I have been working as an employee for over a decade. While I have been lucky to have worked with some really great colleagues, towards the last couple of years I kept feeling the need to become a freelancer talent for a few reasons:
- Working at one single company often means solving very similar kinds of problems every day. Sure, the challenges keep evolving with time, but the context stays the same. It can get a bit of a drudge over time. This is also one of the major reasons why I have never worked in the same industry for a long time. I not only like the change in context, but that also helps me learn new things and get more exposed professionally.
- Both my wife and I love to travel. In the last few years, most of our travels have limited to desperately looking forward to long weekends. We haven’t managed to have more than 1 long vacation a year for so many years, due to being married to our respective jobs. We wanted to break that chain. I have a long term goal of becoming a digital nomad once a day, now that both of us have managed to break that shackle and have gone freelancers.
Working from home, and as a freelancer, can be both fun and intimidating. One of the biggest fears that do not allow most people to go on their own way is the loss of assured income at the end of every month. That fear is 100% real. But then again, with some preparation, those fears can be allayed. One good thing that came out of the current pandemic is that more and more companies are now coming up with work-from-anywhere policies and have become more open to working with independent contractors than before. Telecommuting workers with very complex jobs, who don’t require a lot of collaboration or social support, can perform better than their office counterparts. Being a Product Manager myself, many a time, I’ve worked in IC roles and that’s an ideal scenario for me to work as an independent contractor. I agree that the role also involves a lot of collaboration with the stakeholders and the customers, but with some experience in interpersonal skills that hurdle can also be easily overcome.
Challenges I’ve faced as a freelancer
It’s been just about a year since I decided to run solo. In these months, there have been a bunch of things I got to learn about this lifestyle. Some of them I enjoyed, others I’m still trying to cope up with.
Being the master of your own means looking for your own clients as well. This is the biggest pain point for any freelancer because without any client there is no money to put the food on the table. This exercise is especially hard for the techies since, all their professional lives, they have been trained to deliver work and have zero experience in lead generation and sales. Additionally, for someone like me, identifying and up-selling my products’ USPs are infinitesimally easier than my own USPs.
The goal here has been to find high quality, recurring, and trusted clients so that I can focus more on value generation than lead generation. Also, since I’m more confident in the quality of my work than selling my skills, I focus more on retaining existing clients and sell more business to them, instead of continuously looking for new ones. Thankfully, despite my personal inhibitions, I’m slowly getting better at being proactive and pitching my services to potential new clients.
While I didn’t find this too much challenging personally, I’m aware that it is still a major roadblock from being an efficient freelance worker. As I’d mentioned in my last blog post, it is very important to have a set of working principles and stick to them.
Being a freelancer gives the flexibility of choice — freedom to choose clients, projects, hours, work location, and also the general niche in which you might want to work on. Use that flexibility to your advantage.
- Most freelancers recommend that one should identify a functional workspace which is meant only for work. While I agree with that thought process,