Taking the pain out of freelancing : A personal take

By: Amar, 2/07/2015

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Once upon a time, there was a bird. She was in a cage for many years. One day, while her master forgot to lock the cage, she flew away…..forever. Now, she was free and she had to understand her freedom and everything that came along with it.

I have been an employee with multinational companies for most of my working life. I had a full time job. I knew my office location, my work profile and my work desk. Then one day, I decided to become a freelancer and everything changed. Now, I do not have clarity about either my workplace, my work profile or my work desk. Everything is suddenly vague and unstructured.

Having said that, it is an exciting world and like the bird in the metaphorical story, a freelancer has to figure what to do with the newfound freedom. Welcome to the world of freelancing. Ever since I started freelancing, I discovered that I would have to figure out a lot many things myself.

Some of the pain points, which I think new freelancers, are bound to experience are:

  • How to find work: now, I am sure that you have your own reasons for freelancing. You have some idea about the kind of work you want to do as a freelancer. You can write, design, paint, or anything else that you are good at. If you have not figured that, no one can help you since deciding what you want to do is the first solitary step. If you know the services, you want to offer, look for places where you can connect with your potential clients. There are websites like www.flexingit.com or https://www.upwork.com/ and other such sites, which connect freelancers like yourself and companies, which may be looking for the kind of work you propose to offer. I have found writing work through the sources mentioned above and through personal contacts. You have to keep looking for work while you are executing it, since you are your operations as well as business development team.
  • Where do you work: you do not have an office. Therefore, you can work from home, a café, a bar, wherever you feel comfortable and productive. Isn’t freedom a part of the reason why you are freelancing and working for yourself? I bet it is. For me, it is. If you still need a community to work along with, you can join any of the co-working spaces that have come up in urban spaces because of the booming start-up culture.Co-working places are an amalgam of freelancers, start-ups and independent professionals who do not wish to rent an office for themselves and would like to network and belong to a community. Over the last few months, I have worked in cafés, bars and from home. I have not yet joined a co-working space because of incompatibility with my schedule. However, the idea is still lingering in my mind. Co-working places like BHiVE workspace, Breathing Room, 91 Springboard, Stirring minds offer office spaces for independent professionals and you could opt for any of them depending on your needs.
  • How to maintain a schedule: this part is called discipline. It depends on you and you alone since you have chosen to be your own boss. You are the boss and you get to decide when you work, how many hours you work and what achieve during those hours. Personally, I have struggled with this item the most since many a times, I am not sure how my day looks like and I just go with the flow. I do not think going with the flow is the right strategy. You have to know how exactly your day will go and the things that will take your time. 
  • How to maintain a long-term vision: you will be caught up in the everyday schedule of being a freelancer.  Some days, you will be happy with yourself and some days, you won’t be. Having said that, it is important to have sight of what you are trying to achieve in the long term, so that you stay focused.
  • How to keep going: The grind is a part of the process. If you are doing something you are passionate about, which you would ideally be, then work is not like work. It is part of the fun and excitement to work hard at it. I try to work as hard as possible and still struggle to feel satisfied.
  • What to charge for your services: This is a question, which does not have a sure shot answer. You have to bear your cost of time and effort with what is on offer in the market. The price that you will agree upon with your clients has to be a win-win for both parties.  Flexing It™ has a fee calculator, which can help you assess what you should charge, based on expected annual income. The tool is available here: http://www.flexingit.com/fee_calculator/ 

It is not easy to be a freelancer since freedom comes with accountability. Being your boss is only for people who have the discipline it takes to define their work and being able to commit to it.

 We will be happy to hear what you think of what you have read. Please feel free to share your experiences, agreements or disagreements in the comments section. 

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