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Living the freelance life

After three years in the traditional workforce, life offered an opportunity to venture into the world of freelancing; albeit with a lot of excitement and anxiety. As my passion and interest for writing prompted me to take a detour, the future was truly unknown. Constant thoughts about the feasibility of such a decision engulfed me, as I took my first step towards being free.

 

Though ‘freelancing’ sounded exciting, interesting, unique and simple, I had a lot to learn. The excitement of being my own boss was the most significant factor forcing me to stay firm. But the reality of working with uncertainties was the real challenge ahead. From an inexperienced amateur to a survivor at the ground level, I managed to transform this dream into a reality, cherishing every experience along the way.

 

Freelance life is filled with innumerable novelties. As I walked along in the journey, every single day offered some unique adventure. Be it the struggle to make myself heard or the efforts to gain work assignments. Or the hard work required to fulfill these tasks and the patience to make numerous edits. As the freelancer in me moved from one challenge to the other, the entire journey seems like a dream today. Unknowingly, as this ‘freelance’ world embraced as one of its own, the swing from certainty to uncertainty was like a pendulum. Though I am still in the nascent stage with loads of learning ahead, the experience continues to be interesting.

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The word ‘free’ from freelance appears tempting as it attracts everyone towards it – freedom of choosing assignments, freedom of deciding work pace , freedom of selecting work hours and the freedom of being one’s own boss. Although this freedom sounds exciting in every way, it’s definitely too good to be true. Only after hard work and notable engagement does one realizes the ‘uncertainties’ of work and income that come along with this new found ‘freedom’! Sometimes, when it rains it pours but droughts are to be expected and as I started acquiring the tricks of the trade, every experience soaked me into the magic of freelancing.

 

As a freelancer, every day different. Focusing on short-term goals has become my morning ritual. For example, I focus on the now by interacting with different people, working on various projects, knowing I will have multiple temporary bosses instead of a permanent one and adjusting my working hours on a moment’s notice. I understand that my career is in flux and that I have to stay in the now to keep my sanity.

 

Besides work, freelance life has also offered me numerous lessons in other aspects of my life.

 

Patience, faith, trust, confidence and flexibility are some of the qualities that have been reinforced by my career as a freelancer. Thus, forcing me to move out of my comfort zone. Freelancing has pushed me to make new contacts, network with fellow freelancers, communicate with various clients and accept more responsibility for my actions. Whether I successfully complete an assignment or fail, every project has to be executed by this one woman team alone!

 

Though this experience has been a roller coaster ride with its shares of ups and downs, one striking feature that will always stay evergreen is the task of explaining the nature of my work to others. When asked about my job,  I express my uncertainty as a good thing and the enthusiastic feedback and puzzled looks from the listeners add to the charm of it all. Suddenly, the uncertain nature of the freelance life turns into something prestigious, something others wish they were brave enough to pursue.

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Here are a few things I’ve learned since becoming a freelancer. Hopefully, they will inspire others, who may be afraid, to take the leap into the unknown:

 

1. Patience is the new oxygen

As a freelancer patience is essential. It’s like oxygen, it keeps us alive and is the first key to survival. Waiting for assignments, hoping for a positive feedback, getting paid for your work and dreaming of a dispensable bank balance, it all demands patience. That’s patience, patience and some more patience.

(Faith translates to the tree’s planted to create this oxygen!)

2. Embrace uncertainties, embrace happiness

‘Uncertainty’ is the last name of ‘freelancing’. It’s written in colorful, bold, capital letters as one attempts to step into this big, unknown world. As every single aspect of this job starts with uncertainty, it’s essential to accept it with open arms. While some days may turn into a battlefield of unyielding work, others may seem as empty as a football field with no players. Embracing these uncertainties is necessary to find happiness and peace from freelancing.

(Not knowing about the challenges of tomorrow lightens the pressure of today)

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3. Jack of all trades

Freelance life translates into a one-man show. Every task has to be handled by self, offering equal opportunities for ‘praise and blame.’ As my own accountant, PR, HR, secretary, boss, IT support and team-mate, I’ve truly learned several tricks for survival. There can be no request for holidays or workload transfers. It all depends on you. Because you are your own boss and colleague.

(Playing diverse roles in this one-man show has been exciting, as I am the lone spectator too!)

4. Mobile office, mobile work

With no fixed office location or work hours, freelance life can offer some novel experiences. Being busy on a Sunday with loads of deadlines, while being absolutely free on a Tuesday with nowhere to go are some of the common experiences of a freelancer. Though I strive to maintain fixed work hours. The temptation to check emails and respond to much-awaited work commitments from anywhere on the move are the true realities of the freelance life. As a writer, while I look around for ideas, scribbling notes into my phone on a perfect outing or writing code letters over white board on the fridge are routine.

(Choosing a flexible workplace like a library, coffee shops or community center is awesome. But a kitchen, patio, a bedroom can also inspire productivity. Keep in mind that a change in ambiance offers a change to monotony.)

5. Email is the new master

After entering into the freelance world, emails have become my water. Checking emails over the phone has been a religious regime. From offering work to announcing financial victory, from pouring feedback to receiving demands for edits and re-edits, emails are at the center of my work life.

(Mastery over emails has been an amazing side-effect of the freelance life)

This is the magic of  freelancing, the allure that has pulled me into its charm for more than a year now. However, as I look forward to the journey ahead, I hope to be showered with its love, care, support and comfort. Living the freelance life does come with a cost, but it’s worth it!

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Image sources: shutterstock.com, bluelabellife.com.au, hongkiat.com, millo.co
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