In India, just two or three decades earlier, beginning one’s career with a government job or with a multinational was the most coveted. Today, in a mega city like Mumbai there is an emerging class of workforce who is neither a government babu nor a salaried employee, nor an entrepreneur. This workforce called the ‘freelancer’ is whom I have fondly termed as the ‘Indepreneur’.
Who is a freelancer?
A freelancer is a remote worker who desires to work by himself/herself mostly from home or a co-working space, rather than working full-time for an employer on a fixed salary basis. Freelancers offer their skill sets on per hour/ per day/per contract basis.
Why the shift to freelance jobs?
With automation, easy access to the Internet and growing connectivity worldwide there has been a definitive change in the workforce. From industrial workers to freelancers’ there has been a lateral shift in the job scenario and job profiles of the workforce.
The up demand for freelancers in sectors like digital marketing, IT programming, UI and UX design and animation, videography, has changed the perspective of the typical factory floor and 9 am to 6 pm job. In the vast digital world, freelancers offer a wide array of services ranging from freelance content writing to SEO blog writing to SEO on-page optimization specialists.
By 2030, worldwide estimates show, over 50% of the workforce will be working on a freelance basis. Today India has 15 million people freelancers making it the second largest freelance workforce. The first is the USA.
Large companies are turning to freelancers because it gives them a choice to select from new ideas and skill sets skills beyond what the in-house workforce offers. Hiring freelancers also helps in financial savings for entrepreneurs and their start-ups since they require pay the freelancer only a flat fee without the mandatory employee benefits.
What are the advantages to becoming a freelancer?
1. Freedom from job shackles
Freelancing offers the freedom to work at one’s own schedule. It’s not about being confined to an office desk from 9 am to 6 pm. It also allows you to select how much workload you want to undertake.
2. Passion in their work
A freelancer, works on his/her line of interest, ideas and skill set. Different projects spur continued interest and dynamism in their work.
3. Global coverage
Freelancing offers endless opportunities from the world over. Since a freelancer can take up any project and work remotely, their work can originate from any country. Assignments and projects from different companies/ different countries offer a career without geographical limitations. It allows you to connect with the best in your field. A freelancer often functions as part of a larger global team, working on a single project.
4. Lifestyle balance
Freelancing offers flexibility in your work schedules. It gives you time to balance work life, family life and ‘my life’.
What are the disadvantages or drawbacks to becoming a freelancer?
1. Inconsistency in income in initial stages
As a freelancer, you need to build up your base and find who can avail of your services. Only when you have created a steady stream of work, can you be assured of a steady flow of income.
2. Easily distracted
Since you are working solo distractions may deviate you from your work and your goal. In an office environment everyone arrives with a sole purpose to complete work for the day within the stipulated time frame. Your boss is there to ensure that you concentrate on your work.
Six steps to be a successful freelancer –
Many freelancers opt to start on part-time basis and once they see their business growing, enter into it on a full-time basis. These are a few things to keep in mind while choosing a career as a freelancer:
1. Set up a mind map:
The very first requisite for a freelancer is a clear vision of things he/she can offer today and where he/she envisions oneself, one year to five years from now. A freelancer requires a clear direction. The ground reality is far from a cozy or easy job as a freelancer. It is crucial to have a well-defined business plan to stand in the face of competition.
2. Get friends and family to endorse your work and begin with handful of customers:
Since you are a solo worker as a freelancer, you should be able to give the assignment/project your complete attention. Start by offering maybe free or subsidized services to friends and family who can endorse your work before working with clients. Clients look for a professional freelancer. They expect good product and on-time delivery. So it is advisable to take on only as much work, as you are sure of being able to handle and complete yourself. A job well done will get you the word-of-mouth publicity.
3. Test the waters
Get your work set ready and test it in the local markets. Often your services offered may require more refinement in terms of pricing, marketing, etc. before it is ready for international clients. Test the waters to see how you will hold up to your competition with your personal USP.
Freelancing will also need set-up finance. To market your services, you may need to set up a website, you may need to print pamphlets; you may need to have a gathering to announce your entry into freelancing. Marketing yourself to reach the target audience comes at a cost. A freelancer must sustain the initial business costs until such time the returns flow in. Be aware of hidden costs of the freelance business.
5. Banking and government regulations
Since different companies often pay freelancers, it is important that your terms of payment are clear. Payments may be from clients within the country or international clients. You must set up the necessary bank accounts/ modes of payment to facilitate payments in line with the financial regulations of your country.
Freelancing is all about telling your self, again and again, I can do this! There will be moments, which make you question your decision about whether freelancing was a good option. Don’t let that deter you. Instead, stay strong and focused on what you have set out to do.
Conclusion: Being a Freelancer or ‘Indepreneur’, is a choice you make. If that is your career path, different from an Entrepreneur or Corporate Ladder, prepare for it.
When it comes to freelance content writing, a freelance content writer in Mumbai or a website content writer in Mumbai, India is much sought after. There are a growing number of opportunities for content writers with a large number of online freelance jobs being posted each day.
As a freelancer, you are the future workforce and a part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Start Small. Think Big.