It’s perfectly alright if you are starry-eyed about being your own-boss. After all, aren’t we reaping the benefits of a shining economy? However, it’s crucial to separate the wheat from chaff (i.e. isolating the ‘hopeless’ expectation from the ‘valuable’ reality) in case you want to be a freelancer in India. Here’s a rundown-
Expectation: Right now, the world is a freelancer’s oyster
Reality: As if hunching over a laptop all day and expanding horizontally from this sedentary lifestyle is not enough- be ready with your cheat sheet of explanations. The moot question would be- why you do what you do? On the off chance you hate explaining life choices to people, then good luck with that.
It doesn’t help that in India, freelancing is still on its nascent stage. As a tech freelancer, you may get away by mumbling some too-self-important-to-grasp -for -commoners jargons like full-stack developer or data analyst. But for ‘artsy’ types- hell hath no fury like disappointed parents. In my case- even my landlord’s mother is transfixed with the idea of what I do all day long inside the room.
Expectation: Smart working shall be rewarded
Reality: After freelancing for few years, you may feel compassionate towards Westerners demanding minimum wage law. Or else immigrants will be stealing away their jobs. Here in my own country, it’s getting quite difficult to hustle for decent payment rate (after calculating the time+ research amount+ your experience) because others are quoting too cheap.
It seems, there is a pack of hyenas out there (in freelancing land), ready to tear apart each other for the bit of meat (Bad analogy). In case you are bidding $1 per word, there would be hundreds to do it for half-of-the-amount.
I suppose, this is karma. South Asia became cheap labor hub, destroyed the freelance bidding sites ((yours truly is guilty as well) and now it’s getting back to us.
Expectation: In this journey, you will find compatriots
Reality: You shall be all alone. What added skills you must pursue? How is the transition – in case you are planning to go for full time? How much should you ask for your work? Figure it yourself.
When you don’t have any mentor, learn it from online resources. From pitching in to clients to managing your invoice- there would be no hand-holding.
Tip: Quora community can be your life-saver (It has been for me). Or follow a blog like ShoutMeLoud to know how to survive and thrive here.
Expectation: There is no free lunch in the world. But the contradiction happens in ‘gig’ economy
Reality: Get ready to work for free in the beginning. Do it till the time you get enough clips to put together a nice little portfolio. I don’t know about other niches but this is how it happens in web content development. I have been asked countless times to submit free test samples and once done, didn’t hear back from the agency ever. Not even a nice, little rejection e-mail.
Tip: Draw the line between-when you have to do it absolutely VS when you are getting exploited.
After all these, if you are still planning to go for freelancing, go ahead. When someone asks why you do what you do, tell her- “the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.”