Is Freelancing the Way to Go?
Imagine a life free from the crunching pressure of the workplace, the competition, the politics, the daily run and rush. You get to decide your own terms for work; you are your own boss. You get to pick the kind of work you want to do, the people you want to work with and you can work away from the comfort of your home and gather those big bucks! That is freelancing for you- in a perfect world. Freelancing like all other things comes with its own sets of pros and cons. While it is easy to dive in for the beaming stock of positives, one must also assess what are the drawbacks.
The freelance industry is rapidly growing and in India more and more people are being drawn to freelancing. According to Elance, an online freelance service that brings together professionals, clients and projects, India dominates the field, only after U.S. The average earning at this portal is Rs. 915 per hour and it continues to grow. India has over 3 million users at freelancer.com, which is one of the world’s largest sites for freelancers. Most Indian freelancers work in IT and services but the lurch towards the creative sector is also quickening. So it is a promising life for freelancers.
For a freelancer, they are their own boss. They get to decide their workload, schedules, and the hours they want to work. There is easy flexibility and room to practice and impose your own individual way of working. You can take that weekend off if you need, evade day light and work off the night. Whatever suits you is your schedule. There is more freedom than a day job. Freelancers get to have more control over their careers and build a suitable work-life balance. With greater flexibility comes greater freedom for personal life too. Freelancing is especially good for writing and other creative fields that depend on the creative thrust for work to happen and cannot be pushed.
Being a freelancer, you also choose where you want to work from. There is no hierarchical structure, no cubicle, office politics and fixed hours and rules. You can work from the comfort of your home- while travelling, in cafes. As long as the work gets done, you are good.
Evidence of the increasing popularity of this work culture is spaces dedicated to encourage freelancers and entrepreneurs. Cafes like The Hive in Mumbai and CoworkIn in Delhi are unique cafes that provide the perfect fit for this group of people. These spaces share attributes of both home and workplace. A casual, comfortable environment, good connectivity, and a central location close to public transport. The visitors are often encouraged to associate if they have similar ideas and owners are exceedingly involved with them.
The intellectual freedom is the most prized. Freelancers get to choose their projects, the kind of work they want to do. There is opportunity to try out different variety of projects; there is more room for learning. For an ambitious freelancer, there is scope to earn more. You can get as much work as you want and that increases the pay that goes into your pockets.
Freelancing also gives you the freedom to choose the people you want to work for or with. You can fire your clients, if you do not like the pay or the work or themselves! Freelancing is a free road for variety, in terms of work, change and a complete break from the fixity of a permanent job. Besides, multiple income streams means you are safe from being fired or running out of your income.
But despite the benefits and growth in the industry, freelancing is still a brave way to go as the market for part-timers remains illiquid. It may be difficult to find the right people, at the right time, for the right price. Many people have to face periods of no work and consequently lose out the time that could have been put in to develop their business. The cash may be slow in coming especially with large organizations that have mammoth finance departments.
Working alone also deprives you of the benefit of having a co-worker handy for support, for sharing work and resolving work related issues. The support and help a team offers is definitely lacking here and one has to rely on themselves only.
Pensions, healthcare, insurance, are all benefits that are taken care of by a steady paycheck. For a freelancer, it may be difficult to apply for loans and mortgages etc as the unpredictable nature of their income makes the banks apprehensive. You have to manage all your own accounting and hunt for work yourself and it may not always be easy or profuse in coming.
So it is all a matter of what you are looking for- freelancing has a sure set of pros and cons to look at. If freedom in your work life is what you are looking for and you have the ambition and energy to take the initiative, then go for it. To help you along, here are some great people who started off their successful careers with freelancing and went on to rule their field.
Horror fiction writer Stephen King started freelancing when he was 16 and received many rejections. It was after two years that the magazine Comics Review accepted his story ‘I Was a Teenage Graverobber’.
Isaac Asimov was one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time. He was the man who created the Three Laws of Robotics. He even had a crater on Mars named after him. He started by sending his work to science magazines in the 1930’s. Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Meg Ryan, Brad Pitt – the list is endless. More and more youngsters are taking to this way of work, going for independence to work in their way with their ideas. If you manage to wade through and overpower the negatives, freelancing is a great way to assert your individuality through your work and make sure it remains intact and flourishes.
Writer is a student, painter and a columnist.
(Published in The Lucknow Observer, Volume 3 Issue 5,August 2016)