I am a freelancer and do content writing, content management, content strategy and digital media strategy. My career in Digital Advertising and my passion for writing, both come together for me to able to make it work in a seamless way.
When not working full time, I’ve worked on freelance projects on Social Media Strategy for various brands, SMEs and individuals. Now, I’ve taken to freelancing as a full-time career option as I have the ability to work on my own terms and have full control on the process and outcome. And, because of years of experience, I know that freelancing can be a lucrative option in the long term besides being creatively satisfying. When freelancing, you work with the people you like – your friends who you love to collaborate with, with brands that align with your sensibilities and with yourself. For me personally, this was the biggest motivation, to be honest.
So naturally, freelancing was the perfect solution for me!
And last weekend, a friend who is unhappy with office politics and is working with people she doesn’t like, told me that she is in awe of me because of how I’m managing the freelance assignments. She said she wants to start freelancing too – she’s a brilliant graphic designer – but is afraid to put herself put there without the security of a steady salary, committed clients and/or freelancing experience.
Her fears made me want to write this post, in the hope of helping anyone else out there who needs this motivation. Are people scared to venture into freelancing? Is it mainly because there’s no financial guarantees? Or is it because most of us find it tough to try freelancing because we don’t know how to get clients and projects? What are the main fears that keep people away from freelance work?
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I have my learnings with me, which I will share in this post, but I also wanted to share some more info. So I spoke to a lot of my ex-colleagues and friends, I read up on the topic and the things I discovered were amusing.Did you know that the freelancing sector in India is very young, with a majority of freelancers under the age of 40? Interesting trend, right?
For most freelancers irregularity payments are the biggest issue they face. I have faced it too in the beginning, and it bothered me a lot. Getting payments from clients is sometimes not easy, especially international clients, but there are ways to combat it, like PayPal. Indian freelancers have been using PayPal for years now for seamless payments. According to latest numbers, 74% Indian freelancers have PayPal accounts and trust this service for secure and faster payments.
. Almost half of the Indian freelancers get more business through word of mouth and freelancing platforms. Freelancer.com is one platform that quite a few prefer, although I haven’t tried it myself.
A study says that 38% freelancers in our country prefer it to regular jobs because they like to be their own boss and the income growth that comes with it. This sounds like me, to be honest.
What amazed me is that 4 in five freelancers in India get international projects from Australia, UK and US. I get a lot of work from US and have worked on two UK based projects, and I prefer international clients as these projects give me a wider exposure.
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Flexibility is a top factor for Indian freelancers, as most of us love the power to choose the clients we work with, the timing and the schedule. You can work for a café, a co-working space that has good coffee or even from the comfort of your home – freelancing life is all about getting the work done, without any fuss and discomfort.
What also helps is that in most cases, freelancing can be adopted with a small investment. If you’re a content writer, all you need is a blog to showcase your work, if you’re a designer you can showcase your work on social media. Same for photographers, interior designers, editors and a lot many skills. Blogs and social media are free to use, and you can use these platforms in the beginning.
Looking at the numbers and trends, I think this is a good time for all those who want to make it work on their own terms. If you want to try freelancing and see how it goes for you, now is the time.
Yes, it requires hard work, but the results are sweet and addictive.
Yes, it might seem tough to get clients and projects in the beginning, but this system works on recommendations and referrals, and you won’t need to worry about new work coming in after a certain stage.
So, here are my tips to become a freelancer in India:
- Be consistent – Create a portfolio that shows the range of work you can do, showcase diversity and be consistent at it. Even if you don’t have a gig at the moment, which will happen when you are new, keep putting up your samples and ideas for the world to see.
- Be fearless – in reaching out to potential clients, in trying new things, in following your instinct. When you finish one project, ask for referrals and testimonials. Try new technologies and ideas, pitch them to your clients and take responsibility. There is no shame in freelancing, it is a brave thing to do and you should see it as an act of courage. So, be fearless.
- Be prepared – Keep estimate and invoice formats ready. Get a GST number, if it’s applicable to you. Create a PayPal account for quick and safe transactions – the money is automatically transferred in your bank account, it’s that easy!
- Brand yourself – have a logo, a statement and explain the services you offer. On your blog or website, add your contact details and keep updating your sample work, past projects.
- Determine the price for your services – to be able to keep a comfortable yet competitive pricing, you might need to explore how much the other freelancers in your field are charging, you will need to determine the expenses involved in the project, and you will need to be open to changes. There is no formula for the perfect price, it depends on a lot of factors but as you get freelance experience and as you build your brand backed by good work, you will get the hang of it.
- Have a process – when working with new clients, it’s always good to have a process and follow it. Start with an estimate, be on the same page as the client, have a contract, communicate frequently and deliver.
- The Dos:
- Be professional.
- Try and get clients that will let you bill upfront.
- Talk to your clients and see if they are open to advance payments. This might not happen very often in India, but it’s always good to check and this will help the entire freelancing community in bringing about a healthy change, right?
- Read the contract before you sign.
- Be kind. work with your friends, make your own team and help everyone grow.
- The Don’ts:
- Don’t be lazy
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to your family and friends, freelancing works best with your own network.
- Don’t accept everything that comes your way just for the money.
- Be open to outsourcing when you have a lot of work coming in.
- Have an emergency fund saved, just in case.
- Take care of yourself.
- Be proud of yourself, you’re working n your terms!
Hope you find this post helpful. Let me know if you want help, or you want to know my experience with any particular aspect of freelancing in India, and I will write about it. And please share this post as much as you can, and let’s help our community!