So you’ve got a steaming cup of coffee next to you. Your computer is booted up, your calendar is blocked with time slots dedicated solely to the freelance life – you’re all set!
There’s just one teeny tiny problem.
How to get freelancing projects in the first place?
Freelancing has long been a tantalizing aspect that has lured many men towards itself, with promises of time flexibility and freedom from conforming to the corporate world. While freelancing initially brought ‘hipster’ artists to mind, where it was common to see writers or artists taking on freelancing projects, these days almost anyone from any field can freelance, using time and the instant connection provided by world wide web to their advantage.
“India is the second largest “freelancing hub” of the world after the US. Going by PayPal estimates, India has close to 1.5 crore freelancers — many of them working on home-generated projects with others dealing with clients (work providers) from the US, Europe, and Australia.”, according to the Economic Times, where “a high-quality Indian freelancer earns roughly $20 per hour.”
Clearly, a lot of us have figured out our “why” for freelancing. But it’s the how that trips most of us.
There are many firsts that you have to go through in order to get that first freelance assignment. However, what if there was a complete guide on how to get freelancing projects in India? Well, look no further, hustler! While we busy ourselves with trying to change into our superhero outfit, why not scroll down and take a gander at what we have to offer in this guide?
The Tools Needed
Whether you have decided to freelance on a full-time basis or a part-time basis, here are a few tools that everyone needs in their kit. While the dramatic exclamation of, “you must have faith in yourself!..” might seem redundant (but necessary!) here, the things you need to focus on are:
The most pain-free way to ease yourself into the freelancing world would be to first focus upon your skill set which you plan on offering to the world. Are you a prolific writer? Or an extraordinary calligraphy artist? Maybe you click thought-provoking pictures. Or perhaps your analyses are almost always fool-proof and on-point which can always bring about a benefit to someone?
Whatever it may be, you must zero down on it and start honing that particular ability. Once you have done so, you can progress to the next step and find a niche within your skill, so that what you have to offer is unique. This can bring about a plethora of clientele from which after a while, you can have your pick and choose!
More importantly, carving a niche for yourself in the market can also act as an excellent bargaining chip in your favour while you are negotiating the payments on each project. What you have to offer, may not be found anywhere else. You know the hard work that has gone into gaining and excelling in a particular skill set. So why shy away from showcasing it all when it comes down negotiations?
But before we get ahead of ourselves, we must take a step back and come back to your one, true weapon: your skills. Because once you have identified and worked on your skill set, you will need a…
This one is a bit of a no-brainer but must be emphasized. Once you have worked on your skills and have created practice projects, you can start incorporating your best pieces into your portfolio; bear in mind that these projects are not just your favourites but those that best represent your skills as well. A lot of the times, you can feel stuck because of the never-ending circle of “need the experience to get a job to get experience”.
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This can run especially true for freelancing as it might be easy to get your foot through the door, to actually land a project can be difficult without any prior experience. This is where your portfolio steps in to save the day. In a competitive environment, most clients tend to look for people with experience but if you put your portfolio showcasing your best work forward, it gives you a fighting chance. In case you are absolutely brand new, have a portfolio of samples created by you to help show your creativity and ability to execute an idea.
But when will you create this portfolio?
The main aspect here is that you will need to have a strategy in your hand at every step of the way. Here, you will need to pay attention to –
The safest way to make the switch from 9 to 5 to freelancing is to start managing your time early on. This means you need to start investing in your skills, create your own portfolio all the while you are doing your daily work as well. Sounds difficult? Strap in buddy, because the hustle may be hard but worth it. Once you have switched over, this habit of time management will tide you over and ensure that you never fall behind on any project submission or your payments as well.
If you are considering freelancing, then you must look at the bigger picture. Take your time in learning and understanding about the field that you want to be a part of. Understand the trends and forecasts so that you are better prepared for any and all ups and downs that your industry might go through or tends to go through.
