We all know someone who is a freelancer and we cannot help but be in awe of their lifestyle. The flexible hours, the travelling, the freedom; it is all one can dream of. I really think that for us women, freelance work seems like the best suited option given how family responsibilities seem never ending and we are naturally expected to adjust our careers. Also applicable for women like me whose husbands are in a transferable job and we keep hopping from one state to another.
So if you are planning to tread the freelancing waters, let me tell you the perils and the quirks of the same. At the same time, equip you with certain tools that will come in handy.
FIGURE OUT YOUR WHY
As random as it may sound, it is very important for you to be very very clear about why you wish to start a freelancing career. How do you think your life will change for the better? What are you looking for? More free time? Less travel? More money? Less stress? Make a list of 10-20 reasons why you want to venture out on your own. It will help you clear your head and design your career in a way so that you stay true to your vision.
HAVE A DISCIPLINED ROUTINE
Okay let us get one thing straight, freelancing is not a piece of cake. It is not easy, and it definitely not ‘ho jayega’ kind of work. Freelancing requires determination and utmost discipline. The discipline you put into your work can make or break your freelance career.
When it comes to a job, usually the boss is the main deterrent to anything you do. But as long as your boss agrees, you are covered for holidays, or half days, or that party that you’ve got to attend.
Unfortunately, there are no covers in freelancing. If you have a deadline, you have got to keep it, come hell or high water. So if you are someone who has difficulty disciplining themselves, you may want to rethink this option. But you can always set some morning rituals for yourself to work with.
SELF – BRANDING
A successful freelancing career is entirely dependent on you as a brand.
You can do that by being clear on what value you bring to your clients and making efforts to enhance it. It also helps to find your special niche so that you can master it. So yes, branding is not just for companies and products but also YOU as a person.
CLIENT COMMUNICATION AND PROFESSIONAL DECORUM
So you are a freelancer, not a company. But that should make things easier for your clients, not harder. Why most international client prefer agencies or companies is that their communication and decorum is at par with the corporate standards. Given that you are competing with them, I would suggest that you up your professionalism game too. Be vary of some of the common mistakes freelancers make. Here are a few quick tips for the same:
Be absolutely professional in your approach – at least initially. Most clients will eventually get used to you and will be a lot more friendly, but your first impression should always be professional.
Get a written brief of requirements from your clients in order to avoid confusion.
Always, sign an agreement or a work order before you start the work. Freelance transactions are risky and it is always better to secure your prospects before you commit your time and skills to someone.
Always summarise your communication through Email even if the actual conversation has taken place on the phone.
Create a task list and share it with your clients so they are aware of the progress and you keep the deadlines.
In case of any issues, communicate clearly with your clients. Your clients will appreciate transparency in any case.
FINANCIAL EXPECTATIONS AND RETURNS
Like mentioned above, your financial details must be sorted out before the work starts. If you take care of that, your finances shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
From your side, ensure that you are prepared to receive payments properly. Set up your bank account for international payments if you are planning to get international clients. Or look into services like PayPal. You might need to register for GST as per the norms.
INVEST A BIT IN YOURSELF
When you are starting out, you might need to invest a bit in yourself. For starters, having a website of your own will serve as an online portfolio and a landing page for your freelance business. You might also want to look into some tools such Grammarly, or Canva. They have premium versions that you might want to invest in. Take a course in your field to improve your skill. These investments will go a long way in helping out your career in the long run.
Investment is not just limited to tools and courses but also you as a person.
If you meet potential clients in person, get yourself a new set of quality clothes for meetings. Get regular skin and hair pampering– you will not only look good but also feel like a million bucks which will up your confidence.
Remember building a meaningful life and career is totally within your reach!
In the next post, I’ll talk about how to create your portfolio, client agreements and other tips to get started
If you are starting out and have any questions, please feel free to write to me in the comments below.
Here’s part 2 of this post – FREELANCING IN INDIA 101, PART 2