It’s been a year and some days since I left my secure journalism job with one of India’s leading newspapers. There have been great months, a few not so good months, and the horrible patches here and there. Thankfully, I’m surrounded by family members and others who don’t understand a career unless it’s in an office and with bosses and perks – thankfully, because they wouldn’t understand my struggles even if I tried to explain things to them. Thus, I can immediately stop ranting because I never start. On the bright side, many people in India are opting for the freelance life. I’ve received some e-mails from freshers and have had the pleasure of meeting many others who’ve decided to take a chance like me. Writers, graphic designers, editors, engineers – freelancing isn’t such a crazy thing anymore. Not crazy, but definitely not easy. Here are some lessons that I picked up over the last 12 months.
1) Do not agree to work without a contract or at least an e-mail stating project terms including payment: I’ve even come across prospective clients who expected me to begin a project without any approval in place. I felt impolite at first, but there is no way that a professional should do work that he or she may not be paid for.
2) Do not agree to writing several samples when you’re applying for a job: One company got me to write about 5 articles as ‘samples’ of my work when I had considerable experience already. My mentors told me that one or two would’ve been normal, but 5 (with demands for more) wasn’t the norm. Fortunately, some companies are professional enough to pay for samples that they use.
3) Always read at least 5 editions of any publication that you want to write for – from cover to cover: In the beginning, I made the mistake of pitching story ideas without getting the feel of a magazine. I was stupid enough to think that reading one or two articles in one issue would be enough.
4) Use Linkedin: I’ve found most of my freelance jobs through this fantastic networking tool. Along with keeping my profile updated and putting up status updates with every published work, I build working relationships with editors. You can even ask your more experienced writer friends to refer you to their Linkedin connections.
Hope this post helps 🙂