Learn to wait (Better Freelancing, part 2)

The freelancing market is a mess, at least in India. New folks are clueless about what to do, and there are innumerable middlemen, driving prices to dirt. Having survived this hell and after finally climbing out of it, I decided to share my learning with fellow freelancers in this Better Freelancing series.

Part 1: Not everything is worth doing

When you make the decision to start freelancing, you reason something like this: “I can do X, which is a valuable skill for any employer. Therefore, I will have no trouble finding work”. If you’ve been freelancing for more than a day, you know it doesn’t work like that. Let’s see why.

An employee is valued by a company not because he does something that the company finds useful, but because the company can rely on him. That is, whenever the company needs the employee, even if it’s for a task outside of his role, it will find the employee in his usual spot, ready to serve. Companies pay employees for this certainty, and not necessarily because they are indispensable.

Seen in this light, a freelancer is just another cost. It’s a person who will do something and then disappear. The freelancer will not extend the work forward when it’s later needed, and he will not be there for the fire-fighting. That’s why for even remotely regular work, a company will prefer an employee over a freelancer every time.

Of course it doesn’t mean there’s no need for freelancers. The point is that since you are simply offering your services and demanding payment in return, you are just like another business. Like it or not, your freelancing career is actually a business!

Like a business, it must know where to look for opportunities, how to spot one, how to pitch to a client, how to negotiate for rates, and so on and so forth. If all this turns you off, please, there’s no space for you in freelancing. At least not in the serious freelancing roles.

Learn to wait.

Wait for yourself to gather more courage.

Wait for yourself to learn the ropes.

Wait for the right opportunity to come by.

I often wait a month or more for a good client, but when I do find one, the work is very rewarding and the projects last really long.

There’s no other way.

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