“Let me cry,” she said. Every thought resulted in a shot of pain. Tears and moans filled the room as she let her heart bleed. “You can’t do anything now,” said the other woman. She let out the last sobs and pushed her chin up. “Where are you going?” The other asked with surprise. “I want to save the world,” she said, ready to face evil once again.
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 🙂
So two days ago, an ex-colleague from another department who had never spoken more than the simple hello or how are you with me, said something that really really really angered me. He didn’t say it to my face, but instead threw his insecurities and silliness onto another ex-colleague of mine. Poor woman had to hear his views about the freelancing woman (me) and herself too. In a nutshell, this man – I refuse to call him a gentleman after the way he spoke – asked my friend what I do now and proceeded to interrogate her about my apparent wealth. “She must have a rich husband?” No, said my friend. “Then a rich father?” No again. Not done with his rant, the man proceeded to talk about how lucky girls are because they can afford to live ‘like this’. Not content with picking on my life, he added a sentence or two about my friend’s wealthy background. That one shocked me because she still works full-time like the hardworking, normal folk.
Well, here’s my answer for this man and all others who equate freelancing with sitting at home doing nothing:We freelancers work much more than you because we have to network constantly in order to get work. If we sat there at our desk, waiting for an assignment to be given, we’d be without a paise. When you work full-time, you have the guarantee of a specific amount of salary each month. Yes, you get perks too sometimes. We freelancers enjoy the benefits of working for multiple places and earning more in some months and less during others. Say I need an extra 3000 bucks one month, I just network and get another project. Full-timers (especially journalists) can rarely write beyond their own employer’s publication. Now comes the question of having a rich husband or rich father; I know lots of people who have either or both and slave in an office all day and earn pretty salaries. Wake up, it’s 2013.
I’d like to conclude with some wisdom that I’ve earned after my switch from full-time to freelance work. Working full-time makes you feel secure and often unchallenged. Working full-time is sometimes necessary in order to support family members. BUT ridiculing freelancers is like showing rotten jealousy without knowing your facts. Freelancing may equal to freedom in terms of choosing clients and office hours, but NOBODY will serve you work in a platter. Nobody. So stay snug in your chairs, continue getting paid for facebook stalking and google talk chats, and comment after you take the challenge 🙂