The virtues and challenges of Freelancing
The days go by and you are sitting at your desk at home waiting….
…waiting for someone to respond. That great job post you saw yesterday was just so tailor-made for you. They have to call you! They would be stupid not to.
…and you wait some more. You watch TV in frustration thinking of how you are just wasting your life away for calls that never come; messages that go unanswered; and proposal that go unseen.
The perils of freelancing are many. Waiting for someone to give you a first break is one. In my early months, I always thought that I was doing something wrong, hence the lack of jobs. Slowly, I realized that while I did make mistakes, the nature of the business is such that it will take you years to get settled. Particularly, if you don’t have actionable coding skills. So waiting is a significant part of the job.
The other problem that most of us who are not salespeople encounter is the amount of rejection that is the norm. When working for a company, your work is not rejected everyday. There is an automatic buy-in from your employer on whatever you do within certain parameters like performance reviews. While freelancing, one is rejected constantly. Over time time, I have learnt to expect 90% rejection, at least. Once you do that, it becomes the new norm and you don’t lose too much sleep over it.
A third major issue I encountered was the constant selling of yourself or your skills. One doesn’t have to do this in a regular job. It is taken as read by your colleagues that your skills are of some value. One could argue that you make a better case for advancement in an organization if you sell your ideas better than others. However, in freelancing it is all about the sales pitch. You have to hone several pitches for different kinds of jobs and be unremitting in your proposal follow-ups. No one looks at your resume and very few actually read your profile. Almost all of my jobs are a result of personal conversation via Skype or the phone. Conversations that were all about selling myself!
The great joys of working on your own time are many too. I have gone through a very bad health phase ( a bit of jujitsu with cancer) and this allowed me to work whenever I was able to. The flexibility that a freelancer has is probably the most important selling point to this style of work. There is true joy in working at your own convenience. Be disciplined and keep weekly to-do lists. You are your own boss and employee too.
Working on various different projects and problems also forces you to keep on top of new technologies and better ways of doing work. Continuing education is another great asset of freelancing. I have learnt more about coding in the last six months than I did in the last three years. There is no administration overhead and that generates enormous amounts of free time for one to learn. I usually look to Udemy, Coursera and the O’Rielly Bookshelf to help stay in touch with all the goings on out there. Youtube is a serious source of learning too.
Another thing that relates to one’s usage of time is the opportunity to just get up and go somewhere during the day. The time of rest between jobs and within them cannot be had in any other lifestyle. I have found time to go to the museums, drive around for fun and volunteer for various non-profit organizations. I have found a lot more time to cultivate relationships and talk to my family: the important stuff of living, really.
It’s a good life but in the beginning, like every business, it is a hard life. You just need to remember not to let the waiting, rejection and relentless sales pitches get to you. Also, make sure that you continue to bid or reach out for jobs all the time. Don’t sit back. A freelancer, ironically, cannot afford to be too relaxed.
Still interested in going down this garden path…
Then the best places that you can freelance in my opinion are, Upwork, Toptal web developers Community and Freelancer. You can also find some freelance work on Linkedin if you build relationships there.
Let me know if you have any questions. I will be happy to help.