Whether you are freelancing as a way to supplement your income or want to start freelancing full time, your financial planning is paramount and must be done well in advance. This is important especially if you have a family. Do research on the industry of your choice by seeing what a typical year looks like in terms of finances, what are the “off” seasons or “in” seasons, if there are any dips in the work; speak to a few freelancers within the field to get a feel of things.
However, when all is said and done, a financial plan with respect to your savings and the investment you plan on making in yourself and your work must be worked out before you make the switch. Speaking of switch…
Switch On, Switch Off
As in, switch on for online networking and then switch off for some offline networking! No? Bad joke?
Well, be that as it may, networking is one of THE most integral parts of freelancing. And this can happen in a myriad of ways.
- If you are already present on social media channels, then, by all means, take it one step further and let it act as your deafening megaphone. ‘Shout’ out your project requirements, questions or anything else; your inner circle that knows you best is often at times your best bet as not only do they know you and hence will be able to provide you with better leads, they can also vouch for you if need be.
- The second way for online networking would be to be a part of coworking communities like myHQ, which offer ample amount of opportunities to network. Be it meeting freelancers who you share your favourite coworking space with, or their online platforms or dashboards, these communities are vital for staying afloat as organic friendships and work relationships can often play a key role in getting you an assignment.
- In addition to this, explore online platforms where you can pitch articles related to your field and showcase what all you bring to the table and how. Conversely, you can start your own online blog on any platform and in addition to consistently putting out your own posts, you can also invite others to write posts on your forum as well, thus creating a network while also building credibility for your platform as well.
If we go by the cliche, then this would be the moment I would feel compelled to ask, – when was the last time you saw sunlight, friend? Most freelancers are in the habit of slaving away in front of their computer or in their home studio. But because we are multi-tasking, freelancing hustlers, what better way to get some fresh air and work done – than attending mixers and other networking events?
Lots of societies and groups are created for the sole purpose of people meeting and networking together. This helps in getting the word out about your skills and helps in forming and maintaining bonds with prospective clients as well. Platforms like myHQ can help as they step in by not just providing a convenient coworking space close to you, but help in letting you explore other coworking spaces via their mixers hosted at their coworking cafes.
Last but not least is, of course, signing up for freelancing websites. Fiverr, Upwork and many more cater exclusively to those looking for freelancers or freelance jobs. They focus on letting you interact with prospective clients and also help protect the freelancer as much as possible with clauses or safe payment methods.
Fine Tuning Yourself
A quick gander at articles talking about launching your own successful freelancing career will all have one point in common that will jump out at you, i.e., well, you. Your skills may be unmatched but how you handle the client from start to finish is what will matter the most. Starting from your dress code to going all the way towards the end of the conversation where you talk mo-neh, it is imperative that you show clarity.
You and Yourself
Make sure to have a practice run-through before communicating with a client. Most freelancers get swayed by the no-holds-barred lifestyle which includes a relaxed and casual approach. While this may be true for the most part, you are still working when meeting even a prospective client and are representing yourself. In the words of the great Barney Stinson, “Suit up!”.
Your Weapon Of Choice
In this case, your skills. As mentioned, clarity is of utmost importance when discussing projects with clients. So while discussing, be prepared with a thorough timeline, samples and all other relevant details while discussing the project with a client; leave nothing to chance. Clarity tends to be needed most when discussing the fee of the project; showcase what you intend to charge and why. When a client sees a professional with a crystal clear vision who is able to show them that vision as well, they tend to trust them and collaborate with them.
It is imperative to note that while freelancing (and especially at the beginning!) to explore as many options as possible. Initially, your time may not be your own as you are busy trying to get projects and build up a reputation for yourself. In doing so, be sure to try out all methods and see which works best for you. After all, different strokes for different folks. While one might feel comfortable with online websites, others might find a face to face meeting with friends, coworkers and prospective clients much more effective. The idea is never to put all eggs in one basket.
Have you tried out all these methods of freelancing? What worked best for you? Let us know in the comments below!
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