LinkedIn profile.

5 SPECIFIC Insights I got from highly-paid Nigerian remote workers…… On “breaking into” remote workforce.

After publishing the original post on how you can get high-paying remote jobs (take your time to read this), I spoke with few more people who shared their insights with me based on a series of questions I asked.

For full disclosure I spoke with Prosper Otemuyiwa (Google Developer Expert, Ambassador & Consultant at Auth0), Imogie Mubarak (self taught designer formerly at, Ajibola ayoola, and Longe Tope; a remote digital marketer and co-founder of TenderNG, as well as others in the ecosystem.

Here are the top insights they shared with me:

1. What’s the difference between working for a Nigerian company and working remotely?

Prosper: It is just a mindset. It is the same working locally as internationally, you need change of mindset and approach. They can’t see you, so they need to have good “rep” about you. To do this, your profile must be on point. You need to be someone who is self motivated.

2. What are your top secrets to get high-paying remote jobs?

  • Prosper: Firstly, you need to have a great portfolio and have a knack for communicating your deliverables to your employer.
  • Imogie: Learn to clearly articulate your design process and decisions behind your past works. This shows the client that you know what you’re doing. Also give a brief on the process you’ll use for whatever project you’re interviewing for. Also, apply to jobs where you have experience, most clients don’t like experimentation. They’re more comfortable giving work to you if you’ve completed a project in that domain before.
  • Ajibola: Develop yourself in today’s relevant areas/technologies. Always strive to out your best work out, there’s still nothing as good as the power of referrals. Never stop learning.
  • Longe: Research the role and be Proactive. It’s not enough to just apply and sit back. Find the right person in charge of the role and tactfully engage in conversation with a focus on showing how you can add value and not on the job role. This could be on LinkedIn, cold emails or any other relevant channel.

3. What are the top websites you get remote jobs?

Here are the top sites they mentioned:

4. What will you tell someone who does not have a job yet but wants to get a high paying remote job, to do?

  • Prosper: Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days: Meaning apply to many remote places and keep building your portfolio (be it behance or dribble or Github and keep tabs on tools that remote workers use to shoot productivity off the roof).

The reality is that a high paying job would not just hit you like a charm. A lot of average paying jobs might come your way first but don’t despise the days of little beginning. You can start with that and use it to build the remote working experience that will give you better chances of getting a high paying job sooner than you think.

  • Tunji: Always strive to out your best work out. Never stop learning.
  • Longe: Know the right place to look for remote jobs, be the first to apply and always put your best foot forward. The most important part of remote work is first knowing your stuff. For example, the recruitment process involves doing a real job task that’s challenging and could take weeks to complete but it’s always worth the time.

5. What are the tools you use to manage your work/how do you get paid?

  • Prosper: There are combinations of tools that I find handy. For project/feature tracking, I used a combination of Trello/Asaba/Jira, communication I used Slack/Hipchat while Zoom is for video calls and Screenhero for screen pairing. Google Calendar is ideal for meeting reminders.
  • Longe: You can either get paid to your domiciliary account or Payoneer; it depends on the company you work with and their payment policies

Are you ready to join the gig economy? …… Follow the advice above to start earning in hard currency. If you are a remote worker, I will like to know some of your tips. Please leave a comment.

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